Oblivious to Something Much Worse By D.I. Jolly
Sarah was six years old and really looking forward to spending the day with her mommy. They were going to take the tram into the city to have lunch at a fancy restaurant and be fancy ladies who lunch, and then, if she was good, get ice cream. It was going to be the most awesome day ever. Because they were ladies, they had to dress up in nice clothes and both wore her mommies favourite matching pink dresses. The tram was a little full but there were a few empty seats and Sarah happily popped herself down next to a man who was staring absently out of the window. Feeling the movement next to him Stephen turned to look at the small girl, who looked back at him and smiled broadly.
Stephen looked at the little girl for a second then quickly around for the adult that might be in charge of said child. Spotting a woman with the same colour hair and dress standing close by he turned back the child.
“My name’s Sarah, what’s your name?”
Again, Stephen looked at the woman in pink hoping she might intervene or do something, but she was checking her phone and only shot a quick glance at her child to make sure she wasn’t jumping around.
“My name is Stephen, it’s… uummm, nice to meet you.”
Sarah extended her hand and Stephen nervously shook it.
“I’m going to a fancy lunch with my mommy.”
“That’s, that sounds very nice. I hope you have a lovely time.”
“And after lunch, if I’m good, we’re going to get ice-cream.”
Stephen stared at the child and wondered if he had ever been as innocent or open as she was. He also couldn’t be sure if he found it worrying, that she was on a path to massive disappointment, or if it was actually just that charming and had gotten life right on the very first try. Either way, her mother didn’t seem stressed that her child was merrily continuing a conversation with a stranger.
“Well, in that case, it sounds like just the best day ever.”
She beamed up at him.
“I know. So what are you going to do today?”
Stephen swallowed and tried to force a smile.
“Oh, you know, boring adult stuff, work … mostly.”
Sarah’s face suddenly took on a strangely earnest look and she tilted her head to one side.
“Is everything alright Stephen? Are you ok?”
So shocked and disarmed by her tone he just couldn’t bring himself to lie to the child but didn’t want to vent his life’s problems at her either so simply said.
“To be honest, I’m a little sad at the moment.”
Sarah nodded thoughtfully and took a few moments to think it over before saying.
“I get sad sometimes too, it’s alright. But when I’m sad I try to do some things that make me happy, and then I’m not sad anymore. You should try that.”
Stephen smiled his first genuine smile for a few days.
“You know, I hadn’t thought of that, I’ll give it a try. Thank you.”
They smiled at each other for a second before a woman’s voice called out.
“Come on Sarah, this is our stop.”
And the child jumped off her chair, said a quick goodbye and disappeared, leaving Stephen to sit and stare out the window again, feeling just a little bit better about his day than he had when he first boared the tram and wondering what things he could do that might make him happy and stop being sad.