“Where is Mom?”
Henry’s grip on his pen tightened. He didn’t turn around, didn’t move. His eyes glanced upwards. He could see the reflection of his daughter in the glass of the window over his desk.
Her big purple eyes were wide, her head slightly tilted, her mouth was slightly open with her fangs visible. Another question, probably already on the tip of her tongue. Henry knew if he waited long enough, it would come out.
She’d find some other much more mundane thing to ask, and Henry could move on.
Yet he turned around, placing the pen down on the desk. This excited Itazu. Henry felt terrible that the child had to fight with his work for his attention. But he also had an obligation to the kingdom.
“Let’s sit down,” he said, grabbing her hand and guiding her over to the sofa.
She jumped up and cuddled up to her father.
Henry moved his hands through her hair. It was a mess. He needed to spend more time brushing it. He needed to spend more with her, period. She was messing around with his tie. She always found something to fiddle with.
“So, where is she?”
“I don’t know,” Henry whispered. “I wish I did.”
Itazu continued to play with his tie. Her eyes left her father’s face as if she thought that was all. No further explanation needed.
But she deserved an explanation. “I don’t know where your mother is. I don’t know where any of the other dragons are.”
Itazu nodded, “You’ve said that before, but…” She bit her lip.
“Your kind, dragons,” He reached his arms around her to pull her into a sitting position, “They never really travelled, they stayed put in their hometown.”
Itazu nodded. She had vague recollections of the town where she grew up. It had large buildings and a sky full of flying colourful dragons.
“One day we stopped hearing from them, when we went to take a look, nobody was there.”
“Not even my mom,” she whispered.
“No, not even your mother,” Henry held her, “I know it doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t make sense to me either.”
Itazu played with her hair.
“I’m so sorry,” Henry moved off the sofa. He was kneeling on the ground now, so his eyes were level with the little girl.
“Why are you sorry, Father?” she frowned, reaching forward and wrapping her arms around his neck. “You aren’t the one who disappeared.”
“I’m sorry, I can’t give you a better answer. I wish I knew where your mother was.” He pulled away, “this is why you have to—”
“Be like you,” she pouted, “I know, I know. No scales or wings or cool stuff in public!”
“It’s important.” He smiled. “And it’s also important you know that whatever happened to your mother, she didn’t want to leave you. I know she’d never do that.”
“I know,” she finally released her father and crossed her arms. “It’s not fair. I like running on four legs.”
Henry watched her put on her best angry expression with her arms cross and her back hunched back, “You’re right that it’s not fair. If I take the rest of the day off and we make cookies together, would it be fairer?”
Itazu’s eyes lit up and she nodded.