Daisy and Dandelion

pexels-photo-415327.jpegThe rain still clung to me as I sat down in the passenger seat of my dad’s car. I dropped my dance bag in front of my feet, relieved I didn’t have to run with the thing anymore. Sweat and rain dripped onto my face as I prepared myself for another ride home with my father.
“Hey, sweetie.” He said not taking his eyes from the dark road ahead.
“How was dance?”
“It was fine.”
“How was school?”
“It was good.” I have had this conversation with him millions of times in the same exact place, on the same exact route. He would change the gears of his stick shift, accelerating to faster speeds talking about things while I stayed silent and watched the world pass by through the window.
“I think I’m getting better with the guitar,” He said glancing over at me, “I can actually play the beginning of a song.”
I continued to stare out the window, watching the front tire glide through puddles, creating a wave as if it were a boat cutting through troughs on a stormy sea. “Cool.” His fingers tapped an irregular rhythm on the steering wheel.
“How about college? Have you started looking?” My head snapped from the window to look at him. This wasn’t part of our usual narrative, and I wasn’t sure how to respond. So I went to my default answer whenever an adult asked me about my future.
“Um kinda, but I don’t know what major I want to go into or what type of job I want.”
He gave me a sideways look,“Can’t you decide on a school without knowing that?”
“Yea, but I really want to know before I get there. I want to have it all figured out, so I don’t have to worry about it, you know?” I took a deep breath. I was going to start explaining to him how every other seventeen-year-old had their whole lives figured out but me when the smell of rotten cabbage assaulted my nose. My face automatically scrunched up, pushing my nose into my eyes as I looked over at Dad. He had the exact same look on his face.
“Skunk.” We said in unison. He cracked a smile and I let out a laugh.
“Do you remember those stories I used to tell you and your brother?” He asked still smiling.
“What stories?”
“You know, the ones about the enchanted forest that I would make up?”
I snorted, “You mean the ones about the skunks?”
He started to laugh at that, “Yea, the skunk ones! What did I call them?”
I thought about it for a minute before it came to me, “Daisy and Dandelion, that’s what you called them.” We looked at each other for a second before we burst into laughter.
“Two skunks named Daisy and Dandelion. Oh boy. Too funny.”
I had completely forgotten that my dad used to tell us these stories. My brother and I would lie in our beds and plead with him tell us one more about the amazing skunk brother and sister duo. He would come up with these crazy adventures and even crazier characters. My eyes would become heavy, and no matter how hard I tried to stay awake I would always fall asleep to the sound of my father’s voice.
“And their neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. Beaver.”
“Oh, the beavers!” He threw his hand in the air, “They always had trouble with their dam!”
“You named the skunks Daisy and Dandelion, but you couldn’t come up with names for the beavers?”
“Eh, you win some you lose some. My imagination only went so far on the fly,” He scratched at his beard, “And what about the wise rabbit? What was his name?”
“There was a rabbit, but it wasn’t wise.” His brow furrowed at this.
“I was sure there was a wise rabbit! I mean I made it up, I should know.”
“No Dad! You’re thinking of the wise owl. Get it? Owls are wise?”
“Right, right. You’re right. But owls and rabbits are pretty easy to mix up, you’ve got to admit.”
“One flies and one hops. Also, owls eat rabbits, Dad.”
I shook my head at him still smiling. The smell of the skunk had dissipated, and my clothes and hair had dried off in the warm car. I watched the headlights pierce through the rain, creating reflections that made it seem as if specks of starlight were falling from the sky.
“I should have written down those stories, huh?” He said, “Probably could have made a lot of money off them.”
“Yea, maybe.”
There was silence again, except for the rain tapping on the roof of the car. I began to look out the window again, thinking that the moment had passed.
“You know you could do that.”
“Do what?”
“Write stories.”
“I mean you love to read, right? You could become the next J.K Rowling if you really wanted to.”
“Ok Dad, sure.” He looked over at me as I said this.
“I’m completely serious. It’s ok that you don’t know what you want to do, no one knows what they want to do when they seventeen, eighteen, nineteen, twenty. There are so many possibilities that you are not going to know where you will end up. There is no way. My advice to you would be to find something that you love and go with that. Don’t worry about the money, or what other people think, just go for it. If you do something you love you will never work a day in your life.”
I nodded, a bit amazed that this advice was coming from my father. It felt weird hearing it from him. As I had grown out of those stories, my father and I had grown apart and I stopped caring about what he had to say. Hearing him talk like this reminded me of what it was like before when we talked and laughed and had fun. It reminded me that I should probably listen to him more often. He was my dad after all.
Before I knew it, we were in my mom’s driveway, and it was time to get out of the car. The rain was still falling heavy on the pavement, and I could hear my dogs barking inside, welcoming me home.
“Hey.” He said. I looked over at him and smiled. He pulled me in for a big hug, “I love you kiddo. Have a good night.” I held onto him tight and a little longer than I usually did.
“Love you too. See you soon.” I grabbed my things and rain out into the rain. When I got to the porch, I looked back and watched him pull out of the driveway. His headlights cut through the downpour and lit up the path ahead of him.

One thought on “Daisy and Dandelion

  1. Maddy,

    I like that this piece is effectively mirroring journeys: the physical journey of the car and the emotional journey with your father.

    The opening dialogue is particularly effective at keeping the pace and offering a sense of disconnect/tension between the two of you. I also liked this line especially: “creating reflections that made it seem as if specks of starlight were falling from the sky.” Too, I like how you then bookended the piece with the headlights again.

    There is a formatting issue in this piece though. Make sure you indent properly not just because it’s correct, but because it aids the dialogue. Or, at the very least, give a full space between each line (if you’re doing it in a blog-style rather than an essay-style). Humans can understand misspelled or unformatted text quite easily, but the appearance of a text does give the readers different impressions (think of poetry).

    Thanks, Maddy! See you later.



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