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Your thing was swings. Once you were on the swing, I couldn’t get you off it.

Even in the freezing Christchurch winter, bundled up so much that you bounced off things like a giant rubber ball, and you barely fit in the kid’s swing at the park.

Your red, rosy cheeks shone in the middle of the gray day. Giggling like a maniac with a massive grin, you’d make me push you over and over again. I’d have to start suggesting we go home about half an hour before we needed to go. And there always had to be a promise of something extremely interesting waiting for us to do at home. Or it was no dice, keep pushing.

Swings were your favorite, but everything else was fun to you. And wonderous. You would poke your nose everywhere, and I let you. Much work was interrupted because you’d need to hammer away on my keyboard for a while or draw things in Microsoft Paint.

Swimming came next. A water baby I think the term is. You were one of those. Your joy meant that you felt no cold.

Before all that, though, you rolled off the bed.

I remember things in a weird order sorry. You were just a baby, and I hadn’t seen you roll over before. I put you right in the middle of the Queen sized bed, left you just giggling at something on the ceiling that I couldn’t see, while I went to make a coffee, or maybe your bottle. I can’t remember.

I was gone for just a minute. That’s what they always say, isn’t it? I heard a horrible “thunk” and then your cries. I don’t think my feet touched the ground as I raced from the kitchen to see you face down on the floor. Meticulous examination revealed no damage. I think you were shocked and pissed off more than anything. As was I, at myself.

My other huge mistake was not one that I realised at the time, but you’ve reminded me of it since…

I told you that mermaids weren’t real. You’d found a fake documentary on youtube and fell in love with it. Watching it every day. Mermaids were now your thing.

And I ruined them for you.

School — you did so well. Loved it. What else can I say? I think being bilingual helped you a lot, as well as allowing you to laugh at me when I didn’t understand your other language. That was okay, I will gladly be an ignorant fool to make you laugh.

I can’t remember exactly when I started losing you. Of courseI can’t, because it was gradual, but slowly you were taken from me.

No ransom note was left, just an angry teenager in your place.

Things don’t hold the wonder they did for you back then. Most things annoy you.

Including me a lot of the time.

You still need me, but it’s with reluctance. My dad jokes are still making you laugh, so you’re not gone yet, but I have to try a lot harder.

You’ll be gone soon.

When you finally don’t need me anymore, I might go too.

Oh, and you still remind me that I ruined mermaids for you. Thanks for that.

I miss you so much, little one.

Short story writer. Fantasy, sci-fi, transgressive. I lack a filter but try to make stuff fun.

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