• “Daddy Daddy Daddy!” My little girl ran to me and threw her arms around my leg. I could still remember the times when her arms barely wrapped around my knee, now, they’re lock was around my thigh.
    “Hey baby girl.” I smile as I pick her up and hug her.
    I wave to the woman in the black SUV as she drives away. I smile down at my daughter who stares up at me with that start blinded look one may get when finding some great treasure. I just smile and bring her into the house. Dinner is already waiting for her, I’m not a chef by any means, but some baked chicken nuggets and freezer French fries are my little girls’ speed. She giggles as she asks me to get her ketchup, then a drink, then a napkin, then a hug. She grins as she digs into her meal. I watch fascinated by my daughter, she has her mama’s eyes, and my hair. Her face is a mix of her mother and I, she doesn’t carry any of our flaws, our daughter is really perfect combination of her parents. I smile as she finishes. I help her get cleaned up, I leave her to bathe on her own now, I remember the days I had to clean her in the sink, with the baby bath rub. I shake my head and smile before going to the kitchen and doing the dishes. I stare at one plate, it has her finger prints all over it. I give a long sigh, and have to struggle with controlling my emotions. I wipe my eyes and fear the pads of her feet on the linoleum. I smile and turn to her. She gives me that smile, that tells me that I am her daddy no matter what the circumstances are. I grin at her, she’s lost a few more teeth, making her smile all the more silly, and cute and charming.
    “Ready for bed, baby girl?” I ask and ruffle her newly dried hair.
    She huffs at me and fixes it, then nods. “Yes daddy.”
    I lead her up to the guest bedroom. I’ve not had much company, been to busy for friends. Her room is still set up for her, pink sheets and purple comforter, he stuffed pig still at the head of the bed. I fear when she outgrows it all, I fear that she’ll outgrow me. I lay her down and tuck her in, and kiss her forehead. “What kind of story do you want to hear?” I ask her.
    She looks at me with a look that she gets from her mother, that look that made me want to curl up in the corner, her vibrant eyes peering at me like she could see every one of my secrets. “Tell me why you and mommy aren’t together.” she says.
    The words come out sweet and melodic then stab me through the heart. I give her my normal answer, it always gets her off the subject. “That’s just not how we are.” I nodded and start to look for a book again.
    For the first time, she shakes her head and again, “No, tell me, this is not the right way, things aren’t supposed to be like this.”
    I wince and nod slowly without realizing. “You’re right.”
    “You love mommy don’t you?” She asks.
    I look at her, trying to formulate a way to get her off the subject, but I’m on the ropes, “Daddy, please, you’ve never ever told me, but I want to know now, please.” she says sitting up to stare at me.
    I sigh “Has your mama told you about how babies are made?” I ask her. She nods and get a grossed out look on her face that tells me she knows. I chuckle and shake my head. “Are you sure you want to hear about this?”
    She nods, “Yes daddy, please, tell me.”
    I sigh once more and leans against the headboard of the bed and think a moment. “Okay, here’s the story….” I start.

    When I was 16 I was alone in school. Just moved into town and no friends or anyone even remotely interested in being friends. On top of that, my girlfriend back then, who promised not to let go of me when I moved went back on her word only a week after. To my guess another boy came along and swept her off her feet when I couldn’t. I walked into English class, they’d started on Cyrano, a book I’d read before and new already. I sat in the back next to a girl who looked like she was working hard. I happened to look at her work and saw she was writing something. It was a story, I smiled and read what she was writing, becoming a little too interested. She caught me reading and gave me a funny look. I apologized and complimented her one her work. She smiled at me, I remember how cute that smile was. The two of us hit it off really well. Her and I were both writers. We wrote things together, we never finished but still, it was fun just to hang out and get our ideas out on paper. We became really good friends. She confided in me, that her boyfriend had dumped her for another girl, and that her friends had taken his side, so we were both friendless and loveless. I already had a crush on her, she was so great, how couldn’t I? I started to flirt with her, and we opened up to each other more and more. Then one day at the library, we were looking at romance books, and talking about our past relationships. I learned every bit about her tastes I could, and applied them to myself. I wanted to be good for her. I didn’t even realize at the time what I was doing, I didn’t even realize I was modeling myself into the perfect guy for her, but when I did realize what I was doing, I realized something else, I was falling for her. We were at my house, in my room. We were just listening to music and relaxing. We both sat in the window seal reading some comics when I turned to her. She was still reading, and I just watched her. I traced her profile with my eyes and stared at her lips. She suddenly looked at me with those beautiful eyes, and smiled that smile. I let it all out, I told her I could be the one for her, I could take care of her, I could heal her heart. I told her I loved her, and was falling more and more in love with her. She stayed quiet a moment. Then shook her head. She let me down softly. She only wanted me as a friend. I was her best friend. I was the person she trusted most, but I wasn’t what she wanted.

    At this point my daughter stared at me in disbelief. Tears in her eyes. I pet her hair and kissed her forehead. “It’s not your mama’s fault, that’s just how it is.” I told her, the last thing I wanted was to turn her against her mother. I kept going.

    When she left that night, I’d never cried so hard. My parents told me to give it time, and she might like me later. I never believed that. I came to think about how I wasn’t good enough, I started to think about how I wasn’t enough for her. She told me it wasn’t like that. She told me she loved me, but not like that. She told me that I just wasn’t the one for her. I read it all as one thing and one thing only, “I don’t want you.” It really did hurt, and I tried over and over again to stop loving her. But it never went away. I was totally in love with my best friend. After some time, the pain didn’t go away, but went to the back of my mind, and her and I hung out still. I still flirted wanting to win her heart still, I couldn’t help it, it was just impossible for me to let go. I loved her too much. Every little thing that she did made me fall deeper and deeper in love.

    My daughter giggles at me through her own little tears. I smiled, “What are you laughing at?!” I tickle her a bit. She laughs and lays against me in bed wanting me to finish. I smile and nod, “Okay baby girl.”

    Our friendship got stronger and stronger, as did my feelings over the years. It was prom night when she came to my door crying. I wasn’t going, no one to go with, but she had a date, she was so beautiful, of course she did. It was a surprise to me when she told me her date had stood her up. Without a word I went up stairs and dressed in my best clothes, it wasn’t a tux, but it didn’t matter. She stared at me as I came back down and took her hand. With a smile I lead her to my car and drove her to school. We walked in together and made quite the stirring. She told me later that it was then she tried to have feelings for me, that’s why Prom night was so fun, it was really a date with the girl I loved so much. But it was only one night and things went back to dreadful normal. Our friendship stayed strong as ever over the next years. I was always there for her, always her shoulder to lean on or cry on. I always helped her, financially, physically, emotionally, anything she asked, I would be there. She was the same way though, she was the best friend you could have, so loving and caring.

    My daughter is now getting sleepy and I pet her to put her to sleep as I finish the story. She was out on a date when I got a call to come get her. I got there, she had had a little too much to drink and had been dumped because she wouldn’t do what the man wanted.

    I try to keep the story innocent for my daughter.

    I took her home to her apartment and got her in bed and laid down. She smiled that smile of hers and said the words I’d wanted to hear for so long from her ‘I love you’. I know it was a mistake, and I know now it was because she was so out of it. But, that night was the night we made you.

    My daughter looks up at me sadly. “You didn’t meant to have me?”
    I frown and shake my head, “I wasn’t expecting you, but I loved you all the same.” I tell her.
    “Why can’t you and mama be together now? I want mommy and daddy together.” she yawns, her eyes glassy with tears.
    I feel my heart lurch and tears flood my eyes. “Mama doesn’t love me the right way, and that’s okay, its not her fault.” I tell her. “You can’t blame mama or me, this is just how our life is, you have two parents who love you and love each other, we’re still best friends.” I tell her.
    She starts to cry and snuggle into me. I just held my daughter as she sobbed her little heart out. I don’t know why she’s crying so hard. Is it because she’s sorry for me? Is it because she can’t have mommy and daddy together? I don’t know.

    I lay my sleeping daughter down and go to the phone. I call my best friend and explain to her what I told our baby girl. She’s okay with it. She knew the day would come. She’s a little upset she wasn’t there, but understands. I linger on the phone as she says her goodbyes. I tell her I love her again and hang up the phone before she can protest. I check on my baby girl and smile. She is the greatest blessing my best friend ever gave me. I shut off the light and go to my room.