White Soda

January 12, 2011
A little girl and her daddy sitting on a futon, in a small room, in a shared house. The girl is about five, the father in his early thirties. As the dad strums his guitar the little girl jumps around yelling for his attention. He’s too lost in music to pay attention to her, though. Strum, strum, strum. Hum, hum, hum. Jump, jump, jump. Notice me, notice me, notice me…
(Little did she know, she’d be begging for his attention for the rest of her life.)
Finally, he looks up with a smile and says, “What is it, baby girl?”
“I wanna white soda!” she says in a little whiney voice.
“You always want a white soda!” he exclaims, while picking her up and shaking her playfully.
Giggly with joy because she knows that Daddy will get her what she wants, she pouts and begs, “Pleeeeeeeeeease?”
They walk to the convenient store a few blocks away, hand in hand. The little girl loves these stores. The snacks and nik-naks that line the shelves fascinate her. So many things anyone could need at any time…

The girl puts her bottle of Sprite on the glass counter, on top of the colorful lottery tickets, while Daddy says to the store clerk, “A pack of Newports, also.”

When they get back to the shared house the girl opens her bottle of soda pop. “White soda makes my nose tickle, Daddy!” she says with a wrinkled nose.

“Ha ha, me too, baby,” he replies while taking a drag of his cigarette.
***
Fast forward about ten years…

“I hate her. I really do, Leslie,” the little girl was screaming. She was now almost a grown woman, and she was expressing her hatred for the woman that took her daddy away.

“I know, baby. But why? It hasn’t always been like this. We’ve been married for years, why didn’t you tell me this five years ago?”

“I don’t know… I guess she’s just gotten b****ier over the years…” and her father laughed at her way of phrasing. She was a woman now, but she was still a teenager. And, teenagers don’t always express their feelings in the best ways.

“It’s not funny, Leslie! I really hate her. I hate her constant sighs, her ‘Can I bother you to…’s, her huge butt…”

“Butt, butt, butt!” chimed the little toddler racing down the stairs, “BUTT!!!” The little girl jumped into the teenage girl’s lap. She looked just like the teen when she was four. They shared the same thin blonde hair, the same squinty hopeful eyes, and the same outgoing curiosity.

“That’s enough, Gabby,” the dad said, laughing. He then picked her up and started shaking and tickling her playfully.

“Hey… he used to do that to me…” the teenager thought with sadness overwhelming her.
“I’m going for a drive. ‘Slater,” she said, and then promptly walked out the door, slamming it shut behind her.
They didn’t notice, though: they were too busy laughing and giving each other “raspberries” and kisses.
“Daddy, can I have a paaaaaaaaahhhp?” the little girl asked, with the same fake pouty look on her face as the teenager had all those years ago.
“Sure thing, just don’t tell your mother.”
They walked up stairs into the kitchen to get their “paaaaaaaaahhhp”.
Then the dad thought of the teenager and walked into her room. “Hey Rissa, want… oh. Guess she left.”
He hadn’t noticed her leave, so he sent her a text message: “Later skater. Have fun. Love u.”
***
While driving, the teenager can’t help but think about the conversation she had just had with her dad, and the millions of ones just like it. Tears started to fill her eyes, and she thought “No, not now. I’ll just wait until I get to my spot.”
But she never got to her special spot, a small clearing of long grass amongst a thin forest in the middle of the country. She felt her phone vibrate in her lap, and in bad habit she picked it up and tried to read it. She didn’t have time to read her father’s message, though. A big SUV was speeding toward her little blue Oldsmobile. They were in her lane, drunk driving, and seemingly came out of nowhere. The girl didn’t have time to swerve, and they hit her dead on. She hit her head on the steering wheel, and became unconscious.

Suddenly, she was a little girl again, dancing around the room in a pink dress, her blonde hair whirling and her green eyes dazzling. Her ears filled with the sound of her daddy’s guitar and his raspy voice. Other people said he “sucked” and “would never be the next Kurt Kobain” (like her mother), but she thought it was the most beautiful sound in the whole-wide-world.

Suddenly, she became very, very sleepy. She plopped down on the futon and fell asleep almost instantly.

“Good night, sweet baby,” her daddy whispered in her ear right before she landed in dream land.





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