Chicago, Illinois, Present Day – Seven-year-old Nora Matthews wrinkled her nose in concentration, light brown eyes making sure no mistake was made. This picture had to be the best she could make it, which was why she was being so meticulous about it.
She hoped it would cheer Dad up. He was sad a lot when he was home and when Nora had asked why, Mom had said it was because there were people who hated police officers.
“Your father loves helping people, Nora,” she’d said. “But because of the actions of bad police officers, it causes some people to group them with good officers. And when that happens, it upsets him.”
After she was done coloring, Nora ran out to the living room to ask her mom how to spell hero, then ran back to her room and finished the drawing, being as careful with her writing as she’d been with everything else.
Dinner came and went without Dad. When bedtime rolled around, there was still no sign of him.
“Dad will be home tomorrow, sweetie,” Mom told Nora as she tucked her into bed. “You can give him your drawing then.”
“But what if he’s not home tomorrow?” Nora asked.
Mom paused in her reach for the lamp switch. “Go to sleep, Nora. I love you.”
Nora’s eyes snapped open and she raised her head from the pillow. Thump, thump…was that the fridge opening?
She bolted out of bed and grabbed the picture on her way out of her room. She tiptoed down the hall, passed the living room where Mom was asleep on the couch, then stopped at the entry to the dining area.
The beep from the microwave sounded and a moment later, Dad appeared. He didn’t see her and sat down at the table with his back to her. For a few minutes, she stood as silent as a rock.
He raised his head and looked at her over his shoulder. “Why are you up?” he asked.
“I made this for you,” Nora said, holding out the drawing.
He took it and after a long moment, he smiled. “Is that me…wearing a superhero cape?”
She nodded. “Thank you, Nora,” he said, giving her a hug.
“You’re welcome!” She started back towards her room, but came back exclaiming, “I’m gonna make more tomorrow for all your friends!”
“I’m sure they’ll love that.”
“But you can’t tell them, ’cause it’s a surprise!”
He smiled. “I won’t.”
After he shooed her back to bed, he turned to the picture again. Not only had she drawn him wearing a superhero cape, but the large letters at the top spelled, ‘My Hero Is My Daddy’.
©H.S. Kylian 2018
(Critiques are welcome and appreciated!)