Waiting at the school gate. Just to get a glimpse of her face as she skips away from the building and up to her waiting mother. She is scooped away and into the car. The black windows roll up and that is the end. Until tomorrow. When it begins all over again.
But today... Today is different.
Today, she skipped away from the school and came to an abrupt halt as her mother was not in sight. She paused, looked around. Pulled her school blazer a little tighter around herself and clutched nervously at her lunchbox.
She looked around again, seeking Mummy. But Mummy did not appear.
There she is. All alone. Frightened. Do I step out from the shadows and offer her my hand?
Should I watch and wait for Mummy to arrive like always and take her home...?
For a moment, I entertained the thought of stepping out towards her.
"Daddy!" she would cry, and I would laugh and pick her up once she came running to embrace me. "Mummy has to work today." I'd say. "So she sent me to pick you up from school.". She would laugh and tighten her grip on my shoulders. My baby. My beautiful Luna.
I can't. I couldn't. The pain of being so close and yet so far broke my heart, but there I waited until one of the teachers came outside to fetch poor little Luna in from the cold. She stroked my daughter's hair reassuringly and led her inside; telling her that Mummy would be coming later, and until then, Luna was to remain in school.
I could have had her. I could have stolen her away. I could have taken back my beautiful daughter.