I looked up from the sandcastle we were building in our backyard. We were both sitting cross-legged in my forest-green turtle sandbox; it was built for children, and my six-foot tall father had to place both legs on either side of the box in front of him in order to fit at all.
It was a bright summer day, the sun we both loved so much burning our faces bright red and giving me a hundred new freckles to match my favorite red dress. I’m sure my father had housework to do and dinner to prepare, but I’d begged him to come outside and play with me. Like he always has whenever I truly wanted something, he eventually said yes.
He looked up from the pile of sand and shovels in front of us, shading his eyes from the sun that was moving down in the sky slowly, positioning itself directly in front of him and right above my own small head.
“Yes, sugarplum, chicken-lips, kitten-nose, honey-bunch, sweetie pie, chicken-noodle nose?” My dad had a hundred nicknames for me, always placed one on top of the other like a stack of Leggos just waiting to fall over. It was a game we played – him listing silly endearments, and me laughing, telling him to stop.
“Isn’t it a beautiful day?”