Home > Rumor Going 'Round

Rumor Going 'Round
Author: Samantha Lind







“Hey, Tucker, are you going out tonight?” Lee, my best friend and truck mate, asks from his locker located a few from mine. We’ve both been firefighters since joining the academy right out of high school, both following in our fathers’ footsteps.

“Nah, I’ve got Paisley tonight,” I tell him, referring to my four-year-old daughter.

“Oh, I thought you got her tomorrow?” he questions.

“Normally, I would, but Lilly texted me this morning asking if I could pick her up after my shift. She’s got something going on and knows that I’ll never turn down time with Paisley.”

“All right, I guess we’ll just have to have a drink in your honor, then.” Lee smacks my back as he passes by me, his bag slung over his shoulder as he makes his way to the locker room door.

“You do that,” I call after him. “I’ll catch up with you next time.”

“You’re buying the first round, then,” he retorts back as he pushes the door open. Our shift ended about ten minutes ago, and after being on for the last twenty-four hours, I’m ready for a burger and fries with my best girl. Probably following that up with some Disney Junior and then a long-ass shower once she’s in bed for the night before I crash myself. It wasn’t a super busy shift, we went out on a total of three calls, but they were all spaced out just enough that I didn’t get more than a few catnaps during my shift.

“Tucker,” I hear my name being called as I walk through the lounge. I look down the hall and see my dad standing just outside his office. I turn his way, coming to a stop next to the sign that reads ‘Chief Donald Wild’ on it.

“Yeah, Pops?”

“Your mother has been bugging me all day about when she’ll get to see Paisley,” he tells me, and I can see the way he softens when he says my daughter's name.

“Mom, huh?” I call him on his bullshit. I know Paisley’s got him wrapped around his finger and has since the day she was born.

“You know your mother; she can’t go more than a few days without seeing her, or she starts having withdrawals.”

“I think that you’re the one that has withdrawals,” I tease my dad. “You know either of you can call Lilly and arrange to go pick up Paisley any time you want.”

“I know,” he admits.

“Well, you’re in luck. I’m on my way to go pick her up now. Lilly had something going on tonight, so I’m getting her early.”

“I’ll text Mom and have her plan on the two of you for dinner, then.”

“Sounds good. Tell her I’ll be over in thirty,” I tell my dad before turning and heading for my truck in the parking lot. I toss my bag in the passenger seat, then slide in. I open the sunroof, letting in the cooler fall air that is finally showing up here in Georgia. Fall has always been my favorite time of year; cooler temps, football, beers by the fire, pumpkins, and Paisley’s birthday. I can’t believe my girl will be five in just a few weeks. It feels like just last week she was born.

“Paisley Grace!” Lilly calls as I step out of my truck in her driveway. She’s rocking her new son on the chair on her front porch. Lilly and I were never together more than a handful of fun nights between the sheets back in the day. We had a few drunken nights, and either a condom was forgotten or broke, but I wouldn't change the outcome at this point in my life. Paisley is the best thing to have ever happened to me. She made me grow up and become the man I am today at the age of twenty-seven. I was a young twenty-two-year-old when she was born. I knew nothing about babies, but I learned fast.

“How’s the little guy?” I ask, making polite conversation. Lilly got married to a good guy, Mike, about two years ago. We’ve all worked together to co-parent the best we can, for Paisley’s sake. She didn’t ask to be born to parents who weren’t together, so no reason her life should suffer because of it.

“He’s good. Still working on getting his days and nights straightened out,” she tells me as Paisley comes flying out the door, her pink backpack in hand.

“Hey, baby girl,” I greet my daughter as she launches herself into my arms. Her little hands wrap around my head, pulling my lips to hers in a smacking kiss.

“I missed you so much, Daddy!” She hugs me tight.

“Missed you, too.” I squeeze her tightly, tickling her sides lightly, which has her squirming in my arms. Her legs start kicking, and she almost hits me in the balls, which has me stopping and setting her down quickly.

“Careful there. She’ll get you good.” Mike chuckles as he stands behind Lilly’s chair.

“No, shit.” I laugh right along with him.

“Thanks for coming after your shift. She’s been pestering me to go see you and your parents. I just couldn’t tell her no.”

“You know you could have called my mom, and she’d have dropped everything to come and get her,” I remind Lilly. Even though Paisley is almost five and I’ve always been a part of her life, as have my parents, Lilly still has a hard time believing that she can count on all of us to help when she needs it. She didn’t have the best home life growing up, so to know she finally found someone with Mike was a good thing, and I’m happy for her.

“I know,” she sighs. “I just hate to bug them,” she admits.

“It wouldn’t be bugging, and you know it. Hell, my dad called me into his office just before I left to ask when I’d be bringing her over. Tried to blame it on Mom wanting to see her, even though we all know he’s just as enamored with her as she is.”

“Right,” she says, chuckling as the baby sleeps on her chest.

“Ready to go, Miss P? Nona is expecting us for supper.”

“Will Papa be there?” she asks, slipping her hand into mine. I grab her backpack as she waves at Lilly and Mike, then heads for my truck. “Bye, Mommy, love you.”

“Love you, too, have fun. I’ll see you in three sleeps.”

“Of course, he’ll be there,” I tell Paisley as I help buckle her into her seat.

“Yay!” she cheers, which has me laughing at her antics as I shut her door and open my own.

We live in Monroe, Georgia, a small town just under an hour outside of Atlanta. We’re far enough away from the city that the pace of life is slower here, but we still have many people who commute to work every day. Small town life is all I’ve ever known. I was born and raised in this very town. The type of town that everyone practically knows everyone. I never got away with much as a kid; between the nosy people and my dad being the fire chief, it was hard to get away with anything. But that didn’t stop us from being kids and getting into shit.

“How’s your baby brother?” I ask Paisley once we’re on the road to my parents’. Even with driving across town, it will only take us just under ten minutes to get there.

“He cries all the time,” she says, all put out like.

“Babies do that. You used to cry all the time,” I tell her.

“Not like he does,” she insists.

“I’m sure it can’t be that bad,” I prod.

“It is, Daddy,” she says just as I look up and catch a glimpse of her in my rearview mirror. She’s got her hand on her forehead like she’s exhausted—the dramatics of a four-year-old. Lord, help me in ten years when she’s a teenager.

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