"Daddy!" He heard his four year old daughter call out, her voice muffled inevitably by the soft fur of her favorite bear: the one with the right eye missing and the crooked nose.
He smiled slightly to himself and placed his book gently on the small cherry wood table on the right side of his well-worn couch. He ran a hand gently through his hair as he stood up to step from the small living room and look up the stair way.
When he did, his wide hazel eyes met the bright blue ones of his blonde fairy of a daughter. She hugged the old bear to her, her grin partially hidden by its left ear. "I brushed my teeth!" She declared, baring her teeth as if in evidence.
He made his way up the stairs and crouched in front of her, narrowing his eyes and pursing his lips as though he were deep in concentration as he examined her little teeth. He took a moment before nodding slowly, acknowledging that they were, in fact, brushed.
"Done?" She asked him, beginning to grow impatient at a speed that only a child of quite a young age can show.
He nodded, the slightest of smiles playing on his lips. Her entire face lit up and she rushed into her small bedroom. He followed at a moderate pace, biting his lip as he watched her struggle to get today's clothing off so she might pull on her favorite pajamas.
The man walked over and knelt in front of his daughter, gently pulling her dress from her small body and helping her into her Tinkerbelle night gown.
Her little feet moved as fast as she could toward her ivory bed, scooping up her bear on the way to it. He helped her pull the blankets over her as he sat on the edge of the bed.
"Story time," She stated, as was tradition. "Tell me about Mommy." He smiled at the command, wondering when she had stopped asking for a story and simply began to expect him to just do as she said. And he would, it was just an amusing consideration.
"What about Mommy?" He asked her, his voice smooth and deep, though as melodic and hypnotizing to those listening as his daughter's trilling soprano.
"Everything!" She exclaimed, her hands tossing out and facing upward in the universal 'everything' motion. Of course, she had to make a small show out of it, but it was charming in place of excessive.
"We don't have the time for everything, Kiddo." I replied, tapping her nose gently.
"Umm…." She trailed off, her face pinched slightly in fierce concentration. "Start when Mommy was 16." She decided finally, her mind drifting to the picture of her mother hanging in the hallway: it was of her mother as a teenager and she was with Uncle Alex.
I considered that a moment, rolling it over in my head. She usually asked for something more concise-like our wedding, or the day she was born. I didn't think she'd ever given me a place to start without an end in mind.
"Well," he said, scratching his head gently. "Mommy and I didn't get along very well when she was 16." He started.