The wind was warm; she knew her mom had ignited the fireplace. She pulled her face inside the blanket and snuggled closer to the teddy bear. She waited for her mom to wake her up… like every day.
The aromatic smell of coffee brewing reached her nostrils. She inhaled deeply and smiled. Her father was up too, and was now making his special cup of coffee for all the three of them. She loved his coffee and his kisses on her chubby cheeks.
She was still a child to her parents. They were a happy family; full of love and laughter. A definition for ‘picture perfect.’
“Kelly, get up sunshine. It’s already late.” Her mother’s voice was gentle. So full of love and affection. Kelly closed her eyes tighter.
“Kell-o-bear, be a good girl and wake up or tickle monster will be on its way.” Her father taunted. He knew all her ticklish places and he used it to his advantage. How she hated him for that! She giggled.
“Yes, she is up. That threat works every time.” Her mom chuckled before pulling the blanket away and pushing her toward the living room, where her dad was already seated with two cups of coffee and one cup of milk, for her.
“Brush your teeth, Kelly.” Her mom rolled her blue eyes, filled with glittering smile. Her mom never got angry for anything. She was always smiling, her eyes reflecting her happiness, inside out.
“I hate brushing.” Her voice held the guileless quality of a child.
Her dad bursts into laughter at that. She watched his eyes, completely mesmerized by the transformation. His brown eyes turned into honey-colour whenever he smiled. She just loved it and so was her mom. Her mom had told that so a thousand times.
‘Your eyes look exactly like your dad’s. You both are blessed to have such a beautiful eye colour. That innocence reflects deep in your father’s eyes is what attracted me to him, at first.’
Though Kelly didn’t understand most of it when she was younger, she understood it now.
“You’ll get sick when you don’t brush in the morning.”
“Mom, does Apple brush every day?” Her little brown eyes were full of mischievous innocence. They glittered as they challenged her mom’s eyes.
“Yes, a good question. What’s your answer?” Her dad joined with her, as he taunted her mom. Her mom closed her eyes and sighed exaggeratedly.
“Apple doesn’t brush and yet he is healthy.”
“Apple doesn’t need to.” Her mom said with a small grin. They loved playing these games with each other.
If anyone asked her about her best friends, she’d instantly replied ‘Sandy and Adam.’ Her mom and dad, they were their whole world.
At the same time, Apple came, wagging his fluffy tail, and whined. Kelly bent down and patted the dog’s head, whispering ‘Lucky boy; you don’t need to brush every day like I do.’
Her mom chuckled at that and feed the dog before dragging a very reluctant little girl towards the bathroom. It was time to brush already; and the little girl pulled funny faces all the way.
The breakfast was another elaborate experience in their house.
“I need more syrup. My pancake looks funny without it.” Kelly wailed and pouted. Her mom’s resistance melted at that one look. Kelly knew the effect her pout had on her mom and dad. She used it wisely.
‘For a little kid, you’re very manipulative.’ Her dad would often say, with a smile.
‘I am a big girl daddy. And what is mani-pu-lative?’ would be her usual answer.
Her dad and mom dropped her off at her school after breakfast.
There was a strange wailing sound; sirens echoed throughout the streets. The smell was nauseating.
Kelly rubbed her eyes and jumped up from her bed and collapsed on the ground. The ground was cool and damp. She could only see snow through her windows. Lots of snow.
“Honey, are you alright? Do I need to call the doctor?” Mrs. Palmer patted her back.
“No, no.” Kelly tried to control her breathing. Or she knew, she’d go into another panic attack.
“Ok then. Get ready for the breakfast.” Mrs. Palmer left.
She brushed; bathed and looked herself in the mirror.
The constant smile in her eyes were not there. Her hair was long; her cheeks was not chubby. The childless innocence was long gone.
She opened the door and felt the snow caressing her cheeks. Like a slow wet kiss… from a mother or a father. A mother or a father, she didn’t have. She closed her eyes and a single tear rolled down her cheeks.
She rubbed her eyes and walked towards the kitchen, where children and teenagers sat around in a long table… Children and teenagers, just like her.
Without mom and dad… Without a family…
How she wanted her dreams to be real. That she’d have a mom and a dad… and Apple. A happy family, exactly like the one in her dreams. One that she had never enjoyed in all her life.
How she wished her dreams would one day come true!