Charlotte ran through the door of Sweetwater’s local diner as she and her father arrived to their weekly Sunday breakfast. Her blonde ringlets bounced as she past Sandra, the waitress who was closing in on a 12-hour shift. Sandra’s smile moved from the little girl to Charlotte’s father Patrick. Patrick gave a quick nod to Sandra as he took their usual booth. Patrick could hear his daughter entering the kitchen to make her presence known.
“We’re here!” Charlotte exclaimed in her high-pitched toddler voice, raising her hands to the permanent resident of the kitchen: cook Cruz.
Charlotte quickly ran back to her father who was patiently waiting for her reading the local paper. Charlotte pulled herself into the booth standing up-right next to her father. She placed her hands on his shoulders looking into his tired eyes. She had heard her parents fighting the night before but had remained silent in her room. Patrick smiled at his daughter as he removed her hands and sat her down next to him.
Peering over the table at the salt and pepper shakers Charlotte played patty-cake with her hands waiting for her breakfast. Within moments Cruz rounds the corner with one simple plate. With a smile playing on his lips, Cruz slipped the plate of sliced oranges in front of the child. She looked upon her favorite breakfast; six simple slices arranged upon the plate. One simple orange to delight a child’s mind and appetite. She swiftly grabbed the first slice with eagerness. Cruz nodded a brief greeting to the father turning on his heels to return to the breakfast orders of that Sunday morning.
Patrick watched as his come-to-be friend, Cruz, walked away. Slowly he turned his attentions towards his daughter. Her concentration was on her breakfast, grasping at the small pieces of fruit. In this silent reverie Charlotte and her father were happy.
Looking at his little girl Patrick was unaware of the memories to be lost and gained. He would recall this moment they shared and she would simply remember the day he left her mother. They would never have the father-daughter relationship that he pictured in his mind and would slowly evolve in hers. He would never catch his daughter sneaking out late at night, he would never see her last dance at recital, and he would never witness the manic episodes of mood swings in her adolescent years. The gaining of years and the loss of innocence.
As he kissed her forehead lightly the bristles of his mustache tickled her to giggles. His large calloused hand ran across the top of her head as she sat with orange seedlings on her face and juice running down her tiny fingers.
Looking up at her father, she smiled.
© Sagebrush Review Volume V Spring 2010