First Father’s Day Without

This is for him.

He must have been shopping for my mother’s Christmas present, except that I don’t remember that it was Christmas. But that is the only thing that might explain why my father was shopping with me only, and why it was so crowded at TSS that night. There was a rush of human beings around us, and I was the kind of small that I saw humanity as an army of knees and legs and belts and hands. I was double stepping to keep up with him. I clung to his hand like a prehensile kite, light as nothing and skipping and running because he was in a hurry, which meant he wasn’t as happy as he could be. When he was happy, he moved at a leisurely pace, and when he was really happy, he didn’t move much at all.

In the whoosh of people, I lost his hand for a second and then reattached myself like a homo sapien grasping instinctually. But I picked the wrong hand, or the hand of the wrong man, a man who wasn’t my father. I didn’t notice. I just kept up my skipping and walking, until I saw my father approaching me. Only then did I wonder whose hand I was holding, and now, why he held my hand for so long. Maybe he saw my father looking for me before I did and brought me to him. I don’t know. But I was transferred from the strange man’s hand to his. It took all of my hand to grasp only two of his fingers.

I have no idea if we bought anything at all that night, and I still don’t think it was Christmas, but I can’t think of any other reason we would have been shopping, just the two of us, in a department store past dusk.