Her Shadow Forever
She loved her shadow, laughing as it followed her while running. I stepped in front of the sunlight and covered her shadow with the larger form and she laughed. “Daddy, can you be my shadow forever?” she asked.
“Yes,” I said. “I’ll follow you always.”
Fate decided that was a promise I could not keep. Her death, a random act of bacteria and math, wasn’t something a father could ever accept. I’m the source of so many hurts to our broken family, yet I must live on. She was the source of joy but must leave.
Last night’s lover way trying to comfort me by saying, “Maybe the world wasn’t worthy of her beauty.”
“Fuck you,” I said, not out of anger, but with soft tone, as I might say thank you to a server. “How can such beauty come to an end?”
My lover, the latest in a string of relationships, cried softly. We made love, but I felt Jennifer’s eyes watching me from the shadows of my lady friend’s closet.
I pictured my daughter’s body from earlier that day, eyes closed, lips pursed together in a slight smile. How can a young body once so filled with passion lie silent? How can one so complex in her details, who so often writhed with ecstatic animation and desire, now lie cold?
“Daddy, when did you and mother first have sex?” She asked this question when she was six. I hadn’t thought to expect it.
“Ask your mom.”
“Why, can’t you remember?”
Yes, I remember it well.”
“So, then, when was it?”
And so it went with Jennifer, an only, and precocious child.
Those who knew her understood her hunger for life. She left nothing undone in her short life. This I knew because she told me, and what she didn’t tell me, she told her mother.
As I rose over my lover’s body, the wall next to her bed held my shadow from the streetlight through the window. I imagined Jennifer’s shadow covered inside of mine.
At the moment of my coming, my lover purred with pleasure as she had done before and pulled me closer. She was beautiful, but I barely knew her. Still, I pressed in with the passion I imagined Jennifer would draw from a man. For those few moments my sorrow lessened.