A Suburban Horror Story

two children

Photo credit: wildverbs

“How did it happen? I mean, who was looking after her?”

Gerald and Marni were standing with the crowd of neighbors on the other side of the street watching. Police cars, fire, and paramedic units were seemingly cast in random arrangements in front of the stylish home in the upscale neighborhood.

“I think her brother was supposed to be watching her.”

“Are you nuts, Marni? He’s only five.”

“Hey, it’s what I heard.”

The onlookers made a collective gasp as the tiny body was carried out, drawfed by the adult-sized gurney.

“Oh my God.” Marni buried her face into her husband’s chest and sobbed. “She was only a baby.”

Marni’s husband stared across the street, trembling as he saw the haunted expressions on the faces of the little girl’s parents. Their young son was clinging to his mother’s leg and wailing.

He thought of their own backyard pool. The faces of their three children who were visiting their grandparents in Utah came into view unbidden. How horrible to be a parent and lose a child.

I wrote this for the 169th FFfAW Challenge hosted by Priceless Joy. The idea is to use the image above to inspire the creation of a piece of flash fiction between 100 and 175 words long. My word count is 175.

I just read a news story stating that the nineteen month old daughter of Olympic skier Bode Miller drowned. It’s a tragedy every parent dreads.

There’s no news about the cause or manner of death, but since the family lives in Orange County, California (my family used to live there over twenty years ago), the first thing that came to mind was a swimming pool. They are extremely common down there.

I remember our home had a pool, and when our children were very young, we had a motorized cover installed. It was impossible to slip under, and to open it, you had to insert, turn, and hold a key in a spring-loaded lock.

Of course, a child that age could easily drown in a bathtub as well.

Here in Southwestern Idaho, we have an extensive canal system that provides water for farmers and some neighborhood sprinkler systems, and every year, a few children (and the occasional adult) drowns in one.

My wee story is both a study in tragedy and a cautionary tale. When kids are that little, leaving them alone in or around any body of water for any amount of time is dangerous.

My condolences to the Miller family on their loss. As a parent and grandparent, I can feel the icy touch of death every time I hear about a child needlessly perishing.

To read other stories based on the prompt, go to InLinkz.com.

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