September 7, 2018 mjsutton

“She’s sick, Donte, you can come and get her next week when she’s feeling better,” Tayna said with a yawn. Her voice was tinny over the phone, but I could hear her disdain.

“I’ll take her medicine with me. I can take care of her, too.” I kept my nerve. I had to keep my cool.

“She’s resting; she doesn’t need to see anybody.”

“She needs to see her father, and her father needs to see her!” I couldn’t help it, I was about to fly off the handle. This was the second time this month she’d done this to me.

“Fuck you, Donte! She doesn’t want to see you, anyway!”

I lowered the phone and pressed it to my chest, breathing deeply, slowing my heart rate, and trying not to swerve my car into oncoming traffic. “Just please…” I said, lowering my voice. “Please let me see my daughter.”

The relationship had ended months ago, and Tayna took every chance she got to use Danielle against me. It killed me not seeing her for three weeks.

“No, Donte, you can see her next week. Quit calling, she’ll call you when she wants.”

The phone went dead. I held the receiver to my ear, hoping it would ring again. It didn’t. Slowly I lowered the phone, then tossed it into the passenger seat. My fingers gripped the steering wheel to the point of cramps, and an eighteen-wheeler flew by in the opposing lane.

“Next one I see,” I whispered, but I knew I wouldn’t. The windshield became blurry through my tears, and my temples pinched with pain.

Why are things so goddamn hard?

A moment later it came. My eyes opened up the flood gates, and the tears ran. My lungs coughed up the sobs that I was too proud to release. I guess they weren’t. When my crying became violent I made myself pull over to the side of the road, the rain beating the side of my car like marbles.

I slumped my head against the steering wheel, on the verge of hyperventilating.

My phone beeped. A text message.

I knew it was Tayna—she would usually send me texts after we got off the phone. Never nice things. I wasn’t going to answer it, or even look at it, but then it occurred to me it could have been work.

I slid the phone’s lockscreen open.

“I love you, daddy.”

It was Danielle.

I put the phone to my chest and wiped my eyes. Somehow, it all felt worth it.