PARKER PLAYS WITH FLUTTERBYS

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            Parker was playing in the backyard chasing fluttering, yellow butterflies through the tall grass.  It was a beautiful summer's eve and the golden sunshine reflected on her nearly platinum blond hair as she scampered about.

            Today was her birthday and she had a party with all her little school friends and her Mommy had made her a wonderful cake with four candles on it.

            Her Mommy was sitting on the back porch now watching her play in her pretty pink party dress with the ruffles on the sleeves.  "Be careful Parker; don't mess up your new dress!"

            Mommy always said things like that but she pretended not to hear her and went on doing just what she was doing.  It wasn't that she didn't hear, and not that she was going to pay her no mind, but more like she couldn't be bothered because what she was doing now was much more important than anything anybody could say, because she had to catch one of these little flutterbys.

            She liked the sound the grass made as she ran through it and the way it tickled her legs like whispering fairies.  She was in another world all her own, a world of butterflies and sunshine and not thinking of anything at all, just chasing the fascinating little flutterbys, as she called them.

            It was almost 6:30 and there was a gentle breeze blowing from the Santa Ana's.

Parker's Mommy had brought her up to the back porch and had her on her lap.

             "Did you have a nice birthday?"

            "Uh huh." She answered quietly.

            "Did you like your present?"

            "Ya.", she answered a bit vaguely.

            "Dontcha mean Yes?".

            "Yess." Said Parker like she had been corrected a thousand times before.

            "What did you like the most?"

            "Where's my Daddy?"

            Her mother looked away for a moment and contemplated what to tell her.

            "I don't know, honey.  Daddy had to go away."

            "How come he didn't come to my party?"

            Mother, now holding back a sob "I don't know, Baby, I just don't know."

            "Was I a bad girl?  Is Daddy mad at me?"

            Her mother clutched her to her bosom and held her tightly, she was crying now and the tears were dropping on the ruffles on little Parker's dress.

            "No, no baby, Daddy loves you honey, he must have something real important to do or I'm sure he would be here."

            "Don't cry, Mommy."

            "I'm sorry, little girl.  Mommy loves you, I'm so sorry."

            Parker held her Mommy and tried to comfort her.  She was crying now because she had made her Mommy cry and was trying to make it better.

            "I'm sorry Mommy, I didn't mean to make you sad.  I didn't mean to. I don't mean to be bad Mommy?"

            "Don't say that, none of it is your fault.  Everything will be ok.  Don't worry, it will be all right."

            At this, her Mommy pulled herself together with one last sobbing breath and moved little Parker out to her knees so she could look her in the eye.  She wiped her own tears from her face and then with a corner of the pink dress, blotted her daughter's tears.  She smiled a forced smile and hoped her little girl couldn't tell how much she hurt.  She really did not know where her husband Steve had gone but at this moment, she could hear his final words to her from somewhere back in her mind.

 "Beth," he said, "There are some things you don't know about me and there are some things I'm going to have to do that I can't tell you about."

            They fought that night like they had never fought before but he refused to tell her what was going on.  She knew him well, in five years of marriage, she felt closer to him than anyone else in her life.

            The next day, he didn't come home from work, nearly 2 years now and not a word.  Just.... gone.

            She snapped herself out of it and got her attention back on her daughter.

             "Let's go play with your new toys." she said with as much motherly enthusiasm as she could muster. "Ok! Come on."

            "Ok, can we play my new game?" Her little voice rising with newfound excitement.

            "Sure, Hon, anything you want."

            And she took her by the hand and went in the back door wondering what was going to become of her daughter, having no idea what the future would bring and what an important role her baby was to have in the future of the universe.

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