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“Watch out, there’s another step!” My dad’s voice reflected his hidden concern for me.

I climbed up the final step to the roof top of the High School. My eyes scanning the roof, I spotted the little raised platform where we always sat. I advanced toward the platform and upon reaching it, climbed up the four-foot ladder to the top. “Are you coming or what?” I would ask, sitting on the platform, my legs dangling over the edge of it.

My dad climbed up the ladder and sat next to me. Leaning on his shoulder, my ear rested on his chest.

“Daddy, it still works!” I said in reference to his heart. For minutes, we would sit in silence as I made clicking noises with my mouth that resembled the same pattern as his heartbeat. I loved sitting up there on that platform with him every night. We would talk about life...everything from guys to my after school activities to when the dirt truck backed into Grandma’s grave at the burial. He’d also ask about my problems.

“Don’t worry about me, Daddy,” I said, confident in myself.

“But I do worry. You’ll always be my little girl. Mí angelita,” he responded, reaching for my hand. He looked up at the stars, shifting the tone of his voice from father-worried to really-worried. “I worry because I want only the best for you. I won’t always be here to protect you.” He looked down at me, his eyes filling with tears. They twinkled like the stars above us. He gazed back up at the stars and whispered to me, “I’m not going to be here forever. I don’t have much time left.”

I didn’t respond because I hated it when he talked like that. I just sat in silence and rested my head back on his shoulder so I could listen intently to his heartbeat. Tears streamed down my check, carrying all of my sadness in each one. “Your heart sounds fine, Daddy,” I responded through my tears, my voice shaking. I felt him wrap his arm around me and his tears fall onto my head. The warmth I felt from him slowly disappeared, and the cool, spring breeze sent an eerie chill up my spine. I looked out onto the lake. It seemed as though God had thrown a million diamonds across the surface to glisten in the moonlight. The trees rustled, but I didn’t jump because I had my dad to protect me. While observing everything that God gave around me, I continued listening to my dad’s heartbeat, silently praying that I would never have to go through losing him. But his heart beats no more.

Now I sit on the roof alone. Every night. Every night I sit in the darkness on the roof top, staring at the lake. Through my daze, I hear the waves lapping on the shore. The breeze seems to get colder every day, and I hear my dad’s voice carried in it.

“I’ll always worry about you. You’ll always be my little girl,” the breeze whispers.

When I recline back, I expect to feel my dad; instead I feel emptiness. The stars above seem to have stopped twinkling, and one by one, fall from the sky. The trees rustle in the breeze, and I jump in fear because nobody is there to protect me anymore. Closing my eyes, the breeze freezes my tears.

“You’ll always be my little girl.”

My Daddy