Caring Fireman Daddy by Scott Wylder
“Hide and Seek?” I ask the Daddy with the fierce stare and the straight jaw. He looks like he needs to have some fun.
“I’m sorry?” He cups his ear like he can’t hear over the music. DJ Ana Fantasia always plays the best happy dance music for the Littles at Recess. It’s fun just to wave around and twirl until the sky spins.
“Do you,” I point to him. “Want to play Hide and Seek with me?” I point to myself. He nods, I grab his hand and we run outside to a tree in the backyard.
Daddy Greg hosts the best Daddy/Little parties. We call it “Recess.” It is the best way for Littles to find Daddies and for Daddies to find their Littles. It is safe and fun. There is always happy dance music. We wear our favorite outfits for each other as much as for the Daddies. There are all kinds of Littles here. There are some that dress like sexy dolls, some like cute baby animals, some do the dark goth style Little with lots of black and pink. Today, I am wearing purple and pink with lots of ruffles. With my hair in a high ponytail, I hope I look like a unicorn.
“So, am I supposed to, what, count to 10? 20?” He asks with a cocked eyebrow. That eyebrow is going to be the death of me.
“Twenty,” I say and start running. I can hardly wait to be chased. I can hardly wait to be caught, but first the hunt.
The party is way outside of town and surrounded by cornfields. There is a big pool with a waterslide, and plenty of room to spread out and just be ourselves. It is a great place for hide and seek. There are plenty of trees, a pool house, and even a hay lift. I’m not going to make it too hard on Daddy Straight Jaw, but I’m not going to make it too easy either. I choose to hide behind the tool shed.
It smells like grass clippings and machine oil. I breathe in the scents of the cool, damp night air of late summer. My heart is pounding. It is a short run, but the anticipation of being caught makes it hard to catch my breath.
“Gotcha!” He grabs me by the waist and tickles me. I squeal with delight and wiggle out of his grip. I start to run.
“Oh, are we playing tag now?” He starts to chase me. He is fast. He is catching up to me. I feel like the willing gazelle to the lion. A mix of fear and excitement keep my feet pumping over the wet grass. I remember I’m wearing light-up sneakers, so no matter how fast I run or how far I go, he will be able to follow. It seems silly now, but I guess I am running only to be caught.
He catches me. Actually, he grabs me by the waist and tackles me. He didn’t mean to, but when he grabbed me, I started to slip, and he dove under me to break my fall. I land over him, one knee dangerously near his crotch, the other in the wet grass.
“Ow,” I say with a wince.
“Oh God, I’m so sorry. Damn it,” Straight Jaw says. “Sorry, for swearing. I’m so sorry.”
“I’m fine.” I start to stand up and dust myself off. My dress and ruffled panties are a bit dirty. That grass stain is going to bitch to get out.
“Oh no! You’re bleeding,” he says. My knee is scuffed up and I am indeed bleeding.
“I’m fine. Really. It is just a scratch.” I start to limp back to the house.
“I can carry you,” he says, stretching out his arms.
I want to, but I shake him off. “I’m fine. Don’t worry about it.”
“Will you lean against me, at least? For my sake?” He holds his hands out as his face scrunches up with concern. I can’t say no. I shrug and lean against him. His arms are strong. He makes me feel safe. Not safe enough to be carried back to the house, but safe.
I try turning toward the house, but he directs me to the driveway.
“I have a first aid kit in my truck,” he says. “I don’t know what Greg has, but I know I can fix you up in no time. No point worrying the others.” He’s right. Littles can get a bit fussy over blood. I’m tough though. I can handle it.
His truck is actually a black SUV. He opens the door and seats me on the leather seat on the passenger side. The leather is hot from the sun, but his car smells new with a bit of his aftershave. While he is getting out the first aid kit out of the back I announce, “I’m thirsty.”
He rummages in the back of his SUV again and comes back with an ice-cold bottle of water along with the white bag with a red cross on it. This man is prepared. He’s like a sexy Boy Scout.
“I think I know you.” I study his face as he bandages me up.
He shrugs and gives me a sly smile. “I’ve come to Recess a few times with my buddy from the firehouse and his Little. I’ve had my eye on you and didn’t know how to approach you.” He finishes bandaging me up but stays crouched on the ground. He looks up at me waiting for a response. The space between us suddenly seems close and welcome. Like all the buzzing of the insects and the singing of the birds fade away and it’s just he and I in all the Earth.
“Good thing I asked you to play, then,” I say. I swing my feet playfully back and forth, careful not to kick him in the head. My knee doesn’t hurt that bad. “They call me Betsy.”