A/N: Please review? It would mean a lot. And please, take a look at my other short stories if you appreciated this one. Follow on Twitter FebBabes02

She watches the gate every day. She listens for the squeak of the hinges, and the sound of footsteps crunching in the snow.

That's what her day revolves around. Her mother tried to stop her at the start, but she threw a tantrum, and continued it 'til her mother agreed to let her be.

Photos line the walls. Photos of a kind looking young man and a small girl with blonde pigtails and a bright smile.

She doesn't smile now. Not anymore.

She spends all her time waiting. But she doesn't care. He'll come home, and it'll be like old times. He'll pick her up and swing her around laughing, tugging teasingly on one of her pigtails. And mother will stand in the doorway of the house, a gentle smile on her face as she watches the father and daughter play.

She knows he'll come home. He has too.

The snow starts to melt, and flowers begin to bloom. Trees wake from their slumber, whistling slightly as wind blows through their leaves.

Still, she watches.

She's not quite as healthy anymore. Her weight had dropped alarmingly, and she finds herself wearing clothes she had outgrown a few years ago.

The gate's lost some of its lustre. The paint that had once been bright white and cheerful looking is now a dirty grey or beige and chipped.

It doesn't stop her watching from her usual perch, even when it rains. He'll be home soon, and it'll be like better times. He'll play checkers and chess with her, patiently teaching her new moves and what to watch out for while her mother reads quietly in the corner, their cat curled up in front of the fire.

The days begin to warm, and the sun brightens. Some of the flowers disappear to return next year. The sun is harsher now, and the rays burn her delicate skin.

But she still watches.

She now looks alarmingly sick and fragile. Her mother despairs, but doesn't stop her watching. She became hysterical the first time she tried, blonde pigtails flying everywhere as she cried and screamed.

Autumn comes. Leaves turn red and brown and fall from the trees. She remembers raking them into a pile with him, and jumping into it or just throwing them up in the air and dancing. He'll be home soon, and they'll do it again.

Finally winter arrives, burying the ground in white carpet. It's been a year, and she's still watching the gate, waiting for it to open and for him to walk through. She still listens for the sound of his footsteps crunching in the snow. It can't too long 'til this'll happen, and he'll be home.

But the gate never opens, and the footsteps never sound, and still, she watches.