The Cavalcade.

Submitted into Contest #80 in response to: Write about a child witnessing a major historical event.... view prompt

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Suspense

THE CAVALCADE. Bridget sat on the edge of the sofa in her panda pyjamas, cuddling her teddy, and peering intently at the television, as she chewed on a fingernail. The early morning news was all about the President visiting her City tomorrow. Bridget had a crush on Mr Kennedy, although she wasn’t aware why, or what it was, at the time, she just knew she loved to hear all about him. Bridget’s Mother Clare realised, and thought it was so cute. Even Clare thought he was very handsome, in a President sort of way, of course. “Mum, Mum, look, Mr Kennedy is getting on the plane, he is on his way here!” Bridget threw her teddy in the air, and jumped around the room in excitement. “Yes Bridget he will be here very soon, and tomorrow we will get to see him in person when his cavalcade passes.” Clare laughed at her daughter as she jumped around, but then she realised something. Bridget was seeing Mr Kennedy as the Father figure she never had. The man who walked out on Clare the minute he found out she was pregnant and completely disappeared. Suddenly the childish crush wasn’t so cute anymore. For the rest of the day Bridget watched every edition of the news, in between breakfast, lunch and playtime, until it was time for bed. Clare wondered how Bridget would ever get to sleep, she was so excited, but she needn’t have worried as Bridget was sound asleep in minutes, probably dreaming about Mr Kennedy! “Sweet dreams, sleep soundly, baby!” Clare kissed Bridget on the cheek and pulled the blanket up around her neck. The next morning Bridget was up around 6am as usual, sitting on the sofa watching the news. Clare got up, had her shower, dressed in some summery slacks and a pretty shirt, and prepared some breakfast for Bridget and herself. Bridget poked another large, maple syrup covered, piece of pancake into her mouth. The syrup dribbled down her chin, so she wiped it away with the back of her hand. “What time are we leaving to see the cavalcade Mum? Will we be close to the road so I can see Mr Kennedy better? Do you think he will wave to me?” Bridget spluttered through her mouthful of pancake. Clare smiled as she took another sip of her steaming hot coffee. “Don’t talk with your mouth full Bridget. I’m sure we will see him quite well, we will be there early, and yes, I believe Mr Kennedy will wave to you, if he sees you in the crowd.” Bridget insisted on wearing a bright yellow and pink dress which she normally shunned, insisting it would make her stand out more for Mr Kennedy to see her. “I know it’s not very nice Mum, just this once, I promise!” As it was a special day for Bridget, Clare gave in and let her wear the gaudy dress, just this once. “I think I will need to wear my sunglasses every time I look at you!” Clare giggled. They drove downtown and parked in an all-day car park, then walked the hundred metres or so to the roadside. The cavalcade was running late, so they sat down on the grass in the park and ate a sandwich. “Not long now Bridget, he should be here in the next ten minutes or so!” Bridget spun around and around waving her little flag. She was so happy Clare could almost see the happiness radiating off her, as she spun around. “Careful you don’t get giddy!” The crowds weren’t too bad, as they were spread for miles along the route the cavalcade would take. As the time neared, they packed up their things into the picnic bag and walked up to the barriers on the roadside. Clare could see people giving Bridget strange looks and giggling behind their hands, because of the gaudy dress, but she chose to ignore them. This was Bridget’s special day, and no one was going to spoil it. Bridget started jumping up and down with excitement, as she could hear the cheers from spectators not too far away. One of Clare’s neighbours asked if Bridget would like to sit on his shoulders. He was a lovely, middle aged man with grown-up children, so was used to excited kids. “Yes please!” Bridget yelled. Sitting up on Mr Smith’s shoulders, Bridget waved her little flag wildly as the large topless limousine slowly drove past. The handsome President and his First Lady sat in the car waving to the crowds. They looked straight at Bridget, drawn by the bright colours, and smiled and waved at her. Bridget was elated, she couldn’t stop chattering. For a moment the world stood still for Bridget as the lovely President smiled at her. The car had soon passed and the crowd was dispersing and running further down the road to try to get another glimpse of the couple. Suddenly the cavalcade slowed down, about a hundred yards up the road. Clare had heard several shots ring out and wondered what was happening. It was just a bit too far to be able to see. Suddenly the limousine sped off into the distance with Police cars and bikes trailing behind, sirens blaring. Clare could see people running in all directions and most of them were crying. “What’s happening Mum? Why is everyone crying? Why did the limousine go away so fast?” Clare didn’t have any answers, but she was pretty sure something dreadful had happened. “I’m not sure Bridget, but I guess it will be on the news, let’s go home.” As soon as they walked inside, Bridget turned on the television, but her Mum turned it off again. “What are you doing, why can’t I watch the news? I might be able to see us watching the cavalcade!” Clare’s neighbour had told her what had happened. She sat down on the sofa with her daughter. “Bridget at School, do you remember learning about a President who got assassinated, many years ago? Bridget nodded. It was a story she had heard several times. With tears in her eyes Clare spoke softly to Bridget. “Well, I believe our lovely new President Mr Kennedy, has also been assassinated.” Bridget looked at her Mother incredulous, and kept shaking her head. “No, that’s not true!” There was no way to soften what had happened. It would be all over the television and the newspapers, and everybody would be talking about it. Bridget burst into tears and threw herself into her Mother’s arms. “Why? Why would anyone do that? Mr Kennedy was so nice, why would anyone want to hurt him?” Clare tried her best to give Bridget a reason. “There are some people out there who are not well, they are sick, and they do these things for no reason, or for jealousy or some other silly reason.” Clare’s house was very quiet for the next few days, as they both mourned the loss of the lovely President. She tried to shield the worst of the news highlights from Bridget, but it was hard, as it was everywhere. One night while Clare was watching the footage, on the evening news, they actually showed where Mr and Mrs Kennedy smiled and waved to a little girl in a bright yellow and pink dress, sitting on someone’s shoulders. Bridget was sound asleep, and the sight of her daughter madly waving a little flag didn’t seem to give Clare joy anymore. The footage of them standing watching the cavalcade would be stored away for many years, and maybe, just maybe one day when Bridget was a grown woman they may bring it out again. Bridget eventually got over the loss of her childhood crush, and went back to her normal life. It wasn’t long before she found another hero to worship. Of all people, it happened to be Mr Kennedy’s brother, Bobby Kennedy. “He is so nice Mum, do you think he will become President one day?”

February 08, 2021 22:48

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