Daddy’s Girl by W. T Paterson

 

He was there when you were born.  He held you in his hands and openly wept because he’d never felt more love.

That night, he slept so wonderfully.  In a journal the next morning, he plotted out your success from school, to college, to career.  He was a small business owner after all, but you were destined to be international.  Big plans, my dear, big plans.

He bought you a gold necklace that said Daddy’s Girl in thin letters to give to you on your 16th birthday.  He would play his 1969 Fender Telecaster unplugged in your room until you fell asleep.

He was there for your first steps, your first words (Dada!), and your first day of school.  They knew then that your cognitive function wasn’t at a first grade level – it was perhaps a little bit slower, but they sent you anyways.  I say they because your mother was also a part of it all.  This was before the cheating and embezzlement, long before you did those videos with the boys on the swim team.  Your mother loved you – at least for a little while.  She loved your dad too.

Now, not so much.

Your Dad was there when you got held back a year and cried that the other children made fun of you.  He was golfing with his buddies, but left the best game he’d ever played to console you.  He barely got two words in over your shouting.  Third grade was not your year.

Well, the year you were found dead was probably worse all things considered.

Your Daddy was there to bring you dress shopping for homecoming, even though he didn’t approve of your 19 year old boyfriend.  You were 14, but told the boy you were 16.  Your father bit his tongue every time he heard you talking over the phone lying about all of the sex you never really had.

You were 15 when it ended.  By then, you had started smoking and drinking.  You talked to yourself in the bedroom about how fucking pathetic you were.  Bloody laundry kept popping up, so your Dad booked the both of you a vacation to Great America.  He thought you’d like the roller coasters.

The night before the trip, you maxed out his credit cards on online poker.  Even though he drove you three hours to the suburbs of Chicago for a special weekend, without a hotel room you both had to turn around and go home.  You told him his information must been hacked, but he found the websites.

Instead of being at an amusement park with him for a weekend, you snuck out and tried cocaine with that girl who lived alone.  Your dad watched VH1 Storytellers until you fell through the door laughing at 4 am.

When you turned 16 a few months later, he gave you the necklace.  You asked if you could just have the money instead.  He ended up giving you the money, but you kept the necklace too.

The next night he had his first date since your mom left, something over a decade in the making, and you told the woman she looked fat.  He was mortified, but the woman forgave you, bless her soul.  That was the same night your father opened up about how hard it was being a Dad.  He was crying over a glass of white wine wondering where he went wrong.  You didn’t know that though.  You were filling the top floor with pot smoke and EDM.  That particular night, you had a threesome with two neighborhood boys and left your door open.

By the time you were 17, you and your Daddy were fighting more.  He caught you stealing from his store to pay off the drug dealer from two towns over.  You took his car, even though you didn’t have a license, to bars with a fake ID.  The number of times he explained to neighbors that they weren’t in any danger even though the back window had a bullet hole through it was beyond reasonable.  Somewhere, you understood this because you agreed to go to counseling.

But in counseling as he wept about how much you looked like your mother and he felt like he was losing you too, you called him a faggot and told him to pull his shit together.

The next time you called him from the police station after a man claiming to be your pimp smacked you around, he didn’t come to get you.  It made you feel bad, like you had pushed a little too hard over a time that was a little too long.  You told yourself you hadn’t always been this way and that maybe you could become the girl he once believed you could be.  You still wore the necklace, after all.

So when he came to the courthouse for your arraignment, you told the judge you’d like to enter rehab.  They agreed, but they put the financial burden on your father.  He had to pick up a second job at Jewel/Osco to make ends meet.  He also sold his car and antique 1969 Fender Telecaster.  Did you know he had an entire albums worth of songs written for you?  He would strum them when he felt like he was loosing touch with his baby girl.  It made him feel close to you.

But he sold it to fund your recovery.

When you got out, he picked you up.  You promised him you’d changed, that things were better.

Two days later, you shot heroin and drove to Las Vegas in a stolen car.

You asked to go to rehab again, but this time Daddy refused to pay for it.  He simply couldn’t afford it, money or otherwise.  It made you mad and bitter.

Instead of getting better in juvie, you obsessively planned out how to speak your

mind.  It was his fault mom left, his fault you were born with severe dyslexia, and his fault for letting you run wild. You needed boundaries, damnit, not a listening ear.

When you got out, you found that he was still seeing that woman you called fat. It pissed you off that he was with her instead of picking you up, and it was infuriating that she tracked down and re-purchased the 1969 Tele.  It was maddening that he seemed overall better without you.

Yet he still let you back into his house to sleep under his roof and eat his food.  You still had a bed and a room.

So what did you do?  You stole his guitar and traded it for an eighth of weed just to prove that kindness and caring were thin veils for selfishness and greed.  The kid who traded it to you asked if you were back in the game, and if so, he might know of a job.

A few days later, your body was found all sliced up by the train tracks. The only recognizable thing on the body was a gold necklace with thin letters that spelled Daddy’s Girl.  They brought in your father and questioned him for hours.  They said he was their number one suspect because most murders happen between people who know each other.  They told him about the stuff you always kept secret.  In his eyes, you could see it.  A part of him was glad that you were gone.

The story got caught up in a media circus.  It went international.  Your name became synonymous with St. Jude, the patron saint of lost causes.  In the news to hide your real name, they called you ‘Judy’.

They never found out who did it, or why they didn’t take your necklace.  Your Dad married that woman, too.  They live in Ossipee, New Hampshire.

But you know who did it.  You were there.  Most people still think it was your father, especially after your life insurance paid out something massive.  I guess the question you need to ask yourself, if that’s even possible, is this;

Could you blame him?