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Short Stories for Children of All Ages: Daddy, Will You Miss Me?DADDY, WILL YOU MISS ME?

My Daddy’s going to work, far away in Africa without me.

“I’ll be back,” he says. “Four short weeks isn’t that long.”

“That’s long enough,” I say. “Too long for me.”

I sit on his bed while we pack his shirts and shoes and shaving things.

“What shall I bring you back from Africa?” my Daddy asks me.

“Nothing,” I answer, winding his blue socks into a ball.

“I know,” Daddy says, winking, “how about a giraffe?”

“No.” I shrug his arm off my shoulders.

“Right,” Daddy says. “His neck would be far too long to fit into my shaving kit.

“Right?” Daddy asks, latching his suitcase.

“I don’t want anything, Daddy,” I answer as I run down the hall to my room, “from you”,

I whisper.

I get into my pajamas and sit on my bed. I hear Daddy’s slow footsteps follow me into

my room. He sits down near me on the edge of my bed. Moonlight falls over him like water

dripping in through my window. All I can hear is the sound of my sister’s breathing from her

crib across the room.

“I have to go,” my Daddy sighs.

His face is white as the moon itself, hanging over my bed. His voice sounds crooked, too,

when he clears his throat.

“I’ll miss you so much,” he says. “More than you know,” he whispers.

His hand is cold as he lays it on my cheek. And, just then, I know how bad he feels,

because I feel that way too.

“Each day that I am gone,” Daddy says quietly, “I will whisper your name to the wind as

it sweeps across the sand, and ripples over the river, and jumps across the ocean to nestle,

swirling, in the treetops outside your window.”

“You would do that?” I ask him.

“Yes,” he answers, “every day.”

“Each night that I’m gone,” he says, “I will send you kisses, blown flying and diving out

over the black sky like swooping night birds to settle with slender feet into your dreams.”

“You would really do that?” I ask him.

“Yes,” he answers, “every night.”

“Each day that you’re gone, Daddy,” I tell him, “I’ll mark a big, red X on the calendar in

the kitchen.”

He nods.

“And each day that you’re gone, I will save up one thing for you. To show you when you

get back.”

I reach into my hiding place under the bed.

“Like this,” I tell him.

I pull out my blue bottle cap.

“I found this flattened in the driveway.”

I reach into my hiding place again.

“Like this,” and I open my hand to show him my best black rock. “I shined this up. It’s my

lucky rock,” I tell him.

“You would do all that?” he asks me.

“Yes,” I answer, “every day.”

“And each night that you’re gone,” I tell my Daddy, “after Mom puts me to bed, whether

I can see stars or the moon or dark white snowclouds out of my window, I will say, ‘Good

night, Daddy,’ before I fall asleep.”

“And you will wake each day with the wind from Africa and my kisses brushing your

cheek,” Daddy whispers to me, and he tucks me in and sends me a kiss, blown from the

doorway.

I close my eyes but I don’t sleep. Soon I hear a car honk outside. When I go to the

window, I see Daddy get into a car with a light on top. I watch as the light backs out of our

driveway and turns out into the street. I watch until the light is gone. “Good night, Daddy,” I

whisper, and my breath makes a cloud in the windowpane.

The next day I find a grey bird feather with a white dot at the tip. “Daddy will like this,” I

tell my sister. And I put it into the special box I found for Daddy, right next to my special rock.

The day after that, I find a big pine cone that rattles with seeds when I shake it. “Daddy

will like this,” I tell my mom, and I put it into my special box next to my bird feather.

Every day I find something more for Daddy: a piece of green rope, a small lock without a

key; and I think of something new to tell him about when he comes home. And every night I

say good night to him before I go to bed.

But every day feels longer than the one before and every day my Daddy feels further

and further away. So, I try to imagine Daddy in Africa when I look at the map hanging on my

bedroom wall.

And when me and my mom fill our winter bird feeder all the way to the top, I try to

imagine Daddy watching giant African birds eating from giant African trees. Mom tells me that

big or small, those African birds won’t be shivering in the snow like ours are.

Or when I follow the animal tracks in the snow in our garden, I try to imagine Daddy

following lions in Africa, over the rivers and across the sand.

But when it gets too cold for us to go outside at all, we sit on the floor and play games

and drink hot chocolate. I look out our front window and try to imagine Daddy sitting at his

window, too, looking out ―

And that’s when I wonder if Daddy will ever come back at all. So I listen really hard to

see if I can hear him whisper my name to the wind jumping over the river, and I wait really

quietly to see if I can feel his kisses, blown from Africa into my dreams.

Until today. Today is the day when I mark off the last X on our calendar in the kitchen,

and I pull my special box from its hiding place under my bed.

Today is the day that my mom and my sister and me and my special box get in a car with

a light on the top and go to the airport ―

Where I find carts with suitcases piled high, and all kinds of people running, walking and

talking, but where I’m the one who looks the hardest and the longest through all of them.

And I’m the one who finds my Daddy there, back from Africa ― back with me.

Wendy McCormick; Jennifer Eachus
Daddy, will you miss me?
New York, Aladdin Paperbacks, 2002

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