The ground creaked and shook as the 6 year old little girl excitedly raced towards the door. She squealed in joy as she opened the door; “Grandpa!” she said as she embraced him in a big hug.
“What? Who is this? Look how big my little granddaughter has gotten!” he said as he left slobbery kisses on her cheeks.
The little girl’s mom appeared behind her with a smile plastered on her face. “Hi Dad, thank you for picking her up today. She wouldn’t stop talking about you!” she laughed as she hugged the man.
“Of course! How about we go get some ice cream now?” The little girl quickly kissed her mother and ran out to the car before he could finish the sentence.
The old man asked, “How are you doing? It looks like you’re going to pop anytime now.”
The mother smiled. “I had a bit of morning sickness this morning but I think it’s a sign that she’s coming this week.”
“Get some rest darling and I’ll have her back by 4. Love you,” he said as he closed the door behind him. As the grandfather got into the car the little girl fiddled with her heavy bear in her seat. He started the car and drove off to Baskin Robbins. After many curious questions from the girl and many simple answers from the grandfather they finally arrived. This was the most popular spot in town. Right beside the sea wall there were families enjoying ice cream along with many sugared-up children. The grandpa reached and picked up the little girl from her seat. She held on tight because she was shy of how many kids there were!
“Gramps, can I please get two scoops? I promise I’ll be good and finish it all!” she pleaded.
“Of course you can honey. What flavours would you like?” he asked as he carefully placed the girl on the clean tile floor.
“Uh, chocolate mint chip… and um, yes…bubble gum! That looks so yummy.” The little girl stood on her tippy toes and pressed her face against the glass.
He paid for their ice cream and they started to walk around the seawall toward the park. She skipped holding onto her treat with one hand and her grandpa’s in the other. The waves crashed aggressively against the seawall and the only other noise that could be heard was the laughter of children. It was the perfect, warm fall day and the air was so fresh that it hurt a little to breathe.
As soon as the playground came into view the girl took off in excitement. She stopped at the ladder that lead to the very top of the structure and looked up to it in fear. She took a long sigh and started to climb carefully with motivation. As she neared the top she made sure her grandpa was watching her but frowned when she saw he was talking to another man with a baby in his hands. She lifted her leg up onto the platform and pulled herself up. She yelled, “Look grandpa I did it! Look how high up I am!”
Her grandpa was smiling back at her as she spoke. She jumped in joy but accidentally bumped into a boy who was beside her and he quickly shoved her back. She tripped backwards and hit her head on the ladder as she fell from the platform. She landed on the ground with a thud and wood chips flew around her. Everyone screamed in shock as they ran towards her.
“Oh my god! Someone call 911! Her head is bleeding and she is knocked out,” the grandpa cried out.
“Honey, please speak to me,” he said in worry as he held her small body in his arms. All the people at the park were now gathered around them in panic, unsure of what to do next. An ambulance could be heard in the distance and arrived shortly afterward. Paramedics raced towards the scene and started questioning him while the girl was lifted onto a lift. He followed them to the ambulance, never taking his eyes off of her. The vehicle moved with a jolt as they put an over-sized oxygen mask over her small face. The grandfather had horrible and irrational thoughts racing through his head. Suddenly the doors of the ambulance opened and his eyes met the gaze of his daughter.
“Dad! What’s going on? Oh my god! Is that my baby?” the mother said as she held her stomach, walking towards the vehicle. The paramedics loaded the girl out and rushed towards the entrance of the hospital.
“What happened to her? Why is she bleeding? She’s not even conscious!” the father of the girl yelled in anger.
“She got pushed from a high ledge on the playground and banged her head. Come on we need to follow her in!” The grandfather panicked. The mother suddenly bent down and winced in pain. “You’re in labour? We need to get you to a doctor right away!” he said with tears in his eyes.
“Dad I’ll be fine, I’ve done this before. Please just stay with her. Let me know as soon as you find out what’s wrong.” The mother said as she limped with the other man at her arm. They split directions as the grandpa walked towards the ER. He quickened his pace when he spotted the little girl on the stretcher. The nurses gently held him back as he attempted to reach for her.
“Sir, please wait here. We are going to bring her into the exam room and our doctors are going to have a look at her. We will let you know as soon as we have feedback, she’s going to be fine,” the nurse calmly said.
The grandfather let out a big sigh. He paced in the waiting room, conflicted about whether or not to go check on his daughter. Before he could come to a conclusion the door swung open and the doctor walked over to the man.
“Hello, I’ve just done a diagnosis on your granddaughter. She is going to be completely fine. Due to the fall and a large hit to the head, she needed few stitches. Although she is very lucky to not have any broken bones, we do believe she may have a minor concussion. We are doing more tests to confirm. You are able to go see her now, I think she is looking for you. Any questions?” asked the doctor with a serious look.
“No, thank you very much doctor,” the grandpa walked towards the room. He frowned when he opened the door to see the little girl hunched over. The dark room was humid and strongly scented with chemicals and medicine. “Oh honey, I’m so sorry. How are you feeling?” the grandpa asked in worry. The little girl flashed him a soft smile as she saw him at the foot of the bed.
“My head hurts. And I think they shaved part of my hair! I’m so mad! Is mommy on her way?” the girl asked.
“She is here! But guess what? Your little sister is on her way!” the grandfather said in excitement. He crouched down beside the hospital bed.
“What? Who? But I don’t have one,” she said sadly. “Oh mommy’s tummy is coming out?” The grandpa laughed loudly.
“Yes sweetie, you’re going to have a baby sister soon! We have to wait to see her because you are sick right now. But mommy might be able to come soon.”
“You’re going to stay with me though right?” the girl said in worry.
“Of course,” the grandpa said as he kissed the girl on the top of her head. She laid back into the bed as the grandpa sang her a bedtime song and the sound of heavy rain tapping on the window drifted her into a deep slumber.
COVER ILLUSTRATION BY BITTERMELON