Sylvie lay on the edge of her father's cherry red '67 Ford pick up truck. The gleaming metal radiated the coolness of the night onto her chilled legs and arms. She stared at the constellations above her, they had an eerie heavenly beauty that only stars beheld. The sky was bigger than the deepest ocean, and in Sylvie's eyes it was more beautiful too. Some celestial bodies were dimmed, others discharging light almost too bright to look at, and she enjoyed all of them.
"Time to be getting yourself to bed." A rough man's voice sounded from behind her, almost startling her.
"Oh, you scared me. Daddy, I want to stay awake all night." She didn't look at him, instead staring intently at the sky.
"Why? Do you think your birthday will be closer if you do?" He said, groaning humorously as he pulled himself on the truck bed beside her. He playfully tickled her and she tried not to giggle, but it overcame her and the sweet and innocent chortle emerged into the dark and unforgiving night.
"No, I'm not a baby. I know how time works. But...I'm going to be ten tomorrow, daddy! Ten." Sylvie sighed.
The next morning the sun peeked out from behind the golden grasses and it spotted the young girl, cheeks red from the whipping prairie wind, and the young father proud and watching over his daughter. He was sitting staring at every movement she made, the up and down of her chest, the fluttering of her eyelashes as she felt the pink horizon's welcome beam.
The little girl silently sat up, she turned to her left and smiled at her daddy. She yawned and stretched, and threw herself at her father in a bear hug.
"Daddy, I'm older today! I'm older than I was yesterday, and tomorrow I'll be even older! I have two numbers in my age now, not just one. I'm not '9', I'm '10'!" She giggled with satisfaction.
"My little Sylvie's an old woman now? How can this be?" He pulled her off of himself and tapped her on the nose. "Just last night you were my baby girl, singing to the stars and watching the animal's play with me, and now you are a woman too grown up to be tickled or too big to sit on my lap?"
"Oh, daddy, I'll never be too big for that."
Forty years later...
Sylvia Garnelle's thoughts swirled throughout her mind, pushing and bouncing, not here nor there, yet everywhere. Was it the medicine she was taking or the anxiety disorder she was diagnosed with? Possibly it was because the way people looked at her, how people saw her and thought of her has a homeless bum.
She could have been considered as such. Fifty years old, alone, calling the nearest park bench or abandoned building home, and sometimes even begging for money. Sure, she had two children, a thirty-five-year-old son she had when she was fifteen and a ten year old daughter she had given birth to fifteen years after that, when she was thirty.
By then her boyfriend had left her, she had finally gotten fired for yelling at a customer. Her hair became thinner than ever, greasy and grey, she never showered, because of the lack of food and healthcare her skull became hallowed out, blue eyes becoming lighter and bluer as she became blinder and blinder.
So there she was, on the park bench, rich and happy families passing by, stealing looks at her: an insane druggy that life had gotten the better of.
Little children would run up to her and tell her that smoking was bad for her, they would throw a granola bar at her with pitying eyes and judgmental hearts.
So why was she there? Why did the happy and precious little girl with her father become homeless and unhinged? How could a father let his little girl become like that?
He didn't. He wouldn't. If he would've known that he would've put a stop to it. For he was dead. He had died the day after Sylvie's tenth birthday. She had grown up forty years without him, without her father.
Some stories have people that can't stand to think about their past. They dwell on their futures, goals, loves, and happinesses.
Sylvia's never moved on from that day her superhero father died, the day that became her forever. Her mind stayed in the prairie she called home with her father and older brother. It stayed with the murderous winds and never ending golden wheat and grass. It dwelled on the little red and white farm house, small cabin-like barn, and the family's horse, cow, and fifties of chickens. On the day when her father never entered the door, the day she never cleaned up after his mud ridden boots. She never made dinner for him, she did all of his chores. The day that lengthened into a week, the time that the search party gave up, the year that passed and they moved into the city. The time when Sylvie became Sylvia, when she grew up a year and held onto whatever was closest, how she had a dangerous boyfriend that gave her the gift of a baby before she had graduated school.
Now she was an old woman, not because of age, but because of the way she thought. She labeled herself as such.
Sylvia got up and stumbled towards a fast food restaurant. She knew she would make people uncomfortable and scared, she hated it. People looked at her and drew conclusions, conclusions they stepped behind and didn't let her enter. They put a wall between her and the world.
As she got a one dollar burger at McDonalds, she spotted an old man, possibly in his seventies or eighties. He had a shriveled, wrinkled face, fallen eyes and a walker. She smiled when she saw him, she knew how he felt. He was all alone, probably poor and silent, letting the world think about him however they wanted to.
"Sir, can I sit with you?" She said in an old worn-out voice.
"Of course." He didn't look straight at her, he probably was blind or ashamed. "How are you?"
"I am fine, sir. I saw you all alone and I thought you might enjoy company." She took a bite out of her pathetic burger.
"Thank you. What is your name?" He asked with an ever slight sigh.
"Sylvia Garnelle." She said just above a whisper, no one had asked her her name in a long, long time.
"Sylvie? My Sylvie?" He asked, shaking violently within a second.
"Are you my father? Charlie Garnelle?" She asked, her blue eyes wider and wider.
"Yes." He said, eyes on the cheap, plastic table.
"But you were dead! Forty years ago you never came home. Oh, Daddy!" She said getting up, tears streaming down her wrinkled and age beaten face.
"My Sylvie, I didn't die. I fell in the river a couple miles down our property, I fell unconscious and a traveler found me and took me to a hospital. I didn't know my own name let alone you." He paused. "My whole life was a blur until you said your name, for forty years I didn't even know my own name, and now I do, I am your father Sylvie."