A story for the Short Shots Offcial contest.
It was a warm, sunny morning and, little Rick started whimpering.
Debbie ran to her six-year old son and asked anxiously, “ Why? What’s the matter baby?”
“ When will papa return Mom? It’s been a week and I am missing him too much.”
“ Don’t worry child. He has gone on a tour and will return within two days.”
Little Rick was not easy to pacify. He was a crybaby and began to do that with severe petulance.
Debbie stayed in Baltimore in a two storied building with her husband Brad and her only son. Their marriage took place after four years of a relationship between them. Debbie and Brad both worked at the same company IBM and were software engineers by profession. After a year she conceived and Rick was born. She quitted her job immediately and decided to become a homemaker to nourish her only apple of her eye.
Debbie was born in Arizona. Her mother died in a horrific car accident when she was only five. Her father was a cardiologist and he used to give her the love of both parents despite his busy work schedule. Debbie was nursed by a governess called Carla and they shared an inseparable bond . Her dad, Harry, never used to make her feel lonely and, poured all his love and affection for her. Debbie had a loving ambience in her home with her papa, Carla, and cuddly soft toys. Harry used to hide his excrutiating trauma caused by the loss of his loving wife and, never exposed his feelings to Debbie. Debbie was an avid reader. She was an introvert by nature, and loved singing, painting, and reading story books, in her leisure time. She always used to secure the highest grades at school and, thus began to form a source of envy for her friends. Her mates used to bully her by calling her ‘bookish’ and ‘ bookworm’ but ,she did not give any importance to it.
Her dad was her mentor and a good source of inspiration for her and, so was Carla. They always used to encourage her and ,she never had to turn back, and always come up with flying colors. She took the pure science stream and graduated as a software engineer from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Thereafter she got a job at the esteemed company IBM and met Brad. Brad was a senior executive and after four years of a fling, their romance turned into marriage. Debbie led a blissful, married life with Brad and, gave birth to a cherubic boy whom she was extremely fond of. She was determined that she would foster him with utmost care and love. Now that she was a mother, not the damsel Debbie that she was before, she could empathize with the deep agony experienced by her dad as a single parent. She often used to miss her dad and, wish that he was by her side when she was alone in the house with her son.
It was quite a distance from Arizona to Baltimore and her dad used to stay there all alone with a housemaid to take his care and, cook his meals. Her dad was retired by now and, went to visit rotary clubs and play golf for keeping him occupied. After Rick was born, her dad had been able to pay a visit to her house only once. Little Rick was only one when he had met his grandfather and, at such a young stage his memory was not enough strong to sustain the acquaintance. Debbie was lost in that reverie when a clonk jolted her to reality. Rick had hurled the flower vase made of brass and, it pounded on the floor making that heavy, metallic sound. Debbie was really angry now. She chided.” What are you doing Rick? Behave yourself . How many times will I have to tell you that papa is going to arrive soon? Is it only you who misses him, don’t I? Now keep your mouth shut.Else I’ll box your ears."
Rick was shocked at this vigorous rebuke and, the sensitive child began to cry. Tears rolled down his chubby cheeks as if in grouch to the reprimand of his mother. Debbie could take this grizzle no longer and, she placed her son on her lap and, began to cuddle him with kisses. Rick stopped crying and, began to play with the golden locks of his beautiful mother.
“ Why are you so naughty Rick? Grow up son. When your dad arrives we will go for a rollicking time at Hyde’s Park?’
“ Really Mom?” Astonishment fished in the eyes of Rick.
“ Yes, son.” Debbie reassured.
“ Okay. Promise?” Little Rick again quizzed.
“ Oh yes dear, I promise.”
The sun rose shading the canvas of the sky with pastels of rosy-pink with diminutive, fleecy, white clouds in between. Mellow sunshine filtered through the window of the room where Debbie and her son were sleeping, nestling in each other, and greeted them a sprightly morning. It was a Sunday and a very special day for both of them. Harry was to arrive an hour later. Rick was having his summer vacation now and was happy as he had to study less now. Debbie woke up, went for a bath and, quickly made the breakfast of quiche and chicken sandwiches for them.
Then she nudged Rick gently with her elbow to awake him and Rick said with grogginess" I want to sleep more, Mama."
“ So what? Wake up, you lazybones! Jump out of your bed, brush your teeth. I have made a yummy breakfast for you and dad is going to come today.”
“Jeez! I almost forgot Mom!”
Rick leapt from his bed and landed on the floor. As nimble as a lamb he completed his daily routine and savored the meal with smacking lips.
The jangle of the door bell reminded Rick of his papa and he darted to open. Brad padded into his house smiling at Rick.
‘Oh Papa! I missed you so much.”
“ I missed you too son.”
Harry said and slung Rick on his shoulder.
That evening the family went to the Hyde park. Rick was feeling exuberant. The world was a tinted glass to look and was gazing at it with crimson dreams. He had a hilarious time when he joined the other tots in the lovely merry-go-round. The children were babbling and whistling. Then he rode on the fun ride twilt-a-whirl and though his head spun he relished it. A bubble man was blowing colored bubbles into the air. Rick was trying to catch them but they vanished and he could not grasp . He tried a repeated number of times to clutch them but in utter vain.
Debbie coaxed him,” Relax Rick. They are artificial bubbles sprayed into the air and you can never catch them.”
Rick grimaced. “ They are wonderful specially the baby pink ones and I want all of them.”
He pouted his lips and, this made his parents chuckle. Rick got more fretful. Brad then trying to divert his attention, held his hand ,and pointed him to the tall,maroon pony standing in the lush green grass.
Rick squealed," A painted horse! How marvelous! I have never seen anything like this before."
He clapped his hands with profound ecstasy.
The family spent a gala evening at the park and, it was almost night when they returned. Debbie made a scrumptious dinner of chilly pork and fried rice. The family then went to sleep.
It was early in the morning, the next day. Debbie made their breakfast and Brad left for his office, kissing his wife and son a good bye. The cell phone buzzed and Debbie picked it up hurriedly.
A male voice asked,” How are you Debbie?”
Debbie almost shouted with thrill,” Is it you dad? After such a long time! I am fine and you?”
“ I am fine sweetie. I have a surprise for you my girl.”
“ What dad?”
“ I am coming in to your house after a week.”
“Really?” Debbie could not suppress her happiness.
“ Yes , Debbie.”
A week after Harry arrived in Baltimore. Rick ‘s school had opened. She went to pick her dad at the airport. The elderly man stomped with his heavy luggage and, seeing Debbie put it down. Immense pleasure filled them as they had met after three years. Debbie took his baggage and drove him to her home.
Harry entered her plush apartment,” It’s almost the same when I last saw except an additional room for my grandson.” Harry giggled.
“ So Rick is at school.”
“ Yes. He will come by 3’o’ clock.”
The door bell rang and Rick entered . He was appraising the old man with a look of surprise.
“ Can’t you recognize me Rick? You have grown a lot in these years. I am your granddad, Rick.”
“ Really?”. Rick murmured.
It took almost a week for Rick to befriend Harry. After all, he was used to meeting only kids, and young people like his parents. Harry was going to stay there a month. This filled Debbie with a celestial bliss. She secretly wished that his visit would become permanent ,but she doubted whether Brad would allow this. Harry had an amiable relationship with his son-in-law but things usually changed after marriage. Meanwhile Rick became a great fan of his granddad. He began playing chess and other indoor games with Harry. Rick used to escort Harry in his golf clubs and enjoyed to watch him playing. Gradually an inseparable bond began to form between them.
Harry’s departure was coming nearer and this made Debbie panicked. She was also worried that the relationship between her dad and Rick had become quite intimate and this would affect Rick terribly when Harry would leave. Rick was sentimental by nature and inherited her blood.
Unable to repress her uneasiness one day, Debbie told her Dad,” I have something to tell you Dad.” She faltered.”
“ Yes, my child?”
“Please stay with us Dad. We will be missing you terribly after you leave.”
“ I know Debbie but what about Brad? Would he allow that?”
Debbie paused for a while.
Debbie said with tears in her eyes,” Please Dad! Please! Rick is mawkish and would suffer a lot.”
“ I know, I also want to stay with you but if Brad objects?” He managed with quite difficulty.
“ I will convince him Dad.”
“ Oh no! Never do that. You won’t understand.”
“ Why dad? Please listen to me, my obedient child.”
Debbie nodded quite unwillingly.
The doomed day came. The grey sky with it's billowy, fleecy, white, flocculent clouds, portended a bad weather. After having his breakfast with the family Harry went to fetch his boots. He was about to go.
A tender, small hand pulled his from behind. Harry turned back to see Rick standing with a teary face with his other hand tightly clenched Debbie. Debbie stood with a grave face.
Brad then said,” I am going to drive you Dad.”
“ Don’t go granddad. Oh please! Don’t go!” Rick started crying bitterly and nothing in the world could stop him.
“ I will visit again Rick.”
“ No ! I know you are lying.”
“ I promise I will.”
Rick was not that easy to appease.
Debbie consoled him with a glum voice,” Come on, Rick. Try to understand. Grow up. This is not some teddy that I can buy you.”
“ But I want this real teddy. Those are the fake ones. They don’t love me. I love this teddy bear and want him for all of my life.”
The voluminous tears choked his voice and convulsed Rick. Even Brad was shocked and looked at Rick agape.
Harry said,” Stop crying Rick. This teddy bear will stay with you.” Rick smiled.