It wasn’t easy.
That was something I could hold onto, at least.
It was a genuine struggle to let myself relax into the kiss. As my daughter’s arms wrapped around me, pulling me closer, as my wife pressed my daughter’s body against mine, it was almost impossible not to shove her away, to scream at her, to remind her that what we were doing was wrong, wrong, wrong.
But her words had left an impact. She needed this.
When Mary had been pregnant, I’d done all that I could to pick up the slack. For months, I was solely and entirely in charge of housework, errands, shopping.
At the end of it, we’d gotten Belle and Ben, and it had been worth every moment of work.
Now, my wife needed me again.
Again, I would do whatever needed to be done.
And so I closed my eyes and—although it went against everything I believed in—returned my daughter’s kiss.
Her lips were soft, softer than her mother’s. Her tongue was delicate, strangely timid, as it ran its way across my lips. And her hands were needy—they ran across my back, occasionally grasping and releasing.
It was such a different experience to kissing my wife, I couldn’t even pretend it was her.
The soft moans coming from her mouth were a higher pitched than my wife’s, and so I used my imagination. I pretended that my wife had a younger sister, and the two of them had decided to share me. It was close enough to my wife that I wouldn’t feel like I was cheating, but distant enough to justify the differences.
I pretended that I had her fictional sister—“Ellen”, I mentally named her—in my arms, and I was able to bring myself to return the kiss.
But as fiercely as I tried to pretend, I couldn’t shake the truth: the body pressing against mine, the saliva I was gingerly tasting, the hands grasping at my back…
They belonged to my teenage daughter.
After ten minutes, Belle’s lips left mine, and she leaned back. Her eyes, so fiery just a few minutes ago, looked as though they were glazed over. Her hair was messy, her clothes were rumpled, and if I’d walked in on her like this a few days ago, I would have furiously started searching the room for a boy.
“Wow,” she gasped. “Andrew. Andrew, that was…”
“Are you okay?”
“Mmmm,” she said, and for the first time in my life, I wished that my wife’s voice wasn’t so expressive.
“Was that what you needed?”
“Yess,” she moaned.
We sat in an awkward silence for several minutes, as I tried to erase the afternoon’s events from my mind, and my wife slowly came back to earth. I watched her straighten up Belle’s hair and clothing, and it wasn’t long before it was impossible to tell that anything had happened.
“Thank you,” she said, stepping into a hug. I’d held my daughter like this before, so many times—her head on my chest, my hand on her hair. It had always made me feel like I was able to protect her, like as long as I could bring her in for a father-daughter cuddle, nothing could ever go wrong. “I really, really needed that.”
“I know,” I said simply, and she smiled and skipped out of the room.
I was still quite shaken up when my daughter (in my wife’s body) approached me later that night. She had some more questions about her job, but it was clear that I was distracted.
“What’s wrong, honey-buns?” she said, and I pretended not to notice the flicker of disgust on her face as the term passed her lips.
My opportunity was here, and I seized it.
“It’s Belle,” I answered honestly, and—exactly as I expected—she took the bait. Who doesn’t like talking about themselves, after all?
For the next few hours, we spoke about “our daughter”.
It’s hard to say, of course, but I feel like I did a pretty good job. Without being preachy or judgmental, I managed to convey my worries, the potential I saw in Belle. Without being too sappy, I told her how much I loved our baby girl, how I just wanted to be there for her—any way I could.
By the end of the conversation, I felt like I’d really made an impact. She’d started out guarded and defensive, but as she left for the couch in the spare room, I felt like she’d begun to actually understand that her mother and I weren’t doing this to control her, or using her to attempt to correct our teenage mistakes; that we really cared.
In turn, she’d managed to voice some concerns I wasn’t aware of. It was a tricky conversation to have through the layers of subterfuge that we had to navigate, but while playing the role of her own mother, Belle managed to expressed “her daughter”’s fears, her loneliness. Mary hadn’t been imagining it; our daughter genuinely didn’t have any friends she was close with.
No wonder this ‘Spike’ character had managed to get his claws into her. Alone, full of hormones, scared…she must have been easy prey.
What I’d done that afternoon had been wrong, I knew that, and I hadn’t gotten any pleasure out of it.
But if it helped us get through to our daughter, it was absolutely worth it. I’d do anything for Belle. For Mary. For our family.