December 22, 2022
Smile for Me Today
“Good morning daddy.” The woman’s voice is tired.
So it’s morning. Deckert’s eyes follow her to the window where she opens the blinds. She did that yesterday. I can remember that, he thought. Just don’t ask me the day of the week or even the month. That’s too much like math.
“Daddy you’ve kicked off your blanket again.” The woman is standing beside the bed now. “What am I going to do with you?” She is looking at his sheets, not him. Obviously not expecting an answer, she tucks his covers into place.
I wish I could remember her name.
“Are you going to smile for me today?” The woman leans over and peers into Deckert’s eyes. “Can you say ‘good morning’?”
I don’t feel like talking, but I talked last night.
What he could tell her about last night…if he had the right words…How that girl came to see him again, how she made him feel, how he wanted to hold her tight as they figured things out and made everything clear again.
I don’t know her name either, but I must have known it well once a long time ago when I was as young as she is.
It’s always the same with the girl, even what they say to each other.
She is barefoot. Slowly, but purposefully, her feet appear to him out of the dark, white and shiny. She does not arrive, she appears.
“Martin.” She says it like she is relieved to find him.
And he always says: “I’ve missed you.” It’s like rubbing a sore muscle; it hurts some, but it feels good.
He throws open the sheets, but he knows she won’t come no matter how hard he wills her to him.
“That’s not possible.”
“Because you’re married?”
“I wouldn’t be here if that was a problem. I’m here. That’s all I can give you.”
She is wearing the summer frock with the splashes of flowers that she wore the day he tried to tell her he loved her.
“I love that dress,” he says just as he said it that day.
“Is that all?” she asks just like she asked then.
He panicked that day; he remembered twisting up his words and thinking he missed his chance. “I’ve loved you ever since.”
“Seems a waste considering the years gone by,” she says.
“We were entitled to more time…”
“Nobody asked us did they?”
“If your husband remarried would that mean you are free for me?”
“If my husband remarried I might disappear forever.”
“My daughter is older than you.”
“In a way, yes.” The girl smiles. She was always pretty, he remembers.
They never talk long. “You must be patient,” she says. And she’s gone, more of a
disappearance than a departure.
“Come back for me.” That’s how he says goodbye.
He knows the smile on this woman leaning over his face. “I’ll get your pills daddy.”
This woman is my daughter.
© the author
by Michael Gigandet
Michael Gigandet is a lawyer living on a farm in Tennessee. He has been published by the Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, Reedsy, Spelk Fiction, OrangeBlushZine, Transfigured, and Potato Soup Journal. He has published stories in collections by Palm Sized Press, Pure Slush, and Down In The Dirt.