“We’ll be back around, nine-thirty, Mr. Harrington.” Stepping down from the carriage first, I held my arms out for Cove to come to me. Grabbing her underneath her armpits, I placed her on the ground, holding her small sweater in my hand.
“Sounds good Bill, thank you.”
“Of course. Have fun little lady.” Bill winked at Cove.
“Thank you!” Grasping my hand tightly, Cove lead me to the entrance of her school, which was decorated like a page out of a storybook. The music wasn’t to my taste, but Cove seemed to like it as we approached the entrance table. She was lightly singing along to the familiar boy band, Same Direction, or whatever they were called. Katherine likes them.
“Hi Cove, you and your dad look beautiful! I love your dress.” The three women at the table were dressed like the fairy godmothers from Sleeping Beauty. I wouldn’t let anyone know that I was practically a pro, when it came to the Disney Princesses. I noticed as I tore my eyes way from the decorations, that the two younger women were staring brazenly at me. “You guys came just in time. We were planning to close the doors at seven-thirty.” The older woman smiled, as she handed us two gift bags.
“Enjoy.” The blue one batted her eyelashes at me, as I took the bags from the older woman. I didn’t bother acknowledging her presence, because tonight was about Cove. I was making it my duty that she had fun tonight. Cove kept a tight grip on my hand as we walked towards the gym that was full of fathers and their daughters.
“Anywhere you want to sit, princess?” I spoke a little more loudly trying to accommodate to the DJ’s speakers.
“No, you can pick.” Cove smiled up at me. Because we had gotten here so late, the majority of the tables were already occupied by people, or their stuff acting as placeholders. After, scanning the entirety of the gymnasium, I found a table with four empty seats near the dessert table. Excusing ourselves as we maneuvered through the dancing girls of all ages, Cove and I sat at the table. “Can we take a picture!” Cove exclaimed as she smiled at me, tucking a loose curl behind her ear.
Taking pictures never appealed to me. Living in the moment without a flash in my face was the way I preferred things. But when my mother passed away, all I had left was pictures and hazy memories. When I woke up from my coma, I made my doctor swear he wouldn't tell my family, I would forget periods of my life. I wanted to wake up and just resume my normal life.
But now having Cove and Katherine in my life, I realize how important the flash of the camera is. There’s a chance I could develop Alzheimer or Dementia, forgetting all the people that are most important to me. So, taking pictures doesn’t turn me off anymore. If there comes to a point, I may forget the people and the life I was once lived, I want to at least have a piece of that memory, even if I won’t be able to remember it.
“Sure princess.” Grabbing my phone from my pocket, I pulled Cove’s chair closer to mine before pressing the camera icon.
“Do bunny fingers and a kissy face.” I can’t say no to her. Balancing my phone in my right hand, I spread my index and middle finger into a V, doing a “kissy” face. “Cheese!” I snapped a few pictures in this pose, before changing to place a kiss on Cove’s cheek as she wrapped her arms around my neck.
“Have you guys filled out your meal cards?” A woman dressed in a princess gown walked over to Cove, and I’s table. I looked down at one of the many cards in front of me, as Cove took selfies on my phone.
“Give us a minute, please.” I looked up to the woman, giving her small smile.
“Of course, handsome.” This is what I get for being polite. She walked to a different table, grabbing the cards from other guest.
“What do you want to eat, habibti?” Cove placed my phone onto the table, standing up in her chair, wrapping her arms around my neck to look over my shoulder.
“Mac n’ cheese!”
“Just Mac n’ cheese?” I checked the small box.
“Just mac n’ cheese.” I laughed lightly.
“Juice?” Cove looked intensely at the menu of the night before gasping.
“Can I have a float!” Katherine is going to kill me.
“Yes, princess.” I checked the steak, macaroni and potatoes, with water for me, handing it to the woman as she walked back over to our table.
“I love a man with an appetite.” The volunteers of the night were mothers of the school board. Her husband and kid had to be here somewhere.
"Fathers, Daughters, lets head to the dance floor for our first waltz of the night!”
Back when I was a child
Before life removed all the innocence
My father would lift me high
And dance with my mother and me and then
The DJ started playing a track for a slow song, urging the remaining people at their tables to join the make shift dance floor.
“Come on daddy!” Cove jumped down from her chair, as I stood up, dragging me to the crowded dance floor. Cove reached for my hands, attempting to mimic the bigger girls and their father’s that were surrounding us.
Spin me around till I fell asleep
Then up the stairs he would carry me
And I knew for sure I was loved
“Arms up princess.” Cove smiled, lifting her arms up for me to pick her up. My right arm held her legs under the large mass of fabric that was her dress, while my left hand held her at her waist, letting her arms wrap around my neck and her head lay on my shoulder.
If I could get another chance
Another walk, another dance with him
I’d play a song that would never ever end
How I’d love, love, love to dance with my father again, ooh
I never knew being a father would be this rewarding, and I whole heatedly believe that Katherine and I were meant to be a family, and she was meant to have my children. It didn’t matter that some other man played a part in creating Cove, she was mine. She would always be mine. Part of me wished that I could have been there from the beginning, and another part of me wanted to stop time, so she could be little for forever.
Someday she’s going to get a boyfriend, she’s going to go through heartbreak, she’s going want a tattoo, she’s going to rebel, and she’s going to grow up. And when that day comes, I won’t be daddy anymore, we won’t be watching Alladin five times in a row, we won’t be making cards with glitter and my old water colors, and she won’t stand at the height of my knee. I really did want to stop time, I wanted her to be my little girl for forever.
If I could steal one final glance, one final step
One final dance with him
I’d play a song that would never ever end
’Cause I’d love, love, love to dance with my father again
“Daddy?” I was rocking Cove and I back and forth to the slow beat of the song.
“I love you, so much.” She’s going to hate me when I tell her she can’t date until she’s thirty, her sisters too. I smiled, kissing her forehead.
“I love you more habibti, more than you will ever know.” Cove hugged me tighter, snuggling into my neck. ”You and mommy saved me.”