You Wanted: A Short Story

You wanted a girl.

When you finally married the woman you loved, you wanted a girl as your child, because your boys had disappointed you in ways one might find unforgivable.

With the first boy, you were too young. You wanted to prove to your parents that marriage could be successful and love did exist, despite how things ended up there. You were eager to build a family and to prove the existence of love; you wanted to show them that there is such a thing as a family unbroken. Well, we both know that did not go so well. Your wife was revealed to have an unsettling grip, and your son never gave you back the love you gave him. He ran off to another state and left you. It hurt. But that’s okay.

The second boy refused you. You grew this person up with caution, pouring out your heart into each hug and every ball game. You treaded this childhood carefully, not wanting to repeat your past mistakes. This time around, it was not so much about proving to your parents that love existed, but proving it to yourself. Everything was going beautifully, really. An ideal father-and-son relationship bloomed indeed. Even through multiple diagnoses, you loved your son. You made sure that he knew, and in return, your son loved you back. That is, until your wife wove a web that shone, alluring in all its silky glory. She caught your son like a fly. He left you for her as if life were to be lived only with absolutes and he was unable to be shared with his father. It hurt. But that’s okay.

Your boys had disappointed you, disproving time and time again that families could be unbroken. There ought to be happiness is some familial relationship, right? You could not prove that hypothesis with your sons, so you wanted a girl.

The first girl doesn’t know how to drive a car yet. She is fifteen-and-a-half already and does not know how to drive a car yet in Southern California. You are waiting. You channeled all of your past disappointment and betrayal into this one child. A girl. She would be different from the rest. She would be successful. She would be happy. She would love you, even after she moved out. She would prove to you that love can exist. She would, indeed, prove to the world that families can be unbroken.

Here is this girl, in front of you now. I hear stories that you are not how you used to be, Dad. You used to be gentler, full of love, and happy. Despite a foundation so cracked that at times it only looked like crumbs, you forced yourself to build on it and conquered all. You love this girl, still, but it is not the same. We both know I am not smart or special, and though I share your love for music, I still have not found a way to get anywhere at all. The uncharted road in front of me spans for miles, and it would be easier to face if I could only drive a car. I cannot. But that’s okay, you insist. I think you are lying.

Two or three years ago--a fraction of my life, a second of yours--something crept up behind me and blanketed my vision. The world used to burst pink and yellow poppies to me, the birds chirping in tune with the wind. Life seemed simple. I liked ladybugs and I liked my parents. What else was there for me to know? Or, rather for me not to know anymore. This thing hid from me, and then attacked me. I acknowledge the step-by-step process it took to get here, but it felt like the steps suddenly all collapsed upon me at once. Life suddenly seemed dull. Predictable. All of my motivation was stolen by this criminal, this thief. Time slowed down, forcing me to memorize every detail I encountered in a single moment--taking me outside of this world and back inside of myself until all I felt was loneliness. Then, time sped up. The filter broke with a slash of existence, revealing gaping wounds oozing past presence, and I could not be here at all due to the great speed with which time flew by. It still feels this way, alternating between near death and near life these days. Life, to me, is no longer carved into parallel and perpendicular lines like I was taught in school. Rather, some child scribbled all over my view and nothing makes sense anymore. It is too loud, too big, too much, too much.

Sometimes, I want it all to end. I want to reach out my hand and grab life by the throat, forcing time to pause perfectly in between fast and slow so I could be suspended in the same area as everyone else, but neurotypicality is impossible for me. I want to escape. Let everyone watch the slow fade. I do not want to exist. I do not want to be anything at all.

I am afraid I have disappointed you, Dad. You did not want another disappointment. You wanted a girl.

By Danielle Leard


  1. This is such a touching piece and while so many parts of it are foreign to me, it still managed to hit close to home.

    1. Thank you, I'm glad it survived translation amongst different walks of life.

  2. when a piece is very very well-written, i know it's danielle's.

  3. That may be the most touching thing I have ever heard about my writing. THANK YOU!