outside her comfort zone.
It was considerably difficult to make conversation with her father to begin with, Cara conceded, but making conversation with his forehead was an entirely different task. Skype hadn't been a passionate pursuit of the ex-military phenom known as Joseph Davies, Sr., but it was a much better supplement to their existing family situation than many other potential avenues they'd explored. This was the point he'd conceded. The reason for this particular concession, she'd figured, was because Cara (and her brothers, for that matter) had gone with the whole 'clipped-messages-on-holidays-and-birthdays' tactic for longer than was appropriate, the old man'd had enough, and recent events in Cara's life had taken their toll. Relationships were worth salvaging; they needed protecting, even when they were painful, and sharing when the world clearly needed more unity than it did separation.

Intent alone, however, didn't do the job. Families were complicated, full of contradictions, and theirs was no exception.

The first and most obvious one worth noting was that Cara had adopted a red hat; it was a crimson one emblazoned with the Stanford cardinal logo, worn to obscure her identity. She'd chosen to distract the public with her top tier education and bouncy, blonde ponytail while she'd gone ahead and saved the day. Joseph Davies, Sr. had taken to wearing a baseball cap as well, but his was of the bright red variety (serif-fonted white text and all), worn to display his own doggedly-held, self-proclaimed ‘All-American' values. More than once, Cara was forced to stare it in the face when they'd dialed in to the same Skype call. A showdown of varying shades of red, however, was not the reason why she'd extended a hesitant olive branch. Today, no one was wearing a brim to obscure their eyes.

It was his reply to an email she'd sent, a careful peace offering in the form of ‘I'm going to be a doctor, dad,' that'd caused her to open the laptop and try again.

im proud of you, he'd written, riddled with lower-case letters and a devil-may-care attitude toward punctuation; you never needed my help to get where you wanted to go.

Cara had called him a few days later, dubiously asking for a few minutes to talk sometime in the evening. She should've anticipated staring straight at the deep forehead wrinkles her father sported, the shaggy gray hair that'd topped off his (for a time) seemingly invincible frame. Her dad, the sergeant. Her dad, the one who'd said that athletics and sciences weren't fields for girls like her. Her dad, the same man who'd fished her out of a lake when Joey had accidentally knocked her off the dock, and who'd proclaimed that America's values were at risk now more than ever.

Her dad, the man who now reached out to adjust the computer's camera so it focused directly on his face. Cara's smile softened when he came fully into view. This was different behavior from him. He'd picked that one up all on his own, it'd seemed. That, or Joey had finally gotten the old man to listen to one tip about internet etiquette. She'd preferred to think it was the former. Perceived forward motion with her father was important.

“There you are, kiddo,” Davies rumbled, pulling a hand down and over his beard. “You're glowing.”

“Is that what happens when you get a vacation and a few full nights of sleep?”

Davies chuckled, and when his eyes reappeared from their crinkled crescents, he pointed a finger at her in jest.

“It's supposed to, Cara Leigh. You're just learning that now?”

They went back and forth like that for a while; trading small talk and general life updates -- he told her about the F150 he'd replaced the struts on, and she told him about fried plantain sandwiches in Costa Rica -- until the temperature between them had warmed to a tolerable degree. It usually was, when politics didn't get in the way; or when she didn't feel the occasional, therapy-waned need to prove to him just how worthy she was of his respect.

There was a temporary armistice, it'd seemed; a pause in the figurative cold war between them. A conversation about her academic success wouldn't defuse it; laughing at his awful M*A*S*H references wouldn't be a default white flag either. A single video call couldn't summit the mountain of issues between two people who existed on two very-disparate planes, but it was a small step.

It counted.