The body stilled and she sat silent for long moments, letting it stretching, letting the pregnant speaks for themselves. Then slowly, as if reluctant, the head gently bobbed ascent to the request; yes she would.
"Then come here, I can’t tell a story to your back, and with you so far away," he continued to speak softly, almost nervously; he tread like a nervous deer emerging into the open field, testing the air, tasting it for danger.
Reluctantly the tiny frame lifted and he was met with her disapproving expression; her heart was still steeped with resentment from the confrontation of the night before, her lips were curved with a pout, and her eyes still seemed to swim within the sea of tears, seconds away from weeping she looked.
She stepped reluctantly to him, tiny bare toes dragging across the thick carpet, her eyes staring at his chest; where the heart lay.
She went because she was starved for words; for a story. She had gone to bed last night without one, screaming and banging her small angry fists into the mattress. Each thud of her fists, each sniffle, each sob had choked and ripped at his heart as he lay in the room next. A father’s frustration in having to do what was right; knowing that no matter how much he explained his reasons for denying her what she wanted she would not understand.
She stood a mere foot and a half away from it, but he saw it for the gulf that it was and he reached out, his large hands easily closing around each of her forearms, his grip loose but warm. She did not pull away, but she did not rush into his arms as she may have a day ago; 24 hours that seemed like a year each hour that passed.
She yielded though; she let him draw her to him and rest her upon his lap. She did not cuddle up against his chest; lay her head against his heart. She sat there, her spine straight, stiff, creating an unyielding distance between their two hearts, each beating with their own selfish pain.
He picked through his repertoire of stories, and discarded each. Should he tell an old favourite? or one she had not heard in awhile? But each was left behind as inadequate; he blindly flew into a new story; one yet half formed in his mind.
He began slowly, but surely. The pauses that he took to decide what came next she did not hear as a testament of his being lost; merely a chance for her to absorb his words. She could see the world swimming in her unshed tears before her, and she closed them slowly, letting the pictures be painted upon the darkened canvas of her innerlids.
Each character slowly came into being, his emotive tenor easily slipping into the nuances of the character’s speaking habits. He never forgot which character spoke in which way; and if he did she would correct him, with a giggle or a frown at him, and he would realize his mistake. She knew the details; she easily fell in love and cared for every character he created; even those with darker intents.
He did not move, he did not stroke her hair as he might have at scarier parts, merely lay back in his chair and let his hands dangle from the edge of the chair’s arms, his wrists limp; but sometimes his fingers would clench, digging into the plush material of the armchair, to keep from reaching out to touch her.
For though she had relented, yielded to him for this moment, the territory was still rocky.
So to prolong her presence he drew out the story, added moments he might not normally had. She did not realize it for what it was; that he sought, desperately, for any extra moment when she did not hate him.
But every story has to end eventually, and he reluctant began to bring it to a close. As each word fell into her thirsty ears; filling her up like an empty cup, she began to curl her legs up, she came to rest her head against his heart, nuzzling her ear into its customary nook. When he brought the story to a close she did not instantly spring from his lap but rested there, basking in the ending of his story and in his warmth that she associated with love, his smell that she knew only as ‘Daddy’.