She sneezed

(THIS IS FICTION, just ask my daughter)

I said “honey, I ain’t broken I’m just lost.” She said, “daddy, everything lost is broken.” And I smiled, weakly, guiltily, then tried again.

“But broken is as broken does and we’re not destitute. I mean, you’re eating well, have a roof over your head, your own room (then I blew it and got mad). Yeah, your own fuckin room! And HAVE I EVER violated your privacy?”

My daughter doesn’t cry without smiling. And it’s not because she’s happy. (And it breaks my teeny tinee little heart every time. As it should), So, she started smiling. “So your question was, ‘have you ever violated my privacy.”?

And then the real beating started.

20 minutes later, I was alone. I had been alone for 15 minutes (When she is angry, Sophie is always very direct and economical in describing what you have done to piss her off). Fortunately, most of what she said, I already knew, and had been punishing myself for decades. But, then…

S: “To be honest, I don’t really think you like me daddy.”

Me: I was stunned, speechless, “wha’ no! why?!”

S: “You don’t really respect me or trust me. You’ve been disappointed with my choices ever since I was like ten years old. Sometimes, the way you act, it’s like you hate me for…”

Me: ‘For what?’

Sophie: “For not being more like you.”

Me: (I paused, despite myself) But, no, I love you…

Sophie: “People love what they hate all of the time daddy.”

Suddenly, I heard a buzzing, like a radio station being tuned in, I couldn’t hear anything but a noise and pain, so I closed my eyes and went to sleep.

A lifetime later, I woke up. I was in bed. A soft, comfortable bed in the noontime. I could see children playing outside my window, and then she appeared amongst the others. She was nine years old again. She carried a tether ball and looked up at me with her giant beautiful freckled smile. I smiled and waived at her, crying the whole time. She smiled, then waived back and we just stared at each other, in what seemed like forever, in peace. Then she sneezed, wiped her nose, smiled at me again, and then left with her friends.

I never saw her again.