The cartoons played on the screen, loudly. Jessie sat on the carpet in the living room in her Mickie Mouse onsie eating ice cream from a plastic red bowl. Her eyes focused on the mouse tricking the cat into trapping himself in a cage, but her ears focused on her parents hushed whispers.
[[Hide behind kitchen island to listen]]
[[Finish ice cream]]She set her bowl down on the side, the spoon tilted onto the carpet. The stickiness of the ice cream clung to it. She ignored this as she tip toed to the kitchen island--this time she would know what her parents were discussing.
Her mother, 5'6 and drained, leaned against the fridge. Her father, 5'11 and blotched faced, said things fast without breathing between words.
"We've been in the same place for five years. You don't talk to me anymore and wonder why I'm unhappy," he hissed.
Jessie scrunched up her face in confusion.
[[make presence known]]
[[keep listening]]Jessie slurped up the ice cream that melted in the bowl while the end credits to the cartoon played out. Her ears could not block the tension in the kitchen. Her chest tightened along with her grip on the spoon.
Her thoughts traveled to the blank spaces in her mind.
[[Recall a happy memory]]
[[Call for mom]]Jessie got up from the kitchen floor and walked around the island.
Her father stopped talking mid sentence and put on a bright smile. "Hey, sweetie. Did you finish your ice cream?" He knelt down to scoop her up and pinched her cheek.
She thought to herself maybe she imagined the serious look in her dad's eyes because his eyes warmed, staring at her.
"Yup, all done!" Jessie giggled.
Her mother came closer and kissed her cheek. "Bed time," she said.
[[Let mom lead you to bathroom]]
[[Ask what they talked about]]Jessie's mom sighed in frustration. "You know why that is. If you hadn't gambled away our daughter's college fund money."
Behind the counter, Jessie tried to peace together what college was. She'd only started kindergarten last month and could barely think passed counting pennies during class time.
"It took 5 years of saving to get $10,000." The veins on her neck pulsed. "You set us back 5 years. Of course, I'm not talking to you."
Jessie's eyes watered. She couldn't stand her parents not talking to each other. Her father ran his hands through his hair, smoothing over the bald patch in the center. Jessie didn't want her father to lose anymore of his hair.
Maybe, she could help mommy talk to him.
[[Fake cry to switch their focus]]On the first day of kindergarten, Jessie's parents took off work to be there to capture the momentous day at her request. She needed her parents there to see her off in her cinderella dress.
Her father dressed in a pumpkin costume and carried her through the front doors while her mother took pictures. Jessie made her mom where whiskers to be her mouse friends.
To Jessie, her parents were people that could make her wonderlands come to life.
The sound of their conversation penetrated her ears and she could no longer stay in her memories.
[[Hide behind kitchen island to listen]]"Mommy! I finished my ice cream!"
The conversation in the kitchen quieted down and the sound of the faucet came on. "Come bring your bowl!" Jessie scrambled up from the floor and sped walked to the kitchen. She could sense the tension in her mother's voice and didn't want to make her more upset.
When she entered her mother knelt down with a smile and kissed her on the cheek. "You have to get ready for bed. It's a school night." She picked her up and places her on her hip. "Time to brush your teeth."
Jessie hugged her mother's neck and watched her father's smile over her shoulder. His eye hard as stone, made her turn away. //He was looking at mommy's head//, Jessie thought.
[[Let mom lead you to bathroom]] In the bathroom, Jessie stood on a pink stool and brushed her teeth. The bristles bent at the pressure she placed on the handle. Her mother stood in the doorway to make sure she brushed for the full two minutes.
"Don't forget your tongue." Jessie stuck her tongue out and washed her tongue with the same vigour.
A few seconds later, plopped her tooth brush in the holder and hopped off the stool. "Done!"
Her mother squinted her eyes. "Did you wash the roof of your mouth?"
Jessie giggled, "Yes!"
"Okay, time to get tucked in." She held Jessie's hand.
[[Go to bedroom]]"What were you talking about?"
Jessie's parents shared a look that she could only decifer as adult business she shouldn't concern herself with. She didn't like the way her stomach hurt when her parents kept secrets from her.
"That's a conversation between me and your mom, sweat heart." Her father rubbed her arm, affectionately. "Why don't you let your mother get you ready for bed?"
Jessie buried her head in her mom's leg, hugging it closely. "Okay..."
[[Let mom lead you to bathroom]] Jessie rubbed her eyes to make them, puffy and pinched her cheeks before she let the first cry escape her lips. Coming from around the island, she clung to her father's leg. "My stomach hurts!" Her ears got redder the more she wailed and soon real tears flowed.
Her father picked her up and sat her on the island. "Don't cry. How about I make you some tea so your stomach calms down." She sniffed.
"Okay..." Her mother wiped her tears. "Can I have marshmellows?"
"Marshmellows go in hot chocolate, silly." Her father pinched her cheek and she giggled.
Her plan was a success.
She played with her mother's wedding ring, twisting it around her finger while she waited on her tea. "Wanna marry a prince!" Her mother smiled, softly.
"What if you have to kiss a frog first?"
Jessie scrunched her face, "Not that prince!"
Her father placed the tea in front of her. "Careful, it's hot." Three marshmellows swirled in the middle.
"Yay!" She finsihed her tea and eat the marshmellows.
Her mother picked her off the counter."All better?" Jessie nodded. "Bed time."
[[Let mom lead you to bathroom]] Laying in the bed, Jessie's eyes drooped while her mother tucked each side of her into her fluffy sheets. She followed the usual routine of singing their song with her.
"Bed time. Bed time. Sleep sleep sleep. In your dreams, you'll see see see. The big chocolate fountains and raindow streets. Everything will be sweet sweet sweet." She kissed Jessie's forehead. "When you wake up, you'll eat eat eat and mommy and daddy will hug you all day."
Jessie's eyes closed as she felt a caulled hand touch her forehead. Her father hummed the tune off pitch, but she didn't care as long as her parents were together.
"Good night. Sleep tight."
They closed the door.
[[Stare at light under door]]Jessie's small hands gripped her bed sheets tightly while she watched the shadows move under her door. Her tinkerbell night light glowed by her side, but it did little to light peace inside her heart.
Again, the whispers of her parents filled her ears before their door shut. She pressed her face into her mattress and wished for the dream world to take her.
"Jessie, don't sleep yet."
[[Ignore the voice]]
[[Ask who's there]]Double-click this passage to edit it.Double-click this passage to edit it.