"What do you do for a living, David?" The interviewer had a whole list of questions to ask him and he really didn't want to be here. He wanted to go home - to his wife. To his newborn baby girl. She had come a week early, which had placed this interview, scheduled long ago, squarely into the realm of 'bad timing'.
"Computers", he said. "Networking, and servers. But look. Can't we do this another time? Please? My wife is just home from the hospital with our first born child and she needs my help. She needs me to be THERE, not HERE. As far as I'm concerned this magazine article can wait."
The interviewer listened to something being said into her headphones. She reached up and took off her headset, smiled and said, "Certainly, David. We can re-schedule. We have many interviews to do and doing one or two out of order does no harm to the project, so yes. Go home. We'll call you at your office early next week."
"Thank you. Next week then. Thank you", he said as he hurried out of the windowless room with the one-way mirror.
He drove as if on autopilot, all of his thoughts and attention focused on home, and Lillian and their sweet baby girl, soon to be christened Arta, after her grandmother. His mother. Arta was an old family name - many generations of women in his mother's family were named so. It was a name he loved - a name he thought beautiful and he was forever grateful to Lillian for saying "yes" when he proposed the name.
He loved holding her. She was so small. Her hands were so tiny, so perfect, it constantly surprised him when she would grasp his finger - such a strong grip in such a small pink miniature of a hand. She even had fingernails perfectly proportioned to the rest of her hand and fingers. He wasn't sure why all of that amazed him so. He just knew that it did.
He was the kind of person who did not deal well with injury and bodily fluid and functions, yet he changed her diapers willingly, and treated the stump of her umbilical unhesitatingly. And with love. He wasn't sure why he could do that, but he did.
Everything about him and his life had changed with the birth of that little girl. Yes, there had been the whole pregnancy, and the laying on of his hand to feel her kick, and watching his wife get larger and larger with child - but he had always felt like an outsider, like it wasn't happening to HIM - just her. But then, she was born. He was there, in the room, helping, trying not to faint, holding Lillian's hand, helping her breathe and watching with unbearable fascination as first the crown of her head began to stretch his wife open and then suddenly, she seemed to just shoot out and there was all kinds of liquid and a strange, thick purple cord and then the cord was cut and she announced herself with a thin, warbling cry. And Lillian cried, and drew her sweaty face up to his and kissed him and he said, "She's perfect". That's when it happened to him. That's when he became a Father.
The funny thing, to him, was that Arta seemed to know him. He would lightly flick the end of her nose and she would reach out her hands and grab his fingers, then he would rub his nose back and forth across hers and she would smile. Lillian said it was just gas, but HE knew she was smiling - really smiling.
He had a connection with his daughter. He could feel it. It was like nothing he'd ever felt before. It reached down into his chest and squeezed his heart until he thought it would burst and just as he thought he couldn't feel more, it would reach even deeper. Squeeze even harder. Until he thought he'd burst.
He was lost in all those thoughts so he never saw the black SUV that t-boned his car and killed him.
End of Part 1