Hey, book lovers.
Here’s another of my short stories. I hope you like it!
She’d been waiting for a long while when he finally came along, crawling behind her on his little infant legs. It took him a long time to get around because of his small size. But she was a patient mother, Ella, she always had been. And she always knew what to do with her young son.
“Come along, Kerron.” she said softly, turning around and lowering herself to the ground where he was sat, gazing up at her in awe, through those enormous blue eyes, almost transparent, like sugar.
He was sweet, her little boy; rarely made a peep. When he only stayed where he was, she scooped him into her arms and went on her way. Ella smiled to herself; he was already asleep. The pram was only several yards away, she walked to it and gently laid her sleeping child inside.
After some slow walking, pram pushing and enjoying of Irish Mountain Views all around, they made it to a small park. ‘Ah,’ thought Ella, studying the pretty view of the green grass, the ocean blue skies, the park benches and slim river on the side. ‘The perfect place for a picnic.’
Ella and Kerron weren’t from Ireland; they were from England, so the scenery was certainly a surprise. But a good one. It made her happy to know that her dying father would be spending his final months in such a beautiful place. Cancer would be the ruin of him, and they were there because of him; to spend time with him while they still had the chance. They would be there for several months, keeping him company, keeping him happy.
But while he was sleeping, Ella had decided to go with Kerron for a short walk; to leave the house surrounded by trees and flowers and nature and to go and explore, giving her baby a chance to improve his walking whilst at the same time getting a feel for all of the cool, fresh air around him. She often worried that he spent too much time inside.
“We’ll see Daddy soon,” she said as she woke up. “He’ll be here with us very soon and then you can show him what a good crawler you are!”
Kerron’s father, Christopher, didn’t live with them any more, and Ella certainly didn’t have any kind of feelings for him. He belonged to the past. But he liked to visit his son regularly, and that was fine with her.
The problem was that he had been constantly jealous and controlling of Ella after only a year or so of marriage, and had suffered problems with his anger, too. She had removed herself from the relationship before, as she put it, he got out of hand. She just hoped his personal problems never had any effects on her little boy, otherwise she might have to stop them from seeing each other.
As she thought it all over, Ella walked. She tried to roll the pram across the grass but the surface was far too deep and thick, and it was impossible. She took the path alongside the river. A couple of other families arrived, they too with clear intentions to enjoy the beautiful weather while it lasted, and she sat down on one of the picnic benches before they were all taken, resting the pram up next to it.
Suddenly, Ella heard a voice. The accent was local and the tone soft and gentle. “Is this seat taken?”
She looked up. Standing across the bench from her and smiling was a young man, tall, slim and with dark hair and a similar shade in his eye colour. She couldn’t help but blush a little at the sight of him; he was extremely good looking.
It took a few seconds for the question to register but she soon shook her head, when she understood fully what he had asked. “No,” she said. She started rambling, “You can sit there. If you like. It’s a lovely day, isn’t it. Ireland is nothing like the countries I’ve seen before. It’s so beautiful. Of course. You can sit there. If you like.”
The young man grinned in amusement. “Well, thank you very much.” he said.
She blushed crimson. He sat down. Glanced at the pram, over at little Kerron who was now wide awake and staring wide-eyed at the man opposite them, peeking his head a little around the side.
“Who’s this then?” asked the young man politely, clearly trying to make conversation.
“Kerron, my son.” Ella replied, offering a smile.
Kerron was now beaming from ear to ear, realising that all of the adults’ attention was on him.
“He is five months, six next week.” Ella smiled.
“Must be a handful, then, I presume?” said the man, chuckling.
He offered her his hand. “What ever happened to my manners? I’m Liam Mason.”
“He is,” Ella said, in answer to his previous question. She took his hand and shook it. “Ella Andrews.”
“Well, it’s very nice to meet you Ella.”
“You too, Liam.” she replied.
She admired his politeness. Chris could sure learn a trick or two from this young man, she found herself thinking.
They talked for a couple of hours, just eating and discussing the general realities of their lives, before suddenly Ella’s world went into complete turmoil. She found herself letting go of the pram just for the slightest second and it lurched forwards into the freezing cold river.
Ella screamed. “Kerron!”
She ran forwards and threw herself into the water. She splashed, she swam and she deepened her fight but she could not find her poor baby or the pram anywhere. She kept going, her tiny son’s face flashing and flickering incessantly like torch lights at the front of her mind. She felt her feet touch the bottom, and dived down to try to meet with her hands the spot she had found. Just how low was he now?
“Dear God,” she pleaded. “Please do not let him drown…”
She kept going. How much time could his tiny lungs take? She felt a sudden movement in the water next to her. She came up for air, coughed and heaved bucket loads of water from her throat. It all came rushing up like bile.
Liam’s face appeared next to her. Liam the stranger.
The words echoed in her mind. “I’ve got him. I’ve got him…”
Liam the saviour.
He began to swim towards the edge of the river where several faces were perched, people watching and waiting. Ella’s only thought was Kerron.
Liam climbed stiffly out of the water, holding her child, then placed him down and offered her both of his hands to help her out. She took them both and held on for dear life, eventually wriggling herself up against his side and turning to him. “My baby?”
He handed Kerron to her, soaking wet, with skin as cold as ice. She cuddled his little frame to her chest. She wasn’t sure if he was still breathing, or how much life was left inside him; he was so fragile.
“Somebody call for an ambulance!” she screamed. The woman beside her was on the phone to the emergency services within seconds.
While they waited, Liam moved towards Ella and wrapped his arms around her. He took his coat from the bench and wrapped it around Kerron like a blanket. “This should keep him warm until they get here.” he said.
Ella had tears in her eyes. “Thank you,” she said. “For everything.”
“I did what I needed to do.” he said. “I did what anyone would have done.”
“This is all my fault,” she continued, the tears draining all of the colour from her cheeks and staining them blood red. “I let him slip.”
He held her tighter. “It wasn’t your fault. Look at the ground by the riverbed, it’s all one big slope! Besides, we saved him-”
“You saved him.”
“He’s going to be okay.’ he said. ‘Surely that’s all that matters?”
She nodded. Cursed herself for thinking such things. “Of course.”
“Good. Now come, the ambulance is here. They’ll take good care of him and he’ll be just fine. Just you wait and see.”
And though Ella didn’t know it then, he came to be right. After several hours of intensive care at the nearby hospital, Kerron’s little life was saved and a new romance was born.