2012

"If that's what you think is best, you should do it!"
	Please don't go.

"I mean there's no point staying here if you're unhappy."
	I can't believe you're leaving me.

“Besides, Tim's graduating next year, and I’ll be in uni before you know it."
	I’m not ready.

"Of course I'd tell you if it upset me but it doesn't!"
	It does.

"What I care about is that you're happy."
	I want you here.

"If leaving allows you to be happy then you should do it."
	Don't.

"Of course I know Tim and I matter most!"
	Do you?

"But you shouldn't stay just for us."
	You said you weren't going to go.

"We'll still see you all the time!"
	You said you might go but then you promised you wouldn't.

"And there's Skype."
	You promised nothing would change and that you would stay here with us.

"Yeah so,"
	You said that you would get the house, or maybe an apartment if you couldn't afford the house. You said we would make a schedule and alternate between you and Mom. You said that you didn't want this to happen. You said it was Mom's decision. 

"Whatever you think is best."
	Mom said she's sorry. Mom said she thinks you wish she had cheated on you. Mom said you said she ruined your life and asked if she ruined mine. Mom said she can't believe you felt the need to put an entire ocean between the two of you. She didn't say it to me but she said it.

“Haha, I know, I know, but seriously,"
	I guess that was the problem. Mom would say what the problem was but never to you.

"You should go if it will make you happy."
	You should go.

2013

Beep-boop

“Heeeyyyyy, glad I caught you!”

“Hey, sorry I missed you earlier. How’s it going?”

Our conversation is stiff and awkward. It’s the first time we’ve talked in almost a month. He’s pretending he’s not mad at me. I’m pretending it’s not my fault.

“So about this summer . . . ”

“Oh, yeah about that . . . ”

“Granny’s hoping–”

“I’m not sure–”

“Sorry?”

“Sorry I missed that–”

“Sophie?”

“Dad?”

“I–– excited–– see––”

“Dad, you’re cutting out.”

“I’m–– What–– Sorry––”

“Ugh. Dad, I’ll call you back.”

“Wait––”

Beep-boop

It takes another hour before the connection is solid. It’s midnight, his time. I have homework to do. We leave the summer conversation where it is.

–––

Hello, welcome aboard!

Hello, welcome aboard!

Hello, welcome aboard!
Welkom! Mag ik u helpen uw vliegtuigstoel te vinden?

Oh! Excuse me, miss, I didn’t realize.

It’s the hair. I was certain you were Dutch.

Now can I help you find your seat?

2014

“I would like to make a toast!”

There are chuckles around the table as we shush each other. The matriarch has spoken.

“It is just so wonderful that we are all together again. Reunited at last! With Mark here, having us over in his beautiful home–”

There’s applause and back-slapping. The brothers approve.

“We’re so proud of you, after all you’ve been through. You took a bad situation and made it an opportunity. Reconnecting with your home, getting out there, helping with the theatre group, with the community, it’s fantastic.”

There are respectful nods and looks of encouragement. My dad is blushing slightly.

“It’s just so good to see you happy, Mark. I mean it! I truly believe you’re finding your happiness again. Now that you’re back where you belong, with your family.”

Smiles all around. The family is together at last.

“And Sophie is here too! Visiting us!”

Three of the uncles wink at me. This wine is super good.

–––

Whenever the Skype call gets slow my dad and I turn to our signature conversation piece: movies and TV shows.

“Hey, I just started…”

“Oh my god wait did I tell you about…”

“Have you seen…”

“Okay, it’s not really your thing but it’s so so good . . . ”

“I found this show that’s right up your alley . . . ”

“What do you mean you didn’t like it!?”

“Wait, which part did you see?”
“Oh, okay, I can understand that.”

“But still, you’re wrong. It’s great”

Our tastes can vary quite a bit. I get worked up about messages, about the off-screen lives of creators and actors.

“Didn’t you find it sexist?”

“Dad, there was one female character in the whole thing and she was raped and murdered for more manpain.”

“I would have checked it out but it’s . . . Woody Allen . . . ”

“I just don’t get why Hollywood seems to be incapable of casting Asian actors in Asian roles!”

He gets worked up about storylines being “dumb,” about writing being dull.

“I dunno, I just couldn’t get into it?”

“You like this?? It’s so bad!”

“I mean, I’ll check it out but I’m not sure . . . ”

“No, no, no, I hate that actor.”

“I kind of dropped off after the second episode.”

“I got bored! I’m sorry!”

The one thing we seem to agree on is our weird sense of humour. He raised me on the wit of Monty Python, the subtlety of the Coen Brothers, the storybook beauty of Wes Anderson. I introduced him to the fast-paced genius of Edgar Wright, the thoughtfulness of Parks and Recreation, the grim hilarity of BoJack Horseman.

When it comes down to comedy done right, it doesn’t matter if my dad’s a romantic or I’m a realist.

2015

I’m shouting. I’m screaming at him. I don’t think I’ve ever been this open about how I feel. Am I being open? I think so. This all feels very movie-esque. This is totally movie-esque. Right down to the staging.

Weather reflecting mood? Check. We’re in Northern Europe in December.

Power position? Check. I’m standing halfway up the stairs, he’s at the bottom.

Light source? Check. Warm candles in the kitchen where we were just sitting. I’m headed towards the darkness upstairs.

Rule of thirds? Check. This open-concept house makes it easy. We could put the camera practically anywhere.

How about character development? Have we had time to bond with these characters over the course of the story? Is the conflict believable? I feel like it should be. We’ve been letting this simmer for years now. Granted it might be a bit cliché . . . “Oh, a lack of communication, boohoo! Just talk to each other like normal people!”

What was going on again? Oh yeah, he was trying to explain his side. Y’know what? I’m kind of sick of listening to his side. His side is mean. His side doesn’t respect my wishes not to hear his side. I’m just gonna keep going. I have a lot of thoughts right now and I’m just gonna let them out. Yeah, that seems like a good idea. I’ve even got a platform to stand on! Man, open-concept houses are great.

Okay, one final line. The big, dramatic one-liner to end the scene and storm off, never to return.

Ha! Take that!

Oh.
–––

I didn’t mean it.
I swear I didn’t.

I take it back.
I know I can’t take something like that back.

I’m sorry.
I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sor–

–––

INT. MARK’S HOUSE, LIVING ROOM – NIGHT
SOPHIE (17, blonde, guilt-ridden) nervously sits down on the couch.

SOPHIE
I am so so sorry.

MARK (54, blond, tired of trying) stares at the blank television screen.

SOPHIE
I don’t know why I said all that.
It wasn’t true. I’m not going
anywhere.

Mark sighs and puts his arm around her. They sit a moment in silence.

SOPHIE
Dad?

MARK
Yeah?

SOPHIE
I think I’m ready to talk about the
divorce.

2017

Beep-boop

“Heeeyyyyy, Dad, how’s law school?”

“Heeeyyyyy, it’s good! I’m studying for my midterm next week. How are things on your end?”

“Ah, you know, keeping busy. I’m looking forward to seeing you this summer!”

“Me too! How’s your film looking? I had some ideas for you . . . ”

The conversation is smooth and relaxed. We exchange recipes, class stories. We skip the usual movies and TV shows exchange. Neither of us have had much free time lately.

“Hey Soph I’ve got to make dinner, great chatting with you, though!”

“You too! Same time next week?”

“You betcha.”

“Alright, enjoy dinner! And Dad?”

“Yeah?”

“I love you.”

Sophie Alberdingk Thijm is a second-year Animation student at SVA.