(Character descriptions here)
Hartford, Connecticut, 1987 — Margaret kept herself to the picnic table furthest from everyone else. Despite the other parents at the park having no knowledge of her history, she wasn’t willing to spill everything to total strangers.
She kept her gaze on her four-year-old son as he ran around the area, though strangely enough, he wasn’t getting on any of the playground equipment. He kept bending down and staring at the ground.
He looked up. “Hi, Mommy!”
Margaret smiled. “Hi. What are you doing?”
“Um…there’s a bee.” A few seconds later, Connor turned away from her and bent down, grasping at the ground for something. He came running over and held out a small daisy.
“Oh, thank you,” she said. She held out her hand and he dropped it into her palm. “Where’s the, um, stem?”
“I forgot it,” Connor said before dashing off again. He came back with the rest of the stem and then ran back.
Margaret watched as he ran around picking every daisy in sight. On his way back, another child came running by, clearly inattentive. Connor noticed and tried to move away, but was one second too late. The girl crashed into him and they tumbled onto the ground.
Margaret was up in a flash. She reached Connor at the same time as the girl’s mother and helped him up, checking the back of his head for even the slightest hint of bleeding.
Connor tugged away from her grip and started picking the scattered daisies up.
“Tell your son to watch where he’s going!”
Margaret turned around at the comment from the girl’s mother. “But she-“
The other woman left, practically dragging her daughter alongside her. She wasn’t paying attention, Margaret finished silently. Or she just didn’t-
Connor’s sniffles interrupted her thoughts and she turned her attention back to him. He had picked up most of the daisies and was clutching them close with one hand while he gathered up the rest.
Margaret hugged him, temporarily halting his mission. “It’s okay, sweetie, you don’t need to get all of them.”
“But they’re for you, Mommy.” Connor used his free hand to wipe his eyes before grabbing another fallen daisy.
Margaret quickly snatched up the rest and Connor handed over the ones he had. A few were smushed, but she didn’t care.
“Thank you, Connor. Did you know these are my favorite flowers?”
Connor shook his head.
“Your daddy gave them to me all the time,” Margaret added. She paused. Why did I mention him?
“Yes, really.” Margaret hoped he wouldn’t inquire more about his father, but Connor’s next question did just that.
“Mommy, where is Daddy?”
“I don’t know.” She sighed. What do I say? Maybe he’s writing a traffic ticket or at the scene of a crime. Or maybe he’s-
“Connor, I think we need to talk about this when you’re older.”
“Because…I just think it’s not for you to know yet.”
“Why? Does Daddy hate us?”
“No! No, he doesn’t! He-he loves us, but-um…” I should have married him. Why didn’t I marry him?
“We’re going to talk about this later, okay?” she said. “Let’s go home and put the daisies in water before they dry up.”
She ignored the note of disappointment in his voice and held out her free hand for him to take.
©H.S. Kylian 2019
(Critiques are welcome and appreciated!)