Little Things

She tells him about it in a quiet voice, eyes downcast.

But she realizes that Papa’s listening, and that makes a bit of something unknown swell in her chest.

“We could get another one, yeah?”

Her mouth tightens.

“The store has plenty of them.”

She clutches at her mittens, twisting them, and tries hard not to let the funny feeling in her eyes make her voice all shaky. “I want that one.”

At first, it almost seems to him to be another childish peculiarity. He’s about to speak, but he stops, observes, and takes his time, for once – and he sees the tears that have gathered in the corners of her eyelids.

“I want that one…” she mumbles, shifting her weight. “You gave it to me.”

The answer makes any words he had prepared die in his mouth. She remembers? He always assumed that she didn’t care for any of it. He lifts his gaze and is stunned by what is in front of him: it’s not a mature, silent child, but a watery-eyed, vulnerable little girl.

And he can’t understand how he didn’t see that before.

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