Alexander Tennett sighed as he reached his door. He was having an existential day. To put it simply, he was questioning the point of living. He leaned against the shingles of his small, one floor hovel.
"What am I doing?" he sobbed, "Why am I doing this?"
Then his answer came. Sally turned the light on inside.
His daughter must have heard his sobs. Whether she knew he was crying or not, she knew he was at the door. She came and turned the handle, and the door opened inwards. There she was, like a glimmer of hope in a nightmare.
"Hi, daddy!" she exclaimed, and ran up to him.
"Hi, Sally," Alexander replied.
He smiled grimly and patted his daughter's head. She was still so small that she could hug his leg. It broke his heart sometimes when he thought of how little she was.
"Why don't you come inside, daddy?" she asked.
"Oh, in a minute, darling," he said heavily.
She was young, but she could still tell when someone was upset. She walked back into the house and left Alexander out there. He took one last look at the bright moon that was out that night, and then he stepped over the threshold.
"How was school?" he asked, dropping his bag on the floor and slumping into his comfortable old recliner.
"Boring," she replied.
"Did you stay in day care the whole time?"
She shuffled her feet and looked at the ground.
"Well?" he asked.
"I left a little early," she stressed, "But we weren't doing anything there, and I was hungry."
He frowned. He wondered how much was "a little". A few hours? She was remarkably responsible, though, so he decided not to scold her. He trusted her on her own.
"Dinner went all right?" he asked.
She nodded. His face fell somewhat. She was only in third grade, and she was walking home from school and making her own dinner.
"Come here," he said and held out his arms to her.
She came and jumped up into his arms. He stood up and held her against his face.
"I love you, you know that?"
"Mmm hmmm," she agreed.
"And you know mommy’s watching over you from heaven?"
She nodded again. She was so young and full of innocence. She had a round happy face that smiled a lot. Sally was a lovely little girl.
"Do you mind that we don't live in a big house, and that I can't always get you what you want?"
"No," she said, and hugged him.
"Do you mind not getting to see me much?"
"Sometimes," she said, "But then I think how you make sick people better, and I don't mind so much."
He held her close. The money he got from the government to run the free clinic was not very much. It was barely enough to live on. But he still felt a sense of duty to work to help the less fortunate. Everyone deserved to be healthy, he felt. And he'd made an oath that he would help everyone he could. Sometimes, like tonight, he wondered if it might not be better to find a high-paying job in a regular hospital, and make enough money to keep his daughter happy.
It hadn't been so bad before Julie had died. She spent time at home with the girl. She could get the care and attention she needed. But Julie was dead, and there was no way to bring her back. It bothered him sometimes that he could help so many people, but not his own daughter.
"I'll tell you what," he said, "Tomorrow's Saturday. We're going to do whatever you want all day."
Her eyes lit up.
"There's going to be a big party tomorrow. The mayor's going to be there and stuff. I saw it on TV."
"I heard about that. The new museum's opening. You want to go to a museum?"
She tightened her face as though she had swallowed an onion.
"I don't want to go to the museum," she said in exasperation, "I want to go to the party. It's outside. And let's get hot dogs and ice cream and stuff."
"All right. We'll go. And we'll have hot dogs with ice cream on top."
"Eww! That's awful."
"Hey, don't knock it until you've tried it. You've never had it before, have you? Have you?"
"No," she admitted.
"Then we'll try some tomorrow."
He lifted her high into the air and she squealed in delight. Then he brought her down so she was sitting on his shoulders.
"But for now it's bedtime."
"Manuscripts don't burn"
- Mikhail Bulgakov
Hi, I'm horror and science fiction author Steve Kozeniewski (pronounced: "causin' ooze key.") Welcome to my blog! You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Amazon. You can e-mail me here, join my mailing list here, or request an e-autograph here. Free on this site you can listen to me recite one of my own short works, "The Thing Under the Bed."
Enter your e-mail address in the box below and click "Subscribe" to join Stephen Kozeniewski's Mailing List for Fun and Sexy People. (Why the hell would anyone ever want to join a mailing list?)