"Daddy daddy look what came in the mail!" Maria shouts and comes running through the kitchen barefoot, her long black hair falling loosely behind her and the braids I tried to put in have fallen out. She hands me the flier and it is an advertisement for an open house at the local firehouse. "What's this say?" I ask. "Touch a Truck at your local firehouse" she reads, and it makes me smile wide. "You're getting so good at reading love" I say and hand her the flier. "Can we go please please please" she asks and grabs my hand. "Why not?" I say and she jumps for joy. "Yay!" She exclaims and runs away. She's probably going to go draw a firefighter or fire engine now and hang it on her wall next to the advertisement.
The weekend rolls around and Maria ties her hair up in a impressive bun and laces up her tiny riding boots and I can't help but smile because she is so beautiful. "Can we go now daddy?" She asks. "Yeah let's go Maria" I say and grab my leather jacket as we walk out the door. She grabs the small helmet from the garage and has to take out her hair so she can wear it. Because of her size she sits in front of me as we peel out the driveway on my motorcycle in aim for the firehouse. I glance in one of the small side mirrors as we pull up and the smile on her face and the brightness in her eyes that reflects the red fire engines makes me happy that she's happy. I park my motorcycle and help her off, strapping her helmet to my seat and putting her hair back into a bun so it's away from her face. "C'mon" she says and grabs my hand and pulls me in the direction of the fire engines. "Wow this is great" she marvels as we approach the largest fire engine. As the allowance the children can in fact 'touch a truck' and that's exactly what she does. She climbs into the front seat and I snap a few pictures with my phone as she makes sound effects and acts like she's driving the fire engine. A firefighter comes up and waves to her through the window and she smiles wide. She opens the door and says "hi, I'm Maria, is this your truck?" The firefighter takes off his mask and helmet and smiles wide and says "hi Maria, I'm Liam, this is not just my truck, we all drive and ride in it" and sticks his gloved hand out to shake hers. He is actually stunning and the way his eyes crinkle at the sides when he smiles at Maria in the truck makes me like him a lot. "Well I like it" she says and he nods. "That's my daddy" she says and introduces me. I walk to the other side of the truck and stick my hand out an shake a glove-clad hand. "Hi I'm Zayn" I say and he nods. "What else can you show me, Liam?" Maria asks and jumps down from the fire engine. "Well there's a lot of things, do you wanna try on one of these big suits?" He asks and gestures to the fire suit he is wearing. "Wow that sounds cool!" She exclaims and nods. Liam takes us around and let's Maria try on a giant suit and she loves every minute of it. At one point he takes off his helmet and she walks around with it for most of the day. I sit back and oversee Maria but let her do her own thing, and Liam has grown particularly fond of her because he's been showing her around and I'm not quite sure he's only suppose to be with one guests the whole time.
"She's a great girl, very smart" Liam compliments as we stand a distance behind her as she puts out a small simulated fire with a garden hose. "Yeah she really is, I'm proud of her, Thanks" I reply. When she finishes putting out the simulated fire she smiles widely. Leaving Liam behind she pulls me by the hand to the next activity, which happens to be her favourite and maybe mine too; colouring. Fire engines, firefighters, firehouse dogs, firehouses and everything to do with being a firefighter is printed on the colouring pages in black and a plethora or wax crayons are strewn across the table when we sit down and Maria being as indecisive as me looks through all the pictures before choosing the rather detailed fire engine and begins colouring it. I pick out all the colours she needs as she names them and she surprises a few of the other parents with the shades and times of colours she asks for and I take pride in her knowledge of colours and try to find the best ones that she's grasping for. "When you're done with your drawing you can tape it up on that wall over there little lady" a firefighter says to her as he walks past. "I like Liam better" she whispers and I chuckle and say "yeah me too baby girl."
She colours for about forty minutes and I sit and watch her patiently, admiring her artistic skills that obviously came from me. "Can we hang it on the wall now?" She asks and I nod. I get up and take a few pieces of tape and we walk over to the wall that the firefighter had pointed out to us and we search for a good spot. About my eye level there is one spot left and we both notice it at the same time and I tape it up and she steps back to admire her handiwork. "Looks great Maria" Liam compliments from behind. "Thank youuu" she half says half sings. "Have you two been able to eat anything yet or gotten a beverage?" He asks. "No, actually" I say. He waves us over to a few tables set up with an array of food and drinks and Maria wastes no time selecting all the healthiest foods and she does one hell of a job impressing the socks off of everyone, even me sometimes. "If you'd like to join us to eat you can" Maria offers to Liam. He smiles and nods and follows Maria to a table for four and takes a seat across from her and I grab her a juice box and sit next to her. "Liam why did you want to be a firefighter?" She asks and he marvels at the deepness of the question. "Sort of everyone's answer but saving lives is always summat I wanted to do, even when I was as little as you" he says and pokes the tip of her nose. She giggles and asks "do you have a firehouse dog?" He smiles and nods his head 'no' and adds "you think we should get one though, huh?" And she vigorously nods. "I'll talk to the captain about it" he says and I have a feeling he will because that's just the type of guy he is. "He's pretty" she whispers in my ear and I chuckle. I nod my head and she smirks evilly at me and when she turns her head back to him she acts like nothing happened. "Maria have you had fun today?" I ask and she nods. "What was your favourite part?" I ask. "I liked sitting in the trucks and opening all the drawers and compartments and seeing what was inside" she says. "You're very nice, Liam" she says and it makes him slightly blush and smile wide. "Well thank you Maria, you're quite nice yourself" he counter compliments and she smiles. "How old are you?" He asks. She sticks out her left hand and holds out all her fingers and he has a genuine but playful shocked look on his face. "Wow you're very smart for being five kiddo" he says.
When we go home that night as I tuck Maria in she grabs my hand when I go to leave. "Do you like Liam, daddy?" She asks. "Yeah of course baby, he's very nice" I say and sit back down on the edge of her bed. "No like, like like" she says and wiggles her eyebrows for emphasis. It causes me to chuckle and I say "he's pretty yeah, and he's very nice to you and I like that, so yeah, I like like Liam" I say and she smiles wide. "I like him too. I gave him your number" she says. "You little booger" I say and tickle her sides. She laughs and says "he like likes you too daddy did you see the way he was looking at you?!" I nod my head 'no' unaware of what she is talking about. "Yup" she adds. "You're crazy" I say and she giggles. "No I'm not he like likes you and you like like him" she teases in a song song voice. "Okay enough with the like like stuff you need to sleep" I say and kiss her on the cheek again. "Night daddy, thank you for today, love you" she says. "You're welcome baby, love you too" I say and click the light off in her room.