“I’m done with you ignoring me,” the girl says, jutting out her chin and glaring at me through half-closed eyes.
I can’t help but smile. She’s adorable when she’s angry. Her wild, earthy brown hair falls in tangled waves around her shoulders. Her pale blue eyes have too much innocence in them to throw much venom in my direction.
“I’ve been busy, Tari,” I reply slowly. Patiently.
“At the rate you’re going, I will be thirteen forever,” she whines, flopping down on the couch next to me. Such a drama queen.
I reach over and stroke her hair, gently trying to pry the tangles apart. “I don’t want to hurry through this. I want to do it right.”
Tari rolls her eyes and tugs her hair out of my hand. When she turns to look at me, a tear is falling from each eye. Still so fragile. She could render me powerless if she wanted to, she just doesn’t know it yet. So much power and influence, all wrapped up in a cute little package. In a few years, I might not be able to stand up against her in any argument. Best to earn her respect now, while I still can. I can’t have my main character taking over her books. Especially when that main character is an impetuous teenager.
“I know it’s hard to wait. You want to have all the adventures, the excitement, the-“
“Romance? Is there romance?” She grins at me, tears still dripping onto her dusty brown tunic.
I laugh and give her hand a squeeze. “More romance than you can handle right now.”
She sighs, resting her head on my shoulder. Still my little girl, at least sometimes. “Can you tell me about it? Please?”
My chest tightens. Maybe that’s why I haven’t been able to finish her story. She’s at this beautiful place in-between. Not really a child anymore, but far from being a woman. She is on the brink of a whirlwind of growing up, and some of it will be painful. A lot of it will be painful. Her world is about to be changed forever, and there will be no return to this innocence. A happy ending, yes, but this moment in time will be lost forever.
I turn and kiss her on the top of her head. “One more day, Tari. Just be my little girl for one more day. Tomorrow, I will open up the file and write you into an adventure. Today, I want you to live in this moment, and treasure it.”
Tari snuggles closer to me, but makes no reply. Not even an eye roll. She understands. Even now, she is maturing beyond her years.
I smile to myself. She’ll be all right. She’s ready for this adventure of growing up.