Bedtime Story

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Handwritten.”

The sound of tapping, the uneven pace of shoes bouncing off of the tile in a rhythm I dare anyone to pretend to replicate. A few steps and then total silence. But as the steps get a little closer, you can hear the giggling, joyous sounds of a little girl ducking her head in every room she passes. Sticking her head in just far enough to see if she knows anyone, maybe waving at the smiles looking back at her. Only to return to her adventure of hide and seek with someone who isn’t lost, only out of her sight.

A raggity old Pooh Bear dragged behind her as she finds her quest. Standing in the doorway, that half toothless smile with blue eyes just aching to be invited in. Her hair pulled back into a funny pony tail that makes her look like a miniature version of her mother. Well the hair, the eyes are all someone else’s!

“Can I come in?”

“Of course. Would you like to sit up here with me or in the chair?”

“The chair…”

Her voice showing the signs of her being unsure of her surroundings. People had explained the best they could, but she only understood a single idea. Daddy wasn’t feeling too good. Maybe the chair was a safe place for her to start.

“Tell me about school.”

“We painted a horse. I call mine Maggie.”

It sounds more like Magpie, but hey she’s still learning all of the words she hears around her. And I’m still learning how to translate her funny talk.

I don’t know how long we had been sitting there, but I seemed to have dozed off for a minute. But when I open my eyes again, time seems to have done a Rumpelstiltskin and now I have a teenager curled up on the bed resting her head against my shoulder.

“Dad, are you sure it’s okay for someone else to take me to get my license? I know you went with a friend to get your’s because Grammy and Grampy were at work. But I don’t want you to feel bad or cut out of things just because you’re here.”

When did she get this smart? And where did the time go?

“Of course you can go after school tomorrow. You guys can even take my car if you want. You might be more comfortable in something you know how to drive from all the practice.”

“Thanks Dad, that’s really cool of you.”

As she gets up, the girl I just saw seemed to have aged 10 more years. The woman before me a stranger yet I’m as comforted by her presence as any other person I could hope for. Those blue eyes are still there, her hair still pulled back but this time a pair of glasses have taken up a space on her nose.

“So you’ll be there tomorrow night for the rehearsal dinner? I know it’s a lot for one weekend, graduating and a wedding all the next day. But like you said, if everyone is on town why not do it up all at one time.”

“Honey, I’ll be there for everything. I’ll always be there for you.”

“I’m gonna go down the hall for a minute to grab a drink. Can I bring you some tea? Anything?”

“I’m good, thanks for asking.”

I walk over to the window to take a look at the sunset and when I turn back around, there’s a tugging on my robe.

“Grandpa, can you tell me a story?”

That same raggity old bear in her clutches. The one I had as a child, the one I have kept with me everywhere. But as I’m about to say something, in walks my daughter.

“Leave him alone for a minute. Sorry Dad, she got ahead of me. I told her to be quiet in case you were resting.”

“Kiddo, I would gladly jump out of bed for that smile.”

And then the sound of feet traveling down the hall start taking hold of my ears. That same giggling that started all of this but in reverse. The sounds getting farther and farther away. That raggity bear now sitting on the chair.

“Dad, I gotta go get her. You understand.”

Out the door she flies, hoping to catch another little girl with beautiful blue eyes and curly brown hair. Another generation catching the best of the previous and hopefully none of the craziness.

[Someone asked me to tell her a bedtime story the other night. It was the simplest thing I could come up since we had been talking about kids and hope, future wishes and all the adult stuff. I don’t know if I got it all down, I doubt it. Something always goes missing when you try to recapture something important.

But thanks to my “Ghost Editor” for making sure this gets posted today. Should be having someone drill the skull about now, more proof I might have a brain?  Gives her something to do and gives me some hope about the adult she is becoming. One who would have loved my daughter like a sister!]

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