When a sweet 6-year-old is left to her own devices, things can go terribly wrong.
“Time for your supper” the adorable little girl said pushing a plate of puppy pebbles towards the Fox Terrier mix. She patted him as he ate, he was too sweet and her best friend. Louise was alone again, the neighbor keeping an ear out for her. Davey was dying. Her big brother had cancer and she knew he wasn’t coming home again. Mommy and daddy were very sad which is why they agreed to the puppy. They knew it would keep her company while they spent time with him at the hospital.
Seeing the pup eating, Louise realized that she was starving. Mom had left bread and Louise felt like a sandwich. Grabbing a tin of tuna, she hummed her way through the process of opening the can. It was hard for her tiny hands to grasp but she managed to open the lid enough to bend it.
“Ow” she exclaimed seeing blood pouring from her finger. “Ow, ow” Louise sucked on her finger to get the bleeding to stop, tears shimmering in her eyes. “Davey wouldn’t cry” she said to herself. It took a while to stop bleeding and a few sniffs later Louise managed to get a plaster onto her finger. She carefully finished making the sandwich and ate it, feeling a little sick but still hungry.
By the time her parents got home, Foxy and Louise were fast asleep on the couch. They didn’t notice her finger when they tucked her into bed. Their minds were on Davey now, time was short and they were devasted. Helpless. Sickened. They were fighting the biggest battle of their lives and Louise was at the back of the queue when it came to attention.
The next day was Saturday and Louise awoke feeling hot and her finger throbbed. She washed it in the bathroom, not realizing that it was infected. At 6 years old, moms and dads should be there to realize when something is wrong, not the children. But they had already left for the hospital.
“You alright Louise honey?” their neighbor shouted through the window around 11. “Yes Aunty Pats” she shouted back. Louise smiled at her and waved. Louise didn’t think to mention the cut, she would tell mommy when she got back. Foxy wanted to go out and Louise took her to play but ended up sitting under a tree rather than running around.
She fed Foxy and fell asleep on the couch again. Her parents got home later that evening. “She feels a little warm” mom said concerned. “I’m sure she’s fine, she was under the blankets.” They both kissed her goodnight, put her in bed and fell into a troubled sleep. Davey was going soon, only a day or two remained. They were physically and mentally exhausted.
Sunday morning Louise woke up late, shivering. Her head hurt and her finger was swollen and red. She went to find her mom, but they had already left for the hospital. “Come Foxy” she said and went and lay down on the couch, cuddling the puppy for comfort. Hours later after their neighbor came back from church, she called to Louise. No answer. “Strange, she must have gone to the hospital” she thought and went inside to make her fried chicken for lunch.
The fever gripped Louise, slowly pulling her into unconsciousness. She was dehydrated and shivering violently from the severe infection in her finger. It was travelling along her blood stream. No-one knew. They cared but didn’t notice the sick child. Louise was too sick and too little to look after herself.
That afternoon Davey died. Mom and dad stayed with him until they had to let go. Devastated by their loss, they slowly made their way home. It was early evening and a colourful sunset ushered them along, but they never saw it. Getting in they called Louise. When she didn’t answer the assumed she was with the neighbour. They made coffee and sat at the table holding hands.
“I better go and fetch Louise” dad said, dreading what he had to tell her. He made his way to Pat’s and tapped on the door before popping his head in. Clearing this throat he said “Davey’s gone now. He has no more pain.” Pat ran up and hugged him, knowing that it was little comfort. “Are you ok?” his sad smile said it all.
“Louise” he called over her shoulder. “Come hon, time to go home.” Pat looked concerned “She’s not with me, I haven’t seen her all day.” The colour drained from her fathers face and he quickly ran back. Bursting in the door he shouted “Louise isn’t with Pat.” They ran to her room saw that her bed was unmade and that her room was untidy, it was unusual for her. Just then Foxy barked and they made their way quickly to the living room, stopping in shock at the door.
Louise looked dead. She was deathly pale, except for 2 burning spots on her cheeks. Her arm was hanging off the couch and there was a strange smell in the air. “Louise!” her mother screamed, the horror of the day folding around her like a cloak. Her father picked her up to shake her and realised that she was burning up.
“Back to the hospital” he shouted moving quickly to the door. “Oh please baby” her mother cried, “I can’t lose both of you in one day”. They flew through to the hospital, shooting through red lights, all the while calling and begging Louise to hang on.
The doctors took her immediately, putting her on a drip to get fluids into her and pump her full of antibiotics. One of the nurses found her now swollen and blackening finger. Her parents watching from the door realised that this was caused by something as insignificant as a cut. Their tears flowed. “Ah my poor baby” mom sobbed. “I should have been there for her.”
“Honey, we were doing what we could, we are only human”.
“Please let her be ok, I cant stand to think that she has been suffering and we didn’t even see it”. Clutching each other, they prayed that their sweet child would make it. Hours later her fever started to drop. Her finger went white, then slowly pink again. They sat by her bedside, just trying to make sense of it all.
The next morning Louise woke up, surprised to be in hospital. “Where…?” confused she looked around. Her mother and father hugged her as tight as they could. “Sorry darling, we neglected you”.
“My finger hurts” she said sadly. Her mother kissed her hand. “We are here now love, you are going to be fine.”
“Davey?” Louise asked with big, sad eyes. Her father shook his head and cuddled his daughter closer. They realised that even though they had lost their beautiful son, they had a living, precious child at home who needed them.
“Davey has no more pain, he is gone but will live with us forever in our hearts.” They held each other feeling sad but also having a strong sense of family. Louise gave a big sigh and went back to sleep.