She longed for a present father. From deep with her soul, this longing came, and she wasn’t sure how long it had been there. Maybe it started when her biological father abandoned her for the drink, realizing that it was easy to slip into a bottle than into the role of a little girl’s daddy. It could have started with her mother’s string of lovers, when they displayed contempt for the little girl as she gingerly poked them in the morning, asking, “Can you get me some milk?”

Perhaps it all began when her mom finally settled down with a guy from town. He wasn’t a bad man, but the bubbling anger that she sensed inside of him left much to be desired in the loving and gentleness categories. None of them were an actual father, not the kind that she was so desperate for.

She stooped down over the edge of the creek, thoughts swirling about like the fall leaves did their dance down the water. The reflection of herself wasn’t one she found particularly appealing. The bright red and yellow leaves that marred her likeness in the water were beautiful. But not the girl that had gone without a father’s love.