So Dream Daddy came out and while I loved the story and wanted to continue supporting Vernon and co., it brought up some of my bitter feelings towards fathers in general. While listening to Melanie Martinez's "Pacify Her", I got the inspiration to write a sort of twisted short story from the point of view of a father. This dad is based on all of the dads that I've met in real life (ex. fathers within my family, my friend's dads, dads that I just met in public), not stereotypes portrayed in media. This story is basically my attempt at trying to understand these dads that I've encountered and why the acted the way they did (which will be explained in the ending notes to prevent spoilers).
Ever since that pink plus sign appeared on that tiny screen, my wife was never the same. The beautiful siren that I had claimed on that wedding night had now been reduced to a sloppy sea hag.
That thing inside of her took away every good quality she had, leaving the ugliness to show: her bossiness, her childish desires, the exasperated sigh whenever something didn't go her way. And the nagging, oh the nagging. If there was a mess in the house, she'd make sure I knew about it. I paid for the damn house and everything in it. I did my part. Unfortunately, I knew that nagging would stick around after the kid was here. Nagging for eighteen years; that's the kind of hell this kid would bring us.
The doctors laughed when they told me that I had fainted upon witnessing the baby's birth. I wasn't out for too long, so I woke up to the baby's shrill cries as my wife held it to her chest.
The smile on her face held more joy than I had ever seen before. I tried to force a smile of my own. For some reason, I didn't feel the same contagious happiness as every one else in that room. Somewhere in me, I felt defeat. Had I lost? Lost what?
I looked at the baby huddled in my wife's arms. They hadn't bathed it yet because they wanted it to feel its mother's warmth first. As a result, it hardly looked human.
I grimaced, feeling like I might faint again.
It was a girl. We named her Kana. Well, more so my wife and her mother named her Kana. I hadn't a clue what to name her. I had an easier time naming our dog than I did our own child. When I looked into my dog's warm eyes, I instantly knew what her name would be: Athena. When I looked at my daughter's blank expression, I was at a loss. I felt no warmth from her stare.
"Honey, isn't she beautiful?" my wife would ask, her being filled with wonder at the little bundle's mere presence.
Of course she was. Even the doctors said so. So why didn't I think so? Why is it that when I looked at that innocent, curious face, I felt no desire to hold her? In my arms, she felt heavy.
Like a burden.
My favorite part of the day was always when my wife put Kana to bed. Her figure sagged from exhaustion, but a smile still rested on her face.
That always bothered me. This child had drained the life and energy from my once perky wife. Yet, she still had the time to talk about all of the "exciting" moments she had with Kana that day.
I didn't understand. What did she gain from tending to Kana? What made her so happy that she would tire herself out just to care for her?
Loving her seemed tiring.
Despite how much my wife fawned over Kana, she ended up becoming a Daddy's Girl. Every night, she would cling onto my arm while I tried to watch TV, then she would fall asleep.
She didn't care what we watched, or seemed to pay attention, but I still had to make sure it was "family friendly" so as to not upset the missus. Kana become more of a pest as she stopped watching TV quietly and started asking dozens of questions. They were the complex types like "Why do some people cry when they're happy?" and "Why isn't honey sweet?" Things I had no idea how to answer.
Then she would ask me to play with her whenever she saw I wasn't busy. I finally gave in one day and agreed to play catch with her outside. All went well until she tripped and scraped her knee. A couple of neighborhood boys who were watching laughed at her, so she started to cry.
I dragged her inside to clean up the wound, her complaining that it hurt when she walked. By the time I seated her on the edge of the bathtub, I was already getting a small headache from her crying. I grit my teeth and assured myself that it would all be over soon.
When I applied the rubbing alcohol on her knee, she screamed. Instantly, my hand went to clap her mouth closed.
"Stop crying," I growled.
When I removed my hand, a bright red handprint crossed her cheeks. She sniffled and started crying again.
"Stop that. Stop it right now!"
Kana flinched at my exclamation, knocking over the bottle of rubbing alcohol. The contents stained my jeans and spread quickly across the floor.
I cursed under my breath as I picked up the bottle "Fucking brat…"
Ice cold vodka slid down my throat as scantily clad women flaunted their lithe bodies across my TV screen.
I remember when my wife used to be like those women, beautiful, sexy, flirtatious. Now all she ever talks about is Kana. What Kana did that day. What funny things Kana said. What we should get Kana for her birthday.
She even started talking about getting a job at the local bakery to support our new family. If she did that, she'd be taking away one of my favorite little luxuries. As a stay at home wife, I had the freedom to go hang out whenever I wasn't at work because I knew that she would be home taking care of Kana. If she got a job, not only would I have to go straight home after work, but I would have to pay for a babysitter if both of us were at work.
That's when I realized…I didn't love Kana.
I hated her.
She took away everything from me. She took away my wife, the enjoyment of life, the independence of being an adult. She took it all away.
Kana stood in the doorway, rubbing one of her eyes as she yawned "I had a nightmare…I wet the bed…"
My fist tightened around the neck of the beer bottle.
She took everything away.
"Y'know, if you were just a good girl like your friend, Marie, I wouldn't have to hit you."
"I know, Dad. I know."
I looked to see Kana's dead eyes in the rear view mirror, listlessly staring out of the window. She was sixteen now. Stern and cold in the face. She didn't speak unless spoken to, and when she did, her voice was empty.
People just assumed that she was just shy. The way she flinched at loud noises or sudden movements was simply brushed off as a delicate nature.
I knew the boys would see that as naivety and try to romance her, but I assured her that she was way too unattractive for any of those claims to be true.
Kana wasn't always like that. After the first few times I struck her as a child, she became jumpy and easily startled. She fidgeted often and had a hard time staying in one place. Of course, at that age, everyone brushed it off as Kana being a hyperactive child. My wife, however, was very suspicious of the sudden change.
I wasn't about to go to jail over a brat who couldn't keep still, so I made a proposition one day.
She hopped in the car when I pulled up to the elementary school to pick her up. We drove silently as she bounced around in the backseat. I barked vicious threats whenever her fidgeting created any obnoxious noise.
Finally, we pulled up to the house, but I didn't unlock the car doors.
She cautiously leaned over the arm rest, shaking "Y-Yeah?"
"You don't tell anyone about when I hit you, right?"
Kana shook her head.
I stared at her for a beat and she whimpered, instantly looking like she might cry.
"Hey," I said "Quit acting weird, alright? I don't want people asking questions."
I could tell she had no idea what I was talking about. Dumbass.
"Listen, I'll put it to you like this," I leaned over in my seat "If you let anyone think that daddy's being mean to you…"
I reached over to the glove compartment and clicked it open.
Kana knew what a gun was, but she had never seen one in person or knew anyone who had one. She just knew that they were meant to kill in painful, violent ways.
From then on, Kana tried to contain her nervous tics, but over time, they went away on their own. As she grew up, her reactions to my beatings and insults reduced to almost nothing.
It was good to see that she had learned some obedience.
My wife and I got into an ugly argument about my drinking. Well, it started out about the foreign lipstick stain on my collar, but I easily changed the topic.
We went on for hours and hours into the night. I knew Kana was trying to sleep upstairs, and my wife wasn't shy about reminding me every time I raised my voice too high for her liking. It was around the fifth hush that I finally snapped.
"Fuck Kana, alright?! Fuck that sorry bitch!"
My wife's mouth went agape and her eyes filled with such horror that it even surprised me. I was so stunned by her reaction that I almost didn't realize that she had slapped me.
"What is that matter with you?!" she scolded "That is our daughter!"
Just that very word sickened me.
I just couldn't accept it "No, don't say that!"
My wife fixed me with a bemused and audacious stare "Say what? "Our daughter"?"
She had done that on purpose, claimed that bitch as our daughter right after I told her not to.
Hot tears of frustration burned the corners of my eyes. Sixteen years of bottled up anger raged within my body.
"She ruined everything!" I hissed "Don't pretend you don't know it. We had the perfect life until she came along. We were actually happy!"
To my dismay, my wife shook her head as if I were crazy "No…no, no," she took me by the shoulders and gave me a firm shake "I'm still happy. I love Kana!"
I threw her hands away as soon as those words left her mouth "Stop lying; you don't love her! No one could love her!"
Kana had taken everything away from us.
Why would anyone love her?
How could anyone stand her?
Why did my wife forgive her?
Why did my wife choose her over me?
Why was I punished for trying to reclaim my life?
Why…did any of this happen?
Every dad I've ever met was either abusive, misogynistic, a rapist/pedophile, neglectful, a cheater, or some combination of all of them. I made the child in the story a girl because nearly all of my friends/family members that were abused by their fathers were girls. I named her Kana as a play on Kaneki (Ken) because, although he wasn't abused by his father, the trauma he endured corrupted him just like Kana.
I understand that not all dads are abusive and the mothers can be just as equally abusive, but my experience with fathers has made it my natural instinct to see them as a threat and to protect my friends from them.