“It is going to be the greatest theatre on earth,” my father told me. He swung me up in his arms and he spun us around until we were out of breath from laughing. We collapsed on the grass and the sky above us continued to spin until the stars and moon merged into one. My father was an artist. He was handsome. He was funny. He was kind. He was the only thing I had. My mother left when I was only a few months old. I never asked about her, never wondered about her, never thought of her. I didn’t need to. I didn’t feel like I was missing out. As we lay on the grass, he touched my hair.
“You see that sky Matilda?”
I looked up at the myriad of stars above me. I nodded. It was still spinning and it looked like a black canvas with glitter sprinkled messily across it.
“You see the moon?” I nod. “You see the stars?” I nod. “Did you know that the universe is infinite? It goes on forever? We don’t know where it starts or where it ends. We don’t know what’s out there but there are definitely more galaxies and worlds that we can imagine. The only thing that I know is that I love you beyond the stars and the moon. More than anything in this universe Matilda, I know I love you. You are my sun in my Milky Way.”
I didn’t really understand my father sometimes. He cries a lot. But he also laughs a lot. He is very emotional. So most of the time I just hold on to his thumb when he is crying or laughing too much as the tramadol kicks in. This is what I did now, held onto his thumb as he looked up at the heavens.
“I’m going to name this theatre after you”, he said after awhile.
By then he was no longer looking up, but looking at me, with the same intensity and awe. Sometimes I wonder what I would say to him if I could speak. I can hear and I can see and I can write, but I have never been able to speak. I wonder if he would still feel so obliged to protect me if I could talk. When he drops me to school, I see him hesitate as he lets go of my hand so I can pass through the gates. When I want to go to the library, he will always come with me even though it’s just down the road. When there are school plays and I am the flower or the pumpkin, I see his eyes well up with pride. I wonder if he still would be as proud if I could talk and they made me the pumpkin. I wonder if he would still come with me to the library. I wonder if I would see that flash of uncertainty in his eyes as I pass through the gate. My father loves to sing and play the guitar. He doesn’t act in plays as much as before because he paints and builds more often. He is proud of this theatre. It’s only a small one, but it’s the first in our town. And it’s going to be the greatest one on earth.
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