He taps his fork fifteen times before picking it up – thrice on each prong, and thrice again on the handle. He stared at his napkin on the table. He was anxious; more than usual, he could feel. He looked at his watch, tapped it thrice and looked at it again. They were late by seven minutes and forty-seven, forty eight, forty nine, fifty, fifty-one, fifty-two, fifty-three seconds. He turns to look at the entrance, the host looks back at him and he looks away.
“I don’t think it’d be a great idea,” the mother of his child had said earlier that week, “Jenny’s never been to a fancy restaurant before and she might be a handful.”
“But not a lot of fast food places really get it when I have to tap the thing I want three times before ordering, and it certainly doesn’t help when the menu’s way up on the wall.”
He’d only seen his daughter a few times and it wasn’t until tonight that he’d been allowed to meet her. Giving her up wasn’t really his idea, but everyone thought it would be best. She’d been told stories of him, he was sure and almost too certain that they were all of his condition.
He turned to look at his watch again and tapped it three times before looking up at the door. Right at that moment, he saw his daughter come in, her mom in tow. He stood up, then sat back down, then stood up, then sat back down, then stood back up to greet them.
“Jenny, this is your dad,” Jenny’s mom said when they came up to him.
Jenny stared at him; fourteen seconds, he counted.
“Hello,” he said with a smile and a wave. “Hello, hello.” He said straight after.
Jenny smiled. Her hair band was on crooked, he noticed. A curl of hair had fallen to her forehead. Her frilly, white dress had a stain at the side and her right sock was pulled up higher than the other one.
She went up to him, in four, swift steps, he counted, and gave him a hug. Three seconds, he counted and wondered if he should let go. Three more seconds he counted and she wasn’t letting go. Three more seconds, he counted, but he didn’t mind.
Word count: 385