It had been a long day. He could still feel the leftover tension from work hanging onto him like shackles. He should’ve told his son that he couldn’t take him to the store tonight; that he was too tired, and they could go tomorrow. After seeing his boy’s face light up when he got home, he didn’t have the heart. So he dragged his hand down his face as he tilted his head to the ceiling, took a deep breath, and looked back to his son.
“Alright, let’s go.” He turned on his heel and his son bounced after him. His son’s energy was infectious. It was a short drive to the department store, but by the time they had arrived he could feel bits of energy seeping into him. His son was out the door so fast, it took him a moment to process what had happened. He followed at a more sedated pace. Once inside the store, he allowed his son to pull him down countless aisles looking for the perfect toy.
After what seemed like ages, they finally stopped. His son pointed to a baby doll with brown hair in a green dress. His son was beaming again.
“I want her, Daddy.”
Just like that he was thrust back into his childhood where he was in his son’s place and his father was in his. He could remember the deep set of his father’s frown as he had looked at him. His father grunted and shook his head before, not so kindly, telling him that dolls were for girls. That night his parents had talked in hushed tones for a while before his mom came to comment on how cool his basketball looked.
A soft touch tugged him back to the present where his son was looking at him concerned. “Daddy?”
He shook his head to further shake away the memories. “Sorry, I’m just a little tired.” He reached up and plucked the doll from the shelf and placed her in his son’s waiting arms. “She’s beautiful. Do you have a name for her?”
His son’s face scrunched up in contemplation while they turned and headed toward checkout.
Prompt: As a child, they told him dolls were for girls.