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Daddy's Little Girl
I was six years old, my leather riding boots on, cowgirl hat perched on my head, and a fishing pole just waiting to have bait put on it in my right hand, my Daddy held my left hand. It was our first fishing trip alone, my brother Ricky was working with the ranch hands, my baby sister Charlotte was far too little to do much of anything than waddle and play in the kitchen under close watch of my Mama, and my Mama was fixing a big Sunday dinner for the eight of us, including the three ranch hands.
Daddy walked me down to the river that cut through the side of our property and sat me down on log that was just beside the water and he began putting the bait on the hook.
“Daddy, I wanna do it!” I hollered at him as I watched him.
“No Jay, that’s alright,” Daddy usually spoke in a deep, gruff country voice, but around me he tried to talk as sweet and smooth as honey.
“Please,” I begged him as he finished his fishing pole.
“Jasey, you’ll hurt yourself, the tip on the hook is really sharp.”
“But Daddy, just let me try?”
“Naw, maybe another time.”
I crossed my arms over my chest and pouted. Daddy ignored me as he reached for the next pole. I never could tell if I got my rebellious side from my Daddy or my Mama, but it was definitely there. I reached across and grabbed the bait out of the tackle box and attempted to stick the bait on the hook. I doubt my finger would make good fish bait, but I ended up stabbing my index finger with the sharp end of the hook. I spewed blood for a few minutes as I stared at it knowing not to cry. Most girls would be crying at the sight of blood, but I knew either to suck on it or to apply pressure. I moved to suck on the bloody finger, but Daddy wrapped his old bandana around the finger and squeezed it hard.
“Jasey Quinn, I told you not to do that.”
“Sorry Daddy,” I said now squeezing my finger.
“Don’t apologize to me. You’re the one with the bloody finger.”
I nodded, and let Daddy finish baiting the hook. As soon as he finished though, I cast my rod, following every direction Daddy gave me when a fish tugged on my line. It was a great triumph when Daddy helped me pull out the fish. He let me hit it on the head with a mallet; I got quite a thrill out of that.
As we walked back up to the house, with seven fish from our evening fishing trip, Daddy messed up my hair and asked me, “How’s your finger?”
“Fine,” I grumbled, noting to myself that I would immediately put a Band-Aid on it when we got back to the house.
“Good,” he leaned down and kissed my forehead. “You’ll always be my little girl, Jasey.”