Ember sat in Miller’s office, sketchbook open, her hand hovering above the page as her father walked in.
“Ember, Sweetie, I’m sorry. I was running late at the University and didn’t get out-“
“Yea, whatever, DADDY!” she shot out.
“Today was picture day at school. Did you know that, DADDY?” she said, her voice seething with anger.
“Was it?” her father asked, a bit embarrassed. “I forgot. I’m sorry.”
“Sure you are,” she said. “But no worries, I drew you a picture of me just so you can keep it in your wallet, or where ever you keep mementos of me.” She knew he didn’t keep such things. A drunk doesn’t keep personal things close to them, unless it was an open bottle of some cheap liquor. She handed him her drawing she was working on.
Her father looked at the drawing, his face falling. “It’s very nice, Sweety,” he said.
“You like it?” she asked smugly, knowing the shock effect she desired to relay had indeed happened. “It’s how I see myself.”
Her father raised his eyes to her, then looked back at the drawing. “I see this half in you. The beautiful, happy girl with flowing curly hair. But this half is a monster. Surely you don’t see yourself as that.”
“Sure I do, DADDY. You know why?" she paused. "Because it’s how you see me.”
Her father gasped at that. “I don’t! Why would you think that?”
“Because, you never hug me. You barely look at me. I’m just a burden to you. How else would you see me?”
“Ember, that is very much not true,” her father replied sadly. “I just…” his voice trailed off. They stood in silence looking at each other. Each wondering what the other was thinking.
When her father didn’t respond Ember gathered her belongings, threw them into her backpack and slung it over her shoulder. “Well, I guess it’s time to go. I assume I’m making dinner again,” she snarked and walked out of the office.
Her father stared after her, his heart breaking. She was only 13 years old. No matter how much black magic he performed to save her, she will become who she is. He looked at the portrait again. She just didn’t understand how accurate that drawing was. Someday she will.
Daniel Denning folded the portrait neatly and slipped it into the inside pocket of his sports jacket. The pocket closest to his heart. Because no matter what Ember said, she was his heart. Even if she never felt it.