Turkey Tears

November 26, 1896
Charles Birchwood

Josephine cried and Phillip smiled. The difference between boys and girls is as simple as that. Whatever makes a boy happy will inevitably make a girl sad and the reverse is almost certainly true as well. Boys however are not permitted tears in their sadness so in manhood we, some men more than others, learn to brood, but more on that later.

The event of duality for the day was our annual selection of the Thanksgiving Turkey. I promise myself every year I will leave Josephine home the next year and yet she always manages to convince me to take her when the time comes again. Were she not a mere child I might consider her willingness to go each and every year some sign of a masochistic need, but I suspect it is a different, more elemental need the act expresses; the love of her father. She need not worry, I could not love her more if she were a neighbor’s daughter.

This year was no different, Phillip and I were on the doorstep to leave and Josephine came bouncing down the stairs. She held Rosie, her favored doll, in her left arm and gazed up at me with the saddest of eyes. They were big and brown and beautiful and wet with unwept tears. Her lower lip quivered and while her head was tilted down, her eyes were looking up. She inhaled a deep sniffling breath and held it for a moment before exhaling it in a wordless pout. Then she blinked and a single tear rolled down her soft cheek.

What was I to do? I am supposed to be indifferent to these feminine wiles and in most circumstances I am, but Josephine is not just any girl. She is my daughter and I her father. I shook my head and knelt down to her so I could look her in the eyes. I lifted a single finger and wiped the tear from her cheek and placed the finger in mouth for a moment as though tasting soup.

“Still the sweetest tears I ever tasted.” I said.

She tried not to smile but it was no use.

“They’re salty!” She exclaimed.

I crossed my arms in front of me and donned a firm expression.

“Sweet.” I said.

She pushed her lower lip up over the upper one and stared at me.

“Oh all right, they’re salty sweet.” I said.

She broke out into a smile and threw her arms around me. I nearly fell backward from her enthusiasm, but I returned the hug and kissed her ear. She giggled happy at last.

“Can I come daddy?” She asked.

“If you really want to.” I replied.

She bounced out the door to join Phillip on the doorstep. He rolled his eyes to the sky and Caroline laughed at me from the kitchen. I shook my head with a smile and left for the market, a child’s hand in each of mine. It was pure happiness until the moment of selection came.

On the way home, I carried a crying Josephine in my arms, much like the doll she carried in her own. I patted her back gently and kissed her wet cheeks with fatherly love. I swore to myself never again, but I know even now if it were tomorrow I would still take her with me because being right here with my little girl is better than being any place without her.

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