Her Father's Daughter
Heather sat on the bed looking at the clothing that lay piled neatly beside her. Nothing spectacular from anyone’s point of view, but still huge enough of a statement. She sighed deeply before standing up. Stripping off her clothes, she eyed the pile once again.
“This should work,” she said as she pulled off her briefs and pulled up a pair of soft, cotton-lined grey-green satin panties. Though they would remain hidden, they set the tone for the rest of her outfit. She really didn’t mean to be so confrontational, but her father was unable to listen.
“Dad…please?” She had begged so many times, and while failing in that regard time after time, she knew it was because he just couldn’t understand.
“No.” The word seemed abrupt, but the tone was soft. A father struggling so hard with his beliefs and how they crashed hard against his child’s wants. He couldn’t even understand that they were needs; not wants invented out of entitlement and confusion, but needs that burst out of a heart filled with hope and clarity. But still it was her father that turned down each and every request to understand, and no matter what understandable reason stood behind his response, it still hurt
“It has to work. It will work.” She placed her arms thru the bra straps and fastened it in front. No hose today; it was very warm, and she was already nervous enough. She stepped in and pulled up the matching grey-green slip; pausing before continuing to look at herself in the mirror. Her body remained disappointing to her; too wide in the waist and way too small in the bosom, but it was what she had, and it was hers. She pulled up a long cream-colored gauze skirt and followed it quickly with a tan tunic with a scoop neck and short sleeves. Stepping into her sandals, she looked down, wondering why no one in the family had small feet.
“Now what could anyone possibly say about this outfit?” She shook her head. Nothing would matter unless she could face him as herself. But also? No amount of preparation could help to anticipate how painfully sad the coming moments would be for her. Nothing would retrieve the time lost between the two, but she had to try. She grabbed the broad round straw hat from the post of her bed and put it on with another sigh.
“Oh….please, Dad…” She felt that even the slightest accommodation might mean the difference between acceptance and refusal, and she decided to avoid saying “Daddy.” Moving to the dresser she grabbed the watch sitting on her jewelry box. The only thing that actually meant something to her; an old Gruen, it was a treasured gift from her father for her twelfth birthday. It had a new leather band that accommodated her larger wrist.
A voice called from the hallway. A tall, rugged looking man stood at the door dressed in a dark suit. His face was a brilliant welcome to her in the midst of her anxious mood, even if it was less than handsome to most; her sister said he was good looking in an ugly sort of way, which everyone recognized as a complement.
She walked to him and kissed his cheek. He pulled her close and she began to cry. Never one for much makeup, she was at least glad that her eyes wore no adornment to repair. He pat her gently on the back but pulled away slowly and guided her down the hallway and outside to the waiting car.
* * *
“Dad? I wanted to say I love you, but I can’t.” She sounded oddly calm for the words that would come next, and they were also surprising, since they were completely unexpected.
“I’ll try anyway, okay? I know I’ve been something of a disappointment to you, but somebody told me once that you can’t disappoint someone unless they expect something or that you are important to them. I’m going to remember the times you told me you loved me. And I’m going to remember the times you cried when you saw me; not because you hated me, but because you cared too much. That you couldn’t love me softly but it had to be with that hard edge of yours. No compromise, right? But I know it was because you loved me.”
She leaned over and kissed him and forgot her vow; nothing mattered now, and it truly was all about what she could give to him rather than what she could ever get.
“Daddy. I love you. I forgive you. Be at peace, okay?” She leaned again and kissed his forehead before standing calmly. Her boyfriend came close and touched her hand; taking it in his and squeezing. Putting her other hand to her face, she wiped tears that came too fast to staunch.
“It’s time,” the doctor said. Heather nodded before turning into a comforting embrace as a soft click was followed by a loud persistent high-pitched beep.
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