by Mark Hendrickson | Asking permission.


It was when my father asked if it was all right with me if he started dating an elderly widow in town that I realized just how much he had aged. My mother had died of cancer years earlier, and he was still in that big house all alone. Who was this timid man asking his children for permission to do something no one should have to ask permission to do? Of course I told him he didn’t have to ask. Of course I gave my blessing. And of course he stopped seeing the woman when my sister told him no. 

Mark Hendrickson (he/him/his) is a gay poet and writer in the Des Moines area. His work has appeared in Variant Literature, Five Minutes, Leaf, Cosmic Daffodil Journal, and others. Mark worked for many years as a mental health technician in a locked psychiatric unit. Learn more at

This essay is a Short Reads original.

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