Emiliano collapsed into his chair as he came home from work. He had been up late with patrol for hours and was looking forward to relaxing when he came home.
"Papa!" Cried a cheerful voice. His six year old daughter Frida came running into the living room. She jumped onto his lap and hugged his neck tight.
"Hello Hija." He chuckled hugging her. "How was your day?"
"I made a new friend today."
"That's great. So where are your sisters?"
"They're at a dance but they said I couldn't come because I was too little."
"Aww that's too bad."
"Will you dance with me Papa? Just one dance?"
Emiliano was so tired after work, he really didn't feel like doing much but his daughter's big blue eyes held such cheer that he couldn't risk seeing it fade. So he put on some music, took his daughter's little hands and they began to dance then he picked her up in his big strong arms and spun her around. Her laughter filled the air as they danced.
Seven years later..
Emiliano watched as his daughter now thirteen came downstairs from her room wearing a pink dress. Tonight she was going to the middle school dance with Manny since they couldn't get good dances. Although he disapproved of her friendship with that boy he did prefer him over that weirdo Sergio.
"Are you excited about the dance?" His wife Carmela asked Frida.
"No! My first dance and it's a friend date how lame and what's even more lame is I can't dance."
"Well you seemed so excited about it a few days ago."
"That's because I thought I would get a date that was so cool that no one would pay attention to the fact that I wasn't dancing."
"Well I could teach you hija." Emiliano said. "Here, it's like this."
They joined hands and began to dance, she was a fast learner when it came to that. All too soon the doorbell rang and Manny arrived to take her to the dance. When she came home that night she went on and on about how much fun she had with Manny and how they were the only ones brave enough to dance together making them cool.
Five years later...
Frida was now eighteen years old and getting ready for prom. She and Manny had started dating in high school so now they were going to spend prom night together. She assured her father they weren't going to rent a room or anything like that but that didn't stop him from interrogating Manny when he came to pick her up. Frida came downstairs wearing a red dress with her hair down and in waves. Manny pinned a white corsage on her then her parents took pictures of them together. After that they went to prom, it was midnight when Frida came home and she found her father waiting for in the living room.
"You're late." He said. "I told that boy to have you home by ten."
"Don't be angry with him Dad, he wanted to bring me home at ten but I insisted we stay longer."
"Nothing happened right?"
"No and even if I asked him I think he would've refused."
"You really love that boy don't you?"
"I do and he really loves me."
"But you still shouldn't have been out that late."
"Can I make it up to you with a dance?"
He smiled, they played music and started dancing.
Four years later...
Emiliano fought the urge to cry when he saw his twenty-two year old daughter dressed in a white wedding gown with her hair up in a veil. He took her arm and walked her down the isle then he reluctantly let her go to Manny her groom. He watched them say their vows, exchange rings, and kiss. At the reception he watched his daughter and son in-law smear cake in each other's faces like two children and share their first dance as husband and wife. Then came the dance he had been dreading since the day she was born. The last one he would share with her as the only man in her life. Music played and they danced.
"I'm so happy Papa." She said.
"I'm glad hija."
"Are you okay?"
"I'm fine it's just that you grew up way too fast for me."
"Everybody grows up."
"I know." He sighed. "I know."
He made him very sad and very proud to see how quick his daughter went from a little girl to a young woman. How quick she fell in love and got married. How quick he had to let her go. His wife looked at him with eyes that held equal amount of sadness and pride as they waved goodbye to the happy couple leaving on their honeymoon. Their job as parents was done, their daughters were now grown up and living their lives and yet it was very hard for him to see that without shedding one tear.
Seven years later...
Emiliano was now an old man, retired from the force and spending most of his days at home with his wife trying to find things to occupy himself.
"Grandpapi!" A little girl with curly blue hair and big brown eyes came running from the kitchen and jumped into his lap to hug his neck. He smiled and hugged her just as he had hugged her mother when she was that age. "Mama and Papa went out dancing tonight but I couldn't go because I'm too little. Will you dance with me Grandpapi? Just one dance?"
"I'd love to."
He put on some music, took her tiny hands, and danced with her. Outside an adult Frida who had dropped off her daughter Lorena for her parents to babysit, watched them inside the window of her old home and smiled. Then she joined her husband in his car and they drove off to spend the evening together.