My dad isn't like other dads.
He tells us lots of stories. Ophelia believes them, but I think that's because she's too young to know better. They're supposed to be about his personal experiences, but I know they're impossible. He says he spent time in space, fighting monsters and defeating alien despots. I'm not even sure I know what a despot is, but that's besides the point. Clearly he didn't do any of those things. Clearly he's just another guy. Well, not just another guy. I think he's crazy. What other explanation can there be?
Mom says we should be patient with him. She says she was patient for years, and there's no reason we can't be, too. He disappeared before Ophelia was born. For most of my life, he wasn't even here, and when he came back, he was a complete stranger to me. Mom had to assure me over and over again that the man who knelt down in front of me and kissed me on the forehead was the same guy in all the framed pictures around the house. He didn't even look the same. I don't know how to describe it. I know that people age, obviously, that Mom used to be my age at some point (I have no idea how old she is, so don't ask), but getting older doesn't explain why he looks different. I know, because even Mom was taken aback when she first saw him again. She couldn't hide it. We were having a picnic in the backyard, and Ophelia and me both saw her reaction. He just strolled into the yard, from where I don't even want to guess, and acted so happy to see us. Mom was happy. Ophelia was happy. I was...
So that's why I call my dad Ulysses. I know it's common in some families to use your parents' real names when you talk to them, or talk to other people about them, like other kids at school. In my family? Not even a chance. I call Mom, Mom, and...I call Dad, Dad, or I used to, when we'd talk about him, when he was missing, when we spent so much time waiting for him to return.
Which I guess was a mistake. "Be careful what you wish for." I think that's a phrase people use for that sort of thing. I learned it in school. It's weird. For the first time in my life, I actually think of school as the normal piece of my life. I used to hate it. Now I don't.
I don't tell any of my friends about him. I don't want them to think I'm weird, because I know what I think of him, and it's extremely unlikely that any of them would think differently, even Teddy, who reads the weirdest stuff I've ever seen. But he doesn't believe any of that science fiction nonsense. Who would?
But my dad keeps telling us his stories. I have to pretend I don't hate him, because that would be mean, but I think he still understands, and I guess it probably hurts him, but I can't help it. I don't believe him, and I don't understand why he would tell us such ridiculous lies. When I get older...hopefully it'll be easier to put it all behind me. I don't see any other way.
"But this is not the story," says Kindly.