Hi, Daddy by Shane Kowalski

My daughter, Sally, calls me Daddy. She's twenty-six years old and still calls me Daddy. I do not encourage it; I do not egg her on by buying those necklaces or bracelets that say Daddy’s Little Girl. I know it's nothing I should let bother me but I can't help it: she's a grown woman. Living in her own apartment with a boyfriend; a solid job—a dog. She has a dog. I suppose I never thought about this sort of thing before I had a daughter. I'd hear adult women, whether in real life, or on television, call their fathers Daddy. But it never bothered me like it does when my own daughter does it. My wife, Lindsey,—her own father died when she was still young—she says it's hard for her to say whether she wouldn't have still been calling him Daddy well into her adult years. But then, she's just trying to make me feel better while also not betraying, in some subtle, weird way, her daughter. To tease me Lindsey'll sometimes say “Hi, Daddy” when she answers my calls. No, I don't think it's some terrible quirk to feel strange when your adult daughter is still calling you Daddy when you've told her, how “You feel strange when she does it,” and, also, “Could she please stop?” The terrible thing would be to tell her how loathsome it is to me. I have a dream where my daughter is very little; little as a doll, her face a small white thing in my hands. And she’s speaking gibberish, like she’s reading a machine manual; it’s very robotic; I feel scared and confused. I have another where she's fallen, skinned her knee and come into the house, bleeding across the kitchen floor, her bare feet not making a sound, saying, “Fix me, fucker.” And last night I dreamed she was calling her boyfriend Daddy. She was at the window, telling him to come look, come look. And when he came, it was me: he was me. And in the dream my daughter was just standing there, her thin arms stretched out, into what seemed like infinity, reaching for me, going: “I love you, Daddy. I love you.”

Shane Kowalski lives near Philadelphia. He does dieddisappointed.com.