|Girl with umbrella - painting by Esao Andrews|
“I’m so glad you found the old Christmas decorations. I knew she’d like the glitter” said Grandma Ethel as she switched off the hall light. Grandpa Ralph sighed: “At least we were able to buy her something.”
Ethel took her husband’s hand gently in hers, “It’s not your fault, Ralph. Sylvia doesn’t know. She’s happy with the things we found.”
Down the hall in her room, Sylvia sat on the bed, surrounded by her birthday treasures. Taking each gift in her hands separately, she cooed, gazing at the shiny, the delicate and the brightly coloured. Then using remnants of an old bedsheet, she wrapped each dented trinket and scratched piece of glass, tucking them into a cardboard box labeled “Nine Years Old”.
The voice came to her, as it always did, over her left shoulder. “Your gifts are beautiful, just like you Sylvia”.
“Grandma and Grandpa gave me this umbrella! It’s new - from a store and everything! Can you see it?” Sylvia opened the pale blue umbrella and swirled it above her head.
“Yes I can. I’ve told you before - I can see everything you do.”
“I kinda forgot.” Sylvia said. “Will Grandma and Grandpa be okay without me”
“You'll see them again, I promise”.
Still clutching the umbrella, Sylvia tilted her head, looking towards the voice, “You promise?”
“Yes my dear. Now, do you remember what to do?”
Sylvia nodded. She moved the box to the foot of the bed, then wriggled under her patchwork quilt and laid her head on the pillow.
“Close your eyes, little one. Think pleasant thoughts.”
“What’s pleasant mean?” asked Sylvia, keeping one eye open.
“Pleasant means nice. Something happy. Something that you’ll miss.”
“Oh, that’s easy then.” Sylvia said matter-of-factly.
“I’ll pleasant Grandma and Grandpa, birthdays and pretty things.”