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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Father (as in paternal parent, not God) (04/10/08)

TITLE: National Daddy
By Dee Yoder


“You little stinker…come out from behind that bookcase!”

“Gotta catch me, Daddy! Gotta catch me first!”

I grin and drop the envelope I’m attempting to open onto the cluttered desktop. My daughter’s hair flies into her eyes as she peeks back and forth at me. When I stand up, she shrieks and makes a dash for the door to the bathroom just off the office.

I run to catch her up in my arms, and her laughter and giggles send my heart soaring like nothing else ever has. Her blond hair is soft and wispy about her face, and the freckles on her cheeks make me ache with wonder.

“Daddy, I want to eat lunch with you today. Please? Please?”

She folds her hands into begging bundles, the knuckles blanching white with her pleading. Her tone and strident voice tell me she already knows what my answer will be. My heart sinks and my throat closes around the knot forming there. I pull her delicate face to my whiskery one and tickle her cheek softly. She giggles again and the scent of her innocent childhood fills my senses.

She leans back in my arms, her trust in my strength to hold her tightly evident in how far she leans out over air. She locks my eyes with her own. The pleading softens into a tender longing as I return her gaze.

“Daddy? When can we go on vacation? Can we go tomorrow? Tomorrow or the next day?”

“Well, I’d love to go tomorrow…I’d love to go the next day…but-” I shrug.

“You can’t. Right?” she pouts.

She folds her arms into a defiant pose and shuns my effort to kiss her cheek by turning her head back and forth against my lips. I change her disappointment in me into a game as she starts to giggle against my scratchy chin. Finally, she stops and holds my face between her small hands, her frail fingers mastering my strength.

“OK, Daddy,” and the defeat in her eyes brings me to the point of calling the whole trip off. I set her gently on the rug at my feet and turn to pick up the phone on my desk. My resolve falters as I think of how many people have worked so hard to plan this thing…how many I would disappoint if I decided not to go at the last minute.

My little girl’s attention has been caught by a ray of sun, which is filtering through the blinds at the window. I watch her chase dust motes in the light, and her sweet little body feels like it is turning about in the glittering dust by inches. I can see each and every tiny movement as though I’m watching her on a slow motion film. I smile as I remember the day she was born, and I marvel at how much she’s grown in six short years. The memories of her many kisses, her silly jokes, the hugs she’s bestowed on me at random moments play through my mind.

I smile as I bless her presence in my life.

A knock at the door interrupts my sentimental thoughts.

“Come in,” I call distractedly. My daughter glides on in her pool of light, oblivious to the world’s annoying intrusion.

“The helicopter is ready, Mr. President. Mrs. Kennedy is on her way down.”

“Thank you. I’ll be right there.”

I turn to my daughter, and she catches my gaze as she spins one last time.

“Come give me a hug, Caroline. It’s time for Daddy to go.”

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Laury Hubrich 04/17/08
Oh, awesome story! and it caught me by surprise! Great writing and really great descriptions! Well done!
Helen Murray04/17/08
That last sentence is a tear jerker if ever I saw one. What an exquisite interpretation of the last time.
Betsy Markman04/17/08
Oh, wow...where did you ever get the idea for this? I was caught completely off guard. Excellent and beautiful and very imaginative. A winner in my book.
Lynda Schultz 04/17/08
Great story. Dallas immediately flashed into my mind when I realized who you were writing about.
Betty Castleberry04/18/08
This is well done. I loved the surprise at the end. Kudos.
Sally Hanan04/18/08
Beautiful piece of writing, and you surely went for the jugular by making women everywhere cry.... The only negative was the title--it was lackluster compared to the writing.
Kristen Hester04/19/08
This is an awesome story and the ending was GREAT!
Peter Stone04/20/08
The story reminded me of trying to go out with my kids begging me to stay home, and then came that amazing surprise ending.
Carole Robishaw 04/21/08
Very good! i too was very surprised by the ending. A side of Kennedy we often forget to think about.
Jan Ackerson 04/21/08
Wow! The title should have clued me in, but I was caught utterly by surprise, and I was delighted to be caught! This was fantastic!
Sheri Gordon04/21/08
Oh wow, Dee. This is really good. You're a great storyteller, and the ending is chilling. Nice job with the topic.
Mariane Holbrook 04/21/08
Oh. My. Goodness. I was caught totally off guard by the ending. I should have guessed by the title but I didn't have a clue. A terrific read, Dee! Just great!!!
Sharlyn Guthrie04/21/08
Great job of hooking us, only to reveal the father's true identity in your final sentences. Of course I had to reread it with that in mind. Well done.
Joanney Uthe04/21/08
You had me right in the room with your MC and then pulled the rug with the revelation of his identity. Excellent writing.
Janice Cartwright04/22/08
Dee this is amazing. I am trully at a loss for words. Your descriptions are so lifelike they are almost painful, but in a good, poignant way. Your title pretty much alerted the reader to the father's general identity as a head of state, but I truly did not see the surprise you had in store. I thought I had pinpointed a favorite of your stories but this one tops them all.
Joshua Janoski04/22/08
I had no idea this was about JFK until the very end. You really surprised me with this one. It was beautifully written. Some of your word usage had me floored.

Thank you so much for sharing this.
Joanne Sher 04/22/08
What an EXCELLENT twist! And you NAILED the characterization, girl. This is so, SO clever and delightful and wonderful. Precious, dear Dee!
Shirley McClay 04/23/08
Excellent story.. haunting ending. Ouch. I forget that these great historic people had real lives and family. Thank you Dee.
Loren T. Lowery04/23/08
Powerful and convincing and the ending makes it bittersweet if not forboding. You can't help but ask what if he'd listened to his heart that day and did as his daughter asked. Great job!
Joy Faire Stewart04/23/08
The details are so vivid I felt I was in the room. The ending took me by surprise and I loved it. Fabulous writing!
LauraLee Shaw04/23/08
Aha! Creative genius, you are! Well done.
Beth LaBuff 04/23/08
Wow! This is great! ...and a bit heart-breaking. Excellent, excellent work Dee! I love it.
Yvonne Blake 04/23/08
I suspected the ending by the title, but I love the back and forth dialogue. Well done.
Sara Harricharan 04/23/08
Heehee! So cute! The title should've clued me in, but I was blissfully enjoying this story until the twist in the end-that made me laugh out loud. Great job! ^_^
Patty Wysong04/24/08
Oh, WoW! This is wonderful. With all the details you put in there, I was right there. And then, then when you threw the Kennedy name in there...Cool! Great job!!
Jae Blakney04/29/08
Thanks for giving a sample of great writing quality to strive for.