“Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!” the little girl only stopped screaming long enough to take a quick breath before resuming her yelling. “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO” at a louder volume this time, she didn’t blink, just stared straight into her father’s eyes, giving him the Death Stare she’d patented.
Her father, for his part, calmly watched her, not saying a word. He waited until she appeared to have tired herself out before asking, “Are you done yet?”
The girl, Karri, eyed him shrewdly. She may have appeared to only be a 10 year old girl, but she was the Queen of Getting Her Way. She’d met with some resistance from him in the past, but there were certain buttons to push. He always caved. Without fail. She calculated how long they’d been in this standstill, and how much longer she’d have to pout before he gave in to her demands.
She opened her mouth again. “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO” she continued where she’d left off.
Her father got up and walked away without looking back. Karri stopped screaming after he’d disappeared up the stairs. She huffed a little bit, annoyed that he’d cut her show short.
“I don’t know why you don’t just slap her and be done with it,” she heard her mother tell him. He laughed and responded, but Karri couldn’t make out the words. Then he said, “Let me handle it this time.”
Karri’s father came back down the stairs to where she was sitting. She really wanted to attend a party her best friend was throwing for her birthday, but her father had refused, telling her that she hadn’t done any of her chores and needed to finish them before she could go. Unfortunately, one of those chores was to clean her room, which was such a disaster area, there was no way she could finish in time for the party.
He sat down next to her, holding two folded pieces of paper. “Here,” he said. “Pick one. Which one you choose will decide whether or not you can go to the party.”
Karri glared at him. “I don’t trust you,” she said finally. “They both say no, so no matter what I pick, you won’t let me go! You’re tricking me!” she cried out. Her mind had gone into overdrive when her father had gone upstairs, and his laughter had infuriated her. She had found her tactic. “Besides,” she pointed out logically, “you only told me today that I had to clean my room before I could go to the party. I asked you if I could go to the party when I found out about it, TWO WEEKS AGO! If you had told me two weeks ago that I had to clean my room in order to go to the party, I’d have had plenty of time during which to do so. But you waited until today, knowing full well I would not have enough time to clean my room before the party. How is that fair? How is that at all fair?” she demanded. Halfway through her rant, his posture had shifted slightly.
She had won.
Twenty years later, Karri stood outside her childhood home, dreading the task that awaited her. She’d left ten years prior, shortly after her father had passed away, and had not returned to the family home in the time since. She’d limited herself to seeing her family twice a year – once during Christmas, and once during June, a non-holiday month, to remove the stress of any sort of gift giving or finding – limiting these visits to a meal at their choice of restaurant, and had not regretted her decision one bit.
Karri recalled the many times she’d twisted her father around her little finger to get her way, and the many other times she had not been so successful. All of those moments had led to her life path now, a career in manipulating people to acquiesce to her will. She was very good at what she did, and she knew that she owed much of it to her father and their arguments.
She sighed and pushed open the door. The members of her family had implored that she return to remove some items they’d found that belonged to her. She’d told them repeatedly that they could just throw them away, but they had insisted she come back and look through them.
Heading straight up the stairs to what used to be her bedroom, she sat down on the bed in what was now a guest room and started rummaging through the box labeled “Karri.” “Garbage, garbage, garbage,” she mumbled as she sifted through the papers, growing increasingly annoyed that her idiot relatives had thought she’d be interested in test papers from the 3rd grade or art projects from the 9th grade.
Then her eyes landed on two folded up squares of paper, with her name written on each in his distinctive slanting handwriting. A confused look crossed her face. “What is this?” she whispered to herself.
Opening one up, she read, “You may go to the party… because your father loves you. There’s always time to clean your room tomorrow.” She recalled that successful argument long ago, how she’d accused her father of tricking her, and how she’d said she didn’t trust him. How he’d shifted in his seat next to her, and didn’t press her into choosing a piece of paper once she’d laid out the undeniable logic of her conclusion. Tears sprang to her eyes before she could stop them.
Karri flipped open the other piece of paper as a matter of course. She knew what it would say; “You may not go to the party. Clean your room.”
She was greeted with:
“You may go to the party… because your father loves you. There’s always time to clean your room tomorrow.”
please note this is a work of fiction.