“I want my daughter for the first week.” That is what I said to my ex-wife in court as we were fighting for custody over Kelly.
“What makes you think the father gets the kid first and not the one who tore their stomach open to have her?”
“I’m the one that gave you the sperm, to begin with!”
“I wish you hadn’t!”
“Are you saying having Kelly was a mistake!” I yelled.
“No, I am saying having her with you was a mistake!” Mandy said.
“Your, honor. I have a job now, I would like to take Kelly with me.” I explained.
“Tom, you never had a job. Now that I am out of the picture you decide to get one?”
“I felt I was limited on my job options due to your jealousy.”
“Where do you work.”
“At the zoo.”
“That’s no place for a kid.”
“What are you talking about! Kids love the zoo!”
“I am afraid I have to agree with Tom. Tom, you may have Kelly for the first week. Case closed.” The judge says.
With a slam of the hammer, I grab Kelly and put her in my car.
“Are you and mommy going to be friends?” Kelly asked.
“I am afraid not honey, but don’t worry about that. Some things just don’t work out the way we’d like them to.”
“Why did you and mommy get a divorce?”
“Because we didn’t get along anymore.”
The rest of the ride was silent, but I knew she would be happy once I took her to the zoo.
“Here we are!” I said.
“YAY! Can I go see the fish!”
“This is a zoo, not an aquarium. But let me show you what we do have.”
I walked her around the zoo to show her monkeys, cows, pigs, and birds. Somehow, Kelly did not seem amused.
“Daddy, I am a little bored. Can we see something interesting?”
“What do you want to see?”
“I want to see stingrays, or what about sharks!”
“But honey, this is a zoo,” I said.
Kelly sat down on the floor and buried her head in her arms.
“Dad, I want to go home with mommy.”
“Please don’t cry, Kelly. I am trying, I really am. Let me prove myself! Sure I may not have the best job, but I got this job for you!”
“But the tigers and lions are scaring me! I don’t want to be here.”
“I have something you might like, here take my hand,” I said.
She put her small hand in mine, and I walked her around to see animals that were less scary. She loved the horses, and she loved the zebras.
“Can I feed the zebra?” She asked politely.
“Of course you can.”
She held her hands out and let the zebra eat off of them. She laughed every time the Zebra’s long tongue licked the food and went in to give me a hug.
“Thank you, daddy, I love these animals.”
“There is one last thing I want to show you,” I said.
I took her hand and walked her over to where the panda bears were, and immediately she fell in love.
Suddenly her smile turned into a face of grief, and she walked toward the cage to feel the rims of it.
“Tom! I need you inside for a minute!” Peter shouted.
“Kelly, I will be right back. Will you promise to stay right here?”
Kelly went closer to the cage, and she reached her hand all the way in so she could pet the panda.
Why do you have to be stuck in a cage, why can’t you be free the way gummy bears are free from a bag. We only pray one will fall on the floor, so they could run back to their families. You guys are stuck here forever, that just isn’t fair.
Kelly was small, for she was only five. She lifted her weight on the cage, and she climbed all the way on top of it. People walking around didn’t seem to notice, but she didn’t want anybody to tell her to stop. As she reached the top of the cage, she looked below her and saw the bears getting up from their nap. They walked toward her, and she wanted to be their friend. Suddenly the bear roared loudly and ran toward her. Kelly thought the bear was saying thank you, and running in for a hug. Suddenly the bear tackled the cage, trying to make her fall from the top. The bear attempted to balance on its feet and began to scratch at Kelly’s legs. Kelly screamed in horror, and suddenly her father came rushing out.
“Kelly!” I screamed.
I jumped up on the cage and grabbed Kelly. As I pulled her towards me, I failed to notice the bear’s claw was still in her leg. Forcing her my way, Kelly screamed as the pain in her leg intensified.
“I want mommy I’m scared!” Kelly shouted.
I put Kelly in the car and drove her to the hospital. She cried the whole ride there. In a matter of time, she was put on the hospital bed, and I didn’t have the courage to tell her how sorry I was. She was only six years old, I shouldn’t have let her leave my sight. From the corner of my eye, I see Mandy walking towards me, just what I needed right now.
“Tom, what the hell is wrong with you?”
“How was I supposed to know she was going to do something so stupid?”
“Tom, she’s five years old!”
“I know, and I am sorry!”
“Well, I would love to hear how sorry you are when I show you this court order stating that I have full custody over her.”
“I don’t even get a day with my daughter?”
“You are not fit to be a father! Now go home, Tom. You already ruined her childhood, and only I can fix that.”
“Can I just tell her I’m sorry?”
“Go home, Tom.”
“Just tell her how sorry I am.”
“Fine. Now go.”
I left the doors to the hospital and regretted every minute of my life. Her life was never going to be the same, and either was mine.