“Why can’t I stay at home?” Zinny asked dejectedly.

Hannah answered my rote, “You’re still too little to stay at home by yourself.” Moving automatically, she grabbed a stocking cap from the hook by the door and shoved the hat down over her daughter’s mess of curly hair.

“Why can’t daddy watch me?” Zinny asked next.

“Because dad’s not home right now,” Hannah said, grabbing the bright purple coat from its hook and draping it over Zinny’s shoulders.

“But I want him to be home.”

Hannah restrained a sigh, saying simply, “I know, darling.”

Zinny looked up with large eyes that her mother refused to meet and asked, “Where is daddy?”

Hannah knelt to help her daughter with her zipper. “He had to go far away for work, remember?”

“He’s always far away at work,” she groaned.

“Yes.” Hannah yanked the zipper, and it didn’t move. She yanked again.

“I just want him to be home again.”

“Yes Zinny,” Hannah said through gritted teeth, “I know.” She tugged the zipper pull with short sharp movements.

“But why is he not home?”

“Because he’s NOT” Hannah shouted. They were on the same level, face to face, eyes filling up with tears.

* * *

Story by Gregory M. Fox


“You know sometimes I wonder if I’m really a good dad,” Mo said pensively.

Beside him, Mo’s best friend, Tug, scratched his belly and asked, “What’s that supposed to mean?”

Down on the grassy plain below them a horde of youngsters tumbled, hooted, and howled. “What, you mean you never worry if you’re doing the best by your kids?” Mo said. “Setting a good example, preparing them for the future, all that?”

Tug gave a long lazy yawn. “Guess I never really thought too much about it that way. I mean they’ve got food, right? They’ve got shelter.  What more’s a father supposed to do?”

“That’s what I’m trying to figure out. I mean, what if being a really good dad isn’t so much about the big things like food and shelter; what if it’s the little things like making them laugh while you pick the bugs out of their fur or showing them how to get the best distance when they throw their feces?”

Tug paused in the midst of picking his nose. “You pick the bugs out of your kid’s fur yourself?” he asked the other chimpanzee.

“Of course,” Mo answered.

“Wow. You really are a good dad.”

Story by Gregory M. Fox