in my own words...
No matter what's happened in my life, I've always had my
mother. My father, on the other hand... Well, let me just say that I
do know my father loved me and always wanted what was best for me. At
least in the beginning. I remember when I was very little, maybe three or
four, and I would sit on his lap while he smoked a cigar. He would read me
Mother Goose stories and fairy tales about princesses and evil queens before
putting me to bed. He always said" life can be like a fairy tale,
you've just got to help it along a little." I never understood what
he meant. Did he mean that if I worked hard enough, I could be like one of
those princesses who got to go to the ball and dance with Prince Charming?
What kind of work did I have to do, anyway?
Daddy was always around when I was little. He didn't
have a job very often, so Momma would always be the one out making sure we had
food on the table and clothes on our backs. One month, we were late with
the rent and she was so scared that we were gonna be thrown out on the
street. Daddy kept telling her that she worried too much and that
everything was gonna be okay. Gee, he was such a dreamer. He was
always telling us how he was gonna strike it rich and buy us a big house with a
maid and gardeners and nice clothes. It seemed like every week he was
coming home with some big announcement about how he had stumbled on the perfect
idea to make us rich. He never actually made any money from these big
ideas, but once he managed to get enough to take me to the amusement park
one summer. I had always wanted to go and ride a roller coaster.
Daddy was right there to hold my hand and we screamed our lungs out during the
Although Daddy and I were very close, I never seemed to see
much of Momma. She was always working late trying to support us.
Sometimes, we hardly had any money at all, but then other times, Momma seemed to
have tons of it. She'd breeze into the room with loads of shopping bags
full of new dresses for both of us and we'd spend hours together in front of the
mirror trying them on and posing like we were models or socialites. I had
a good childhood. Then everything changed.
I don't remember exactly when it happened, but Daddy gradually
stopped spending so much time at home with me. He always said that he was
working on ways to make us better off. Momma and Daddy fought a lot,
too. Once, they got into a really bad fight and he hit her. I was so
scared for her; I'd never seen him act like that before. For the first
time in my life, I didn't like him very much. I still loved him,
though. He was my Daddy after all. Then, one day, these men started
to come by. The would say really mean and nasty things to us about how we
would regret double crossing them and that they'd get what was theirs. I
didn't know what they meant, but I knew enough to be scared. One time, the
men came looking for Daddy and he wasn't home. They started breaking
things and tearing everything up. Oh, how I screamed and cried when they
smashed my favorite doll house. Momma had given it to me for one of my
birthdays and I loved it more than anything I owned. Now it was
ruined! After that, Daddy started spending more and more time away.
I could tell he had changed. It seemed like he wouldn't hold me any
more and he wouldn't tell me any more stories. I can still remember the
last time I saw him.
He had just shown up, out of the blue. I could tell that
Momma wasn't really excited to have him home, but she didn't say anything.
He had an armload of presents for both me and Momma. New dresses and jewelry!
Momma asked him were he got the stuff, but he wouldn't tell her. While I
tried on my new clothes, I could hear them fighting. Momma told him he was
gonna bring those men back. They were gonna start harassing us
again. He told her that she was worrying too much and he had everything
under control. Right before he left, he hugged and kissed me and told me
how much he loved me and he'd see me really soon. I never saw him again.
After what seemed like a forever of waiting for him, Momma
told me one day that Daddy was dead. She never told me how she knew or how
it happened, but I suspected that it had something to do with those men. I
cried myself to sleep that night. I wanted my Daddy back. I wanted
him to tell me stories about princesses again. I wanted him to hold me and
tell me all about his dreams and his plans.
Momma and I moved to Albanyville not long after that.
She said that we needed to start over with a new life. It's been wonderful
here. I became the most popular girl in school. Momma was always
amused at how many boys kept coming by to take me out to dances and
parties. It was always like I was a princess getting ready to go to a
ball. My cousin Sara is living with us now, too. We spend a lot of
time together talking about boys and what we're gonna wear when we get
married. I want to wear a big fancy dress with a train and a veil. I
want to look just like a princess in a fairy tale. Now I've got to find
the right Prince Charming! I've got faith that I'll find him and he'll
make my life perfect. Like Daddy said, fairy tales and dreams can come
true. You've just got to help them along a little.