She came home from school and announced that to the household by banging the front door close. She immediately regretted doing that because her mother was probably resting. She threw her bag in her room and came to the kitchen to get herself a snack. And then she saw him. He had the audacity to look her in the eye and ask if she wanted a grilled cheese sandwich. Typical! If he had taken any pain to get to know her, he would know that melted cheese made her feel icky and she would never ever eat that, except on pizza. Didn’t he know about her sweet tooth? Her mom usually made a jelly sandwich or a pop tart after school. She poured herself a glass of milk and settled on the table with cookies and a comic. But someone couldn’t take a hint. He followed her and started asking about her day. She wanted to throw the milk on his face and scream. Yes, he was her father. But does he even know what grade she was in? Or her teacher’s name? He had never displayed interest in her in the eight years of her life. He hadn’t even been present. He would always be on the road and the only father she knew was the one who would be sprawled on the couch, clasping a beer with his calloused hands, sleeping the day off. Even when he was awake he never spoke full sentences to her. Never wanted to play catch with her.
She didn’t always feel this angry towards him. She had made her peace with not having a fulltime father and was glad to see him when he was home. But the past few weeks, it was different. For one thing, he was home all the time. There was a lot of yelling and her mother was crying all day. She felt sorry for her mother. And now he thinks he can just waltz back into her life and start playing her father?
He sighed when he saw her read the comic, ignoring his questions. The feeling of sadness in his heart was peppered with flashes of anger at her mother. Yes, he had been absent for a large part of her life. But that was not because he loved her any less. He was a trucker, he had to be on the road most of the time. When he did land back home after driving through ten states, all he wanted to do was eat and sleep. For a few months after she was born, he had stopped driving trucks and had taken up a job stocking shelves at the Piggly Wiggly. But he soon found that his wife preferred an absent husband who made the big bucks to one making minimum wage in town. She liked buying things and wanted everyone to call her pretty. He remembered the night she came to his room crying, with the letter from the credit card company. He was back behind the wheel the next day.
And there was this whole other thing too. Growing up with six brothers, he had been delighted when she told him they were having a daughter. He called all his family and told them the news. Then his buddy called him aside and told him about some rumors that were flying around. That night, they had the biggest fight ever and she swore she was his. And he stayed, because he couldn’t bear the thought of his daughter being raised by someone else and being neglected. And when she came into the world with her black hair and brown eyes, he knew he would love her for the rest of his life. He wished now that he had been different with her. Loving someone and telling someone you love them are independent and separate actions, where one does not imply the other. He took after his father and always had difficulty with words. Many times, he would want to gather her into his arms and just hug her tight. But held back, because in his mind fathers were stern creatures who did not give butterfly kisses to their daughters, preferring to express emotion with grunts.
They had had many fights before, but he didn’t know if they could stay together any longer. A wife is not something you share with a neighbor. For a minute, he wondered if he could just tell his daughter everything. Judging by the dirty looks she was throwing at him, there was no way she would leave her momma and come with him, no matter what he said. Also the only thing he knew in life was driving trucks and what kind of life was that for a little girl? Maybe it was better that she thinks he is the ultimate villain.