“It's been a wonderful summer so far" Bethany thought smiling to herself as she was driving with her daughter Emma, in the back, strapped to a car seat. She smiled at her daughter lovingly through the rear-view mirror as Emma returned her smile.
“Are you excited honey?”
“Yes!” replied her daughter happily throwing her arms up and giggling.
“Okay, just hang on, we'll be there soon” replied her mother.
“Mommy can we go to the park today?” Emma asked after a while.
“Sure honey whatever you want to do. Today is your day, and we are gonna have lots of fun!” Bethany said excitedly.
“Where are we going to, first?” Emma asked.
“Well, we are going to the department store first, to buy you some new clothes and then we will go to the toy store next, how's that sound?” she asked looking at her daughter through the mirror.
“Can we go to the park first?” asked Emma.
“Sweetie we will go to the park later after we are done at the store okay?”
“Cross my heart” replied her mother as she did so.
About half an hour later they pulled in to the parking lot of the department store. Bethany parked her car on a vacant spot and got out to help her daughter out of the car seat. She picked her daughter up gently after she unfastened the straps and put her down on the ground and shut the door and locked the car.
A moment later they were inside the massive department store, headed toward a kid’s clothing outlet. After a while they were inside the fitting room as Bethany was helping her daughter, try on the clothes she had picked out. She looked on adoringly as Emma kept twirling and turning from side to side, striking a pose in front of the floor length mirror as if she were at a kid's fashion photo shoot.
It was her daughter's fifth birthday, so she had decided to spoil her as she had come into some money through a generous benefactor who wished to remain anonymous. After they were done trying on the clothes, they made their way over to the cashier.
Emma was impatient and kept tugging at her mother’s coat asking her to hurry as the next place to visit was the toy store. She lovingly told her child to be patient till she's done paying for their purchases. The little girl said “Yes Ma'am" Sulking.
Bethany glanced at the cashier apologetically and said “it's her birthday today, we are on a shopping spree, she’s dying to get to the toy store". The cashier smiled and gave her an understanding nod.
Finally they made their way over to the toy store, as Emma practically dragged her mother by the hand and almost ran over there. She was so excited, she found it hard to contain her joy, running from one aisle to the next, her eyes filled with wonder gasping as she examined each toy that she picked up.
She said “Mommy there are so many toys, I don't know which one to choose!” Her mother told her that she could choose four items, to which the little one replied gleefully, “really? I can choose four?”
Bethany laughed and said, “Yes, really!" Emma yelped and busied herself, in choosing exactly what she wanted.
By the time they were done at the toy store, they were both famished. They made their way over to the cafe and found a vacant table at the far corner near the window and sat down to order. Emma wanted a burger with fries and a chocolate milkshake, while her mother ordered a grilled chicken with mashed potatoes, a Caesar salad and a glass of orange juice.
Once they were done with their meal she asked her daughter, what she would like to do next, and without hesitating she replied, “the park, the park, I wanna go to the park, mommy!” Her mother laughed, and said “ok then, the park it is!”
They decided to walk, as it was just around the corner, leaving their car at the parking lot of the Department Store after depositing their precious load in the backseat. The park was crowded as it was the weekend. There were families having picnics, with kids running around screaming and squealing. There were people, both young and old flying kites, some were playing with their dogs. It was a wondrous site to behold.
At one corner of the park there was a colourful carousel where children and even adults were riding screaming and laughing hysterically. It was playing a merry melody as it went round and round.
“Can I go on the carousel mommy?” Emma asked.
“Sure, why not? Lets go pay and wait in line shall we?” her mother said as she grabbed Emma's hand and walked over to the carousel.
About half an hour later, they got their chance. Bethany carried her daughter as she got on and placed her on one of the ponies.
“Hold on tight darling, don't let go okay" her mother said beaming at her.
“I won't let go mommy, I promise" said Emma.
“Good girl” said her mother as she planted a kiss on her chubby little cheek and got on the pony right next to her daughter.
“It’s been such a long time since I rode a carousel. I hope I don't fall off and embarrass myself” she said laughing.
“Just hold on tight mommy, then you won't fall off" said Emma trying to sound like a grown up.
A moment later the carousel started to move as the music started to play as it gained momentum.
“Here we go, hang on tight honey!” yelled her mother giggling like a child.
And soon they were off going round and round till their surroundings became a blur. After their ride they slowly made their way back to their original spot.
There were various vendors scattered about, selling hotdogs, popcorn, ice cream and cotton candy. Their sweet aromas wafting through the cool summer breeze made anyone's mouth water. Emma pointed to the cotton candy stand and looked at her mother expectantly with a pleading look in her eyes, her mother exclaimed “You just had a burger, French fries and a large milkshake, isn't your tummy full? To which Emma replied with a wink “Nope I still have room for some cotton candy! Please mommy, please can I have some? I promise I will never ask for anything else for the rest of the day!” she pleaded.
Finally Bethany gave in to her daughter's pleadings, rolling her eyes heavenward which made the little one giggle.
They found a vacant bench and sat down to watch the crowd having a good time under the glorious summer sun. She glanced toward her daughter, greedily devouring the cotton candy, and smiled to herself. This has been a wonderful day. She was glad that she was able to make her daughter happy. Suddenly her eyes grew heavy and she felt tired after a long and busy day and slowly nodded off on the bench.
She awoke with a start, it was dark, she sat up, and looked around. She glanced down at her daughter who was sleeping on the ground next to her huddled under a dirty blanket, sheltered by a cardboard box that they were using as a makeshift tent in the alley. She broke down in tears as the realization hit her like a knife to the heart.
The little girl stirred and opened her eyes, and asked, “mommy what’s wrong? Why are you crying?”
The young mother reached and scooped the little one in her arms, hugging her tight and answered, “nothing, baby, nothing, it was a dream, just a dream”