'Right, off to work. See you all later.'
'Bye, honey, have a good day. Oh, and don't forget.'
A puzzled look crosses his face. Then a grin splits his face, 'I've not forgotten, don't worry.' He jumped into his work van and disappeared down the drive.
'It is my birthday, and I want to do something special,' said Pixie.
'You will, darling. You are now a teenager, so how about we go cosmetic shopping? Then later we can all go for ice cream.'
'Tell me this, mum, yesterday you wouldn't let me wear lipstick, but today you want to buy me some? Yesterday, I'd get fat if I ate ice cream. Now you want us all to eat some?'
'Why do you ask me difficult questions, one after another, non-stop, day after day?'
'Why don't you just answer me? You are as bad as my teacher.'
'Tell me, what has your teacher said? She wanted to talk to me yesterday, but I was too busy to take her call.'
'She said something about me sticking to the course and not reading whatever I fancy.'
Pixie's mother brushed her hands on her skirt, shook her head, and then changed the subject.
'What do you want for your present? You can come and choose, or do you want me to surprise you?'
'Can Mark come?'
'Oh, darling, you know he can't. But when your dad is here, he can wheel him to the ice cream parlour.'
'You go alone and surprise me. I want to stay with my brother.'
Pixie started searching Google on her computer.
'How difficult is brain surgery?'
"Brain surgery, also known as neurosurgery, is a highly complex and delicate medical procedure that involves operating on the brain, spinal cord, or nerves. The difficulty of a brain surgery depends on several factors, including the type of surgery, the location of the affected area, and the patient's overall health."
'Okay, that's what I want to be, a brain surgeon,' she said to the laptop. 'Mark's overall health is good, I think?'
"Some brain surgeries are relatively straightforward and can be performed with minimally invasive techniques, while others are more complex and require high skill and expertise. For example, removing a small, benign tumour on the brain's surface may be a relatively simple procedure, while performing surgery on deep-seated tumours or abnormalities can be much more challenging."
'Not so hard then? Minimally invasive? That means cutting not too deep.'
"In addition to the technical difficulty of the surgery itself, brain surgery also carries a high level of risk due to the sensitive nature of the brain and its surrounding tissues. Therefore, the surgeon must be meticulous to avoid damaging important structures and minimise bleeding and infection risk."
'Some risk, it says, but not always. Sometimes straightforward, means it can be easy for a beginner?'
"Overall, brain surgery is considered one of the most challenging and demanding medical specialities, requiring many years of specialised training and experience."
'I am the smartest girl in the class. The teacher said.'
Pixie wheeled Mark to face the tv. 'What do you want to watch? Cartoons or a nature programme? I'm going to pop upstairs to change. I won't be long.'
She straightened his glasses and kissed the top of his head.
Pixie bounced down the stairs heading for the kitchen. Her hair was tied in a ponytail, she was wearing her art top backwards, and her favourite COVID mask had a substantial smiley face design. Under the sink, she slid unused pots and pans to one side.
'Ah, there you are,' she said, pulling out a plastic bag with new rubber gloves. 'Mum doesn't like these as they are too thin. They are perfect for me.'
She didn't put them on as she had another job to attend first. Dad's tool chest was as ever unlocked. She rooted about, and then her prize caught her eye.
'There you are.'
She lifted the battery-operated rotary saw and tested it.
'I'd better charge it, and it wasn't spinning fast enough.' She plugged it into the mains and moved inside the house.
'Now, where is my school bag? There it is.'
Her art folder was crumpled at the edges, it was supposed to remain at school, so she had stuffed it into her holdall. She needed not pen and ink drawings. It was her scalpel, with a new blade affixed.
She went back to the garage to check on the saw's charge.
'You'll have to stop flapping your arm,' she said to her brother. 'Oh, are you excited about Tom and Jerry?' she asked, turning the cartoon to a classical music programme, which calmed Mark. He turned his head, made a grunting noise, and banged it on the arm of his wheelchair.
'I know you wanted cartoons, but you'll soon enjoy more than silly kid's stuff.'
She stripped away the packaging and shook the new gloves free. She puffed hard, blowing all fingers out and loose as she put them on, finger by finger. The gloves were too large.
'They will have to do. I can't grow my hands, and there is no time to shop for smaller ones.'
Her brother was wheeled to the edge of the dining table, she laid out her scalpel and the rotary saw.
'I'd better get a sheet to cover Mark,' she said, dashing upstairs again.
'There we are, all ready to start. But, first, I'd better set up my phone to film the whole operation.'
'Now, let's begin,' Pixie said as she balanced the blade in her over-large glove; she blew any imaginary dust away and dug deep. Mark squealed and shook his head fiercely. Pixie tried to calm him, but he refused to settle. Dribble flew left and right, and his head banged against the headrest. Again and again, he would not stop.
The front door opened and crashed against the wall as the children's mother heard the screeching and burst into the dining room.
'What in hell's name do you think you are doing?' she screamed.
'I'm showing Mark how a brain surgeon operates.'
'But what is all this stuff?'
'Here we have a watermelon, and there is a coconut. I used the melon to get my eye in and test the blade, and the ripe coconut was perfect. First, you cut through the thick green outer layer, then get to the hard woody bit, like skin and skull. You see, I didn't spill a drop of milk. It was perfect for the scalpel, and then Dad's saw. It's hardly brain surgery, but the nearest I could get.'