"I WANT A DRAGON"
"Honey, come on, you know dragons aren't real"
"YES THEY ARE!"
"Tannie calm down, please"
"I WANT ONE!"
"Stop screaming, they're not real"
"But I saw them on the telly"
"That's only pretend"
"No buts, I can't get you one because they're not real"
Tannie dropped to the floor, her floral dress covering her knees which she brought up under her chin. Her mother looked down at her from the kitchen table. Laura felt sorry for her daughter, If only dragons were real, she thought, then maybe we could all fly into the clouds and forget about the world for an hour or two. She looked down at her pregnant stomach, rubbing it with her right hand.
"Oh Matthew, If only you were here, you would know what to do". Laura said, her eyes glazing over.
Tannie played with one of her blonde curls, and sucked her thumb on the other hand.
"Tannie you're going to 6 years old soon, please take that thumb out of your mouth!"
Tannie shook her head. Laura sighed and walked into the kitchen, she grabbed a glass from a cabinet above the sink and filled it with water from the tap. She slowly sipped it as she watched her daughter. You reminded me so much of your father she thought, holding back her tears. Why, she thought, why now! Suddenly she heard the sound of shattering glass and the feeling of cool water her feet.
"Oh, for crying out loud", she bent down and started to pick up the broken pieces of glass.
"Tannie", she called, "Can you please get me a cloth from the laundry?"
Her daughter didn't move.
Her daughter stood up and turned around, "Only if you get me a dragon for my birthday".
"Tannie please not this again", Laura sighed, placing her forearm again her forehead. "Okay fine, I will, just get me the cloth!"
Tannie smiled and ran to the laundry. Laura closed her eyes and thought, why.
Tannie ran back with the cloth and handed it to her mother. Laura put the larger pieces of glass in the bin and started to clean the floor, as she did, her daughter talked about the gift she was never going to receive.
"It needs to be pink and sparkly and not too big so I can ride it and.."
Laura zoned out then, she placed the smaller shards of glass in the bin and ringed out the cloth. She looked at her little girl, she was filled with so much joy and excitement, she didn't want to break her precious heart but Her birthday was looming. She pushed the thought out of her mind and hung the cloth over the tap. Laura tuned back in, her daughter was jumping with excitement.
"Why don't we watch a movie, I'll let you pick".
Without a thought Tannie run to the lounge.
"Let me guess, 'Pixie the Pink Dragon?'"
Tannie nodded her head hard.
"Okay then", she said with a sigh.
They sat in front of the T.V, Tannie on the floor and her mother on the couch.
"I want one just like that" Tannie said pointing to the flat screen T.V.
Laura nodded not saying a word, her hands placed on her belly.
That night, after Laura put Tannie to bed, she walked down the corridor and into the living area. There she stood still, closed her eyes and listened.
"Everything is so quiet" she murmured.
In her mind, memories flashed. Meeting Mathew, their first kiss, the birth of their daughter, the crash. Tyres screeched, metal crushed, blood...
Laura's eyes snapped open, her breathing heavy. She wiped a tear from her eye as she walked to her bedroom. On her bedside table sat a beautifully framed photo of Mathew and Tannie. His green eyes bright and livey, his brown hair shaggy, both had gorgeous smiles. Laura sat on the edge of the bed and ran a finger down the frame, another tear fell from her eye.
"I miss you so much" she sobbed, holding the picture to her chest.
"I ... I...said slow down but you didn't listen to me, why?"
She looked at the photo, at how happy they were, how things could be now if he had only took the turn slower, if it didn't decide to rain, if she was driving instead If... She put the photo down. She traced a scar along her forearm, she remembered the pain she felt when the bone split through. She remembered the screams as the tree came flying towards them, the blood that covered her and her family, the fear that her unborn child was dead. She remembered calling to Mathew and not getting a response, she looked back to see Tannie breathing-just.
She remembered the Ambulance, the sirens the machines. She remembered falling asleep on the way to the hospital but she didn't remember waking up, she was just there.
The walls of the room were white, she remembered the machines beeping all around her. She remembered seeing a doctor standing at the edge of her bed, before she had a chance to ask, the doctor told her that Tannie and the baby were okay. She remembered asking about Mathew, the shock of hearing he was in an induced coma due to brain injuries.
She remembered the long walks up to the Incentive Care Unit, Tannie by her side, the innocence in her daughter eyes. She remembered Tannie asking "when will daddy wake up?" and the answer of "I don't know".
A tear slowly rolled down Laura's cheek, she closed her eyes and laid her head on the pillow. Everything was still fresh, five months have past, and still no change. She needed to stay strong, especially for Tannie's sake.
Three weeks Later...
Streamers hung from the roof, balloons bounced on the floor and a large birthday banner ran across the wall above the table. The smell of pastry lingered in the air.
"Right I still need to pick up the cake", Laura said looking at her watch. Guests were coming in an hour and there was still so much to do.
"Tannie are you dressed?" Laura called from the lounge, she held her car keys in her hand.
Tannie ran from her room and into the dinning area, she wore a white dress with a pink bow tied around her middle.
"Don't you look pretty, now put your shoes on, we need to go get your cake"
Tannie ran back into her room. She grabbed her pair of silver flats from under the bed and slipped them on. She twirled in front of her mirror before racing back out again.
"Good girl now get in the car"
Laura held the front door as Tannie ran outside. She pressed the car sensor to open the door, Tannie jumped inside. As Laura was locking the door, the faint smell of smoke hit her nostrils.
She quickly unlocked the door and raced back inside. She pulled out the tray and placed it on the bench. She stared down at them, "Well at least they're cooked".
The car seat was warm as she sat inside. She looked at her daughter through the rear-view mirror, then looked over her shoulder.
"Happy Birthday my gorgeous girl" Laura smiled, but Tannie didn't smile back.
"Will daddy be coming to the party?" Tannie asked.
"No, he's still sleeping"
"When will he wake up?
"I don't know"
She put the key in the ignition and started up the car.
"Have you got you seat belt on?" Laura asked.
Tannie nodded staring out the window.
Shops and houses flashed past as they drove into the town center of Grace Valley. Tannie sucked her thumb as she listened to the radio. Grey clouds filled the normally blue sky.
"Looks like it's going to rain" Laura said parking her car outside their local bakery. She peered up at the sky though the windscreen. Laura stepped out of the car, walking around it to open Tannie's door. She looked at her daughter, bending down to be at her eye level.
"Look honey" she said pushing Tannie's hair from her face "he loves you, he's just very tired" Laura said trying to look in her sad green eyes. Tannie pulled her knees up to her chest "Hey, I know you miss him, so do I, but he needs to get better okay?" Tannie nodded slowly. Laura wrapped her arms tight around her child then placed her hands on her daughter's shoulders. "After the party will go visit him okay?" Tannie nodded again. "Come on then, let's get this cake".
Bells chimed as they made there way inside the shop. Fresh pastries and cakes filled the long glass counter at the back of the shop. A young women wearing a blue checkered apron stood behind the counter and smiled. "Hi, can I help you with anything?"
"Yes, I'm picking up a cake order"
"What name would it be under?"
"Cool, I'll have a look out back"
Tannie started to perk up, curious of what her cake would look like. The clerk returned from the back room holding large white box.
"Okay, this should be it" she said placing it down on the counter.
Tannie looked at her mother with a huge grin.
"Not until the party, it's a surprise" she smiled back.
Tannie scrunched up her face.
"Okay I'll tell you one thing, its pink"
Tannie's face relaxed, her eyes filled with wonder.
"Come on" she said to Tannie, then waved goodbye the clerk. She waved back grinning.