by Jessica Delfino
The little girl turned her sweet potato-shaped face upward at her father. Her eyes shone blue like the water which he'd held her under, in respect for the wishes of his, nay, their christ. She shivered, her eyelashes clumped together like a gathering of wet hair mopped up from the kitchen floor. The corners of her mouth flitted, quickly escalating into a tiny smile, the rows of baby teeth shimmering like jewels, but worth much less.
"Daddy, what will I be when I grow up?" Her father beamed down at her like the way Mr. Sun shines on our planet. "You will be whatever the lord tells you to be." She let out a giggle as if she were choking on water, hiccuped in the air and the breeze, and squirmed with the happiness that came along with being in her father's arms. In that moment, she understood that she had the ability to please or disappoint her father, whenever she wanted, for the rest of her life. "God willing, papa, I will be a good daughter." Her father was warm all over, like an oven baking a pot roast inside. "Yes," he said. He was going to say something else, but then he felt the whisper of God in his ear and all over his heart, telling him that he had said enough.
Father took a small flask of whiskey from his pocket and turned it upward towards the lord in heaven. He took in the bitter fluid and breathed out harshly. Daughter smelled his potent mouthwind, winced, and then relaxed, familiar with the hot rush of the air escaping from his throat. It was the source of daddy's good moods. "Daddy, can I taste?" Father looked at his precious arm bundle and then at the glass rectangle of liquid. It caught the light and spilled squares of color onto the ground below. "Yes," he said. He was going to say something else, "No" perhaps, but the lord had moved into him at that moment and shared with him that to teach your children the ways of the world is a parent's only responsibility. Father held his hand below her delicate, twig-like neck and helped her to steady the bottle to her lips. When she began to taste the dark poison, he held the bottle fast, so she had no choice but to swallow.
"I must teach her to be aware now, while she is young, so when she is older, she will not follow satan to the evil manor, where the floor is bathed in velvet carpets and strobe lights dance alongside the writhing bodies." He exclaimed out loud, "I will not have it!" So thunderous was the passion behind his words that birds flew from a tree above his head and his voice echoed out across the lake. He smiled, as he knew that an echo was God's voice, broadcast from the heavens to be transformed to the tone of that of a mortal man.
He helped the liquor gone astray from his daughter's mouth with the back of his hand and stood her up. She was affected by the swig and swayed just so slightly. Daddy took her tiny pinecone sized hand into his giant meathook and tugged her lightly. "Let's go home, porcupine. God's work here is done."