Story: Sugar Daddy

Louise Demarest Thunin ’66 has been living in France since graduation. She has published four novels, two in English and two in French, and a number of her short stories in English have appeared in American literary journals. Her three cats inspire the monthly column she writes with a friend in the “felizine”, Louise leads a writing workshop in French in her home near Le Mans.

Five years after the fact, André discovered he was a father.  The news had come in the form of a Polaroid snapshot:  a wide-eyed little girl with very straight, very brown hair, pressing against a pair of adult legs in black, flared jeans.  The picture didn’t show Alicia’s face, but he recognized the slender limbs, the way she held her feet, with the left one pointing inward ever so slightly.  He used to think her stance was quaint, proof of a shy temperament.  If she was retiring, she was also ferociously proud and secretive. But such a secret as this?

He’d studied the picture carefully.  There was no denying it.  She looked like him. He’d seen innumerable childhood pictures of himself at his parents’ home in Arles, and something in the little girl’s puzzled stare reminded him of his own intense gaze at the same age.  Beyond astonishment, his first emotion in front of the picture was anger.  It crashed in bitter heaves inside his chest and made his diaphragm ache, as if he’d been running too fast and too much.  He felt deceived and totally disarmed, defeated.  Why hadn’t she told him?  Why had she waited?  If it wasn’t because she needed money, then why tell him at all?  Did she expect him to feel paternal stirrings at this point in history, their history, his own?

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