The sun shines through our large glass windows, glistening the morning light into the house. Our tan couches form together to make a U shape in front of the television – a perfect spot for each of us.
In the middle of that semi-circle is my daughter.
Yes, you heard that right. My daughter is on her first day of school! Apparently, this is a momentous moment for a child and an event that should’ve come much sooner than it did.
But alas, we are here now.
I turn away to pack Neve’s lunchbox and exercise books into her bag as she twirls around, admiring her new uniform.
“You look lovely Neve!”
Bell supports her with appreciation from the kitchen as he looks out onto the lounge with his morning cup of coffee.
Before I can even stop and think of what is going on, I spin around and start heading for Neve. I feel a twinge of what seems like an unnecessary amount of concern running through my body.
Am I going to become what they call a “helicopter parent” in this world? Bell informs me that such parents end up doing more damage to their kids than good.
My internal monologue running ten paces faster than time itself doesn’t stop my ongoing motions over to Neve.
I look up at the child, my child, to see what is going on but she seems completely unharmed; standing in the exact same spot she was when I took my eyes off of her, yet for some reason raising one leg off the ground.
Her foot slams into the ground at a record-breaking pressure as her pout delves deep into the far reaches of my soul.
What have I done?
I feel a pang of guilt itch across my heart, but I can’t seem to find its source. I try and rack my brain to figure out what I could have possibly done. I’m packing her bags for her; I’m making sure everything is ready and Bell just gave her a compliment just now.
She should be over the moon, right?
This is probably time for the pinnacle of every interpersonal relationship (from what I hear), where the person stops coming to conclusions by themselves all in their head and – god forbid – actually asks the question with words.
This is new ground.
“What’s wrong, Neve? Is everything okay?”
Concern drips from my mouth at the same pace as the sweat on my forehead.
Neve just folds her arms and swishes her hair as she looks away from me. Light from the window, once illuminating the room, shines a glint on her crimson-red hair to create a crescendo of flames in my eyes.
Her anger burns deep into every fibre of my being.
Okay, okay. Let’s not panic. Don’t panic.
You’re not panicking.
Let’s go through the scenario again, not all hope is lost.
I’m packing her bags for her.
I’m making sure everything is ready.
Bell just gave her a complim-
I walk up to Neve as she pretends to stare incessantly outside, only averting her gaze every few moments to look at me before resuming her “bird watching”.
As I wrap my arms around her in a warm embrace, I crouch down and rest my chin on the top of her head.
It is at this moment that I realise not everyone has Bell’s amazing perception, not everyone can read me like an open book. We are the first people Neve remembers ever interacting with, of course, she’s not going to know what I’m thinking if I don’t show it.
I’m an idiot for thinking otherwise.
“I love you, I hope you know that Neve. I’m an idiot for not letting you know that before.”
A cold drop falls to my hands as the hyperbolic fire in her hair dissipates.
Neve sniffles as she turns to face me with her puffy red eyes.
“Idiot, I just wanted you to tell me my outfit looked nice.”
Even if it’s just for a moment, talking to the real Neve puts a smile on my face.
As she lets down her cold exterior for a moment, her face lights up bright red to match her teary eyes.
I can’t help but notice the slight smile on her face, letting me know that everything is okay.
My hand comes down as a light chop onto her head.
“You look beautiful, and I know you’re going to kill it today!”
Okay, maybe that was a poor choice of words. Don’t kill anything today, you hear me?
Be on your best behaviour.
I think these things, but I know I don’t have to tell her. This whole experience means a lot to her, more than I could ever know.
If anyone’s taking it seriously, it’s her.
Her smile widens as she wipes the remaining tears off with the sleeve of her new school uniform.
Part of me thinks that the uniform is a little reminiscent of the outfits that sailors would wear back in my old world; but much cuter of course. I’m told this is what the younger students wear and as they get older at school they end up slowly changing their apparel to match that of the types of clothes Bell and I wear when we go out.
It’s sort of sad though, I want her to stay looking like this forever – but if I’ve learned anything from the plethora of coming-of-age anime in my not very extensive time spent in this world, it’s that kids need to grow up.
Will Neve even grow up? Am I going to be left with a temperamental child for the rest of my life?
These words circulate through my brain as I imagine an old Hiro on his deathbed, ready to pass everything he owns in life off to his only child who just happens to look like an elementary school student.
Why was that in the third person? Hmm, I must not be able to relate to old Hiro just yet.
I spent so long as a vampire (here he goes again) that I have a hard time ever even imagining myself older than I am now.
I’ve still got a few good years left.
Anyways, enough about that.
I lower my hand in front of Neve, beckoning for a high five.
“You got this.”