The Gift

PHOTO PROMPT © Sandra Crook

 

She left him a gift.

She knew he wasn’t likely to acknowledge it. It was possible he wouldn’t know or care where it had come from. It didn’t matter. Or perhaps it did – and terribly – but she could do nothing to change it. Where others sought connection and cultivated relationships, her father’s world revolved around rocks, shells, sticks, pebbles, stones. Those he caressed, inspected, studied, catalogued.

She’d learned to expect nothing. It was the only way to lessen heartbreak.

She left the coral piece on the table. Perhaps if he kept it, it would be as if he saw her.

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

50 thoughts on “The Gift

    • Thank you … So glad the story resonated, though sad that there is truth in children (and adults who used to be children) who are yearning to connect with their parents. Compassion is a good trait, though. Great comment! Na’ama

    • I don’t know if I can say ‘for sure’ here, but I think that he might notice a coral … Thank you for commenting, and yes, we can always hope that somehow he’ll wake up to her absence and realize what he’d missed. Na’ama

    • Thank you, Iain! The story of all too many children whose parents are too pre-occupied or self-occupied … Perhaps in this case a bit more sharply drawn, but the longing remains in all too many. Lovely comment! Na’ama

  1. Your story today is very beautiful. The daughter has learned to make do with the crumbs of affection from her father. I think what I like best about your story is that you bring the daughter to life by making her feelings so clear and consistent with her situation. They ring true like a fine crystal glass; they glow like sunlight in the Arctic.
    And the desolation of your last sentence is heart-breaking.

    • Thank you, Penny. Yes, I work with some who endure such desolation. It is all too often a reality for children whose parents are too occupied with other things — this might be a bit of an extreme case, but it is not unusual for children (and adults who used to be children …) to try and find a way to connect with a self-occupied (I’ll leave clinical diagnoses to others … ;)) parent through looking for ways to appeal to the ‘currency’ of that parent; knowing that the parent won’t see them for themselves, only through the lens of his own interest. It is always devastating, and the yearning – even when children resign themselves to not being seen for themselves – never quite goes away. Thank you for a lovely, lyrical comment! You SO got it! 🙂 Na’ama

    • Thank you, Sandra! I know too many children who hold similar yearnings (and some adults-who-used-to-be-children … ) and the yearning to be seen is universal, even if not all keep trying quite so obviously. Thank you for the comment! 🙂 Na’ama

  2. A daughter’s attempt to get father’s attention. Touching! If father loves rocks, pebbles etc, he may have a liking for seashells also.

    • Thank you, Rochelle! Too many children feel this way, in varying degrees. I just dialed this a bit sideways, though there are – alas – some, even some we know of in is world – whose fathers care little to notice them … Sometimes it may seem like no big loss to those looking from the outside, but to a child it may well still be.
      Thank you again! Na’ama

  3. I felt so sad for this child, she deserves more from her father. I wrote a story which should make every parent think.

  4. Heartbreakingly well done, Na’ama… One wonders how such men actually took the time (not that it takes much 😉 ) to help bring a child into the world…

    • Thank you, Dale! I have a friend whose father perhaps was similarly ‘unattached’, and she learned to think of him as the ‘DNA donor’ more than a father figure. She’d found others who were parental, fortunately, though I think the lack remained. Fathering a child, biologically, isn’t a big deed, isn’t it? Bringing up a child, parenting the child, is the true test of parenting. xo Na’ama

      • Like my ex-sister-in-law. She used to say the only thing her father gave to her was height.
        And my cousin’s father dumped her when her mother dumped him. Her second husband became Dad. The other was father who helped create me.

      • It is a sad thing for a child to have to accept that they are naught but a burden or even worse–that their parent is apathetic to their presence. Neglect and abuse come in all kinds of forms, and the kind of deadbeat dad your cousin had is one such kind. I’m glad that your cousin found a father in her step-dad. There are good men who take on raising the children of their spouses and see them as no less their own. They are the REAL parents in these cases, not the ones with swimmy-DNA.

    • I hope he will notice, too.
      As for neglect, it doesn’t need to be intentional to be neglectful … A parent who is continually so absorbed in other things/interests/substances that they aren’t attending to their child, can effectively be neglecting their child. Children need their parents regardless of why a parent isn’t attending to them. … Of course, the occasional situation of a parent being absorbed in something else isn’t in of itself neglectful, but if that’s the way the parent ‘is’ with the child most of the time, or enough of the time to render them inaccessible to the child’s needs, then they are neglecting the child. Hopefully she has others in her life who are more attentive caregivers!

    • Thank you Jo Hawk … I doubt it, too.
      BTW, love your ‘ID’ photo … 😉 I have a soft spot for hawks, having saved a Coopers’ Hawk in NYC a couple of winters ago. I took it to the wild bird sanctuary and they took care of it there–every time I see a bird of pray circling someplace over Central Park, I think of Cooper.

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