The sweet sound of her humming filled the air along with the crunch of the gravel and growl of the engine. Her legs swayed back and forth as they dangled off the edge of the seat, and her eyes darted around the moving scenery past the window.
The car pulled up smoothly to the parking spot, the engine came to a silence, and the girl’s door slowly opened to reveal a seemingly large hand. In excitement, she quickly unfastened her seat belt, placed her hand in the larger hand, and jumped off the seat. Her senses were overcome by the sounds of the roaring water and the warmth of the hand she had not held in a long time. The man quickly locked the car, struggling to keep up with the girl’s speed, as he felt himself being pulled towards the beautifully woven black fence which outlined the parameter of the falls.
“Daddy, daddy, look!” She pointed at the white abyss of the falls while jumping up and down.
“Yes, honey, I know,” he replied in a tone of awe. “Isn’t it beautiful? Niagara Falls – one of Canada’s many wonders . . . ”
“Daddy, when is it going to get colorful?” she piped in a tone that never lost its excitement.
“At night, honey. Be patient.”
But the girl’s patience had already run out. Today was the first day in weeks that the man was able to spend time with his daughter. Instead of waiting for the darkness to settle in and the mystical lights to appear, the girl again dragged her father to a new location. They wove their way through the crowd of tourists and locals, eliciting an exclamation of surprise – but never annoyance – every so often.
“Hey, hey! Slow down there, cowgirl!” Her dad called out playfully, leaving his fate to his daughter’s designs.
They arrived in front of a quaint restaurant with a cabin-like ambiance to it when the girl stopped suddenly. In the most dynamic way her little body could manage, she took in a deep breath through her nose, inhaling the mouth-watering smells of the restaurant.
“Can we eat here? Can we eat here?” She looked up at her father with wide, expectant eyes, never once letting go of his hand.
He nodded and chuckled as she exclaimed in joy and led him into the depths of the diner. They had found a booth in the back of the room, and the father attempted to sit across from his daughter, but she would not let go of his hand.
“Do you intend to hold onto my hand throughout the duration of this meal?” he asked in a playful tone as he cocked one eyebrow.
She nodded enthusiastically and tightened her grip in reply.
“Alright, alright,” he sighed, although he felt no true exasperation, and sat next to his daughter instead.
As they had already had lunch prior to the trip, the father ordered the simple side of poutine for the both of them, hoping to satisfy his daughter’s craving. She chewed dynamically, unable to control her enthusiasm on this day, and managed to smear gravy on nearly every visible part of her face. Her father laughed uncontrollably at this transformation, and sneaked a picture on his phone before helping her return to her former appearance. They sipped their soda idly to quench their thirst from the fries, and waited until the sky faded to darkness.
The girl’s excitement had dimmed down during the idle hour of waiting, but was immediately revitalized as they walked through the restaurant doors to reveal the beautiful play of colors in front of their eyes. As the girl tried to squeeze her head through the gaps of the fence and gaze out into the water, the myriad of colors reflected in her eyes, almost as though she were gazing at the aurora borealis.
The car door reopened as they prepared to return from this day of excitement. The girl’s grip tightened once again as she stubbornly refused to let go of her father’s hand.
“I have to drive, honey, I’m sorry.” Her father knelt down to give his daughter a hug before she reluctantly let go.
He slowly closed the door and climbed into the driver’s seat, beginning their journey back home.
The girl clutched her hand and held it to her chest, already feeling the warmth fade just as this day would into the countless days of loneliness ahead.
Amanda Lu is a senior majoring in Computer Animation and Visual Effects at the SVA. She is currently working on her thesis film, Fernweh, with Brenda Quijije. You can follow their progress here: http://www.fernweh-film.tumblr.com.