Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Father (as in paternal parent, not God) (04/10/08)
TITLE: Nomine Tenus Tantum
By Allison Egley
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Jackie lunged towards Molly and picked her up, trying to comfort the sobbing child. "No you won't, Gary. How could you? She's your daughter."
"She's not my daughter. She's yours."
Jackie didn't even try to contain her anger any longer. "Yes she is. The day we said 'I do' she became your daughter as much as mine. You even signed the adoption papers."
"Yeah," Gary replied, still holding the gun in the air, "Well, this is the day I say 'I don't.' I am not your husband and I am not her father."
Jackie's eyes narrowed as she stared at Gary. "You're right. You're not her father. A father is someone who loves unconditionally. A father is someone who looks past faults and failures to see who Molly can become. A father is someone who tucks his daughter in at night and checks under the bed to make sure there aren't any monsters. So yes, you're right. Molly hasn't known a <i>real</i> father."
"Oh, and that's supposed to melt my heart and make me come back, right?" Gary lowered the gun. "The only reason I agreed to marry you, Jackie, was to win a bet with my friends." Jackie gasped, as a hand went to her mouth. "Yeah." Gary snickered, as he once again pointed the gun at Jackie and Molly. "That's right. My friends said I could never snag someone like you. They said after your first marriage, that you'd see right past me; but I just turned on my charm. You were too stupid to notice the difference.
"It was simple, really. All I had to do was pretend I loved Molly. I took her to the zoo, pushed her on the swings at the park. She didn't know the difference. She though I was the cool guy. But now? Well, now I'm done. Yeah, I could just walk out and leave you two alone; but you see, I work hard for my money. I don't want to have to waste any of it on child support to pay for a kid who isn't even mine."
Jackie huddled in the corner, covering Molly and whispering a desperate prayer. Through clenched teeth she seethed, "I don't even know you, Gary. You've lost your mind. I don't care if you won't pay child support; but to threaten to kill a child to get out of paying? Well, that's just lower than low."
"Oh, this is getting fun, now, Jackie. Were you praying? Do you think your God is going to save you?" He stepped closer to Jackie and Molly. "Do you?" He took another step. "Do you?" Another step. "Do you?"
The doorbell rang. The gun clattered to the floor as Gary ran to the back bedroom. Shaking, Jackie put Molly down and held her hand as the both approached the door.
"UPS here. I have a package for Jackie Hollingsworth that needs a signature."
Still shaking, Jackie picked up the pen and signed her name. The deliveryman looked at her carefully.
"Ms. Hollingsworth, I thought I heard some noise and someone running when I rang the doorbell. Do you need some help?"
<i>Nomine Tenus Tantum</i> means "In Name Only" in Latin.
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