ARE WE THERE YET • by Tels Merrick

“Nothing we can do, only a matter of time.” The doctor squeezed her shoulder then slipped silently from the room. Tears spilled down her cheeks as she looked down at the small hand in hers. Rosie was only eight, her mind screamed. She couldn’t be dying; she was too full of mischief and life.

Lisa took a deep breath, remembering the day Rosie had been born. Rosie had been in such a hurry to arrive she’d been born in the car. She had been that way ever since, a contrary impatient child. Always asking questions, demanding answers and bestowing a smile on anyone who had the time to give them to her.

The cry split the still air in the cramped car. “Congratulations, it’s a girl,” the doctor said. Lisa had smiled back as her husband Brad hugged and kissed her. Then she held the baby and they pored over her, counting fingers and toes. She couldn’t believe the amount of love that filled her for this tiny bundle. She held her in her arms and swore to protect her from whatever life threw at her.

Lisa looked at her husband, his bandaged arm slightly blood-stained again. She slid a hand into his. “How are you doing?” she whispered.

He shrugged slightly. “It’s not fair.” His pause was long and his breath shuddering. “I can’t lose her too.” His voice wobbled slightly and Lisa tightened her grip on his hand.

“I don’t want to go,” the small voice said. “I want to stay here with you.”

Lisa knelt down next to her. “Rosie, honey, you have to go.”

Tears poured down her daughter’s face. “But it’s not fair. I want to stay with you. Please Mommy, don’t make me go. I went yesterday.”

“Baby, it’s not for long. I’ll pick you up after school, I promise.” She fastened one of her clips into Rosie’s pigtails. “Here, this means I have to come back.”

Lisa rubbed a hand over her eyes. Marc was gone and now they were losing Rosie. The machines hiccupped slightly and she glanced over at the doctor who was standing there. She nodded at his assurance that things were fine.

Brad’s hand squeezed hers and she looked at him. “I tried, hon,” he told her. “If I could change things I would, you know that.”

“I know,” she whispered. “It’s not your fault.”

They had been driving for hours and Lisa knew the kids were bored, but nothing she tried would distract them. She sighed as they started fighting again.

“Mommy, Rosie poked me!”

Lisa flipped the mirror down. “Rosie, behave.”

Rosie looked at her mother. “Mommy, I need the bathroom.”

“Next rest stop, Rosie,” Lisa told her. “Why don’t you two play nicely?”

“Mommy! Marc pulled my hair!”

Lisa turned round in her seat. “Keep it down! Daddy’s driving.”

For a whole three minutes there was silence. Then Rosie started fidgeting again. “Are we there yet?”


Marc grinned. “How many more miles is it?”

Brad rolled his eyes. “Five less since you last asked.”

Rosie looked at Marc. “Daddy… I really do need to pee.”

Marc poked her again. “No you don’t.”

“Do do do.”

“Don’t don’t don’t.”

Brad looked at them in the mirror. “If I have to stop the car you are going to regret it.”

Silence reigned for a whole minute. Then Rosie said “Daddy… when you stop the car and we regret it, please, can there be a rest room there?”

Lisa looked at Brad, knowing he was thinking the same thing she was. “The lorry hit us with no warning; there was nothing you could have done.” Any answer he made was cut off by an alarm ringing, bringing medical staff running to her daughter’s bedside.

Rosie’s eyes flickered open. “Mommy?”

“I’m here, baby,” Lisa managed, her voice trembling. “Mommy’s here. So’s Daddy.”

“I love you.”

“We love you too, Rosie, so very much.”

“Where’s Marc?”

There was a pause while Lisa tried to speak past the lump in her throat. “He’s with Jesus, baby.”

“Is he waiting for me?” Rosie whispered, her voice fading now.

“Yes,” Lisa sobbed. “They both are.”

Rosie’s eyes widened and she rolled into her mother. “Are we there yet?” she managed. Then her body stiffened and slumped into Lisa’s arms.

Tears poured down Lisa’s arms. “Yes, baby, we are,” she whispered. She let the nurse pull Rosie from her and stood in Brad’s shaking arms as they watched them try to bring her back, but it was no good.


Lisa quickly ran to the part of the garden the cries were coming from. “Rosie?”

“Mommy, it hurts,” she sobbed.

Lisa reached her. She glanced down and saw Rosie’s arm hanging awkwardly. “What happened?”

“I fell,” she sobbed.

Lisa gathered Rosie in her arms. “It’s okay. Mommy’s here. We can make it better.”

This time she couldn’t. No one could. She saw the doctor turn to her, heard his words as if in a dream. Rosie was gone. They sat with her one last time, reading her a story before kissing her goodnight and leaving the room.

“Higher, Mommy!” she cried. “I’m not there yet. I want to touch the sky.”

Lisa pushed the swing higher. Rosie laughed as she flew through the air; her laughter echoing through the garden and into the present.

Rosie’s tiny coffin sat at the front of the church, with Marc’s slightly bigger one next to it. Lisa sat there, Brad’s arm round her, tears pouring down her cheeks. She knew Brad too was crying as his body was shaking as much as hers. She struggled with the lump in her throat and the ache in her heart all the way through the service.

Just before the coffins were laid in the sodden ground, Lisa laid a red rose on them. “Bye Rosie, bye Marc,” she whispered. “You guys wait for us because we’re not quite there yet.”

Tels Merrick has been married for nearly 16 years and has three children. She lives in the UK and writes fiction. Mainly romance with a spattering of horror, sci-fi and children’s stories thrown in for good measure.

Rate this story:
 average 0 stars • 0 reader(s) rated this
  • Gheez, touching story for sure.

    i cant see tha ta child would accept its death like that though, or a parent would basically tell the kid its going to die, i thought it was common custom to make them feel safe until they pass…but maybe the ydo things differently where you are

  • Avis Hickman-Gibb

    A real heart string tugger this one. But…. I’d have ended it before it does here. Right after she “pops” off. You could put the the recollection before that clincher as it is good stuff, just in the wrong place. And I’d have skipped the funeral, as it is implicit.

    It would make it a stronger piece, IMHO – but hey what do I know? Ignore me!

    It still packs a punch, to anyone with kids.

  • Sad and haunting. Good stuff.

  • Sorry, Tel. I didn’t make it to the end. Don’t want to cry, so I won’t vote either – wouldn’t be fair.

  • Intensely emotional. This one will be with me all day.

  • Jim

    I gave it a one star and I feel I have to explain why.

    There wasn’t enough description to give me a sense that this was actually happening to any particular person. My mind, as a reader, needed to be able to fill in some details to get a sense of place and person. With a lack of a few key details everyone in this piece becomes a stereotype: the concerned mother; impatient child; the dad who’s driving.

    Furthermore, without a sense of place and that THIS IS HAPPENING TO SOMEONE, as a reader, I feel like an attempt has been made to manipulate me and my feelings. The child dies at the end and I feel little loss.

  • I have no issue with it, whatsoever. It did make me tear up, but since the computer’s in a fairly open space, I don’t, really, want to cry. That’s the only reason, I promise.

    I’m a bit of a different person, maybe, in where I regard this story. It made me sad, not because I’ve lost people like that, in real life, but because I’m a writer, and my muses, have lost people like that. Being fairly connected to them, this story hurt a lot, because, in a complicated kind of way, I get it. One of my favourites.

  • Really sad…

  • Sam Douglas

    This story got to me more than any other story ever on this site. I loved it for how it made me feel. Congratulations on a good job.

  • This story is too sad. Reading about the deaths of two lovely kids – the story is one whole death scene, chockablock full – was too much for me.

  • well done-appreciate the read.

  • I like your story, Tels. You’ve conveyed some heartache, certainly. But like other commenters, I felt the characters were a bit vague and under-developed. In the end, I didn’t really care about them, and this is a piece where I feel like I should.

    I was a little confused by Rosie being in such a hurry to be born that she was born in the car, but then in flashback, the doctor says, “…it’s a girl.” And the whole counting the fingers and toes stuff. Was the doc in the car when she was born?

    Some good emotion, but all-in-all a little confusing.

  • I like how you keep the accident off-stage, and how you play with the whole ‘are we there yet’ thing. I think it would be clearer and stronger as a linear piece, however, either focusing on just the accident or using a straight chronology. It would benefit too, from making a clearer connection between the emotional impact and the underlying subtext.

  • Tels,
    I liked the concept, but as others have pointed out the flow was a bit awkward–especially the back and forth scenes. The doctor being present at a birth in a car stopped me dead–and the point where both children are buried at the same time when it seemed to me that Marc had died at the scene of the accident, while Rosie was well enough to interact with her parents in the hospital and yet died soon enough to be buried with her brother–that made me stumble through the ending.