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Non-Paternity Event


Dad leaves the room and returns with a manila envelope.
    —You won’t feel badly about her, will you, Stephen? Promise me that.
    Dad never uses my mother’s name. Neither do I. She died when I was three years old. Leukaemia. I didn’t know her.
    —Your mother was very young and your father didn’t want a child. I was happy to marry your mother. Honoured.
    Dad passes me the envelope.
    —You’ll want to find your father, he says.
    —Yes, Dad, I say. I suppose I will.



    My daughter cries out in the night.

    —I’m awake, I say. I’ll go.


    When he told me, it felt like the confirmation of something that I’d always known but must now remember. I’d felt something similar when, at school, we were taught that the square on the hypotenuse was equal to the sum of the squares on the other two sides. I seemed to know this already but was pleased that Pythagoras had provided the proof. Or, later, when I learnt that light bends; or, later still, when I learnt that time bends, too. It didn’t surprise me. It seemed right. It’s my belief that we frequently know more than we think we do. The corollary is that sometimes we know less. To put it another way, when Dad told me that he wasn’t my father, I didn’t think it would change anything.


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