A little girl sat on the swing set in her front yard, blankly staring at the grass beneath her white shoes, she did not move when her father placed his hand upon her shoulder.
“Octavia, come inside now, it is getting late.”
Still she sat, silently.
“I know that you are sad right now, but you have to come in, sweetie.”
The small child slowly lifter her head and stared at her father, crocodile tears running down her porcelain skin.
“O, I know that this is hard, but you can do it, your mother needs you to be strong.”
With a nod, she slid off the swing and slowly walked into her home where she found her mother sitting on the couch near the fireplace, a photo album rested on her lap and a glass of red wine in her right hand.
“Mommy?” Octavia’s voice trembled.
Her mother turned her head and looked at her daughter with a sad face.
“Don’t be sad, mommy, you have to be strong for daddy.”
Octavia walked to her mother’s side, placed a small hand on her shoulder and despite the tears drying on her cheeks, she was able to genuinely smile. Her mother stared into the depths of her daughter’s eyes but said nothing as she was fighting the urge to break down.
“Be strong, mommy.” Octavia said before turning to go to her bedroom.
She pulled herself up onto her bed and stared at the ceiling, the muffled sounds of her mother crying in the living room filled her ears.
“Daddy, how can I be strong when mommy isn’t?” She asked her father who was not lying next to her.
“You are a strong person, you are my daughter, after all. Your mother is hurting right now, and I know that this is hard for the both of you to understand, but time will help, I promise.”
Octavia’s expressionless face quickly crumbled as she placed her head on her father’s chest.
“Daddy, why can’t I hear the beating in your chest anymore?” She sobbed.
“Because, my little princess, I am not longer living in this world.”
“You are with the angels now?” She asked, sniffling.
“That’s right.” He sat up and stared into his little girl’s eyes, “Octavia, it is time for me to leave now. Be strong and be the very best that you can be.” He got up and stood at the side of her bed, “Octavia, I love you, always and forever. Please don’t ever forget that.”
She jumped from her bed and stared up at her father, “Please don’t go! Don’t leave us!” Her tears dropped from her chin, puddling onto the hardwood floor. “Please, daddy!”
“No tears, my little princess. I will see you again and I will always be with you. In your heart, memories and dreams.” He touched her cheek, wiping at a tear.
“I love you, daddy.” Her small voice broke.
He smiled and slowly disappeared from her sight; Octavia took one ragged breath and nodded to herself. The small girl went to her mother’s side and cleared her throat in attempt to make her voice sound stronger, “Mommy, don’t cry anymore. Daddy will never really leave us.”
Octavia slid onto the seat next to her mother and stared at the open photo album where she saw a picture of her father dressed in combat gear as he wore a smile on his face, it was the last picture they had received of him before he was taken from them.
“Daddy.” Octavia said aloud, looking up, she knew that her father was staring down at them and smiling.