As she neared me, I felt the pull to act right away. To steer her from whatever obstacle she was going. The answer was simple enough for something so meaningful. Just as she was about to pass right by me, I felt the words glide through my mouth, “Excuse me,” I said as I flashed a smile. She stopped and gave me a slow, confused look. “yes?” She replied. “Sorry to bug you but do you have the time?” I finished, pointing to my wrist to signify that I didn’t have my watch on. Just then the memory flooded my senses.
She remembered him coming home from a long day at work, only to change into his scrubby clothes and head off into the forest. He wouldn’t let her follow him and she always grudgingly stayed behind in the house with her mother, waiting for him to finally emerge all sweaty and tired from the work he was doing out there. She was curious but he said it was going to be a surprise and, O, how she loved surprises.
This continued a month until her birthday. After the cake was cut, presents opened and the friends had left, he finally picked her up on his shoulders and marched her through the forest. There was already a nice path implanted there; no doubt from her fathers’ boots going back and forth for the past month. She was giddy with joy and she felt her fathers gate change underneath her as if he could feel her excitement. He sped up and finally the clearing opened up to a beautiful garden with a hand-made wooden bench. It looked like it was out of a story book and she was a princess.
She squirmed, trying to get off his shoulders to see her new hide out. As she slid down his back she felt him guide her fragile body down to the ground. As her little feet touched the soil, she ran for the bench. It was made just for her. Not too big, yet not too small that she can’t grow with it. It was made from the same oak that surrounded the clearing and it didn’t have a single knot in the surface. She ran her hands on the bench and smiled from the smoothness of it. Grinning, she turned around to her dad with her hand up, “Look, no splinters.” She yelled. He smiled back and rubbed the back of his neck. “You can see the house from here but I want you to come out here only in the day time and when you let your mother and I know where you are. I don’t want you wandering out in the woods so stay on the path or in this clearing...okay?” he said smoothly with a little worry. She quickly ran up to him and hugged him around the legs. “Thank you, daddy. It’s perfect.” She said as she buried her face in his jeans to wipe away the tears of happiness.
“It’s 11:48pm,” She said cautiously. Of course, normal time has passed between them. “Thank you,” I replied with a wet tear in my eye, wanting to continue the conversation…wanting to know more about this person who makes the world look differently but knowing that I had to move on or look like a creep in the night. Slowly I grudgingly turned in the opposite way, thinking only of the little girl on the bench and wishing I had more of her memories.