He stood still for a moment, while the rest of the world around him went on. His hand hovered over the screen handle, as his eyes locked on the small figure huddled at the corner of the hand built wooden structure. It was a palace, the little brunette exclaimed, and it was her favourite place.
He remembered the day he built it. Hot, scorching sun without a cloud in sight. His little princess was with him the whole time, chattering away, telling him her plans. Her eyes would disappear every now and then when his baseball cap she claimed as hers would fall over her eyes. When her mother called, she would scrambled to her feet and rush to her with boundless enthusiasm. When she returned, she had two ice cold lemonades and a message to "put on more sun screen!"
The memories rushed at him with dizzying clarity. It wasn't hard to remember: the day's weather made it almost impossible to forget.
Without a second thought, he turned towards the counter and saw the sun screen right where his wife always left it. He grabbed it and pushed the screen door open.
His little fairy was now on her feet, the cheerless expression he expected a thing of his imagination. With a wide smile, he watched her curtsy clumsily, her eyes looking at the empty space in front of her almost eagerly.
A moment passed and she clapped her hands together enthusiastically and began to hum a familiar tune that made his throat tighten.
"Daddy," she said as she suddenly turned to him. "Would you like to dance?"
He smiled down at her. "Of course, sweetheart."
With a giggle he lifted her over his feet and they both glided to the music she crooned in her innocent voice. When she lost herself in the melody, his own deep hum reverberated in the otherwise silent backyard, guiding her own, until the end of the song.
Grasping one of his hands, she hopped back to her feet and turned expectantly to her left. Puzzled, he watched a wide, sweet smile appear on her face and she looked up at him.
Her words took his breath away. "Momma says to tell you that you were a very nice king to her little princess." She beamed. "That's me," she pointed to herself, and then bent over near his feet to grab the sun block he'd dropped earlier. "And she said for you to put on sun screen. She doesn't want us to get burned."
Wide-eyed, he dropped to his knees in front of his daughter, but his eyes searched his surroundings almost desperately for - he knew - something he'll never see.
"Momma's here?" he asked quietly, feeling the tightness in his chest, and the pressure behind his eyes. He could feel the same grief from the first time he heard the news. He didn't know someone could possibly be in this much pain without physical wounds. He didn't know how he could go on the next moment without her in the world.
But, somehow, he was able to take his next breath. He was able to walk, to talk, to pretend like he was living when he felt like he wanted to die.
As time passed, the grief gave way to a haze, and the only time he felt acute pain was when he thought of her.
But he always wanted to think of her. He never, ever wanted to forget.
She nodded. "She said she wanted to watch us dance. It was always her favourite thing." Her head tilted, eyes over his shoulders, and he swore he could feel a steady presence behind him. He swallowed hard, and resisted the urge to look over his shoulder. He knew no one was there, but at the same time, this way, he could at least pretend she was. "She's going now. We love you, too," she said. "Isn't that right, Daddy?"
He smiled through his tears. They were words he always wished he'd said more. And even if he said them as many times as he could, they would never feel like they were enough. "Exactly right, sweetheart. Tell her we miss her very much."
"She already knows."
Author's note: Something I struggled to put together. A family friend recently passed away without warning and the lost of him affected us all. I always knew that "life was short" and that we should "never take our days for granted" but I didn't know just how true they were until now. We are not invincible. I wanted all my readers to know that you and everyone in your life deserves love. If you're in a fight with your family or friend and you wish you weren't - talk to them! If you're in love with someone and they don't know - let them know! If you're struggling with some problems, where you don't think you don't deserve love; that you're unworthy or better off dead - STOP! You are worth every breath you take, and everything will get better. If you want someone to talk to, I will be available for you. PM me and I will give you my email.
For all those who have lost someone recently or not, you are in my thoughts. Remember guys, whatever you want, do it now. Get it now. There's no reason to wait.
Love you all!