Eventually I got up from the bed and carried my sorry hind-end back to the livin’ room. Dani was sittin’ on the sofa, legs wigglin’ with excitement while she waited for the news to come on. I ran my eyes over her black carapace, over the multi-faceted eyes, and down her long legs. My heart sank when I thought back to when she hatched from the egg and I had…I had…
“Dani,” I started, then scooted into the place of the sofa just next to ’er. “Dani, you know Daddy loves you, right?”
She leaned onto me and hooked two legs around my neck. “Oh, please, please let me go with Stacy. I’ll be good! I’ll wash the dishes!”
“I wasn’t going to say you couldn’t go, but-”
She hopped up and down, no more of my words mattering. “Thank you, Daddy! Thank you!” She hopped from the couch and ran in circles. “What am I going to wear? Ooh, what avatar should I use on the phone? This is so exciting!”
“Now, hold yer horses there, Dani,” I said. I stood and grabbed her by the large, curving abdomen, realizing after just how unafraid I was of this 80-pound spider. “Dani, I…I’m lettin’ yeh go ’cause I don’t want yeh to be gypped just ’cause yer Mama and Daddy’s poor. I don’t want yeh to have any less than the other kids in yer class. But I’m ’fraid, too, ’cause y’er not just any kid. You unnerstand that, right?”
Her excitement died down significantly. “What are you sayin,’ Daddy?”
I didn’t cry when I sat down and held her tight. Not a single tear was shed. “Somethin’ happened today, sweetie.”
“Yeah. The war ended.”
“And the war was about summat called chimeras.” I turned her head to look at me and placed a hand under her chin. “Dani, I…I think you’re a chimera. That means if the government finds you, they’ll take you away from me and Mommy, and I…I don’t want that, Dani. You understand?”
She was quiet.
“Stacy wants to take you to a military base tomorrow. They’ll have cameras, and they’ll be watchin.’ I’m skeered they’ll find you.”
Dani pulled away from me. “You don’t want me to go with Stacy tomorrow, do you?”
“I’d be lyin’ if’n I said I did. But I’m not gonna treat you like a father from the Bible treated his daughters. I’m not gonna lock you ’way. But please, Dani, you gotta be careful. Please, keep quiet, and keep yer eyes peeled. The Yanks – er, the gov’ment’s there, and they ain’t gonna love you near ’nough to let you live a happy life. You promise me you’ll be good tomorrow, right?”
Dani shook. “Yes, Daddy. I’ll be real good. I won’t take my clothes off or nothin.”’
I let her go. “Good. Now figger out what y’er gonna wear tomorrow. Mommy’ll be home soon, and she’ll check it to make sure it matches.”
She scurried off on her eight legs and went to her room. I noticed how much she had to struggle to stand on rear legs and open the door, yet with what happy vigor she rushed. The world wasn’t built for her, and I’d done nothin’ to help. Now the damn world was out to get her. The damn Yanks’d never done nothin’ right, far as I was concerned. They hated ’er ’cause of what she was, how she was born. It was unfair. No nation should be able to do that to any of its people, especially not mine.
I shambled over to the window, right aside the front door, and moved my flag just a tad bit so I could look down the road for Janie’s car. She wasn’t nowhere to be seen, so I sighed and let the flag cover the window again.
I grunted and tore the damn flag down. I ripped that sucker in half and bent the tension rod over my knee.