The Struggles of a Single Father – Alisha Lovings

Henry Bader became a father and a widower on the same day. He and Celine, the dearly departed, knew the great risks childbearing brought along with it, with her long history of matrilineal medical misfortune and all—preeclampsia, placenta previa, puerperal fever—for her kind, pregnancy was unfortunately a probable death sentence. But Celine was fiercely brave and exceedingly lovely and that bravery and loveliness inspired a once meek young Henry Bader into becoming a courageous young man who would do anything to fulfill all of his beloved’s wishes and dreams, and she wanted nothing more than to have a child. Her wish was fulfilled for mere moments before being hemorrhaged from this world, leaving behind a very broken hearted new father and one small Selena behind.

Despite countless attempts by various friends and family to introduce Henry to a substitute mother for his little girl, no woman could ever live up to the celestial standards Celine had set, with the exception of his much adored daughter who grew to look more and more like her mother with each passing day. He lived only to provide for his child, and worked ceaselessly to become an exceptional father. He attended any and every parenting class available and read just about every book on the matter. He mastered pigtails and French braids, kept abreast of all the latest fashion trends, and all of her childhood spoils made for the most desired spot for slumber parties; her childhood was as happy as any father could hope for. Up until this day, Henry Bader found he was ready for any and all challenges that fatherhood brought, and despite reading all of the literature on the topic, he was now learning he was not as prepared to talk to his once pre-pubescent daughter about that certain time in her life as he’d hoped.

“Uh…dad, can we talk?” she began.

“Y-yeah, of course,” he replied, anxiously trying to recall all of the Talking to Your Teenage Daughter About Puberty talking points.

“I think something’s…wrong with me,” her hands were fidgeting anxiously in the large center pocket of a hooded sweatshirt.

“Oh honey, nothing’s wrong with you! You’re just growing up. This is a very special time in your life now,” this cliché response was all he could think so say.

“I found blood in my clothes,” she said abruptly.

“Oh that…well, that…that’s perfectly normal. It’s called a period. It’s when the lining of your uterus…”

She cut him off and he was thankful.

“I know what a period is…but…there’s hair…everywhere,” she continued working her hands within her pocket.

He coughed.

“That’s just a sign that you’re becoming a woman.”

“And the stomach pains…”

“Cramps. We can get you pills for that!” he was excited to have an actual solution for something.

“This hunger…it’s like nothing I’ve ever felt before,” this was becoming less of a conversation now and more of a soliloquy.

“I heard chocolate was good for that. Why don’t I go get you some now,” he stood, eager for a break.

“Blood…it just smells so…so irresistible!” her eyes took on a frenzied look as she spoke.

That certainly wasn’t in any of the prepared dialogues Henry had rehearsed from the suggested material.

“I-uh…we could get some steaks, I guess. Cook ‘em real rare…” he was beginning to sweat.

“Oh God, I just wanted him so badly,” her hands were suddenly out of her pockets and covering her face while she unexpectedly began to sob.

Audible apologies escaped between hyperventilated breaths as her entire body shook out tears. He knew that the arrival of all these new hormones meant that time of emotional outbursts was right around corner, but he was never one to handle the cries of his little girl very stoically and quickly found himself kneeling beside his little girl and taking her into his arms to comfort her. While she cried and clung to her father, a tiny clinking sound emitted from the tile floor beneath them, something had fallen from her pocket. The thing he picked up gave him pause, caused him to look quizzically at his daughter and her to cry out, begging for forgiveness. It was a sharp canine tooth, what would be called a cuspid if found in a human mouth, which this surely wasn’t, being far too big. It was much too big to be from a dog’s mouth either, Henry thought as he studied it.

“Oh God, I didn’t mean to do it! He just looked so delicious!” her words made her father wince; he wasn’t ready for his precious child to start describing boys in such a way. “What do I do now? He’s still in there…” she looked towards her bedroom door.

A young man in his baby’s room? He couldn’t bare it. He rushed to her door, her trailing right behind pleading to be forgiven, pulling at his arms, begging him not to look at what was behind the door. But nothing would stop him from protecting his pride and glory, and equally, nothing could prepare him for what he now saw before him. Sure enough, a teenage boy lay in his precious little girl’s bed, nude and then some. Every part of him was exposed—at least the parts that were left of him. He was an inappropriate mass of flesh and viscera amidst a mess of shed hair and fur. He took several backward steps out of the room and turned to look at his monstrous little angel, before turning to rush out the front door.

○◌•⃝      ⃝•◌ ○

Several hours later, Henry Bader returned home and sat parked out front of his house with two new bags sitting in the backseat of his car: one from the hardware store and the other from a bookstore. The bag from the hardware store contained a conspicuous set of items he was certain would place him on some sort of criminal watch list, and the other contained a book which he now removed, titled Moondance: The Essential Guide to Understanding and Surviving Your Teenage Daughter’s Transformation.  He let out a sigh and began to read aloud.

“Chapter One…”

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