In my dreams, Daddy is Prince Charming and Superman. As handsome as James Bond. As powerful as the president. Always just out of reach, always gone before I wake up.
I’m fourteen and Mom buys me a new dress, black chiffon. It’s too old for me, but she doesn’t say no. She never says no. I line my eyes and paint my lips. I wind my hair up into a French twist so I look grown up.
When he left us, I was just a little girl, and my mother was crying and my grandmother was saying, “You knew he wasn’t a family man when you married him.”
I look in the mirror. The little girl stares back.
Mom and I drive to the nearby town where he now lives. We will all go to dinner for my birthday, she has said. We park in front of a Payless shoe store wedged between a dry cleaners and a nail salon.
“What are we doing here?” I ask
Inside, my mother’s hand is on my back, gently pushing me toward a man who is thin and balding, and on his knees pushing a shoe onto the foot of an impatient woman. He sees us in the doorway and rises. Though, nothing like my dreams, I still want to run into his arms, but they never open.