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Frankie was eating an ice cream cone when the world ended at precisely 3:14 PM PST.
Perched upon the slightly too tall swivel stool that prevented his size four shoes from reaching the metal footrest, he raced the sun that beat down on his prize through the pane glass window for the last dripping remnants of rocky road.His four year old mind was not equipped to appreciate the terrible irony of his selection.
The van was somewhere beyond the wall of light, but the glare prevented him from seeing it.He wanted to move to a different seat, but his mother had told him to stay put while she used the restroom.Already mad at him for not listening to her on the drive over, she would take his ice cream away and put him in timeout if he didn’t do as she said.
“I behave, Momma,” he squealed as he spun to meet the sounds of the familiar footfalls. His eyes grew wide as she sat down with her own chocolate cone that contrasted wonderfully with the vanilla scented perfume she always wore.
“I have some!I have some!”
“No way, Jose,” she offered in mock protest through a coy smile.“This is Mommy’s.You already had yours.”
Looking down at the sad, melted cone in his hand, he was cut off before his objection could even be vocalized.
“Tell you what,” she compromised, “I’ll let you have a bite of Mommy’s if you promise to be good on the way home.Okay?”
She handed Frankie the cone as she guided him to a seat away from the window.She’d initially selected it to keep a watchful eye on the parking lot, but the western exposure ensured the futility of that plan.The pair took a seat at a table in the middle of the Baskin Robbins, and she managed to wrestle her ice cream back with relative ease.
Frankie regaled her with tales of his day at preschool while she savored her indulgence.Catching only one or two out of every four or five words, she had long since learned that his sentences didn’t necessarily constitute linear thought.He tended to go the stream of consciousness route.
More like a flash flood, she thought.
If he were to be believed, Miss Heather had apparently been a monkey and chased a tiger up to the sky in a choo-choo train made of feathers.That’s what she heard, at least.Dropping in a well timed “really” or “wow” where appropriate, she struggled to feign interest.In truth, she was so consumed with her mental shopping list for dinner (chicken or salmon?) and the myriad chores she needed to finish before her husband returned home from his business trip that she wouldn’t have blinked if Frankie told her that his day had been spent running with scissors and sticking paperclips into the outlets.The travel associated with John’s new position made things much more difficult, but she couldn’t really complain.They were fortunate that he had been able to find work again so quickly after the layoff.The same couldn’t be said of most of his former colleagues.
“Oh, yes, sweetie?Ready to go?”
She must have drifted off for a moment.
“Okay, let’s get some for your sister for when she wakes up and then we can go.”
Stepping out into the brutal, shimmering heat of the concrete desert, she made her way to the tan Honda Odyssey with a paper bag in one hand and Frankie’s tiny hand in the other.He stubbornly clung to his barren cone, probing its recesses with his tongue for one last sticky drop as he was dragged along behind her.
When they reached the minivan, it didn’t immediately register that anything was wrong.She saw Darcy sleeping peacefully in her car seat when she looked through the window.The smile that spread across her face froze instantly, however, when she realized the engine wasn’t running.
As often happened, her baby daughter fell asleep on the way to pick Frankie up from school.Ordinarily, they would go straight home, but she’d decided to stop for ice cream today on nothing more than a whim.It was hot, and she’d felt guilty about how short tempered she’d been with the kids over the past few days.
The keys were still in the ignition where she’d left them, and the car had been purposefully left running.Everyone knows that you don’t leave a child in a vehicle without the A/C running in the summer.
“Oh my God!”
Not sure when the engine conked out, but knowing they had been inside for nearly twenty minutes, she frantically yanked at the handle of the back seat.It wouldn’t budge.Remembering that she had locked and armed the car by removing the alarm fob from the key ring, she fished in her purse until she found it.Pressing it twice to unlock all doors, she tore open the door and reached for her baby.
“Darcy?Darcy, wake up, honey!It’s Momma, wake up, Darcy!”
“What’s wrong, Momma,” Frankie demanded.
She ignored him as well as the small crowd that was beginning to gather.
Every summer, children drown in Phoenix area pools and perish in parked cars.It’s important to remember that these tragedies befall not only the criminally negligent, but good people who simply lose sight of the dangers for an instant.Parents are overworked, tired, stressed and more preoccupied than ever.This leaves us all more susceptible to poor decision making.Let’s not allow the hardships that have befallen many of us to be the precursor to greater tragedy.If I have learned anything over the past several years, it is that parenting is the one occupation that doesn’t allow you to let your guard down.Not for a second.
Let’s all remember our true priorities this summer and not permit one single child to perish from preventable causes.Watch your kids around water and never, ever leave them alone in the car.
Disclaimer: ActiveRain Corp. does not necessarily endorse the real estate agents, loan officers and brokers listed on this site. These real estate profiles, blogs and blog entries are provided here as a courtesy to our visitors to help them make an informed decision when buying or selling a house. ActiveRain Corp. takes no responsibility for the content in these profiles, that are written by the members of this community.