The Trials of the Father by Robert Detman
(ONE) The miracles regarding his daughter, as he considers them, do not seem miraculous to everyone, and this is puzzling. Such as, her obvious jealousy of other children, in a look of betrayal hinting at unlearned contempt; that she runs to him unbidden, joyfully, the only being he will ever care for as he does; that her childish warblings will someday elicit knowledge, and will become a young woman’s, a surprise to him to even imagine it now, years hence; that she will preoccupy days, his life, what remains of it, and will go on to a life far beyond his.
(TWO) He used to wonder how he would feel, watching his child grow into unencumbered space–become a being with unexplored and inexplicable traits he’d discover in sanguine ways. Here’s how he feels: tired, surprised, loved, overwhelmed. Aware, ever more, of the passing of time, hoping for her untroubled steady growth into that space. At times, he thinks, this happens too fast, or, it couldn’t happen sooner, knowing full well that he sacrifices, at least in concept, his own lumbering, statistical and never to be returned to youth in his own life, growing and settling, wizened as the moss collects around him.
(THREE) The baby’s anguished cries punctuate the night, a triple digit fever. His jet lag and sleep warp five time zones removed has him up at the crickets’ last cries. She lies, her body poised like a cat ready to pounce. Hands darting like little heat seeking missiles she clutches his thumb in need, slight wonder. “Where have you been?” he thinks, in answer to her tiny index fingernail pinching ever so slightly, the meat of his thumb. At each cry, roughly every two hours, he goes to her, changes her if necessary; offers cool sips of water she gulps eagerly.
Robert Detman‘s fiction has appeared in dozens of literary journals, including Akashic Books Thursdaze, the Antioch Review and Superstition Review. He is the author of a novel, Impossible Lives of Basher Thomas, published in 2014.
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Photograph in banner cited from Katrina Cole (flickr)
Edited by Literary Orphans