Home > The Dandelion Diary

The Dandelion Diary
Author: Devney Perry


Chapter 1



“Dandelion,” I called from the base of the stairs. “We have to go.”

“Almost ready!” Katy yelled.

That was the fifth time she’d promised she was almost ready in the past thirty minutes. “Sixty seconds.”

“Coming!” Footsteps pounded overhead as she ran from the bathroom to her bedroom.

We were going to be late. I hated being late. But if there was a female in this world I’d wait for, it was Katy.

Abandoning the stairs, I went to the coat rack in the entryway, taking down my black Carhartt and shrugging it on. Then I patted my pockets, making sure I had my gloves and beanie. “Thirty seconds.”

“I’m hurrying, Daddy!” Her voice had that panicked shriek I’d heard every morning this week.

It was probably her hair. Again. Every day this week, she’d come down upset about her hair.

When I’d asked what was wrong, when I’d pressed for specifics, I’d just gotten muttered responses. Maybe it was the style. Maybe the cut. I didn’t have a damn clue. She just hated her hair.

I dragged a hand through my own thick, brown strands, wishing I’d taken the time to learn hair before she’d become a preteen.

There were dads who knew how to braid or make fancy twists or wield a curling iron. If I could turn back the clock to when she was three, when it was just me to tame her wispy dark-blond strands, I wouldn’t have just combed it out and sent her on her way to daycare. I should have learned how to do the braids.

Did twelve-year-old girls wear braids? Even if the answer was yes, we didn’t have time.

“Fifteen sec—”

“I’m ready.” Katy’s boots pounded on the steps as she came flying down the staircase. Tucked under her arm was the diary I’d given her for her birthday. I’d picked it because of the dandelion on the cover, the white puff with seeds flying.

“Coat and gloves.” I took the backpack from her shoulder when she hit the entryway, holding it as she snagged her magenta coat from a hook. “Grab a hat too.”

She stilled, her eyes widening. One arm was in her coat, the other frozen midair. “Do I need a hat?”

“Um…” Damn. This was a trap, wasn’t it? Yes, she needed a hat. It was freezing outside. But if I told her to wear a hat, would she think it was because of her hair? “You don’t need a hat.”

Her shoulders sagged. “I hate my hair.”

“I love your hair.” I reached out and tugged at one of the long, fine strands.

“Hailee called it mousy brown.”

“Okay,” I drawled. “Is that bad?”

“That’s an ugly color.”

“It’s not an ugly color.”

Katy’s hair fell nearly to her waist. It was fine and soft and as straight as wheat stalks, nearly the same shade too.

“You have to say that.” She rolled her eyes. “You’re my dad.”

“It’s not an ugly color.”

“Yes, it is.” She huffed and pulled on her coat, then stuffed her diary into her backpack.

Wasn’t twelve too early for shit like this? The drama with other girls. The self-conscious thoughts about a hair color. “I thought Hailee was your friend.”

“She is.”

“But she called your hair ugly.”

“No, she just said it was mousy brown.”

So where the hell did she derive ugly? We didn’t have time for that question, so I reached for the door, holding it open for her to step outside first. A blast of icy cold swept into the house before I closed the door and shuffled Katy down the sidewalk to my truck parked against the curb.

I’d scraped the Silverado’s windows already and started it ten minutes ago so the cab would warm up. But parking outside was not ideal, especially in these cold months.

“I really need to get the garage cleared out,” I muttered, more to myself than my daughter.

“You say that every day.”

“Do I?” I opened the passenger door for her, waiting until she was inside before I handed over her backpack.

“Yeah, Dad. You do.”

“Want to do it for me?”

She shook her head. “No way.”

“Even for an allowance boost?”

“Have you even seen the garage?”

“Touché.” I groaned and closed her door, rounding the hood for the driver’s side.

The garage was a clusterfuck. My own fault.

I’d spent the past five years remodeling the interior of the house. The detached garage had been my staging area for tools and supplies. There was enough sawdust on the floor to fill a fifty-pound flour sack. There were wood scraps and power tools scattered from wall to wall.

The remodeling was done. Just last month, I’d finished the dining room, replacing the old carpet with the same white oak hardwood flooring I’d put throughout the rest of the house. But I had yet to haul the nasty carpet roll to the dump, so it was shoved against the garage’s overhead door.

By the time I cleaned everything out, spring would be here. Maybe next winter, I wouldn’t have to scrape ice from the truck’s windshield.

“Can I dye my hair?” Katy asked as I pulled away from the curb.

“No.” Hard no. “You’re twelve.”

“Then when can I dye it?”

“When you’re thirty. The same time you can date.”

“Dad.” She gave me a flat look.

I was getting that look a lot these days. It came with this newfound sass. My baby girl, the light of my life, was growing up too fast. “Tell me what you don’t like about your hair. Not what Hailee said. You. What don’t you like?”

She drew in a long breath, her frame slumping as she exhaled. “I don’t know.”

“Do you want to cut it? Get a different style?”

Katy lifted a shoulder. “Not really. I like it long.”

“So it’s just the color you don’t like.”

“I guess.”

I reached across the cab to put my hand on her shoulder. “You’re too young to dye your hair, Dandelion. Your hair is beautiful. I love how it flies behind you whenever you run. I love how it shines like strands of gold when the sun hits it just right. And I hope you can put Hailee’s comment aside and realize just how beautiful you are. Mousy isn’t an ugly color, baby. It’s just a color.”

Her chin fell, nearly to her chest, as she stared at her lap. “What does homely mean?”

Homely? “What the fuck?”

Katy gasped, her face whipping to mine. “Don’t cuss.”

“Sorry.” That would be a dollar in the cuss jar tonight. “Where did you hear homely?”


Time to reevaluate our friendship with Hailee. “Did she call you homely?”

“Not me. She said it about Samantha.”

Yep, Hailee needed to go. Of Katy’s friends, Samantha was the one I actually liked best. “Samantha is not homely.”

The girl just had a long, skinny face and a prominent nose sprinkled with freckles. But she was cute. Not nearly as pretty as Katy, but certainly not homely.

“What does it mean?”

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