TO BE OR NOT TO BE…
The next day in the afternoon, after Elisabeth spent the morning shopping for new warmer clothes, Benjamin, Chloé and Elisabeth decided to visit the Autumn festival held at the Eerie Park in the center of town. It was a very nice sunny day.
“Does it take long to get there?” Elisabeth asked Benjamin as she looked at the snow-covered mountains in the distance.
“To get where?” asked her Benjamin.
“The mountains. I thought maybe we could go skiing one of these days,” suggested Elisabeth.
“Well, I think it’s around two hours by car…”
“… that you don’t have,” Elisabeth finished his sentence.
“Yeah,” sighed Benjamin.
“Never mind, I believe there will be another occasion,” she said and smiled at him.
“Let’s take a picture together?” Benjamin asked the girls.
“What a lovely idea!” agreed Elisabeth while Chloé happily clapped her hands.
Everybody found something fun to do at the festival. Benjamin enjoyed multiple games at the Smack-A-Gnome! machine.
Chloé and Elisabeth went to harvest some pumpkin so they could make a jack-o’-lantern when they got back home.
“Who the pumpkin boy?” asked her curiously Chloé and pointed at the scarecrow.
“It’s a scarecrow.”
“He scares crows away from the pumpkins.”
“Crows afraid of him?”
“Yes. He’s scary, don’t you think?”
“Scaaaryyy,” Chloé giggled. “Pumpkin scarecrow scaaaryyy! Scaaaryyy pumpkin scaaarecrow!”
“May I challenge you to the apple bobbing contest?” Bill Wilson asked Benjamin.
“Why not!” agreed Benjamin. “Do yo want to join us, Elisabeth?”
“Sure!” Elisabeth smiled at them and stood up from the ground.
“Chloé take pumpkin boy home?” Chloé looked at Benjamin.
“Scarycrow, pumpkin boy!” Chloé called aloud. “Chloé take him home! Home, home, hooome!”
“I don’t think you can, sweetie,” Benjamin told her sadly. Chloé started to snivel.
“They might be selling them, Ben. Later you can ask at the stand,” told him Bill and winked at Chloé.
“Did you hear uncle Billy, dumpling? Maybe we can buy a scarecrow for you,” Benjamin smiled at his daughter who suddenly stopped whining.
Bill, Elisabeth and Benjamin walked to the water tank with apples floating on the surface and put their hands behind the back.
“We’re ready Chloé. Count to three!” told her Bill.
She can count? Benjamin thought to himself. “One. Two. Three!”´When Chloé shouted three, everybody dived their faces into the water.
Chloé was too small to participate in the Apple Bobbing Contest so she found something else to do. Picking the nose seemed like a fun activity to pass the time.
Elisabeth defeated both Bill and Benjamin in the contest and won 25 festival tickets.
She used them to purchase the pumpkin scarecrow for Chloé.
Bill and Benjamin decided to enter the haunted house while Elisabeth went to try her luck at The Claaaaw. She really wanted to win the horse toy for Chloé, who silently walked towards the playground.
When Elisabeth grabbed the horse and looked down to give the toy to Chloé, she noticed Chloé wasn’t there. She panicked for a second, but luckily the toddler was only a few meters away.
She quickly ran after her and picked her up. “You can’t be running away from me, Chloé! Don’t do this to me ever again!” she scolded her. Chloé looked at Elisabeth with guilt in her eyes.
For a moment, Elisabeth felt bad for screaming at Chloé, but as soon as she gave her the new toy and saw her eyes widen with joy, she felt a little better for making her happy.
Bill took his cellphone out of the pocket of his jacket and took a picture of the girls. They looked so happy together.
“Do you want to play with the horse, Chloé?”
“Elisabeb play too?”
“Yes Elisabeth will play, too.”
“Yippee!” Chloé called happily and walked hand in hand with Elisabeth towards the playground. While they played together, Elisabeth talked about Freya and winning the golden cup on her back, about her mother’s horses Bella and Lady, about Monte Vista and her two brothers Finn and Zac, and also about the Far East where people use chopsticks to eat their food.
As she watched Chloé play happily with the horse toy, Elisabeth thought about the unbearable truth – she will never have a child of her own and will live her life not knowing what it feels like to be a mother.
She will never see her daughter or son play with the horse toy on a beautiful autumn afternoon.
At the thought her heart started beating fast. Elisabeth realized, that she will probably die old and wrinkled, alone with no children to take care of her. She will be forgotten, like she had never existed.
But if she becomes a mother, she will live forever in the memories of her children, the children of their children and so forth until the end of time.
“There you are!” Benjamin interrupted Elisabeth’s thoughts as he walked to the playground.
“Daddy! Elisabeb give Chloé a horse!” she called happily at him.
“That’s so nice of her! Did you thank her, Chloé?”
“Thank you, Elisabeb,” Chloé said softly and blushed when she realized she forgot.
“You’re welcome, Chloé,” Elisabeth smiled at her.
“Bill invited us for dinner tonight,” Benjamin informed Elisabeth as he bent down to pick up Chloé. “He asked me to pick a pumpkin pie on the way.”
“Yay! Pumpkin pie!” Chloé exclaimed happily.
After Chloé ate the last slice of the pumpkin pie, the three headed home. Bill’s ratatouille was sublime, he really knew the way around the kitchen.
Benjamin raked the fallen leaves on a big pile and set it on fire. The nights were chilly in October, but the heat from the burning leaves made it possible for them to stay outside a little longer. Chloé was still playing with the horse, it became her favorite toy of the moment.
Elisabeth cut off the top of the pumpkin, scooped out the inside flesh and began carving a face out of the rind. When she finished her creation, she placed a candle inside and closed the lid.
Benjamin carefully carried the lantern to the doorstep. When Chloé saw it, she couldn’t bring herself to stop looking at it. Its face was simply hypnotizing.
She was sitting in front of the jack-o’-lantern until the last leaf on the pile burned and Benjamin decided it was time for bed.
Meanwhile Benjamin was putting Chloé to sleep, Elisabeth found an empty photo frame and placed the photo from the festival on his desk.
The next day in the morning, Elisabeth woke up early and prepared waffles for breakfast. She then turned on Benjamin’s laptop and purchased two tickets to Champs Les Sims.
“I think she doesn’t like the idea of her dad leaving her alone again,” Elisabeth told Benjamin when she saw Chloé throw the bowl with her breakfast on the floor.
Only when it hit the floor and broke, Benjamin raised his eyes from the waffles. Chloé was very happy that she made everything dirty. She probably thought that her daddy will have to stay home, because he has to clean the mess.
Benjamin looked at Elisabeth with helpless face. “Maybe I should really stay. I think Bill doesn’t enjoy taking care of naughty children that make everything dirty.”
“Don’t worry about that. Bill loves Chloé, you had the chance to see it yesterday,” assured him Elisabeth.
“He’s spoiling her. That doesn’t mean he loves her… What if we take her with us?”
“Nonsense. We’re going alone,” Benjamin said decisively and Elisabeth silently sighed in relief. Bringing a toddler who keeps on running away at the first opportunity she gets was a very bad idea.
“I’ll call Bill to let him know that we’re leaving in about an hour, okay?” Elisabeth told Benjamin and went to wash the plates.
“Sure. I’ll take care of the broken bowl and clean this mess. Could you entertain Chloé when you’re done with the dishes? Please?”
“Of course,” said Elisabeth and went to pick a picture book from the bookcase.
“You’re a very naughty little girl,” Benjamin said to Chloé and picked her up from the highchair. “Daddy wanted to bring you a present from France, but now he’s not sure if you deserve it. Will you be a good girl and listen to uncle Bill?”
“Yes, yes! Chloé promise!”
“Good. Daddy will ask when he comes back.”
Benjamin quickly picked all the broken shards and cleaned the floor and the dirty highchair. Elisabeth sat on the floor with Chloé and opened the book.
“What is this color, Chloé?”
“And this one?”
“Almost. It’s violet. Like the flower, you know?”
Bill rang the door bell soon after Benjamin changed Chloé into clean pajamas.
“It must be Bill. Are you ready?” Elisabeth asked Benjamin.
“Yeah. Let me just get my camera bag.”
“Hi, Bill!” Elisabeth called from the stairs.
“Thanks again, Bill. I owe you.”
“Don’t even mention it, Ben. I’m happy to help,” Bill smiled at him.
“We’re going to stay for just a couple of days, so theoretically, Benjamin should be back by the end of this week,” Elisabeth told him again to make sure he’d remember.
“I remember, Elisabeth. You told me yesterday.”
“I know. I’m just making sure.”
“You have my number, right?” Benjamin asked Bill.
“I do,” he assured him. “Listen you kids, don’t worry about us and enjoy yourselves, we’re gonna be just fine.”
“Oh, and I heard France is famous for its exquisite wine. If you bring me a bottle or two, I won’t be disappointed,” Bill winked at them from under his sunglasses.