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My Little Girl

I watch from across a parking lot as my little girl gets out of the car; God, I miss her. My little girl, Charissa, with her mom’s blue eyes and her dad’s sandy brown hair. I can’t believe how tall she is, and only seven years old. In a month, she’ll be eight. We share a birthday, and it’s just one of the many things she and I share. She’s saying good-bye to her mom, whom I love so very much. I love both of them, but, according to my wife, I can’t live with either one for a little while. I get to have Charissa at my place for weekends, and on special occasions like this. Hell, I even managed to wrangle her mom into letting me take her trick or treating this year, though her mom got to take her costume shopping.

I slowly open the door on my blue Toyota Camry and feel a cold October breeze on my skin. The blue on my Camry matches Charissa’s eyes. It’s the kind of blue that when you make eye contact with her, it feels like she’s seeing into your soul. Yet, it’s not a judging kind of connection, but more a connection of understanding. The kind of blue that Charissa had officially named “lamp blue” when she was four because it matched her favorite thing in the world, the lamp that sat on her bedside table. It’s almost a jade, and I think I’m going to get her a jade necklace for her birthday and screw what my wife thinks of it. I know you shouldn’t show love with money, but after only getting to see her for weekends for over a half a year, I feel inclined to splurge a little on my baby. I walk across the parking lot towards her where she’s still just talking away to Mom. She’s like me when I was younger, always full of stories and things to say. The wind over the parking lot kicks up some dust and it gets in my eyes. I’d like to say that’s what caused me to tear up, but that would be a lie.

“Bye, Mom,” Charissa chirps at her, “I love you.”

“Love you too, sweetie,” my wife tells her back, “Now have a good time with Dad.”

“Alright Mom,” Charissa says her face aglow.

I walk over to the car and pick up Charissa, holding her in one arm while I shut the door with my other. “Have a good trip, Nicole. I’ll bring her home when we’re done.”

I watch her old Ford Taurus drive off into the distance. I’m very lucky to have had both of them in my life.
I turn to Charissa and say, “Well, sport, let’s go pick a pumpkin, whadda ya say?”
“Sure, Dad,” she says but it almost seems a little melancholy. Her round face doesn’t have quite the same spark to it as it did just a bit ago.
“Well, whatsa matter, babe? You don’t seem quite as upbeat as usual.”
“It’s just that,” she begins to say but then falters, “It’s just that, I miss you so much, and, when are you going to come back home?” She reaches in and grabs me tightly around the neck, burying her head in my shoulder. How I wish I would never have to let her go.
“Babe, I don’t know, but hopefully it’s real soon. Now let’s go find a pumpkin.” I put her down, and she grabs my hand. We walk down into the field where they’re all scattered. Some of the biggest pumpkins I’ve ever seen. I just hope Charissa doesn’t get too carried away choosing one.
We walk down the long rows of the pumpkin patch looking for some good ones so we can carve them out. Her eyes dart back and forth looking for the best one.
“Daddy, I know which one I want,” she shouts, pointing to what must be the biggest pumpkin I’ve ever seen. In fact, it’s probably as big as she is. Leave it to Charissa to find it. It almost seems like “go big or go home” has been her personal motto from the day she was born. She was a born crier, yet another thing she and I share. She didn’t sleep at night, and it almost seemed like her personal mission was to have me walk through every room of my house twice. As soon as she started talking, she didn’t stop, and as soon as she could start walking, she ran, streaking around the house, often times with nothing on but the joy of being alive.
“Alright babe, let’s see if we can get this into the car.” I say, as we walk towards it. I attempt to get both my hands underneath the bulky pumpkin and hoist it up with my knee. Charissa giggles as I struggle with the giant pumpkin, and I halfway begin to wonder if she didn’t plan for this as a reason to laugh at me. “Cha-Charissa, do you wanna grab that pumpkin right next to my foot? I think I’ll use that one,” I say wheezing for breath.

“Okay, Dad,” she diligently grabs it and we both walk towards the car, me readjusting her monstrosity of a pumpkin every five steps.

“Dad, I miss you, and I think Mom misses you too.” She says with a melancholy tone as we get to the parking lot. “I think we both want you to come home.”

Once again the parking lot kicks up some dust and once again that’s not the reason I have tears in my eyes. Charissa’s a sharp kid, and I think there could be a lot of truth to what she’s saying. “Babe, I want to come home too. I’ll try to talk to your mom again tonight.”

“Alright, Dad,” she replies, the spark coming back into her eyes.

Somehow we manage to get her pumpkin into the back of my car, and as my pumpkin gets seated safely and securely next to her pumpkin, it’s time to go. “Hey, babe, how about we go get some pie a la mode before we drop you back off at home?”
“Okay Dad,” she replies to me, and then sits, thinking for a little bit, finally adding, “Dad, I love you.”
“I love you too, sweetie.”
“But, not only do I love you, I miss spending time with you, and I don’t want this day to end.”
My eyes well up with tears for the third time today, and as we both get into my Camry and get buckled up, I know no pie will ever taste as good as this feels.

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