My head rises and falls with each breath my daddy takes. I close my eyes and take in the smells that belong to only him: a mixture of smoke from his Pall Mall Golds, tinctures and creams lingering from his day of barbering, Vel Soap, Old Spice aftershave, and Secret deodorant (the kind that came in the jar and was not yet marketed towards women). Black coffee and nicotine escape from his tongue when he talks. It is not offensive. It is just my daddy.
I sit as still as possible. I don’t want to leave this spot. This is my safe place. This is my home. Being my daddy’s girl means the world to me. I wait patiently for his callused hand to pat my arm while the television reports the chaos of a world I am not yet fearful of.
I wait sometimes there, in his chair, comforting myself with the worn out material, throwing my legs over its arms until Daddy comes home from work. I will read and fill my head with stories and dreams; things I know he’ll understand.
I see him in his other place, also; clear and solid. He is behind the wheel of the car, I am behind him. He tells me one more time to get my feet out of the back of his seat. I don’t know what to do with these long legs. I look out the window at clouds, telephone lines, and tree tops and listen to his elevator music. On the way home, I search the night sky for every star, waiting for one to fall so I can make a wish. Then, I lay my head over and pretend to sleep. Daddy talks of grown up things with Momma; words that buzz around the car to the tunes of the radio, never settling in my memory. My mind is there in that back seat, dreaming without sleep, waiting for our car to pull in the drive. Hoping that I will fool Daddy into thinking I am really asleep…hoping that instead of waking me and telling me we are home, he will lift me in his strong arms, carry me inside, and place me on my bed like he did when my legs were not so long.