Angie averted her eyes.  She figured it was better to ignore the aching feeling in her stomach than to face what lie before her.

And how could she face her fears? she mused.  Some things seemed inevitable.

But some things required strength of heart that could carry you through the worst of it.  And she knew she possessed this courage.  She knew with all her heart she could stand up and be heard.  Stand up and fight back.

Angie Carrington was no quitter.

Now if she could just stop the tears running down her face, the hysterical laughter quivering through her body, and her father from tickling her, she could do just that.

But what good was dignity when you were having fun?

Angie’s father stopped long enough to give his feisty little seven-year-old a breather.  He wanted her to think it was finally over before he started tickling her again.

And once his young daughter’s eyes opened with a twinkle of pure delight and mischief to offset her seemingly innocent, angelic face, his heart simply stopped.

She was so beautiful.

She looked just like her mother.

Tickling forgotten, he bent down and kissed the tip of her nose.

“I love you, Angie May.”

Easy with affection, Angie smiled and mimicked her father, giving him a smacking kiss on the nose.

“I love you, too, Daddy.”

And that, he thought, was pure heaven.  If a man were ever as lucky as he was to have this truly amazing young girl love him as simply as breathing, he could never regret his past.  He could never feel alone.  And he could never fear the future.  His young baby girl was his past, present, and future.

She was everything.

Although Angie was young in age, she knew of the look in her father’s eyes.  She wished fiercely every night that his eyes would stop worrying.

Because she knew, as women do, that he needed it, she slowly got up and wrapped her arms around her father’s neck.  Her father’s arms instinctively wrapped his little girl into a hug.

And because she needed it, she stayed there in silence as the minutes dripped away.

- – -
Written by Charles Weatherhead
July 4, 2004