Their moments were fleeting; at times, raw. This, was that moment.

“Annie?”

She giggled. A child’s head popped up from beneath the table. His daughter, a sprite of girl straightened and met his stare. A paper doll dangled from her fingertips. The style of  doll was familiar; he knew Jacqueline had sketched it, had painted in the model like features and cut it to form.

“I didn’t see you,” he laughed. “How long have you been here?”

Annie shrugged.

She was his light beam; her smile tamed darkness.

In that moment she charmed him. Feet planted, Annie straightened and dared: stay. Her ruffled blonde hair, wide bangs cut short, and one off- centered, green eye, opened wide; he had noticed her tricks.

Instantly, Annie lowered her head and the spell was broken.

He crouched beside her. Gently, his fingertips smoothed the tussled strands of her hair into place. He cupped her dimpled chin and waited for her to look up. When she did, he traced the freckled path along her cheekbone. Surgical tape stuck to the skin above her left eyebrow. One edge of the tape had lifted. Carefully, his fingertip pressed the errant corner into place. He knew she hated the eye patch, always picked at the edges to get free of the gauze covering.

He lingered in that moment. She was his black cat bone, his good luck charm.

 

 

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