This is a short story (flash fiction, really) that I wrote and that originally appeared in Fractured West, Issue 2, edited by Kristy Logan and Helen Sedgwick. Sadly, the journal closed in 2013, but I thought I’d share my little contribution to it.
Hope you like it.
He never used to tell me I was pretty. Maybe sometimes, but then he’d say beautiful instead of pretty. Most times, he didn’t say either. He’d call me smart. I got mad cause I didn’t want to be smart. I wanted to be pretty.
Now he says it a lot, but his smile’s different. I smile too. I like being pretty. But now I miss what he used to say. I miss his old smile.
Dad still reads books at breakfast sometimes. When he gets up for more coffee, he folds the cover around back to hold his page. When he picks it up again, I can see the white scars and crinkles on the back. He says they still have all the same words in them. But I don’t like how the backs are all broken and they flop open like they’re too tired to hold everything inside anymore.
When he sees me staring, he watches me. He bites his lip like he’s waiting for something.
Sometimes he asks if I remember how he used to make me hot chocolate for breakfast. He pretended I was drinking coffee like he was. But he says I was too smart. I knew it wasn’t coffee. He always said I was too smart for him and Mom cause I read so much.
I remember lots of things before the accident. Like sitting in Dad’s big chair and reading a book he bought for me. Or pretending to drink coffee. I remember I got my license. He showed me how to drive, but he says I can’t drive now. I remember Dad used to wink and say, “Smarts last, pretty don’t.”
Now he smiles at me and it’s different. It goes away faster, like it’s too heavy to hold. But it makes me smile anyway. I can feel his fingers on the scar when he brushes my hair and says, “My little girl’s so pretty.”