Daddy Didn't

Daddy Didn't

A Story by Jessica Healy

Thanks to the Wayback Machine, I was able to recover all of my old writing from university! I'll start my posts here with these to archive them and keep them safe. :)

Daddy Didn't 

Daddy didn’t march in the parade, didn’t wave a flag or have the bright uniform with shiny buttons. He didn’t salute. Daddy stayed at home and closed his eyes as the dull beats of foot and hoof and drum echoed sharply off the kitchen wall; Daddy stayed at home, his face drawn and his eyes tired as the footsteps quickened and the people screamed, smoking cigarettes, cheap painful cigarettes; and the smoke curled up into his hair, soft smoke curls around his head; Daddy stayed at home, silent, as the streets roared. 

Two weeks later, Daddy was dead. 

Momma’s making breakfast. Her eyes are dark and deep. Another night; again, again. 

Softly: “What would you like?” 

And playing the game: “Just bread, please.” 


“I hate butter.”

She smiles at me, and I wonder when all the years crept into her smile. 

Once upon a time, there was a beautiful princess who lived in a splendid castle overlooking a gorgeous and prosperous kingdom. Her mother was a queen, and her father was a king, and they all lived happily ever after. 

At school all the kids laugh at me most of all. My feet are ugly; hard and calloused, like goat horns. “Old granny goat, old granny goat,” that ruthless chant and those pounding feet. Stupid girl, stupid girl, the pavement screams, doesn’t know, doesn’t know. 

Daddy’s cigarettes: thin, long, white, perfectly made for the corners of his mouth, clinging to his lips as he smiled " I always wondered if they’d fall, but they’d hang there, grasping, grasping, holding to his laughs and whispers; thin, white. 

Mom’s waiting for me, but I’m slow today. My feet hurt, I’m sitting under the oak tree, dusty swirls around my ankles. My throat hurts for water. Gotta go home, but just a moment, just a wait here, just a rest. Oh, it’s screaming for water, once upon a time…

Here come those boys, they’re so tall, scowling, the sun bronzing their hair. They’re slowing " don’t, don’t, why can’t I breathe? But there is one...Oh, his eyes " oh " But he shakes his head toward the road (he’s the tallest), and they keep coming, they’re in front of me, passing, and now they’re gone. Thank god.

“Granny goat!” I hear as I watch their broad shoulders swagger away. 

Daddy killed the horse. He said it was old and couldn’t march in the parade. I looked out my window and saw him stroking its dead neck. I heard him crying. 

“What is this a picture of?” my teacher asks. 

“The president,” we all answer. 

“Good,” she smiles. She’s so pretty. All the teachers are very pretty. She has white pearl teeth and soft hair like a fawn. I’d like to touch it and I’d bet it would be as light as a spider’s silk. “Anna,” she says, “come to the board. Tell me about our history.”

I tell her everything I learned, and I try really hard to leave out the stories Daddy told me " she doesn’t like those. She'd just laugh silvery and say “Oh Anna, how frightful, really. We’ll have no more of those grim, ghastly stories.” All of the other kids would just nod, and, smiling, say that the world is really so nice and happy, Anna, why do you go and have to try to scare us? And I’d nod back, cheeks red and hot, and I’d creep back to my chair. So I won't do that. I won't remember Daddy.

One day the kingdom grew all dark and the princess went into a splendid tower overlooking the kingdom, high in the mountains. She fell into a deep enchanted sleep, a beautiful sleep full of magical dreams, and she was to awaken when the light returned and the kingdom was bright and happy again. 

Mommy’s making soup. She’s got his robe on, all soft with oldness and faded. In her mouth, the cigarette " always hangs, never lit, just limply hanging, clinging to her tears. 

I’m tired again today, so I sit under the big oak tree again. It’s cool in the shade and I pretend the whorls in the dust are soft green leaves. The shadows sway slightly, and then a tall, thin one melts into the shifting tree shadow. He’s alone today. I look up at him and want to cry. His eyes are deep blue, his body a cutout against the blue above to leave the sky shining through at me. He sits down and I sit on my feet. I don’t want him to see them. But he does " and he smiles. I look away and my face is all hot and now I’m crying. I say “they look like goat’s hooves,” but he says that he has a goat and her name is Anna and she’s very pretty. 

Daddy had brown hair and deep blue eyes. Whenever I looked at him I remembered the seaside. 

“What would you like for breakfast?”

“Bread, please.”

How I love you, Mommy. I love you like my heart would split into a thousand tiny pieces, each a soft, faded green like his robe. I could wrap you up in it, and we’d never, ever be cold. 

I’m not tired today, but I’m sitting under the big oak tree. When he sits down next to me, I tell him that I once had a horse named Evan and he was nice and had a soft white neck. His foot touches mine, and my face is hot, but not in the crying way this time, but then those other boys come. They’re all in the bright uniforms with the shiny buttons. They’re so tall. “Granny goat doesn’t wave flags,” they say, and one kicks me in the chest. I’m looking at Evan, but he looks away, his arms wrapped around his knees. 

The other boys grab me, pull me up, they’re so much taller, and I’m so little so little, they tell me to salute them, their laughs cut into my skin like dog’s teeth. Let go, let go, once upon a time… one smacks my face, this time my cheeks crying red flaring searing, let go, once upon a time, once upon a time " “Let’s see what Evan likes about Granny,” and then they’ve thrown me to the ground " but I can’t remember the rest, it’s lost in their evil grins like greed, wolf eyes, please no, I’m kicking and screaming, they only laugh more " their hands are all over me, I’m biting, scratching, and then Evan shouts “stop,” and it’s like a wolf ripping at his throat. I can’t look at him, they lunge, but he punches one and the one with the sandy hair is bent over from a kick. They scowl at him, toss scornful laughs, kick at me again " but I’ve crawled behind the tree. Once upon a time, there was a beautiful princess " yes, that’s how it goes. 

“Go home,” Evan says, and it’s like Daddy with the horse, and I’m behind the tree. “Go home,” he screams at me, his voice so awful, his throat in shreds, the wolf slunken away. 

Oh Daddy " when Daddy died it was like the horse, only they kicked him first, and spit on him after, not stroking his neck. And Momma sobbed, hugging him against her, sliding down the wall, a streak of red against the white, finishing the flag the soldiers started to paint. 

I was going to keep walking, but Evan was there, and he hugs me, hot tears splashing down onto my cheeks, and I can’t move, only stand there like the old tree above us. He sobs harder, and I think he might howl like a wolf, but no, he doesn’t. I look up at him, and the sky flickers back at me through his tears, but when I hug him back he shudders. He’s all purple and sick black, like rotten fruit, and now I’m crying. We both kneel there under the trees. 

“Look,” showing him one of Daddy’s cigarettes. It burns down my throat, but I am strong and brave and I laugh just like Daddy, and now Evan’s smiling. He picks up my hand and holds it between his. His eyes are beautiful and the sun sways softly in the shadows on our feet. 

I smile and the world - right now, in this golden sun and beneath this tree, here with Evan - becomes right.

Once upon a time there was a princess. There was a princess and she lived happily ever after. And that was all.

© 2013 Jessica Healy

My Review

Would you like to review this Story?
Login | Register


Wow. This is a lovely little piece. Very moving. Keep writing is all I can say to you. Just don't stop! :)

Posted 9 Years Ago

This is a very moving piece! I honestly didn't know where it was going but got caught up in all the descriptions. Seriously, great work!

Posted 9 Years Ago

Wow, that was far stranger and more interesting than I expected. Whatever it is you're doing, it's awesome and keep doing it for sure.

Posted 9 Years Ago

Request Read Request
Add to Library My Library
Subscribe Subscribe


3 Reviews
Added on February 7, 2013
Last Updated on February 7, 2013


Jessica Healy
Jessica Healy

About more..