She sat on the top step in the backyard. Wearing a scarlet dress, her dark hair spiralling onto her bare shoulders.

“Boys! Down here now. It’s too dark up there,” I yelled out to the kids who ran up into the ink black yard.

“ANDIAMO!”

She looked up at me surprised. “Do you speak Italian?”

“A little” I smiled, “Can you?”

“Only numbers up to ten,” she demonstrated excitedly.

“Bravo bella!”

“My dad and mum are Italian. My dad is from Sicily.”

“Is his name Antonio?” I guessed.

“How did you know that?” her brown eyes quizzed me.

“Just a guess.”

“My dad doesn’t live with me,” she offered as she shuffled her feet.

“Well, then you’re the same as Beau and Chick. I don’t live here either, sweetheart.”

“Did you say you did or didn’t?” she leaned forward precariously on the back step.

“I don’t. There are a few kids like you it seems.” I offered her slim pickings. “Do you see him much?”

“Well, my Dad is taking me on holidays. To the snow.” Her manner was of self consolation.

“That sounds wonderful…” I trailed off as she walked away quietly.

I collected the stray kids from the backyard and stood for a minute thinking about the little girl in the red dress on the step looking for others just like her.

“You’re not alone, sweetheart,” I thought out aloud to the dark sky, “although I’m sure at times it feels like you’re the only kid without a dad at home.”

You can follow John on Twitter: @daddydearest_ and on Facebook: DaddyDearest

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