Categories > Original > Drama0 Reviews
While waiting at the doctor's office, a long dreaded conversation must occur. I see a conflict in her eyes before she blurts, "Where my daddy."
Callie runs into my arms when I enter my friend Michelle's house. I smother her face with kisses as Michelle Goodwin casually welcomes me into her warm kitchen. Her children shout and shriek playfully from the den to my right and I copiously thank Michelle for all her help.
"No problem, darling," she says, embracing me. I met the thirty-some-year-old, fourth-time mother at a birthing class when I was pregnant with Callie. Michelle and I, a first-time mother, bonded quickly and she, being the wife of a wealthy banker, offered to help me up every now and then - financially and emotionally.
"You've been good, Callie girl?" I ask my daughter, who nods, kissing my cheek. Michelle affirms this and offers a cookie in parting to the little girl. I notice Callie says goodbye to Joshua, Ben, and Nathan Pruitt, but says nothing to Hannah, the seven-year-old and only girl.
Callie chats from her car seat the entire ride to the doctor's office, and I'm grateful she does not pay attention or she would have a fit.
I take her hand in mine as we enter the sterile building, and after signing in "Nelson, Callie", I suggest she go play with the other girl in the "Healthy" section of the waiting room. Callie needs routine vaccinations before starting kindergarten and so I called up a co-worker slash friend at Belks and asked for a quick loan for the shots and a promised full payment next paycheck.
Callie shakes her curly had and clings to my hand as I sit in a dull gray metal chair. She hops onto my lap and I hold on tight, wishing I could spend more time with my daughter, but two jobs took most of that option away.
"How do you enjoy playing with Hannah?" I ask softly as Callie plays with my bracelets. She shrugs. "I thought you were best friends," I say in surprise.
My five-year-old turns to face me. "I don't like her anymore," she says solidly, but with her speech-impediment, it came out as, "I 'on't 'iker anymoh."
"She mean to me." She pouts, then scrunches her brow. I don't believe it; Michelle's daughter is mean to my daughter? I smooth out her brow and sternly ask for an explanation of what took place that afternoon, turning her around to I can see her face. Callie and her father are just alike-I could tell the instant Aaron told a tall tale because his eyes were a dead giveaway. The trait has passed yet another generation.
But when Callie explained, I see only truth in her baby blue eyes.
"Hannah bragged about her father? What is wrong about that? I thought you liked Joseph."
I see a conflict in her eyes before she blurts, "Where my daddy?" Slightly taken aback, I shuffle through my mind for an answer to her question. I knew this conversation was inevitable from the first day Callie began to talk. However, I had anticipated it to be sometime years from now.
"How come he don't love us, Mommy?" she continues and I look questioningly at her. "What are you on about?"
"Hannah said...daddies love daughters and mothers." She stumbles over the words a little, pronouncing "love" with a W instead. If she wasn't so serious, I would have laughed. "Why he don't love us?" I stare into her eyes, reflecting nothing by curiosity and a little hurt.
"Baby, you daddy loves you very much," I say softly, gently stroking her chestnut curls.
"Did he love you too?"
"Very much so," I answer firmly. "In fact, he loved me so much, he gave me you!"
"Like a present?"
I chuckle. "Yes, a present. You were so small, with tine little hands no bigger than my little pinkie finger. You used to lie right here in my arms," I explain, cradling my arms as if holding her again. I think I can feel the familiar and comforting weight of a small child resting there, "and I'd rock you until you fell asleep with your thumb in your mouth. Callie, he loved us both." Though unknowingly, I finish in my mind.
"Someday, I'll take you to see him," I finish quietly, almost to myself more than to her.
"Now?" she asks excitedly, her face lighting up. I hastily try to rectify the situation.
"Not today, baby; maybe not for a long time, but someday you will see your daddy. Remember what I told you about your heavenly Daddy?" She nods.
"He always there and watchin' and loves me more tan my other daddy does," she answers, struggling to spit out the words she knows. I frown slightly. I make a mental notation to talk to a speech specialist about her troubles. Then remember I have no money. "Why He not come see me?" she asks innocently, and I pause.
"Because," I start slowly, "He wants us to believe He is there. Callie, you believe He is there, don't you?" She nods. "Then one day, you will be able to see Him." She smiles.
"Like daddy?" she asks and I smile.
Yes, Aaron did love me, and I thought he always would. We justified our sinful actions on the promise to be engaged, but we never were engaged much less married; I was only fifteen and thought myself invincible.
Nineteen-year-old Aaron and I sit outside the rexall as the clock nears midnight. The little plastic stick in my hands feels very heavy, both on my lap and on my mind. I tap it against my knee.
"Stop it, Abby!" Aaron snaps, his hands gripping the steering wheel until his knuckles turn white.
"We used protection, I'm on the pill, and my period's irregular anyway," I say gently. "I just want to be sure."
"I spent enough on this 'being sure', so I hope it's worth it," he mutters under his breath. The seconds tick by ever so slowly until the digital readout on the car stereo reaches 11:55.
"Well?" Aaron demands, reaching for the answer literally until he catches himself. I bite my lip and flick the overhead map light.
My carefully constructed walls of protection crashed and burned around me in the simple two-syllable word printed on the EPT. For the first time in my life, I saw a man cry.
I didn't tell my parents. What scared, promising fifteen-year-old in her right mind would? The initial shock of the news wore off within the next few days. But the sound of "with child" fell on my ears the wrong way and I cried myself to sleep every night. Aaron didn't contact me for two weeks until one night he offered to pay for an abortion. That was the last time I spoke with him. Occasionally, a check comes in the mail, but it's impersonal.
My daughter abandons my bracelets and twirls around the promise ring on my finger. A man two years older than me waiting back at the apartment wears a matching silver band. We had traded the rings back in high school when Callie was barely a year old. He had said it was a promise that we would always be friends, and love each other through thick and thin no matter what life throws our way. I had thought it meant like a sibling-love, and had missed the subtle "our" in which he referred to us.
"Is Kyle gonna be my dad?" Callie blurts suddenly. Her innocence stops me in my tracks. I sweep back her bangs and kiss her head. "I love you, sweetie," I murmur against her black curls.
"Is'ee?" she insists. I wonder how much she will understand if I tell her. My relationship with Kyle is complicated to say the least.
Kyle Reed is my only true friend since high school. We were neighbors as kids and friends during my pregnancy. He never shied away from me when Callie kicked or I had sudden, strange cravings for pickles and peanut butter, or clam chowder pound cake.
I awake from a very strange dream where I am swimming in shallow water. I get up to have a drink of water when I realize the sheets beneath my legs are wet. A very sharp pang shoots through my abdomen and the baby kicks. Mom is away for the week on an emergency visit to Grandad after his heart attack, and I'm on my own.
"Oh." A mild curse falls from my mouth as I reach over to autodial Kyle.
Five rings later, the boy finally answers the phone, voice thick with sleep. "My water broke," is all I say.
"I'll be right over," he says, suddenly wide-awake. I toss the phone onto the bed and pull on clean jeans before heading downstairs gingerly. I unlatch the front door and wait on the bench in the entryway for no more than two minutes when Kyle raps on the door. His arms support me all the way to the waiting minivan.
Kyle took me in like a big brother, except now I know he doesn't think of me as his little sister.
"Do you want Kyle to be your daddy?" I ask. Callie nods enthusiastically. I want to cry.
Four years later, on Callie's fifth birthday after the party and her friends had gone home, twenty-one-year-old Kyle proposed. I still remember the moment when he had stilled my cleaning hands and stared at me in silence for a long while.
"What?" I ask, a little terse from the long day and amount of cleaning to do before bed.
"Abby. . ." he pauses. Then I see the dark smudges under his eyes. I relax a little.
"What's wrong?" I'm concerned. Kyle's flushed and his dark brown eyes are frightened, I realize, and he is deathly serious. "Kyle...?"
"Will you marry me?" The question is blurted, very ineloquent and unromantic.
Callie pulls on my hair and I tug on that hand, and then tap her nose. I can't explain I have two weeks to answer. Then he will graduate from the community college and move on. He deserves stability, maturity, and someone who doesn't break down emotionally every night. Those things I am not.
I'm scared of changing Callie's and my life irrevocably. She loves Kyle like he has been her father all along, and he loves her as his own daughter, and I love Kyle with all my heart, yet wonder if this love is more than platonic.
While surrounded by hacking, sneezing, sniffling people with a five-year-old on my lap, I think of how far I've come with Kyle. I think of Callie and how her life would be incomplete without a father. I think of my own self for the first time without consideration of Callie, since I know her answer. I think about how much he means to me and how lost I would feel on my own. How he cares for me, and how gently he holds Callie. And I think of saying yes.