“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.”
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.