From: Dad 4:38PM
MOM ON WAY HOME. U SHLD RUN.
Getting a text message from dad is surprising enough. Who knew he could text at all, never mind without getting autocorrected? But the knowledge implied by the text is what sends Bean’s heart – and feet – racing. Dad’s supposed to think he’s at home, safe and sound just like Lee wants. Dad’s not supposed to know that Bean’s running around town (OK, he wasn’t running until Dad texted, he was hanging around the library “working” on his homework), but Dad does.
Bean’s legs are burning by the time he gets home since all his shortcuts are uphill, but he makes it in time. He’s still panting hard when he hears Lee come home, the car door slammed shut and the creak of the front gate opening. He’s fairly certain that she greets him on her way into the house, but he’s good at blocking her out now, and it doesn’t really register. When Dad gets home, still smelling of roasted meats and vegetables, he walks right over to where Bean sits, still engrossed in his video game.
“You make it?” He asks nonchalantly, settling into the couch. “You missed a shiny thing!” Dad loves treasures.
Bean nods, going back to gather the trash loot he’d left behind and sort of answering both statements at once. Maybe this doesn’t have to be a conversation or a thing. Oh gosh, he doesn’t really feel like getting in trouble.
“Good. Sorry I didn’t give you more of a heads-up.”
Once again, surprised by Dad. Bean pauses his game. “You’re… Sorry? How did…”
Dad just smiles, it’s a Dad smile, all knowing and sly and stuff. “I’ve known for a while, Bean. And it’s OK with me…” A pause, lengthy and loaded “So long as you stop running around with Maebe causing property damage.”
As Bean fumbles for words, Dad rises from the couch and ruffles his son’s already messy hair. “Dinner’s in 20, get your homework done.”
Berjes has known that Bean was out and about after school since he’d given Bean permission to do that thing after school. OK, so he hadn’t known known, but he knew it was likely. He’d known known a couple of weeks after, when he’d received a call from Conrad telling him that Bean was out and about and that Bean was behaving. Since that day he’s received calls from librarians, bartenders, worried neighbours, and angry neighbours, all wanting to make sure he knew where his son was. Just as it had occurred to everyone else to tell Lee about it, it had occurred to Berjes but it was a passing thought and just like everyone else had opted not to tell her, he did the same. It’s not that he likes keeping secrets from his wife, but he doesn’t really like keeping Bean locked in the house either and this secret? Well… For the most part Bean’s not hurting anyone or doing too much harm, and now that Bean knows that Berjes knows, they’ll talk about it (sternly) if he’s dumb enough to pull a another stunt like that.
He has to acknowledge though that his motivations might be a little more selfish than not wanting to deprive Bean of his freedom. If Lee finds out what Berjes knows and that Berjes knows (and has known for a long time) all the progress their relationship has been making would be ruined. Ever since she started working again, she’s been more herself. More the girl that he fell in love with and more the woman that he married. Sometimes he sees a sparkle in her eyes that he thought was gone forever. Sometimes it seems to him as though she’s forgotten that she thinks she’s supposed to be sad. Now that she’s venturing out of the house, she’s also venturing out of her studio. She’s making time for him, connecting with him, and Berjes doesn’t want to lose her again.