Daisy Ironfield first heard the voice of The Father when she was nine years old.
It was a sweltering hot afternoon in the middle of June and young Daisy was sitting on the concrete walkway by the pond up the street from her house feeding broken bits of bread to a family of mallards. There was a mommy and a daddy and seven adorable little ducklings quacking around that day; there were nine the last time Daisy came up here, but there was a big ol’ catfish living in this pond, a big ol’ black catfish who swam quicker than a water snake. That’s just life, honey, Daisy’s father would tell her when he was sober enough to speak clearly. Birds usually eat fish, but sometimes the fish get ‘em back. Life is ironic that way.
Yes, life is very ironic, especially for Miss Daisy Ironfield – most of the kids she went to school with who had a single parent had a mother, but Daisy had her father. For most kids with single parents, their fathers left because they went to fight in the war; for Daisy, her mother left to protest. Most protesters were hippies who liked to smoke pot; Daisy’s mother was a hardcore conservative republican businesswoman (who still opposed the war, go figure), and her drink of choice was cold whiskey, a stark opposite to her easygoing father and the six joints he would burn every day. Most pot smokers got happy and creative when they smoked their pot; Daisy’s father got borderline catatonic and had trouble speaking when he was high. Life is ironic that way, and so Daisy Ironfield spent a lot of her time by the pond at the end of her street, unlike most kids her age who hung out at the soccer fields on the other side of Stonetown. That didn’t bother Daisy, though; while most kids wanted to fit in with everyone else, Daisy Ironfield preferred to be alone. She always had, because life is ironic that way.
Daisy’s hand scraped the bottom of her brown paper bag. “Uh oh,” she said. “Sorry duckies, you ate all the bread!” The duckies quacked a few times and wiggled their tail feathers, then began to swim away as Daisy stood up. She looked with curiosity over her shoulder at the mouth of the woods as she walked back towards the street, wondering where that wide ol’ trail might lead to. She’d asked her father to take her back there a few times at that point, and he always said he would, but it still hadn’t happened. It’s not that he was lying, or that he didn’t love his daughter – Daisy knew better than to think that silly nonsense – he just always forgot. He always remembered to buy himself more pot, but he forgot to take his daughter for walks in the woods. Life is just ironic that way, and that’s okay.
‘But is it okay?’
Daisy stopped at the end of the walkway and turned around, but there was nobody there. “Who said that?” she nervously asked, but nobody answered. So, Daisy kept walking. She made it about halfway across the lawn before she heard the voice again.
‘Would you like to go for a stroll through the woods, Daisy Ironfield?’
“Who’s there?!” Daisy squealed as she whipped around quick enough for the hem of her skirt to fly up to her kneecaps. But there was nobody there, just the duckies. She looked back and forth and took a step backwards, then whispered, “What’s going on here? I don’t like this…” to herself.
‘Do not be afraid, my pretty Daisy Ironfield,’ the voice said in its soothing way. ‘Don’t you know who I am?’
“No…” Daisy mumbled, crumpling up the empty paper bag and squeezing it. “Who are you?”
‘You can call me The Father, Daisy,’ said the voice, and how ironic was it that The Father spoke in the voice of a woman?
“But… but I already have a father,” Daisy said to the voice in her head.
‘That you do, little one, but I am not he; nor am I a he, nor am I a she. That’s not important though; would you like to go for a stroll through the Fricker Drive forest with me?’
“Um…” Daisy said as she looked around. There was nobody up by the pond, nobody driving by on Fricker nor on Barnstatter; there was just Daisy, The Father, and the lil’ duckies in the pond. “Okay… but we can’t be gone very long. My real father’s gonna be worried.”
‘Fret not, my pretty Daisy Ironfield; we won’t be gone long at all,’ replied the voice, and they weren’t gone very long. Only for an hour, maybe two. The Father guided Daisy along the wide trail – The Father told her it was used to cart uncut logs and chopped lumber when folks used to have big farms back here in the forest in the eighteen’hundreds – through the shallow woods and down a very rocky hill, then took her right at the first junction, leading her down the trail that eventually leads to the now flattened ruins of an old farmhouse built on the shore of the Wanaque Reservoir, which was going through a terrible dry spell during this particular June. At the triangular junction that will be degraded into a trench of muddy water by quads in the decades to come, The Father had Daisy go right again, and together they followed the old logging road until it came to an end in a grassy little clearing where all the trees had been chopped down. Sunlight poured in through the hole in the canopy, giving the clearing an otherworldly glow.
“What on Earth is this amazing place?” Daisy asked, in awe of this sunbaked oasis hidden deep within this dark forest.
‘This is very special land, Daisy Ironfield. Almost as special as you.’
“I’m… you think I’m special?”
‘I know you’re special – you’re going to come back here, Daisy Ironfield, but I will not be with you.’
“But… how will I find my way here?”
‘Worry not, little one; you shall remember the way,’ assured the voice of The Father. ‘Tomorrow you’ll come, and you’ll bring your father, your real father. When you get here, you’ll tell him you want to build a little clubhouse together, and he’ll absolutely love the idea.’
“He will? How do you kno–”
‘Because I am The Father, and all are my children. I must go soon, Daisy Ironfield. Can you get back home on your own?’
A deep blue sadness washed over Daisy, a sadness she could not explain but a sadness she felt nonetheless. “Why do you have to go?”
‘Because I have many children, little one, but not all of them can hear me like you can.’
‘They cannot, Daisy Ironfield, they simply cannot,’ said The Father in His loving feminine voice. ‘You have a beautiful mind, my pretty Daisy Ironfield, you stand out to those like me. That’s what makes you special, but you must be warned: not all those like me are quite the same as me.’
“What do you mean, The Father?” Daisy asked, tears flowing down her face.
‘You may find out in due time, little one, but only if you choose to listen.’
“But what does that mean?” Daisy asked again, but she got no reply; The Father had gone away.
Daisy turned away from the clearing and started to walk back along the old logging road, but something caught her foot in the grass and spilled her out. Daisy didn’t cry when she fell – she’s a tough one, she’s rugged, as her father liked to say. She simply got right back up and brushed the foresty bits off her knees, then went looking for what she fell over. It was a rock, but not any normal rock – Daisy tripped over a crystal that day, a big hunk of white quartz shaped sort of like an egg that had a bit of lichen growing out of it. There was something about the crystal, it spoke to Daisy – not in the same way The Father spoke to her, mind you, but she felt that it was special. No; she knew it was special, just like The Father knew Daisy was special.
Daisy carried the quartz egg all the way back to her house with her that day, and that night, she slept with it cuddled in her arms. A few weeks later, after Daisy and her real father finished building her clubhouse, her father found a cut section of a log that someone cleared away from the old logging road near the clearing and stood it up in the middle of the clubhouse. He even donated an old red tablecloth from the basement to Daisy’s special clubhouse, and it was upon that clothed section of log that Daisy’s crystal found its home. Daisy would speak to her crystal when she found herself back here in the clubhouse her father built for her in the clearing, sometimes for hours at a time, even, but it never spoke back like the voice of The Father did. It simply listened, which is all Daisy wanted. Someone to listen who wouldn’t forget.
Daisy would come and go from her special clubhouse many times over the next few years of her life, but the crystal egg never left its sacred space atop the clothed log, not until a stormy day many years later when Daisy’s first son would wander back here and find it, along with a decapitated body lying at the base of the altar.
Hello Commons, this has been the first subchapter of the last story from Convenient Incidents, an anthology of fifteen interconnected short stories which revolve around a man by the name of Hilter Odolf Williamson.
Convenient Incidents is part of the Third Spiral, an anthology of sorts called The Here and Now which is comprised of stories told from the various planes of Existence.
Convenient Incidents is available to read for free in its entirety on my website. Click here to check it out.
I’ve written a few other books, too. Click here to see the list.
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If you’re there, hypothetical reader, thank you for being there. Be well Commons~