“Go in there and get me some beer.” he gruffed.
“Th-there ain’t none. Th-that’s why Momma went to the store.” the child stuttered. Her eyes frozen to the lithe brown man. The bones in his face leapt out from beneath his skin. Frighteningly tall from the child’s perspective, he seemed to be an apparition. As she continued to examine him, her own face became apparent in his and she faintly remembered seeing him before.
“You know who I am?”
“I think so.”
“I’m yo daddy. You was too little to remember the last time I came.”
She did though. The more she stared at him the more the memory came together. She remembered he smelled good, and that they had danced to some old time music that her mother liked to listen to when she was good and drunk.
“I do remember.” she said at last.
There was silence, mainly because neither knew what else to say, but also because they’d continued examining one another again.
“She say when she gonna be back?”
“No. She always take a long time. I guess she be takin’ to people.”
“Well I ain’t got time to wait.”
There was more silence, then he reached in the pocket of his lapel, pulled out a photo and handed it to her.
“You can keep that.”
It was a photo of him. He was young, full and handsome; the direct opposite of the hollowed out frame before her drawing in with much effort on a Pall Mall.
“Ok, I gotta go.”
“You comin’ back?”
“No. I won’t eva be back ‘round here no more.”
Her heart sank inside her warm chest. It felt like all her blood was leaving her.
She knew she would remember this day and this moment for the rest of her life. She would play it over in her mind a thousand times. Some days so she could remember him just as he was and the moment just as it happened. But some days she would remember it but imagine if she could have done or said something differently so he wouldn’t go.
She cried. Her tears give way to sobbing. He stares at her, but does not react. He turns to leave, then stops.
“There are things, little girl, that you can’t and won’t eva understand. It’s best you get used to that or somebody gonna break that little heart of yours.”