"Mommy, what are those workmen doing over at the park?" Danny stood waiting patiently for an answer while his mother fixed him his lunch.
Taking care to spread the peanut butter over every bit of the bread, not a bite should be dry, his mother said, "I don't know honey. I haven't been to the park in a while." She hadn't had time for the park, not since her husband lost his job and she had to double her time at the laundry.
"Can we go there today? Then you can see." His baby blue eyes looked up at her pleadingly hopeful.
Danny's mother finished making his peanut butter sandwich and cut it in half putting it on a plate and sliding it over to him. She watched her son eat. Could they go to the park? This was her first day off after two weeks of none stop go, go, go and what she really wanted to do was rest. Her first thought was, why doesn't he ask his dad to take him to the park? He was here every minute of every day, but then he was also drunk most of the time lately. His despondence over his failure to get work had grown to heights beyond her understanding and he had taken to the bottle to avoid his perceived failures. So stupid, she thought, so utterly and completely stupid. He could be using this time to get to know his son better, be the daddy that this little boy needed.
With a sigh she put the peanut butter away in the cupboard and ruffled the sandy curls on her son's head as she passed him on the way to the livingroom. "Maybe later. Mommy just wants to sit down for a few minutes right now."
Danny understood as well as a seven year old could that his mommy was very tired. His daddy seemed to be tired too though he didn't understand why he would be. Daddy got up late and just walked around talking to himself most of the time now. In the beginning it was fun to have Daddy home. He walked him to school in the mornings and was there to walk him home in the afternoons. They went to the park a lot and played catch with the other kids. Sometimes he had to go talk to people and he always seemed excited on those days but then he would come home sad. He and mommy started to have arguments. Danny didn't understand what the arguments were about though sometimes he heard his name. Then Daddy stopped walking him to school. Not all at once but sometimes he would just let him go with the next door neighbor. Now he sometimes walked alone.
Yesterday is when he saw the workmen at the park. They were putting up yellow tape and markers and telling the other kids that they couldn't play there anymore. This was confusing to Danny. Why couldn't they play in the park? What was going to happen to the swings, the merry go round and the slides? What was going to happen to Emily? The television was on so he went into the livingroom and sat with his mother. He would let her rest for a little while then ask her again to come to the park.
They were watching cartoons when Daddy came into the livingroom. "I need some money," he said to Mommy.
"Don't be so stingy. I wasn't stingy with you."
"The money I asked for was for groceries not liquor."
Danny listened as the argument started. It always started this way. Maybe he could stop it. They could all go to the park. If he could get them to Emily they could talk to her. She always made him feel better.
"Can we go to the park?" Danny interrupted them.
Daddy shouted, "The park? There is no park anymore. Open your eyes kid, they're tearing the park out."
"Jack!" Mommy shouted now. "That's it! I can't deal with you anymore. I'm filing for divorce first thing Monday morning. Danny and I are leaving now."
Leaving? Divorce? Danny had heard about divorce before and he didn't like it. No more park. No more family. No more anything important to Danny. If they tear out the park they would kill Emily. Why?
Mommy and Daddy were shouting at each other again and Danny ran out the front door. They didn't see him when he ran out, they were too busy shouting at each other, and headed straight for the park, straight for Emily.
Danny ran as fast as his little legs could carry him. Ignoring the workmen as they called to him he went to Emily and climbed high up into her waiting arms. Tears streaming down his face and breath hitching in his chest he threw his arms around her and wept. "Shhhh," Emily whispered softly into his ears. As she brushed along his hair and face he grew calm and rested against her, ignoring the shouts of those around them. Here he was at peace. He wanted to stay here with Emily forever, held safe in her arms and listening to her sing in the breeze.
"Hey kid." Danny heard the voice but just closed his eyes. "Come on, you can't stay there." Danny held tighter to Emily.
"Danny?" He heard the voice of his teacher. "What's going on here? Has anyone called his parents?"
A crowd had begun to gather. "I'll run get them." He heard the voices but chose to ignore them now. They didn't matter, the only thing that mattered to him now was that they were trying to kill Emily and he wasn't going to let them. They didn't understand what Emily was to all the kids. She never yelled at them. She was always patient, always listened to everything they said. She let you figure things out and she never threatened to leave you. She was always here. Not even his mommy loved him like Emily did. If she did she wouldn't think about divorce. If his daddy really loved him he wouldn't spend all day drinking.
"Danny, what are doing up there?" It was his daddy calling now. Danny turned his head away and hugged Emily even tighter. He was crying again.
"Shhh," Emily whispered again and his tears slowed.
Soon he felt a hand rest lightly on his shoulder. "Danny?" When he turned his head and looked around he saw several of the neighborhood kids. "What happened?" It was the Randy, the big boy from next door.
In a sob Danny answered, "They're gonna kill Emily and my mommy wants a divorce."
"Oh," Randy said. He sounded so sad to Danny, almost like he understood. "I'm sorry." He stayed with Danny, listening with him as Emily sang. After a while Randy said, "You know Danny, I don't think they can kill Emily."
"What do you mean?" Danny started to get hopeful.
"What if she just moves to a different place. Somewhere different than here?"
"But here is where I come. Here is where we all come to listen to her, to talk to her."
"Yes, but what if she moved over to the other park, the one they just built at the other side of town? Why don't we talk to the man in charge here and see if they will move her?"
"But I can't go there by myself and if my mommy takes me away how will I ever get to see her?"
"Have you talked to your parents about how you feel?"
"They don't listen to me. All they want to do is yell at each other. Why can't it be like it used to be? They never used to yell all the time."
"Maybe they will listen now. They look like they might to me."
Danny looked down at his mommy and daddy. Mommy look scared and had her hands over her mouth looking up at him and Daddy had his arms around her. He thought about what Randy said and loosened his grip from around Emily. Maybe they would listen.
Danny thought a lot about that day. His parents had listened to him and they hadn't split up. His father quit drinking and eventually got another job so his mom didn't have to work so much. They didn't move Emily but he still felt her in the trees he sat in with his own children. She didn't die, Randy was right about that, and when he wanted to he could go out into his backyard and sit in the branches of the Willow and listen to her sing even today.
Tag der Veröffentlichung: 07.03.2010
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