Ten Little Things

Submitted into Contest #74 in response to: Write a story in the form of a top-ten list.... view prompt


Sad Inspirational Teens & Young Adult

10 Little Things that Remind Me the Most of Elise:

1. Eggs

“It wasn't me!” She told me. “I didn't do it!”

I looked at the ground, the eggs shells in pieces on the ground, the thick clear and the dripping yellow spread all over the wooden floorboards. “Then who was it, Elise?”

She looked around, her bright eyes beading everywhere, looking for any other sign of life. “I would blame it on the dog, but we don’t have one.” She wiped her hand on the back of her pant legs, spreading egg yolk all around. It’s times like this when I wish her mother were still here.

I never really liked eggs that much, but I can’t help but smile when I see them in the grocery store. She was a dreadfully messy child.  Then there is, of course, the very similar toothpaste accident.  

2. Swimming Pools

I’d swear on everything I own that Elise could swim before she could walk in a straight line for more than ten seconds. She could swim without any support before she was five and never had trouble reaching the bottom and popping back up. She might have been a mermaid. That’s what everyone told me when she won first place in the state competition, holding a way better record than anyone in her age range since 1925. Her face lit up so right when they told her she was going to be in the newspaper. 

To say the least, Elise was a very dedicated and heartfelt swimmer. She was absolutely broken when the doctor told her she was not allowed to swim anymore, not when she was sick. We all were. 

3. Orange Popsicles 

Her favorite snack from the hospital. Anyone here in Cleveland knows the hospital food is not very good. Every single day she was offered the same thing.

It was the very first day; me sitting in the hospital with my sick daughter, just staring at the window when the nurse walked in.

“Can I get you anything, little one?” 

Elise glanced at me before smiling. “Do you have any popsicles?” 

The nurse smiled back kindly. “We sure do,” he added. “We've got cherry, blue raspberry, orange, grape, and lime. What’s your favorite?”

“Orange.” She nodded firmly. “It makes my teeth look funny and dad always said it was easiest to get stains out from an orange popsicle, so I always had them.

The nurse winked and walked out the door. “Sounds good to me. I’ll be right back.” 

When we left the Cleveland hospital to go to a bigger one, Tom wrote a letter to take with us saying they always needed orange popsicles for the two reasons Elise told him. She was always happy and I was always grateful.  

4. Puppy Stickers

All. Oer. The. Mirrors. Every single room I walked in, there was a glass window or a mirror and there were puppy stickers everywhere. I ran my hand through my hair, muttering to myself. I went to pick at the edge of a ticker and it hardly budged. When it finally loosened, only half of it came off. 

I walked around, the puppy head in my hand, yelling for Elise. I stopped and got quiet when I heard her sniffling softly and pulled the door open. 

She looked up at me, her face red and her eyebrows creased. “I’m sorry daddy…” she held her hand up and showed me her own puppy head. “I just really loved the stickers and I didn’t have anywhere to put them.” 

I kept some of the stickers up, of course. Every time I walk into the kitchen or her bedroom, there are a couple puppies on the glass, as if they were floating over the houses and trees, staring into my house.   

5. Hospitals

I was postponing this because it’s my least favorite memory. Not just of Elise but my entire life. Any minute spent in a hospital is a bad one unless it’s the last. I knew she would be upset that this was on the list but it needs to be here. Without the hospital, I would have lost her even sooner. I’ll never forget the first day we walked into the hospital to find the test results. I think she was even braver than I was. 

A single dad alone is a recipe for disaster unless he knows exactly what he’s doing. We fared well until she started getting sick. She was diagnosed at 10 and passed at 13. Weeks then months then years of sitting in hospital waiting rooms led to the destruction of my job, my home, and my mind. The one thing I won’t miss is sitting in a strongly sanitized, freezing, odd-smelling room and staring at my pale daughter. 

6. Taylor Swift

I’m not a fan. But there’s that one song that always makes me think of her… I don’t even know what it’s called. But I remember blasting it on the car radio dancing with her in the living room. 

The one time I took her to a concert for her favorite singer, we got so close to her that  I could feel Elise's excitement buzzing off her entire body. I thought she might have passed out when Swift waved in her general direction. She was 12. I knew it wasn’t directly to Elise, but I let her think that anyway. I figured it was her first and probably her only live Taylor Swift concert and she deserved to enjoy every second and live with those memories.   

7. Beanies

“I like that one.” She stared at the entire wall, tugging to make sure her hood stayed over her face. 

“Which one?”

Elise nodded .”The whole wall.”

I sighed. “At two dollars per hat, I’m not buying you every single color at once. Can you just pick out a couple, please?”

She sighed deeply, pointing to a couple different colors to start off her large collection.  

Despite her reason for wearing them, she looked very cute in any pink, purple, or blue beanie that came her way. Any hat with flowers or logos of just plain knitted wool ones, she would take. Anything to cover up the “embarrassing”  bald head of hers. I think she looked beautiful no matter what, but she’d never listened to me on anything about looks and beauty.

Sometimes when I’m in the store, I still pick up another beanie without a thought.

8. April

The month she was born; April 23, 1995. It was the happiest day of my life, even over my wedding day. I remember when she would move her little head around and wave her little hands, hitting my nose and cheeks. I had never been so childlike watching her roll around and picking her up gently, supporting her neck. 

Even while she grew up, April was always her favorite month. She loved growing flowers in the garden and dancing under the rain. Every time it rained she would beg me to come out and we’d splash in puddles and catch drops on our tongue like young children. Now I watch the rain from her bedroom window. I’ve had enough of outside life, and if I couldn’t have it with Elise I wouldn’t have it at all.

9. Grief Counseling

That’s what this list is for. I didn’t want to do it but I couldn’t stop myself from signing up. They say it’s better to remember and hold on to everything but I’m just not so certain. 

Sometimes I’d like to turn back time, wishing she was never even born.

Sometimes I wish I could forget all about her and erase everything from my mind. I’ve been through a lot. 

But I am grateful, very grateful, for the time I had with her. She was my life and my joy and I will never love anyone more.

Sometimes it is nice to hold onto these memories. At least I know I had something to leave for. 

10. Cemeteries

I think this one is self-explanatory.

Dan Nickel 

January 02, 2021 04:58

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.


14:39 Feb 05, 2021

Awww it just got sadder and sadder😭😭😭 You did a very good job on letting on emotion slowly and explaining/letting on how it would feel in real life. This was moving and beautifully written. Nice job!


Emily Germaine
02:01 Feb 18, 2021

haha I'm so sorry I just saw this for some reason.... thank you so much!!!


02:25 Feb 18, 2021

that's ok! And yeah! It was a great story:)


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply