Hand-in-hand

…and a warm croissant.

The sun was creeping slowly over the rooftops of the 16th as our footsteps echoed through the empty lanes. Dogs scurried, distant sirens wailed, the sounds of a city opening it’s eyes. In my hand, five small fingers were warm and expectant.

Excited to be in Paris together for the first time, we had succumbed to the excitement of the new day and had donned our jackets, beanies and wooly socks, ready to adventure into the dawn. Like thieves, we had crept out of the apartment, taking the stairs in preference to the small, cranky elevator, too old to be a silent accomplice and too small to hold our great expectations of what was to come.

Wrapped in layers, we struck into the Parisien dawn in search of adventure, wonder, marvels and a warm croissant. While we had made our silent escape, the apartment was not empty, left guarded by a sleeping mother, dreaming of adventure, wonder, marvels and a warm croissant.

Stepping from the warmth of the apartment building, our breath appeared before us, as if trying to hide what the faltering dawn was beginning to reveal. Undeterred, we pushed through our warm clouds and began our adventure, streets washed anew by the midnight rain, parked cars glistening in the yellow lamplight, empty bottles rattling as rodents rummaged through remnants of the night’s revelry. And a small hand searched for mine, hurriedly climbing inside, tense and excited and wary. Cautiously peering out, not knowing what to expect, but expecting something, the hand stayed, in mine.

Months before she was born and only a few months after the two small blue lines had declared to the world that we were going to be parents, my wife had placed a painting in my hands.

“You and our daughter,” she had said as she rolled the blu-tak into four small balls to fix it to the back of my office door.

There we stood, daughter and I, hand in hand, walking off into the future. My wife had painted the back of us, yellow brush strokes imagining the flowing blonde hair our daughter might one day have, green splatters, the grass upon which one day we might walk.

I would often ponder where we were walking or where we had been. Were we simply standing… looking? What were we talking about as we stood and looked? There we were, hand-in-hand. And it was this that captured me most of all. Hand-in-hand. The orange brush strokes that were our arms, mine flowing down, hers reaching up to a tangle of orange swirls. Ten fingers wrapped tightly. A quick swish of a mother’s brush. Two hands together.

I often found myself lingering on that small orange swirl. Mind wandering from the blinking cursor on my screen, I would gaze at that small orange swirl, my unconscious fingers searching for the small hand they knew was coming, a distracted stare lost in the blonde tangles obscuring a small child’s face. Maybe there would be blue eyes…

Standing there in the Parisien dawn, breath misting, bottles clanking, dogs barking, my fingers were no longer searching. The blonde tangles were hiding under a brown bear beanie, pulled down to just above two piercing blue eyes and the little girl beside me was urging, “Let’s go Daddy! Let’s go.”

The small warm hand pulled and we stepped out, hand-in-hand in search of adventure, wonder, marvels… and a warm croissant.

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