Abigail’s Special Birthday Gift

Abigail Hyatt was almost seven and her daddy let her choose where to have her birthday party. It had been a sad winter and a party was a good idea.

‘Can we have it at the park?’ Abigail asked.

‘Which park, Abigail?’

‘The big one, the one Mummy loved.  You know… the one where we threw the rose petals after her funeral.’

‘If that’s where you want it, then that’s where we will have it.’ He kissed the tip of her nose.

Abigail smiled. ‘I’ll help with the invitations but we have to invite Grandpa and Grandma Lawson. Do you think they’ll come, Daddy?’

‘You can ask them. They would like that.’

Her smile faded. “I wish they didn’t live so far away. Do you think Grandpa and Grandma miss Mummy too?”

‘I’m sure they do. I would miss you, my darling daughter, if you had died. Now, let’s not be sad. Mummy would want us to enjoy your party.’

‘I want to wear the party dress Mummy bought me last year.’

‘Abigail, honey, I don’t think it will fit. You have grown so tall. Why don’t we go to the mall tomorrow after school and see what we can find?’

‘Okay Daddy.’

Finally, the party day arrived. It was a sunny day and the park had lots of spring flowers growing in the gardens. Abigail could see her grandparents at the end of the short path that led to the playground. They were tying balloons on swings and trees. There were two picnic tables.  One had lots of party food on it and the other held a huge birthday cake with pink icing.

‘Grandma! Grandpa!’ Abigail called and ran to meet them.

‘Abigail! You look so grown up and your party dress is so pretty,’ Grandma said, smiling.

‘It’s Mummy’s favourite colour. Do you think she’d like it?’

‘I think it’s perfect,” Grandpa said.’

‘Abigail.’ Daddy spoke quietly. “Your friends have arrived.’

She looked up at her father to ask him to greet them for her, but he was wiping something out of his eye. Grandma hugged Abigail. Abigail knew Grandma was crying too so she hugged her as well. ‘Oh Grandma, I miss Mummy soooo much, but she would want us to enjoy the party.’

Grandpa hugged them both. ‘Yes, she would. Now go and meet your friends and enjoy the afternoon.’

Abigail greeted her friends and opened her presents. A clown skipped into the playground, making the children laugh. He twisted balloons to form the shape of little animals, stood on his hands and spun hoops on his feet. Abigail thought it was the best party ever.

Abigail was too excited to go to bed that night. After her bath, she dressed in her new summer night gown, and sat on Grandpa’s knee while he read her favourite story. She knew it almost by heart because her mummy had always read it before she went to sleep—sometimes twice.

Daddy entered the room carrying a glass of milk. “Grandma and Grandpa Lawson want to talk to you.’

Abigail felt suddenly afraid. Daddy had said something like that when Mummy got sick. She remembered that Mummy was crying and Daddy told her they would be okay. Abigail climbed off her grandpa’s knee and went to her daddy.

‘It’s all right.” Grandma smiled at her. “Everything is OK.’

‘You see,” Daddy said, lifting Abigail onto his knee. “We all miss Mummy very much and…’

‘What your daddy is trying to say, is that we miss your mummy, too.” Grandma added. “But we also miss you and your daddy.’

Grandpa sat on the floor in front of Daddy and Abigail reached down to hug his neck.

Grandpa took a deep breath. ‘Grandma and I want to move in with you and Daddy, at least until we get a house close by. Your daddy and I talked about it a lot and we think your mummy would like it. What do you think?’

‘This is the best birthday gift ever! Can they live with us, Daddy… please?’

‘Abigail, this is your birthday gift. It’s up to you.’ Daddy was laughing now. He hadn’t laughed for a long time.

She jumped off her father’s knee and hugged her grandpa and her grandma. ‘Please come and stay— I’ll even let you call me Abby. Mummy always called me Abby.’

© Chrissy Siggee

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

Archived in
Children’s Corner by Chrissy at Riverside Peace

Forester’s Assignment

All eyes followed the smartly dressed young woman marching between the rows. Her head moved from side to side inspecting the finest of specimens. She stopped occasionally for a closer assessment.

‘Stand straight Forester’, the commander yelled. ‘What happened to you anyway?’

Forester leaned back as far as his twisted limbs could take the strain. ‘Sir, I…’

‘Hush son. You’re a disgrace to the ranks.’

Forester watched farmer Stanley as he followed the woman who had turned into his row. Their conversation grew louder.

‘What kind of tree are you looking for? They all look the same to me.’

‘I need something… different.’

She stopped suddenly and pointed. ‘That one! It’s perfect.’

Staring forward, Forester focused on the woman’s jacket which blocked his view of the commander.

Stanley was scratching his head. ‘Why would anyone want a Christmas tree that looks like this? It’s just a mangled mess. It’s stunted and undeveloped.’ He ran his calloused hands over the branches.

A fearful Forester tried to keep still.

‘There’s too much space between these limbs’ Stanley pointed. ‘There’s more on one side than the other. It’s worthless.’

‘Nevertheless, it’s the one I want.’

‘OK, Ma’am, but I’m not going to charge you. I don’t want you coming back for a refund or giving my plantation a bad name.’

Stanley removed his axe from its belt that hung loosely under his protruding belly.

‘Where are you going to put this…thing? There has to be a reason for choosing such a pathetic looking tree for Christmas.’

‘It’s was my son Sam’s idea.’ She took a deep breath then exhaled slowly. ‘Sam’s a paraplegic. He fell from his horse a few years back. He spends a lot of time in the children’s hospital and since I have to work over Christmas, well we have to make the most of it. I’ll be the paediatrician on call over Christmas.’

Stanley smiled. ‘A doctor, aye?’

‘Yes, Dr Anne Shepherd. Anne, please.’

She accepted his out-stretched callused hand before continuing in a more subdued manner. ‘Sam’s father is in the army and has been serving in Iraq but he expects to be home for Christmas. Anyway, Christmas with the children is going to be the only way we’ll spend any time together.’

Stanley was staring at the woman for a few moments before he shifted his attention back to the narrow trunk and lifted the axe.

With one crack Forester fell sideways and looked up at his commander. ‘Sorry Sir.’

The commander glanced momentarily at his fallen comrade. ‘It’s all right Forrester. I think you may be worthy of this important assignment after all. Do us proud.’

‘Yes Sir’, Forester replied as he swayed back and forth in Stanley’s hand.

Stanley walked behind Anne to where she had parked her vehicle. There he waited while she opened the rear door.

‘Sam, I found one.’

‘Cool! Let me see.’

Hanging almost upside down, Forester appreciated Stanley’s strong grip and watched Anne climb into the back of the modified van. Anne pulled a small lever at the base of the boy’s seat and turned it around.

Forester became suddenly dizzy and almost lost his bearings when Stanley unexpectedly flipped him upright.

‘Here it is’, Stanley called.

‘WOW! It’s perfect Mum.’

Forester blinked and opened his eyes wide so he could see clearly a child who sat in a strange chair with big wheels. The boy was smiling broadly and Forester realized it was he, Forester, who Sam was so excited to see. Forester felt six feet tall.

‘Thanks Mum. Thanks Mister.’

‘You can place the tree here beside the wheelchair in a moment’, Anne told Stanley. She turned Sam’s chair back into place and secured it before climbing back out through the rear exit. ‘Thank you, we appreciate your kindness.’

‘It’s my pleasure Ma’am and you have a great Christmas Sam.’

Resting beside Sam’s chair, Forester was overwhelmed by the excitement that had glowed in the boy’s face. Forrester didn’t even flinch when the door closed and latched.

‘Come on Mum! We need to get to the hospital so the kids can decorate it. It’s going to be a neat Christmas and with Dad home, everything will be perfect.’

Forrester heard the front door open and close. Anne’s sweet response and cheerful laughter sounded beautiful. When the engine started, he felt Sam’s fingers wrap around his feeble trunk. He shivered with pride. His assignment had begun.

© Chrissy Siggee

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

Archived in:
Children’s Corner by Chrissy at Riverside Peace

Faith to the Rescue

1931032_36129957313_9434_n-impThe sand was soothingly warm. A gentle breeze kissed her face. With a sleepy yawn, Faith watched seabirds glide silently over a distant wave. A solitary, early morning board rider, paddled out across the sandbar in search of the best. Sunbeams danced on the surface around him. A shipping tanker seemed to glide across the smooth far-away horizon while the sound of waves crashing ashore filled the air.

It was Faith’s first day on the job as a lifeguard. Ken, the head lifeguard, slouched high on the lookout tower, binoculars swinging from the arm of his deck chair. Faith was happy to stretch her long legs on the beach below. She watched a young mother dressed in red, chasing her small child around a sandcastle they had sculpted in the wet sand. The little one was wearing a bright yellow shirt and bathers. Faith blinked drowsily, shifting her slender body into the shade of the tower.

‘Help, someone, please help!’

The scream jerked Faith to attention. Ken almost fell off the tower as he took the steps two at a time. Faith’s gaze fell on the young woman in the red bathing suit screaming hysterically at a small yellow object bobbing in the waves. A quick assessment alerted Faith to a crosscurrent. Seizing a short-coiled rope, she raced down the beach and plunged into the breakers.

‘Wait for me!’ Ken yelled.

She turned her head momentarily and saw Ken dragging the life raft behind him. Her strong legs kicked through the waves. Tolerating her aching limbs, Faith’s eyes remained focused on the tiny head that kept disappearing below the surface. It felt like an eternity of great effort. Her eyes and throat stung from the salt.

Training had not prepared her for the fear she saw in that little pair of eyes of such a small child. Closing the distance, Faith could see the little boy’s eyes wide with fright and gasping for breath. His lips were tinged with a thin blue band. Just a few more yards. Hang on, little one.

 She held one end of the rope tightly between her teeth, causing the rope to trail behind, but as she advanced forward it gave her full use of her tiring limbs. Short wheezing sounds escaped her lungs as she convinced herself to breathe.

‘That’s it, Faith. Let him take the rope,’ she heard Ken calling as he approached from behind her.

The small child gripped the rope briefly then lunged forward, wrapping his little arms around Faith’s neck. Gasping from the pressure, Faith twisted awkwardly with every rise and fall that attempted to consume them. She swam with determination to the nearby raft.

Ken reached over the side and picked the boy up by his shirt sleeve.

Faith began to tread water for a few minutes while Ken rubbed and patted the little one’s back. He gave a choking cough and vomited seawater all over Ken.

Faith turned and swam back to the beach.

By the time Faith reached the dry sand she was exhausted but relieved the child was safe. Faith gave a few hoarse coughs before returning to meet Ken and help pull the raft ashore. The boy’s mother raced to retrieve her toddler from Ken’s arms.

‘Thank you! He was so quick. I only turned my back for a moment to get the towels.’

‘Don’t thank me, thank Faith, our newest lifeguard. It’s a trial program and I think she passed with flying colours.’ Ken grinned.

Faith barked at hearing her name and shook violently, spraying salty water over everyone. Ken and the woman laughed. The child struggled from his mother’s embrace and wrapped his little arms once more around his rescuer’s neck.

‘Say thank you to Faith, Ethan.’

‘Good doggy.’

Faith barked with excitement and licked the little boy’s face until he giggled with delight.

© Chrissy Siggee – 2016

This is a work of fiction. Except for the name of Ken & his dog Faith, all other names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

Archived in
Short Fiction by Chrissy at Riverside Peace