Foxhole by Jim Vanore

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This was Stan Nelchik’s first Father’s Day without his dad. The father of three girls himself, Stan was inherently protective, and came to believe in his father’s admonition that he was meant to be a “girl father,” not having the ability to handle a son.

“With boys, you gotta spit things out,” the senior Nelchik had always advised. “You can’t keep anything from them.”

But now, as Stan faces his first Father’s Day as a parent without his dad, he has to come to grips with the truth—his father, contrary to his own advice, had kept something from him, releasing it only on his death bed.

A visit from a stranger forces Stan into a decision that makes him realize just how difficult fatherhood can be—even when it doesn’t involve a member of your family.

A short story.


“When will you ever learn, Sophie?” I said as I came to the bottom of the steps, sorting through the mail in my hands. “You never gave me a chance. I was barely in the door when I heard you bellowing.” Looking up at her, I added, “I guess I’ll have to give another class to you and your sisters before this weekend.”

“Can’t…wait,” Sophie replied in halting fashion; each word acting as its own sentence.

As she turned and started walking toward the bathroom, I projected my voice calmly and clearly up the stairwell toward her disappearing back, “Never let anyone know you’re in the house alone!” All I heard was the soft closing of the bathroom door.

Well, forgive me for being a paranoid father to my daughters. Maybe that’s a redundancy—show me one father who is not paranoid about his daughter. With boys, it’s different. It has to be. Although I wouldn’t know.

It’s my entire fault, or so my wife, Stella always tells me. “The man controls the sex of the child,” she was quick to point out after the birth of all three of our girls.

I was never in a hurry to research the whys and wherefores of procreation—at least not to that degree. I figure God must have known what he was doing. Besides, my dad always told me I would have made a lousy boy father.

“You could never handle a son, lad,” he told me more than once.

“You’re a born girl father. They respond to you. Trust you naturally, even though you keep things from them for their own good. With boys…you just gotta keep provin’ yourself. Never ends. You gotta spit things out; can’t keep anything from them.”

Somehow I assumed Dad and the good Lord made a deal soon after I married.

“Give him girls, Lord,” I can just imagine him saying. “He could never handle a son.”

  • Published by: Untreed Reads

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