A Story in Short: The Trade-off.

“We’re best friends, right Dad?” She said that to me as we sat there looking out at the night sky. Man, I knew that statement would change one day. But today, well I’ll take it. I grabbed her hand. And, man did I hold it. I’ll hold it for as long as she’ll let me, I thought. I’ll let her boomerang in her teenage years - I’ll let her fly. And, I’ll let her hate me. And then, I’ll let her come back to me. Hey, it’s the parenting process, right? “Best friends.” I repeated. She gave me a smile I wished I could bottle. “Alright, kiddo, what do you say, it’s getting late.” We climbed into my new Range Rover. I tucked her into her car seat. I took her home from the hospital in an old Chevy - if you told me how my life looked now, I’d laugh at you. “Dad, does Bartholomew get to be buckled in too? What about him?” Bartholomew. The goddamn bane of my existence; Bartholomew this and Bartholomew that. I acknowledge that there will be a slew of men whom I dub the “bane of my existence" that will inevitably catapult into her life basically from here on out. But, today I chose to toss my displaced anger towards Bartholomew. I bet I could take him in a fight - brawn OR brain, for that matter. I should also mention that he is imaginary. I'm competing with my daughter’s imaginary friend. That might be a new low. Even for me. “Oh, you betcha - Bart’s all buckled up.” “Dad?" she draws in a tone, too similar to her mother's for my liking, "Bartholomew HATES nicknames. And, chocolate pudding. Please just TRY and remember that.” "Right." I say. What I think is that Bartholomew hates fun. Bet he's a communist. She whispers something to Bartholomew that I miss. Now, a blatant disdain for nicknames, that I can pseudo understand. But, chocolate pudding? I had to set this right, it was my duty as a father. “Honey, chocolate pudding is one of the pillars America was built on. It's American in its rawest form - uncultured, and usually stuffed with additional desserts. A dessert stuffed with additional desserts! Now, that’s American. No way he can hate that.” She rolled her eyes. She’s seven now and has the eye-rolling abilities of an 18-year-old. We pulled up to the house. It's a big white Victorian with a wrap-around porch. It was her Mom's dream home since she was 16, and - at the time - I'd have done anything to get it for her. I ended up doing everything to get it for her. “The lawn looks good,” I said not really to her. I made sure to tread on it as I cut the corner to the driveway. I jump out of the front seat leaving the keys in the ignition. I unbuckled her from her car seat and then moved to unbuckle my imaginary arch-nemesis. I imagined him smirking; relishing this moment of servitude on my part. "Dad, are you ever going to get to come in again?” she asked as she picked a little white flower off her manicured nails. She delivered this swift kick to the gut with an ease that's concerning. "I hope so, kiddo." She ran towards the house. Without looking back once. I already feel like I'm losing her. “See you next week,” I called. The sentence is lost on her. My personal life looks like a fraying shoestring. One more tug and it will be gone - just a collection of strings that once encapsulated a whole. My mind flicks back to the present, China's market opens in a couple of hours. The thought saddens me. Not because I don’t like what I do, I’m fucking great at it. But the realization that China - this - this is what I traded it all for. I traded it all to be a commodities trader. And the only commodity that I can’t buy, is time with her. Funny how the trade-off works.

Haley is a writer at an advertising agency in Manhattan and she resides in Brooklyn, NY. She believes there’s magic in storytelling and being silly is important at all ages. Haley’s seen Bruce Springsteen in concert more times than she can count and has a weakness for Sour Patch Kids. She can be reached at: Haleyannjackson@gmail.com