Will you Daddy?
It's strange the things you remember when life has crumbled suddenly and left you standing there alone. It's not the big important things, but the little things: the way a little hand touched yours and you were too busy to notice, the hopeful little inflection of a voice you didn't really bother to listen to.
All that John Carmody could remember was something his little girl had said to him one evening a few weeks ago. He had brought home from the office a finished draft of the annual stockholders' report. He had sat down to re-read it before dinner because it was so very important. Just as he turned a page, his daughter Marge came up to him with a book under her arm.
"Will you read me a story, Daddy?"
"No, dear, not right now."
"Won't you read me just this one story? Look, Daddy, it has a pretty picture. See?"
"Yes, it is pretty. But some other time..."
"Ok, Daddy, but you will some other time?"
"Of course, you bet."
She put the book down on the chair next to him and said, "Well, whenever you get ready, just read it to yourself. Only read it loud enough so that I can hear, too."
"Sure, honey. Later..." John remembered the way a well-mannered child had touched his hand with timid little fingers and said those words. And now John picked up that book from the corner table, where they had piled some of Marge's playthings from the floor where she had left them. And reading the story, his lips moving stiffly filled with anguish to form the words. He didn't try to think anymore, as he should be thinking, about the important things, about his careful plans for the years to come. For a little while, he even forgot the horror and bitterness of his hate for the drunken driver who had careened down the street and killed his daughter. He didn't even see his wife - white and silent- dressed to be with Marge for one last time at her funeral, standing in the doorway, trying to make her voice say calmly, "I'm ready, dear. We must go."
But John was too busy reading: "Once upon a time, there was a little girl who lived in a woodcutter's hut in the Black Forest. And she was so fair that the birds forgot their singing from the bough...." He was reading it to himself, but loud enough for her to hear, too. Maybe.