The father king

Thigh-high strands of grass part before a pale pink foot, mice and voles scattering as soles fly over the ground, bent on the sky. Arms spread like eagle’s wings flick through the swishing towers, the delighted peal of laughter ringing out through her twisting wake. Corkscrewing through the field, a girl—a daughter—chases dreams, her loving Father behind and before her. Tumbling to the ground, the grass bends beneath her, catching her as she goes and springing back as she leaves. Rolling to a stop, her Father finds her, bending low in the grass to kiss her forehead, her cheeks. Laughing, she grabs his face, pulls him closer, hugs his neck. Lifting her in his arms, he starts to spin, her legs flinging out behind her with no fear of him letting go. Falling to the earth himself, he catches her with his chest, deep, resounding laughter booming out of his lungs and into hers. Snuggling into his neck, his arm, he feels the soft touch of her hair, the sweet smell of the long, thin strands. He watches what he has made, what he has planned come to fruition, and holds her hands as she leans on his chest, full of wonder at what he’s created, her smile as she watches the world.

“Papa,” she says, smiling, and turns her bright eyes upon him.

“Yes, daughter?” he asks.

“You’re never going to let me go, right?”

Her smile grows as she asks, confident of his answer.

“No, I won’t,” he tells her, and she smiles again, confirmed in her belief.

Nestling down next to his side, she wraps thin arms around him, unable to fully reach and squeezing hard.

“I love you, Papa,” she murmurs, and her voice folds towards sleep.

“I love you too,” he says. “More than you’ll ever now.”

By then she’s already asleep, but he holds her all the same. Basking in her love and sunshine, he lets out the yawning laugh of a lion and closes his eyes, heart swelling to forever.

“I’ll never leave you,” he says quietly, pressing a cheek to her hair. “I will always be here for you. I will always be here.”

And beyond all reason, all sad stories and sorry endings, he always is.

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