John balanced on his haunches in the centre of Trafalgar Square, holding Kitty gently under her elbows. The velvety fur of her double-breasted coat was soft between his fingers and he could feel the warmth of his little girl emanating through the layers. She was at that age where she was able to stand almost unassisted, but was still comically unsteady – like a drunken adult or new-born calf learning how to use all four legs. Looking at the little human that he and his beloved Lizzie has created still amazed him all those 12 months after she was first placed in his arms. And with her light brown curls, slightly oversized ears and a smile that resembled a chipmunk, she was the spitting image of her mother – beautiful. The distant hum of chatter was audible in the gentle chill of the mid March air, and although from an outside view the square was bustling with tourists, the only people John could see were Kitty and Lizzie.
Times like this were rare for the small family of three. John was, and had always been, incredibly busy with his job – at first, a pilot in the second world war, and now a commercial pilot for long haul flights – often spending days at a time away from the family home. Before Kitty was born, although he missed Lizzie greatly, it didn’t seem quite so bad – but now, with Kitty growing at an astonishing rate, he felt like he was missing out on big chunks of his daughters life – which rendered memories such as these evermore precious.
As he crouched there, limbs entwined with his daughter and Lizzie snapping away on the new Kodak camera, a pigeon fluttered passed. It was a little too close to John’s right shoulder for his liking, but Kitty followed it with her eyes, in awe of the creature. It settled a foot or so in front of her, and she squealed and giggled with delight. Flapping her arms in excitement, she began an attempt at moving closer to the bird, which was now pecking at some disgusting looking crumbs on the floor. John admired his daughter’s chubby knee as it wobbled cautiously in his peripheral vision in her attempt at putting one buckled shoe in front of the other. Noticing her cotton socks pulled up over her tiny ankles, he simultaneously melted a little and bursted with overwhelming pride. That was his daughter. His wonderful, perfect little daughter. Such moments of overwhelming love affirmed to him what he knew the minute he held Kitty for the first time – that he would do anything for that little girl. Anything at all. It was not until after she was born that realised that it was possible to love something so small and new to the unfathomable degree that he loved her. He loved Lizzie just as much, of course, but in a different way. Kitty meant everything to him and more.
At that moment in time, the term ‘everything’ was metaphorical – he had Lizzie, friends, family and a great career also. Pretty soon however, unbeknown to him, she would be all that he would have left. She would be his everything, his only, and he would have nothing else.
What I was immediately drawn to with this picture is the sheer love and adoration that the father has for the child. You can see it in his body language and most definitely in his eyes. The happiness of the little girl is also just too adorable for words. I feel that this image is capturing a very special memory that is intimate for the three people involved – the child, father and the person taking the photo, and that such moments are oftentimes pretty rare. It was these thoughts and feelings that I wanted to portray in my passage.
In terms of research, I attempted to date the photo and decided to go for the 1950’s – 1955 to be exact and I had a little look into the social context of the time, what major events happened that year and more specifically, the jobs available that were common in the era. Although not much of this comes across in the passage aside from the main characters job, all of this information helped me get into the mindset of someone who lived in the era.
Writing this passage has been beneficial to me because it brought me out of my comfort zone. Although with my novel I am writing as a male, much of what I write is very familiar to me because it is set in modern day Britain and tackles a lot of issues that I am knowledgeable of. With this passage, I had to get myself in the head of the father figure in the photo, who is different to me in several aspects; gender, age and time period – I know very little about the 1950’s, and most other eras that precede my own. I think the biggest challenge for me though, is the fact that that the character I am writing as (in third person) is a parent, which I have no experience of being (guinea pigs don’t count apparently!). I figured that the best way to overcome this challenge was to focus on the strongest type of love that exists in this world and run with it.