Alone in the playground


Maryam was excited. Today her father had promised to take her to the playground.  He was supposed to visit every Saturday but often he was too busy to come. He traveled a lot and was out of the country for many weeks at a time.

It was 6 months since her parents had divorced. Sometimes she would hear her mom crying in her bedroom. Maryam was still trying to understand what had happened. In all of her 8 years she had never seen her parents really happy together. It seemed they were only together for her sake. Her dad used to work late and during the week she hardly got to see him. He would come home after she had gone to sleep and leave for work before she got up.

But the weekends were special because she got to spend time with her dad. He would take her out to the playground near their house. Run with her while she rode her cycle. Her mom would make sandwiches for them and they would eat in the playground. She loved to ride the merry-go-round with the colorful animals and feel the wind on her face. Her dad had made up a story for each of the animals. The tiger who had a long neck because he liked to look over the hedge into his neighbor’s house,  the giraffe who always felt cold and wore a coat and the mutant turtle whose nose grew long like Pinocchio when he told lies.

Now she would long for the weekends even more. That time with her dad became even more special. But he would not always show up. She would dread the ringing of the telephone on Saturday morning because that would be her dad calling to say he couldn’t make it. But this Saturday, the phone didn’t ring. She waited for a while. Her mom had already started making the sandwiches to take with her. She looked out of the window. She could see the playground and the colorful merry-go-round beckoning her. But there was no sign of her dad. She told her mom that she would wait for him at the playground. She sat on the bench with her sandwiches and watched some children play. After a while the children went home and she was alone. She slowly took out one sandwich and started eating. She could see her mom watching her from their gate. She was hungry and she finished the sandwiches. Still there was no sign of her dad. Her mom had gone inside as well. Maybe she was trying to call him.

She got up and sat next to the mutant turtle on the merry-go-round. Why hadn’t he come? Was he doing something more important or had he just forgotten? Why had he told her he would come? Why had he kept her waiting? What excuse would he make? Would his nose become long like the mutant turtle’s? Was this the beginning of the end? Would he never be her dad again? She felt a lump in her throat but she stopped herself from crying. And there sat the little girl, alone in the playground.