“I’m pasting some spreadsheet data onto my document for work. What are you writing, my dear?”
“I’m uhh, doing the times and divide things on my notebook. I don’t like it, Daddy. I don’t like doing the times and divide because I can’t remember what 9 times anything is! And that means I can’t remember what anything divided by 9 is! Also we just learned what these are called, there’s a number on top and a number on the bottom and there’s a line between them, and it’s called uhh…..a …. ah… Oh I forgot already! We just did it today!” She huffed.
His slow smile turned into a chuckle. “Go on, I know you’ve got it in you somewhere. You’re thinking and that’s good. Do you know what it sounds like? What does the first letter start with?”
Katie’s face scrunched over, her brows a furious representation of her inner cogs whirring and clanking. “A sh… sheh… no. Shar… parsh.. bash… batch... ugh, I can’t find it, Daddy!”
“A fr…. fra…”
“Fraction!!! A fraction! Yassssssss, I got it, yay yay yay yay!” Katie proceeded to prance around while cocking her head like a pigeon, pronouncing the two syllables “FRAC-tion” with uneven pitch and loudness. She continued to do so until about ten seconds later, where she suddenly stood still and her face fell. “Daddy, are you sad that I didn’t remember it from before? Because I didn’t remember it.”
“Why for the love of potatopatota would I feel sad at you? Daddy is actually very proud that you said it by yourself, even without me saying it.” He tapped his hands twice onto his lap. “Here. Come here, Katie.” She ran up to him and adjusted herself into a comfortable position, her hair catching on the barbs of her dad's short, black beard peppered with white.
“Don’t worry, my dear. I only actually knew the times tables when I was 12, and even then I was horrible at maths. But look at what Daddy’s doing now! He's doing maths for a living! Isn’t that crazy?" A pause. "Keep trying, Katie. That’s all you gotta do. If you do that, it can take you to places you’ve never imagined.”
A “Yes, Daddy!” and the "vrrt" of clothes was followed by pitter-patters into another room. He closed his eyes and felt a kindled warmth glowing, tinged with the pain that could only come from the love for his little one. Katie Luna Emmerson: the only soul that kept him alive and sane in the world that he was so cruelly robbed of exactly six months ago.