"Papà! Don't do that, you're going to mess up mine!" Carina scolds me, pushing my arm away with her two small hands. She's pretty strong for a three year old. Definitely my genes.
"Yeah, Morelli," Hana taunts from across the table, "You're gonna ruin her precious plate."
She doesn't look at me while she's saying it, because she's too focused on painting her mug with flowers and hearts. Carina seems to be trying to do the same pattern as her, but they're just the slightest bit sloppier than Hana's.
We're painting pottery, in some small place just outside of Lower Manhattan. Carina loves coming here when we have free time, so I figured it's a nice place to spend the day.
Me? I think my plate looks fantastic. I have the coolest looking polka dot pattern ever created.
"Isn't there a saying that says, 'There is never bad art. Just art that's interpreted by the artist?'" I ask, painting another articulate dot.
"No one has ever said that, Papá," Carina smiles at me cheekily, her tiny paintbrush flimsy in her hand.
I scrunch my face in confusion, looking down at my little girl. She copies my expression, scrunching up her tiny nose.
She's so cute. I thank God everyday that I have her.
"When did you get so sassy?" I wrap her in a tiny headlock, and loudly kiss the top of her head. I've done this to her many times, and every time, she giggles like a little maniac.
That's when I notice Hana watching us, with a shadow of a smile.
"If you listen closely," I lower my voice, and Carina's laughter subsides to listen in, "You can hear a little tickle-monster!" I use my free arm to tickle her belly, and she erupts in loud cackles.
I release her from my headlock and gasp dramatically, "I found the tickle-monster!"
Carina's chest puffs as she tries to breath after laughing so hard, almost falling out of her chair. I make sure to keep a hold on her shoulder so she can't fall over. Once she calms down, she pushes my arm off of her so she can continue painting.
"You're a good dad," Hana says, bringing my attention to her. Her smile has grown brighter, Carina's smile is so highly contagious, and her hair is pulled over to one shoulder, the sun shining on her face perfectly.
The corner of my lips pull even higher, and I take her words to my heart. "I was scared that I wouldn't be," I confess while washing my paintbrush off in a cup of water, "Sometimes I look at her and wonder how different her life would be if I were different."
"Do you think about what life would be like if she had stayed?"
I almost drop my paintbrush. I figured that she would put together the pieces herself. She just never brought it up until now.
"Not for a while. At least, not anymore." Not since I met you.
She nods with understanding, and her smile turns genuine, "You raised a great kid, smart too. Every time I hang out with her, I learn something new."
That brings a good laugh out of me, because it describes her so well. She can spend hours talking off someone's head, but her company is so great, nobody minds.
"Papa! I'm done!" Carina suddenly cheers from beside me.
She pats my arm rapidly to get my attention. I look over and she picks up her plate, carefully, showing it off to me. It's better than her other plates, but I'd never tell that to her face, because in actuality, I love them all equally. But nearly not as much as I love her.
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c l u e l e s s (adj.) having no knowledge, understanding, or ability . • ° ✿ ° • . "Come on, Morelli, you act as if I can walk on water." "Maybe. But you act like I can turn it into wine." ° • . ✿ . • ° Hana Park finally got her life together, f...