A PRESENT FOR DAD • by Monica Wenzel

“I need to go shopping,” Rose said.

Liam mumbled something as he rolled over. His sister stood beside his bed, staring at him. The nightlight in the hallway lit up her outline. At least she hadn’t turned on his light. She’d changed out of her pajamas and into her clothes. He didn’t understand why she needed so many clothes.

“Do you know what time it is?” he asked.

Rosie blinked. Nope, she had no real concept of time, or she never cared. Liam wasn’t sure which one it was.

“Get up. I need to buy Dad a present,” she said.

Liam blinked his heavy eyelids. She’d never called him that before.

“All the stores are closed now.”

Rosie stomped her foot. “I need a present for Dad.”

Liam rubbed the sleep out of his eyes, but he didn’t get up.

“We already got his birthday present. Maybe you can help us pick out his Christmas present in a few months.”

She shook her head. “Father’s Day is Sunday. Do you know that’s only in a few days?”

“Father’s Day?” Liam wasn’t sure that he wasn’t dreaming. This was all just so weird, even for Rosie.

“Why else would I want to get him a present?”

“You’ve never done it before. What gave you that idea?”

She hesitated for a moment. Liam had an idea of what she was doing while everyone else slept.

“On TV, a woman was talking about buying presents for her dad and her husband and—”

Liam waved a hand at her. “He’s not your dad. Not really.”

Rosie stomped both her feet. Liam worried that Dad and Mom would wake up.

“He is my dad! He made me,” she yelled.

“Keep your voice down.”

“He made me. Not like he made you, but he did,” she said. At least her voice was quieter.

“That’s a gross thought,” he said to himself.

She didn’t act like she heard him, but he knew she did. She always heard everything. And she knew all about the making of babies, and other things. She was too advanced for someone of her size sometimes.

Liam sighed. This was going to be hard to explain in a way she’d understand. Rosie was smart, scarily so at times. But other times so childish. Why couldn’t Dad help her grow up? Maybe obvious questions would stop her crazy idea.

“That’s very sweet, but do you have any idea what to even buy him?”

“Tools,” she said confidently.

“How very original.”

She missed his tone.

“We used lots of them when we’re together. He’s always misplacing his flathead screwdriver.”

“He has a basement full of them. He doesn’t need more.”

“I want to buy him a present,” she insisted.

“You’re thinking about this all wrong. Father’s Day isn’t about presents. Or cards, or anything that you can buy in a store. Which by the way, you can’t. You don’t have any money.”

“You do. Dad talks about giving me an allowance.”

That thought was a bit too crazy for him while still half asleep.

“There’s no day for people like you to celebrate Dad. You’re,” he paused for the right word, but still came up short. “Unique. I don’t think many people like you would ever celebrate a day like that.”

“I don’t care about other people. I care about Dad.”

“This obviously isn’t going anywhere. We’ll talk about it more in the morning. We can’t go anywhere with the stores all closed.”

She pointed to the clock by his bed. “It is morning.”

He rolled his eyes. Sometimes it seemed like she was programmed to annoy him.

“You’ve gotten to celebrate how many of these days with him?” she asked.

“Seventeen, obviously.”

“I haven’t celebrated even one yet.”

“You don’t really know what it’s all about.”

“You buy your dad a present and he talks about how much he likes it.”

“Only on TV. Father’s Day is really about telling your dad how much you love him. A present is just a symbol of that. Do you love him?” Liam asked.

He was actually curious about that.

She shifted her weight from foot to foot. She looked like a little girl in that moment.

“Well, from what he describes about love, and the love I see in movies on TV — the ones about parents loving their kids not those icky ones with kissing — I love Dad.”

“It’s about celebrating all that dads do for their kids. Actual kids. Talking over problems. Helping with homework. Cleaning scraped knees. Teaching you how to ride a bike. Making the everyday events seem fun just because you get to do them with someone who loves you and will always be there for you.”

“I love fixing things in the basement with him. It’s more fun than when I do it by myself. And he fixes me up.”

Liam shook his head. “It’s about telling your dad that you appreciate all those little things and big things that he’s ever done for you and will ever do for you.”

She stared at him. “Who else has done more for me than him? He thought me up and made me. I’d be nothing without him.”

That thought took the words out of Liam’s mouth. Maybe she was right. Dad made her. Taught her. Protected her. Treated her like a daughter. He deserved some recognition for that. Even if his “sister” had a metal body and gears instead of organs.

“Dad would love it if you painted something for him. I’ll take you to the art store after I get off work tomorrow. He’d be really impressed if you made something for him.”

She nodded and bounced out of the room.

Liam was interested in what a robot would paint. Dad would like it and hang it in his office even if it wasn’t something an actual little kid could paint. Dad deserved a present from her for all he did.

Monica Wenzel lives in Minnesota with her husband, toddler son, and cats. She teaches Spanish by day and writes by early morning. She taught English in South America for a year and has traveled to four continents.

Happy Father’s Day from Every Day Fiction!

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