The little girl looked up at the glossy wooden box. She wasn't tall enough to see over the top of it, but whatever was inside must have been a bad thing. Everyone was sad when they looked at it. Her green eyes shifted from person to person, each one of them either shedding tears, or having the saddest faces this little one had ever seen. When she was sad, this little one always ran to her daddy. He would always pick her up and kiss her on the nose.
"There ya go sweetie. Now, all those bad, icky feelings will go away," he would say with a smile. But Daddy was no where to be seen. He hadn't been home to cut the crust off of her sandwich when her mother wasn't looking, he wasn't there to take her to the park as he had promised the day before, and he was gone when he should have been tucking her into bed. She missed him. The girl stared at the large wooden box again. That must be the thing making everyone so sad.
"Mommy," she said, looking up to a young woman next to her, "why's everyone sad?"
The woman gave the girl a pained expression. "Oh, Elicia..." She bent over, holding onto the girl. Tears started to form in the mother's eyes, and slowly fell onto the shoulders of her daughter. Elicia didn't like seeing her mother so sad. She thought back, thinking of how Daddy was always able to fix everything.
"Don't cry Mommy. Daddy'll come home, and then he'll kiss away your icky feelings too..." Elicia held onto her mother somewhat tightly. Why wasn't Daddy there? He was always there when people were sad.
Gracia pulled her daughter back though, looking into her eyes. They much resembled her own, with little hints of light brown. From her father.
"No, sweetie," she said slowly, "Daddy won't come home this time. Daddy's in another place now." It was so hard to tell Elicia this kind of things. How would she understand that her father was dead? That he would never be back? Thoughts ran through her mind. She was only three years old. How would she manage to get through this?
"Why not? Daddy always comes home when it starts to get dark out... I bet it'll be dark soon, and then he'll come home, right Mommy?"
"Elicia, Daddy can't come home. You'll understand someday. Daddy can't come home this time." She said sternly.
Elicia didn't like this at all. She shut her mouth. Why couldn't Daddy come home? She watched a few people surround her mother, offering words of sympathy.
"Oh, Gracia, I'm so sorry to hear this," one of them said. The other's agreed, giving hugs. Elicia wished she could have a hug too. She looked down at the floor, then started wandering around. She didn't know what else to do. So many people were here. Maybe Daddy was hiding and stuck in the closet, like when they used to play hide and seek together, and that's why he couldn't come home.
"Well, Gracia knew when she married him that this was a possiblity. I feel so sorry for her," one woman said. She was standing in a tight nit group of three, discussing something in low voices. The call of her mother's name brought the girl's attention to the three. They were talking about her mother?
"Sure, Gracia knew, but I feel sorry for his daughter," one of the others said. "That poor Elicia didn't get a choice in this," she continued in almost an angry voice. "She shouldn't have to miss her father. Good daddys don't leave their little girls behind."
"Good daddys... don't leave their little girls behind..." she repeated in a quiet voice. Daddy called her his little girl... and he's not coming back? Does that mean she was a left behind? Then... that would make Daddy a bad daddy. Elicia turned around, walking back into the crowd, eyes on the ground. Dodging people to the left and right, she saw some chairs set up across the room. Elicia moved towards them. She climbed up onto the middle of the three chairs and sat with a light sigh. She looked to one side, where there was a table. Mommy had always told her to not climb on the chairs, but something on the table had caught the girl's attention: a camera. Daddy's camera. She stood up on the chair, looking down. There were so many pictures on it. Elicia knew Daddy loved pictures. He was always taking pictures of her, and he'd smile so much when he got them back from the camera lady. He'd go around and show everyone he could. Some of these pictures were ones she hadn't seen before. There was one with Daddy and what Elicia recognized as Mr. Mustang, but they looked different. Younger maybe. There were a couple pictures from each of her three birthdays, some of Daddy and Mommy, and a few with some other people she didn't know. Elicia scanned them all, her eyes falling on one of her favorites. It was of her and Daddy the day they went to the park together. Daddy had gotten someone to take the picture for him. She was sitting up right next to his face. His beard tickled her chin.
"Elicia! You are sooo cute! Pose for Daddy," he said with an excited voice. Elicia smiled, waving her hand at the camera, her other hand was holding up one side of her new light pink dress. She loved it because it puffed out so much. He had said that it was the cutest thing he'd ever seen. He took the picture. Daddy was happy.
"One second, sweetie," he paused, looking to a lady coming down into the park. He talked to her for a moment, and then handed over his camera. The lady smiled, putting the camera up to her eye. He ran over and scooped her up into his arms, holding his little girl close. Elicia giggled, throwing her arms around his neck as the lady took the picture.
Elicia smiled a little. She remembered that Daddy was extra excited to get those pictures back. She hugged the picture close.
"Elicia?" Someone had called her name. "You shouldn't stand on that chair. You might fall off, you know," the man said, scooping her off of the chair. She looked up at the tall man. Roy. Daddy used to talk about him a lot.
"Sorry, Mr. Mustang," Elicia murmured as Roy set her down. A strange silence fell between the two.
"What were you doing?" he asked.
"Nothing. I just found this picture of me and Daddy. I don't know where he went... but Mommy said he can't come back... so I wanna give him this, so he can remember me."
The innocence of this little girl was almost overwhelming to Roy. It was hard enough to deal with this kind of loss. Hughes had always been behind him. Ready to back him up in a heartbeat. Hughes was supposed to be his backbone once he had become the Fuhrer. The best of friends, they were.
"Your mother was right. He can't come home. But I'm sure he'll remember you either way," Roy said as he knelt over to Elicia's eye level. He could tell the girl had been crying.
"Was Daddy a bad Daddy?"
The man stopped entirely. A bad daddy? Hughes? Though he might not have meant it, Roy got a stern look in his eyes. That was an insult. In fact, the last thing Roy ever heard him talk about washis little girl. In retrospective, he would have liked to listen a bit more.
"No. He wasn't. What got you thinking that?"
Elicia was frightened by his stern look and tone of voice. She squirmed under the gaze. "Well... I heard someone say that good daddys don't leave their little girls behind and--"
"Don't ever think that of him. Your father loved you more than anything. And you loved him, right?" He waited for Elicia to nod her head before he continued. "He would have done anything to keep you and your mother happy and safe. If anything, he was best daddy ever." Roy offered with a slight smile.
Elicia paused for a moment, looking to the ground. She came up with a little smile back at the man.
"Yeah, he was the best daddy in the world." Elicia said hugging onto Roy. Her little arms barely fit around his neck.Roy was taken aback by this for just a second, but then melted, placing his large arms around the little girl. In that moment, but just for a second, Roy knew what it was Hughes was always talking about, that it was the best feeling in the world to have a family. In a way, Roy could see himself like this in a few years, with his own child. He smiledslightly. Even now, Hugheswas still helping him along.