Daddy's Little Girl
“Hi, Daddy. It’s Claudia. I’m sorry I haven’t called in a while but I’ve been so busy. You can’t possibly imagine.
“So how are you? ... Really? That must be hard, being gone so much. Especially when it’s business, not pleasure.
“How’s your bride, Kathryn? ... Yeah, I bet. But at least she works, so she isn’t at home alone all day like I am.
... “Well, I guess I’m okay. Perpetually exhausted from chasing a toddler around the house. Langston goes non-stop from the time his feet touch the floor at 6 a.m. until I wrestle him into bed at 8 p.m.
“But like you, Mills is busy with work. Langston and I go on overnight visits to Mills’ parents or down to Charleston or Savannah or Hilton Head now and then, for something to do. Oh, that reminds me. I was thinking of going up to Litchfield for a few days. Is your beach house available?
...“No, not for another couple of weeks. Next week we’re going to Atlanta. Well, I’m going to Atlanta; Langston is going to Mills’ parents. I need a break, so I’m going to spend some girl time with Ashleigh. Daddy, you have no idea how hard it is being home every day with a toddler. Then, on the weekends, I have Mills and his demands as well."
...“What? Yes, I know you and Mom raised us, and Kathryn raised two boys alone with no family or friends nearby. But I swear, it’s harder these days. It really is. Anyway, the reason I called was to give you some suggestions for my birthday."
...“I know, Daddy, but I thought maybe this once you could pretend I’m still your little girl and not a married woman. Mills is already stressing about how we’re going to save up enough money to send Langston to college. I keep reminding him the child is only two years old. So I’m not expecting to get much of a birthday present from him. I sent you the link to Langston’s college fund, didn’t I? Have you contributed?”
...“What? Daddy, I would have thought . . . Well, but he’s your only grandchild. By the time he goes to college, it will cost a lot more than when I went.”
...“Yes, Daddy, I realize no one helped you and Mom put me through college. And Kathryn put her two boys through college by herself. Still, I thought you’d be willing to chip in.”
...“Please, Daddy, let’s not argue, okay? Like I said, the reason I called was that I wanted to give you a suggestion about what to get me for my birthday. Mills will probably bring me flowers and take me out to dinner, but . . . "
...“Daddy! Dinner and flowers do not constitute a birthday gift! Please let me finish. Anyway, I want to redecorate the master bedroom and make it an elegant place only for us. I found the fabrics that I want to use for drapes, duvet cover, and bed skirt. And my friend, Alexandra, knows this wonderful seamstress. More expensive than some, but I’ve seen her work; she’s fabulous. I picked out the paint for the walls – a light taupe with gold undertones and a sky blue for the tray ceiling. You’ll love it, Daddy. I talked to the painter and he can do a technique that will make the walls appear like crumbling plaster. And he can do a mural on the long wall. I’m thinking something Tuscan, very old-world romantic. I’m so excited. My friend Deidre had him paint her dining room and it looks marvelous. And I talked to a carpenter who will put up crown molding in the bedroom and bath. Oh, and I found a fainting couch that will look wonderful in front of the bay window. And get this, Daddy. When I went to pick out the carpet, they said they can take up the old carpet, put down the better pad and install the new carpet all in one day. I don’t even have to be there. And I found really beautiful sheets for our bed – ivory, edged with hand-made lace – 800-count Egyptian cotton. The monogramming wasn’t all that much.”
...“Silly! Of course I don’t expect you to pay for all of it as a birthday gift. I thought you could pay for part of it as my birthday gift, and the rest as Mills’ and my anniversary gift. Can you believe we’ll be married four years next month?"
...“Well, I figure $7,500 will cover the paint, drapery fabric, duvet cover and dust skirt as well as two sets of sheets and the chaise. And maybe there will be enough left over so I can get this other fabric I absolutely love and have the chaise reupholstered. Then it’s only another $4,000 or so for the carpet and pad, and again, hopefully enough
left over so we can replace the tile in the master bathroom. Maybe even install a soaking tub. Let’s say $15,000, okay?”
...“Daddy, I’ve lived with this color scheme for three long years. I absolutely cannot stand it another minute. The carpet is old and stained, and the walls are a nondescript beige. And our bathroom? The tile is peach! Besides, getting the entire room done for less than $20,000 is such a bargain. It’s a lot less than you paid for my wedding. Besides, I’m not nearly as bad as Deidre and Alexandra. They redo their entire houses every eighteen months."
...“You’re kidding, right? Of course they won’t. Mills’ parents made it clear when we married that we were to make a life for ourselves, by ourselves. Can you believe it? Please, Daddy? I really want this. Surely you and Kathryn can wait a while longer to decorate that room. It’s already been – what, ten years? What’s another six or eight months? Besides, I won’t ask you for another thing, I promise."
...“Oh Daddy, you’re the best! Oops; have to run. Time to take Langston to preschool. Then I’m off to get my weekly facial, foot massage and a manicure. After that, I’m meeting Deidre for lunch at Dean & Deluca before I have to pick up Langston and take him to his afternoon play group. Thank you so much, Daddy. Oh, I need you to mail a check for $2,000 today. I’ve put the fabric on hold, but I have to pay for it by Friday."
“One last thing. I’ve been working on our Christmas lists. I saw this great computer and flat-screen monitor that I want and Mills has been talking about a John Deere riding mower, or maybe a plasma TV – he can’t seem to make up his mind – while Langston wants one of those battery-powered Hum-V’s that he can drive around the backyard. One of his four-year-old friends down the street has one and, well, you know how children are. Anyway, I’ll send you the websites."
“Love you, Daddy. Tell Kathryn hi.”
Marge Petesch has been writing novel-length fiction as well as short stories for more than ten years. She belongs to a writing group that boasts two published novelists, one author of non-fiction and a creative writing professor at a local college in our five members.
Four of her short stories have been published, three of those in anthologies. She attends weekend writers' conferences as often as possible while working full time at her 'day' job. She has taken numerous creative writing courses at NC State University in Raleigh, North Carolina and in 2006, attended the summer Iowa Writer's Conference.