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a dad & his girl

I see a dad and his girl
Suncream applied in streaks of white they sit - waiting.
As the train moves off the girl braces herself, excited
She whispers something inaudible to her dad
She's shy and she wishes it was just them
Her and her dad
Beneath Mickey Mouse sunglasses, she believes it to be so

I start to fill in the blanks
Let the mum become a mystery

I imagine she's a nurse
That she's sleeping after a night shift
That they've kissed her goodbye and made their way
She wishes she could go but knows she needs her slumber
So she drifts into dreams of sea and sand and lets them be

And I imagine a divorce
Gone their separate ways, they struggle but survive
Have special Sundays and quality time
They keep smiling, and settle into a different way

And I imagine she's a writer, working to a deadline
Stressed but reassured thinking sometimes
Dad and daughter need their time too.
She shuts out the world and keeps typing

Or she's a long time passed

That this is their life but they're doing ok
They've made peace with sadness, it lingers still,
but they carry on

They talk about her, always.
She says mum would like this, too young to know if it's true,
but then of course she would

She's with them still, he knows,
and yet he can't help feeling alone
But he's not.
He's got his giddy whispering girl
and memories that make him smile, but make it harder too

the distance between what should have been and what is

But the sun is shining and they're off to the seaside
So he lets that be his world for today

I imagine her turning 18
A photo of that day placed on birthday card,
With words about his girl, now all grown up.

She's not seen it in years, it takes her back

She remembers those glasses, and pink jelly shoes
An ice-cream melting in the sun, making a mess,
And her dad, chasing waves with her, laughing

She tries to play it cool, make a joke,
But she's moved by the memory
She's felt a chaos lately but this brings her calm
Brings her back to what she knows and what she needs

And I settle back into my surroundings,
and remember it's not real,
But I smile, anyhow, at hypothetical hope
And the possibility of glancing at strangers