"What in the heavens?" Irene muttered in alarm as she switched on the bedside lamp and found out that the silhouetted figure was just her daughter. "Patricia, why are you here?!"
Patricia simply gave a bashful little smile before she explained her reasons for sneaking into the room.
"It's really cold. Can I snuggle with you?"
Irene glared at the eight year old with tired eyes while thinking about how self-reliant she was at that age. It was clear that Patricia was a feeble being just like John but even so, she knew that telling the child to leave would be far too callous.
"Alright, darling. Come over here, but stay quiet. Understood?"
Patricia darted forward and climbed into bed with some effort. Irene gave a sigh before switching off the light and lying back down, only to be disrupted by an unexpected question.
"Mother, why are you so beautiful?" Patricia asked with infuriating innocence.
"There is no reason. I just am." Irene replied while rolling over.
"Am I beautiful?"
"No, you are not."
Patricia let out a dejected whimper, then proceeded to the next question.
"How about when I grow up?"
"Mother, who will I marry?"
"It's too early for that, darling. Would you please let me sleep?"
"But I want to know..."
"Can't you be quiet?"
"I want to be ready."
"Alright!" Irene relented before sitting back up. "I'll tell you. He's rich, handsome, kind and intelligent! Does that make you happy?!"
Patricia didn't answer and instead spent the rest of the night lying in silence so as not to irritate her mother again.
There were several other children like Patricia whom lived nearby and according to John, this was a privilege he hadn't enjoyed in his younger years.
She joined a group of girls aged between seven and ten during the summer. They taught each other hand games, sang rhymes while playing with jump ropes and finally, all went back to a house of their choosing to wind down.
Irene was completely shocked the first time Patricia brought all of her new friends home. However, she had a change of heart upon studying each girl closely and judging them all to be from nice, respectable families.
"Thank Heavens. God knows what I'd do if one of those Italian or Hispanic children happened to wander in here. Right little pigs they are..." She thought with a pretentious smile on her face while pouring lemonade for everyone present.
Patricia soon received her fizzy drink and began to sip contently. The sugar rush reinvigorated her to the point that she couldn't help but remember a catchy jingle that had once featured in a commercial.