About 'On the Avenue': When I was a teen, well it started
when I was a child actually, I formed these families in my head who all
lived in the same neighborhood and I and started writing stories about them.
As I matured, the stories matured. I want to condense it into a single tale,
but there were so many characters I couldn't do it. So instead of following
a straight plotline, I focused on a different character in this "imaginary"
neighborhood so I dealing with the same set of characters at different
points in time and I try to reveal different sides to any given character in
TITLE: Daddy's Girls?
AUTHOR: D.M. Kelley
Summary: The Carr family has made their choices and paid their dues, and now they're trying to build a family. However, one member of this party is unsatisfied and refuses to be left that way.
Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. Not intended to represent any real persons, places, events, or things. All rights to these characters belong to me.
Feedback always appreciated.
ON THE AVENUE: Daddy's Girls?
Seven year old Shanice sat on the bed watching her mother tie her shoes. "I don't want to go over Miss Dawn's house."
"Well the judge says I have to let Francisco see you."
"I wanna see daddy," Shanice began. "But I don't like Dawn. She broke us up. I hate those boys."
"Those boys are your father's natural children. He's only your step father."
"But he adopted me, he said that makes him my real daddy."
"Your real daddy doesn't want anything to do with you," she said grabbing a brush and pulling her daughter's blond hair into a ponytail. She heard a horn beep. "Wait here," she said to her daughter and went outside to meet Francisco.
He was leaning against the car while his five-year-old son played in the back. Her father had said she was foolish to marry a black man and then let him adopt her daughter. Turned out he was right. Francisco was now married to a woman he had impregnated twice during their marriage. Yet, she still wanted him back.
"How about a little kiss for your lady love," Shanice's mom said leaning toward him.
"Sorry, I can't," Francisco said turning away. "I'm just here to get Shanice."
"Well she doesn't consider herself part of your little Afro-centric family, so I don't think she wants to go."
"Please stop being ignorant and just go get her," Francisco calmly demanded.
She rolled her eyes at him and turned toward her house. "Shanice, Daddy's here."
Shanice came running out the house; elated she jumped into Francisco's arms.
"Daddy," the little girl shouted. Her attitude immediately changed when she looked in the car and saw little Francisco.
"Hi," the boy said.
"What's he doing here daddy?"
"He's my son honey," Francisco said.
"This is our day," Shanice shouted.
Francisco sighed, thinking in three years this ritual would change. Fighting off his ex-wife's flirting and his daughter's brat attacks. He was trying to make things work, but one family wouldn't cooperate with the other. Shanice was his little girl and he wouldn't give her up, but this ritual was getting tiresome. He kneeled down to his pouting Daughter.
"Listen honey, you don't have to come with me if you don't want, but you're still Daddy's only little girl and he'll always loves you." He gave Shanice a kiss and got up to go to the car.
"Daddy wait," Shanice said running to the car door and climbing in the passenger side. She glanced back at little Francisco when her father put the keys in the ignition. He looked at her and smiled.
"Hi Shanice," he said.
"Hi," she grumbled under her breath. They drove off.
Shanice's mother watched them leave and then walked back into the house. In the kitchen, she retrieved a box from the high cupboard. Inside was a few bottles of wine; she removed one. Many gulps later, she sat on the couch talking to herself. "Three years, what's she got that I don't that made her deserve three faithful years. I didn't even get one." She remembered the first blissful years clearly. He had been a volunteer at the hospital when they met. Her Grandmother was sickly and she was visiting her when she met him. Francisco had a way of talking that was smooth, subtle, and pleasing. His voice was a healing tool. It floated and it made you float. Shanice was eleven months old when she met him. By Shanice's first birthday, they were married. On her second she was adopted by him. The future looked bright. They were building a family and careers together. They were happy. One stupid out of town trip changed all that, Francisco ran into an old flame named Dawn. Of course, old flame may not be a good choice of words. Old friend was to informal. The vixen she now called Dawn always was a friend who always loved him, but she guessed the friendship did have its intimate points. Enough intimate points to make the two reunited adults jump into bed together. She managed to get pregnant in that one night, but Francisco didn't know it when he came back home. A week after the encounter, he confessed. She forgave him and he promised it would never happen again.
Everything was fine until he found out Dawn was pregnant, her tears and pleas kept him from running off. Dawn sent him a picture of the boy after he was born and he hid it in his sock drawer. She tore it up when she saw it, thinking he was seeing her. They'd fought a lot then about late nights and unexplained absences.
She found out they weren't seeing each other through an accidental encounter with Dawn and her son. Little Francisco was nearly a year old by then and Shanice was three. Dawn was angry at Francisco for not being there "like he'd promised". Though she'd realized then that they hadn't been seeing each other, she saw the boy as a threat. Here was a what every man wanted, a little boy carved in his image. At that moment she'd asserted her control, sending Dawn away in a cloud of furry. The matter seemed settled that day, Francisco was hers. Later she would learned his so-called trip to the store with her daughter would land him at Dawn's place and into an affair.
Dawn managed to get pregnant again.
The fights grew worse throughout the second pregnancy. It was all Dawn's
fault. What right did she have to take him? She'd used that second
pregnancy, those twin boys, to pulled him right out of her arms. Wouldn't
you know it? She was pregnant again. Child number four in only three years.
He wasn't going anywhere anytime soon, he was to dedicated to his children.
What she wondered was how she could give Dawn a piece of her own medicine,
true revenge. Her little brat was too in love with "daddy" to be of any use.
Then again, that love for "Daddy", could be just what she needed.
"It's not fair, I really wanted to see that movie and those stupid twins wouldn't shut up," Shanice said as Francisco slid her nightgown over her head.
"I'm sorry, we'll go see it again. Just the two of us."
"Do you like the boys better than me?"
"Why would you think that?" Francisco asked.
"Well mommy says your not my real daddy and they're your real kids."
"Yea, but you're my only little princess. I love my boys, but they could never take your place."
Shanice smiled. "Thanks Daddy," Shanice said gave him a hug and kiss. She was her dad's only little girl and that was special, she thought as she drifted off to sleep.
The next evening, Francisco dropped Shanice back at her mother's house.
"See you for the Halloween party," Francisco said as he hugged his daughter good-bye.
"I don't want to go home," she said looking toward the house where her mother stood smoking a cigarette. A habit she had picked up after Francisco left her, it preceded the drinking.
"I thought you hated my house," Francisco said.
"But I like being with you daddy. And little Francisco's not all that bad. Those twins are annoying though."
"That's cause they're only three, just out there terrible twos. You were that age once, but there weren't two of you."
"Was I that bad?"
"Were you that bad," he said in a playful sarcastic tone. "You were a little monster." He roared at her. She squealed playfully as he picked her up and mockingly attacked her with tickles.
"Hi," he said putting her down in front of her mother.
"Hi," she said to him. "Go in and clean up for dinner," she said to her daughter and watched her enter. "You know, I was wondering. When you go out, do people stare?"
"What?" Francisco said.
"Well when you have Dawn and those three adorable little boys of yours, then my little blond baby, do they stare? Ask questions?"
"Is there a point to this?"
"The point is, when you married me you said you were committed to us, me and Shanice. Was it always in your head to go halfsies?"
"Halfsies, What are you six?"
"Did you always love Shanice more than you loved me?"
"What? Don't be--"
"And Dawn, dear sweet 'I didn't plan on this happening 'Dawn. Was she the one? Did you always know?"
"I'm not even going to deal with this. I have a family to go home to."
"For how long," she asked as he turned to walk away. "How long is it before you become weekend Daddy to those kids." He got in his car, started the ignition, and drove away.
"You bastard!" she screamed. "I built my life around you, around us being together. You made me fall in love with you. And now all you want is her." Her voice broke. "It's not fair. We both love you, we both want you, we both need you."
She walked into the house. Shanice sat watching TV, while the meal she'd begun for herself heated in the microwave. Her mother put out her cigarette, walked into the bedroom, shut the door and wasn't seen for the rest of the night.
"How about David if it's a boy," Dawn asked the morning of the Halloween party. Deven and Ian sat in the corner. They were punished for painting the bathroom wall with their mother's cosmetics. The punishment was useless, they giggled whenever their mother's back was turned and played quietly together.
"David, I don't know," Francisco said as he played the board game with his son of the same name. "I thought you wanted a girl."
"Well, it's definitely Erika if it's a girl. I love that name."
"Well then why not Eric for a boy."
"Because I want a girl named Erika, not a boy named Eric."
The doorbell rang. "I'll get it," his older son said, jumping up. Since company was about to arrive, Dawn allowed the twins to leave the corner. They followed their older brother to the door.
"Hi Shanice," he said when he opened the door and saw the girl and her mother. He gave Shanice a hug and she reluctantly returned it. Her mother rolled her eyes. The boy started chattering to Shanice about the Halloween party as she came in. Shanice's mother met Dawn's eyes as she entered. The two women's cold glares toward each other was unmistakable.
"Francisco, Shanice, why don't you help me with the snacks."
"I wanna help," Deven and Ian said together.
"No, you two go play," she said to the adrenaline pumped twins. "But not with Mommy's make up," Dawn said. Their reply was a giggle. She took the two older children in the kitchen. Francisco entered the room where his ex-wife now stood alone.
"I'm glad you came."
"I'm not. It sickens me to see the little set up you built on my pain."
"Come on, what's happened to you?" Francisco asked. "This isn't the woman I married."
"Rude awakenings. I'm suddenly realizing the only the difference between you and Shanice's real daddy is that you actually want the kid. Maybe, it's me. No, cause Shanice's daddy wanted me, not Shanice, and you want Shanice and not me. Damn, that's great. I could give you Shanice, track down Daddy dearest and my life would be perfect. If we have another kid we could just drop it off at your door and keep going. I mean this is the baby factory, isn't it."
"Listen, if you're going to be insulting all night you can go home. And no smoking or drinking while you're here. It's a party for little kids."
"I'm not uncivilized," she said as she walked into the living room and found a seat. She remained there as the children began to arrive and the party began. She sat there watching her supposedly unexcited daughter laugh and play through games and entertainment.
Shanice and Dawn's children had combined pictures all over the house. One had been taken during his brief affair with Dawn, before the twins took him completely away. She walked over and stared at the picture of baby Francisco and her little toddler Shanice hugging as if they were best friends. Everyone was in the dining area saying some stupid chant in conjunction with some stupid game when she took it from the frame. She ripped it into little pieces the same way she had with the baby picture. Francisco walked in on it.
"What are you doing?"
"Revenge," she said simply.
"Go home," he demanded.
"Make me," she teased. "You don't have the balls. Not in front of your children, and your children's friends and parents. You know I'll put on a show."
"Are you crazy. I will not let you ruin my kids party."
"Your kids, those bastards in the other room?!" she screamed loud enough for all to hear. It achieved it's goal, parents and children were already gathering in the doorway.
"What did you call them?"
"Bas-tards, do I need to spell it for you? I mean don't they fit the dictionary definition. They were conceived and born while you were married to me," she argued.
"That's it, you're out of here," Francisco said grabbing her arm. He dragged her out of the house and put her in his car. "I'll bring you your car in the morning," he said starting the engine.
As Shanice watched from the living room doorway, tears brimmed in her eyes. She ran up the stairs in shame and locked herself in the bedroom. She was furious with mommy, she had promised to be good. She heard someone coming through the door and curled up tighter in a ball.
"Shanice, are you Okay?" Dawn asked.
"Go away," Shanice said through tears.
"I know I'm not your mommy or your daddy, but I'm here." She moved toward Shanice and placed a hand on her head. "And I'm sorry your mommy embarassed you. I know what this is like. One Christmas, when I was a really little girl, my biological Grandmother shows up. I don't know what she wanted, but I started crying. She was drunk and my mommy didn't want our day ruined, so she had to throw her out."
"Why did you say biological Grandma?"
"My real grandma is--- Well my mom was a foster child and her foster mother was always my grandma."
"Like Daddy was always my Daddy," Shanice asked as she sat up.
"Yeah," Dawn said. "And like Francisco and Deven and Ian are your brothers, even if you get mad at them sometime."
"Plus, I'm daddy's only little girl."
"That you are. Now how about you come back to the party."
"Alright," Shanice smiled.
At her mother's house things weren't as simple. Francisco dragged her in the door of her home. She had been fighting him all the way and only broke free of him inside the door.
"I'm not embarrassing you anymore, you can let me go," she screamed.
"I don't know what's going on with you,"
"Your third anniversary. I'm wondering why she got those three years and I barely got one," She stated harshly, but her voice was calming down. "Is it that I'm unlovable? My daddy never treated me the way you treat Shanice, Mom ignored me cause she was a wrong century career woman and you know how Shanice's father was. I seemed to attract men like him consistently, but you were different. You were warm and considerate and --" she stopped with a sigh, then sank into a chair. "Did you ever love me?"
"I wouldn't have married you if I didn't," he said sitting down in front of her. "You want to make this about Shanice, but I learned to love Shanice because you were special to me."
"And now she's the only one you love."
He looked down in response and she smirked. "I knew it." She started to get up and he grabbed her arm. She looked at him, her stare was malice. "What?"
He pulled her down to him and kissed her. He didn't know why. He thought about pulling away, but she pursued the kiss, determined to take it all the way. His lips conceded for awhile, but common sense found enough power to push her away.
"I can't do this again," he said walking out the door.
His conscience bothered him all night and his daughter didn't help. She made a show of not wanting to go home that morning. She screamed, cried and stomped her feet. He tried to call her mother, but she wouldn't answer the phone. He dropped her at school with his kids, dropped off his ex's car and slipped the keys in her mail slot. He also left a note explaining Shanice's actions. She was picked up after school by her mother.
That night, Shanice called her father. "I wanna come home," she said to him.
"You are home," he said to her.
"No, I wanna stay with you."
"Me? But what about your mom?"
"Shanice, get off that phone," her mother screamed from the other room.
Two days later Francisco's doorbell rang in the middle of the night. Dawn and Francisco came to the door and found Shanice and her mother standing at the door. Shanice was only wearing a robe. Her mother turned to her and said, "You want them, you got them, they're yours." She walked away and Shanice burst into tears. The couple took her inside.
Weeks passed and she heard nothing from her mother. They went to her house, but as far as anyone knew she had left for good. They gathered what they could of Shanice's belongings. From that day until early December Shanice stayed with her father and his family. family.
"This baby just don't want to come," Dawn said as she patted her overdue belly. Little Francisco put his hand on his mother's stomach.
"Those two were in a hurry to get out," Dawn said pointing to the twins," and this one just doesn't want to leave."
"Devie and Ian had to be crowded mommy," her oldest boy said
"Yea, I guess so," Dawn said as her husband came through the front door.
"Daddy look," Shanice said holding up a picture. It was a drawing of a stick girl and a tall man. "It's us," Shanice said.
"It's great honey, but where's the rest of the family?"
"I haven't drawn them yet," Shanice said sadly. "Has mommy called?"
"No luck," Francisco said. "At least you're with people who love you Shanice."
"I love you too daddy," Shanice smiled.
Ding Dong. The bell rang and little Francisco jumped up. "I'll get it."
"No, not at night," Dawn said as she struggled get up.
"I'll get it," Daddy Francisco said as he rushed toward the door. To his surprise it was Shanice's mom. She had finally returned.
"Well hello stranger," Francisco said.
"Where's Shanice, we're going to mother's."
"What? You just come up in here and demand to have my child and move her half way across the U.S."
"Your kid. I carried the kid for nine months."
"And you cared about her so much you just gave her to me."
"I needed a break okay."
"A break? I don't know if I want to give her to you. You don't deserve her."
"Daddy," a voice whispered in the background. He turned and saw his whole family standing in the door.
"Damn, you ain't dropped that baby yet?" Shanice's mother said when she saw Dawn.
"Take the kids upstairs," Francisco instructed. Dawn gathered the children and tried to guide them upstairs, but Shanice broke away. Dawn didn't attempt to retrieve her.
"Mommy, why did you go?" Shanice asked with a pout.
"You wanted Daddy, I gave you daddy."
"I want you too mommy." The little girl said. "I want you together."
"Can't happen," Francisco said.
"But Daddy, you once said you'd do anything for me. I'm your little princess, your little girl."
"And I love you more than anything," Francisco replied. "But this is one thing I can't give you."
"You loved mommy right?"
"And one day you stopped."
"Well, that means you can just stop loving me right."
"No," Francisco replied.
"I wanna go," Shanice said turning to her mom. His ex pulled a piece of paper from her pocket. She handed it to him. "I'll be at this hotel; bring her clothes." She then took her daughter's hand and left.
Francisco stood there in shock. That quick his daughter was gone. He got used to having the little girl a short drive away. And in the last couple of months, he had gotten used to having her with him. That night he went to the hotel with bags and boxes of the girl's stuff packed in his car. He only took up one bag, hoping he would have to bring it back with the owner.
When he arrived inside one of the two adjoining hotel rooms, he found his ex very drunk. He checked on the sleeping Shanice, locked the door, and attempted to sober his ex wife up so they could talk. It was no use, in her drunk state she continued to attempt to grope him while jumping between spurts of anger and professions of undying love. What led him to the kiss, he didn't know. Desperation maybe. He slept with her that night and felt so guilty afterward that he ran to the bathroom and threw up. It wasn't so much what he'd done, as why he'd done it. His beeper went off and he answered it only to discover that his wife was in labor. He was in a hurry to get to her bedside and ignored all his ex's pleas back to her bedside.
Shanice found her mother in the morning, sprawled on the ground beneath her hotel window. She left a note for her child that she found on the dresser. It read:
Your Daddy loves you too much and me too little. I've looked all around and if he isn't the one, I don't want to live. He would have been the one if it wasn't for Dawn and her brats. Remember me before Dawn? I was happy, we were happy. He loved me until Dawn and her brats took him away. Dawn hurt us all. Remember me before Dawn Shanice.
Shanice folded the note and hid it in the slippers she wore. Then she cried for her mother and cursed Dawn for ruining her family and making her mom unhappy. How could she have liked Dawn even a little when she'd stolen her Daddy?
Weeks later, Shanice sat in front of a judge. Both Daddy Francisco, and her grandparents wanted her. When the judge asked her what she wanted, she replied, "I want to be with my daddy."
That same night she walked into the new nursery where Dawn's new baby girl Erika rested in her crib and carried a piece of paper in her hand. She leaned over baby Erika's crib and studied her. It was night, but the baby was awake. She wasn't fussy.
"Your his daughter too. His real daughter. You change things," Shanice said to her opening the stick figure picture she had drawn of herself and her Daddy. "I liked being his only child. Then I liked being his only little girl, his little princess. Now your here, Dawn's daughter. Well, guess what, Dawn's daughter? You're not going to take Daddy away from me the way Dawn took him from Mommy. So be as cute as you want. You can't have him, he's all I got. He's my only Daddy, he's mine. You're not my brothers and sisters, you're not."
She left the nursery then vowing never to call Dawn's children brother or sister. To do so would admit she was sharing her Daddy and she wouldn't no matter what she had to do.
As for Francisco, guilt gave him unquenchable nightmares. Trying to satisfy both women had worked against him in a horrible way. He shouldn't have slept with her. He could have walked out and fought her in the courts. He certainly had enough leverage. There was no doubt in his mind that this was his fault. He wouldn't tell his wife of the night that led to his ex's suicide and in doing so only made his nightmares worse. For a long time he wouldn't touch his wife at all for the shame of what he had done.
He was grateful for the promotion that allowed them to move into a bigger house away from all his memories, but to look at Shanice was to remember. So he volunteered for a transfer that keep him away from home often. He never told his wife the job was voluntary, in fact he said he had to take it. Though Shanice kept her vow not to care about anyone but Daddy, it was Dawn's care she was left to.
Francisco cheated on Dawn to escape his guilt. Out of fear that she'd discover the truth and he'd destroy yet another life, he revived their sex life. His relationships with all his children, except Shanice, became distant. He felt he owed her an dept he could never pay.
If Shanice's mother knew nothing else, she knew her ex-husband and child's heart. Her death had worked just the way she wanted to. The family collapsed within itself.