Her Grandmother’s Afternoon Tea
Why did she squawk so much when they put on her coat? The fact she could only say a few words didn’t help, but her communicative ways eventually let her parents know. Since she was just a little toddler, Morgan liked to wear her coat back to front. It must have felt nice to her. Besides, the ordeal of putting it on the ‘right way’ just wasn’t worth it.
Today was her Grandmother’s birthday and an afternoon tea had been planned. Most of the family and several of her Grandparent’s friends were invited. In true ‘keeping up with the Jones’, the event would be catered and held in the gardens of her Grandparent’s magnificent home. Providing that the three of them were there by 3pm, all would be well.
It was mid morning and all they really had to do was collect the flowers they’d organised for a gift. Her Dad’s phone rang. It was his mate and he was super excited. It was like the old days and he had been able to get some really good gear.
‘Go easy though Man, it’s strong’ he told her Dad.
They made a pact. Family dos always stressed them so it would be a treat for that evening. They would put Morgan to bed and just hang, like they used to. Purposely, they’d only get a little, even though they always wanted more, psychologically they felt it was a harmless hit; a reward for abstaining.
All dressed and ready, they left home after lunch. Morgan and her Mum stayed in the car while her Dad dashed up the lane way behind the shops. He was only gone a few minutes then came back to the car. Her parents looked at each other. They both had that feeling. Actually in his pocket, rather than just a longing for; was their guarantee of that bliss. That safety. That warmth.
They drove to the lake. It was a clear, sunny day. Still a month away from Spring, the air was cold. Her Dad parked under an old Oak. They got out of the car and Morgan insisted her Mum buttoned up her coat back to front. They walked over to a couple throwing bread scraps to some swans. They were leaving but gave their bread to Morgan for the swans. She kept climbing onto the stone ledge to reach out to the swans. As her Mum and Dad took turns lifting her down, they had the same idea going through their heads. Just a little would be alright. They would be straight enough by their 3pm deadline. A little tired perhaps, but being the parents of a three year old, that went with the territory. Plus, they knew how to play that trick. With just a glance, they started to herd Morgan back to the car. Morgan’s Dad then raced off to prepare.
As Morgan’s little steps became agonising, her Mum scooped her up. She’d often wondered whether her use diminished her natural ability to feel good. Had her brain convinced her nothing was as good as a hit? Today she’d been laughing and playing with her delightful daughter. It felt good, but was it that good?
Morgan was in the back of the car and her Mum and Dad sat in the front. The passenger door was slightly open as Morgan’s Mum hated being confined. They were all singing. Her Mum kept Morgan distracted while her Dad drew up two little hits. They told Morgan to cover her eyes and count, then quickly shot up.
They were both out.
Her Mum came back first, then moments later, her Dad. It took them a minute to reorientate.
The passenger door was open wider. Morgan wasn’t in the car.
They frantically leapt out of the car. Her Mum started screaming her name. They couldn’t see her anywhere. They sprinted down to the lake.
As they approached the stone ledge, they found their precious baby girl floating in the water. Her coat was facing them.
Her Dad plunged in and hauled Morgan’s drenched body onto the ledge. He tried desperately to resuscitate her, but their little daughter had drowned.
Morgan’s Mum was frozen and completely stunned as she watched what was happening before her eyes. She started to vomit then screamed hysterically.
Several people gathered and a few called an ambulance. The faint sirens grew louder and within moments an ambulance, then the Police, arrived. They Paramedics took over from her father. They soon stopped and pronounced Morgan dead. With her mother still screaming, her Dad just stood there. Silent. In total shock. The Paramedics sedated her Mum. The Police cordoned the area off.
After staying at the scene for hours, Morgan’s parents were taken to the Police station for further questioning. Instead of the three of them leaving together, Morgan’s parents now left in separate Police cars, with the cold body of their daughter travelling in the mortuary vehicle behind. They felt so low, so nothing. Something only the two of them could feel. Each of them would have given anything to take back that choice. A day intended for celebrating her Grandmother’s birthday, was now the day of Morgan’s death. Preventable, yes, but a memory that haunts her parents every single day. Neither of them felt they had the right, irrespective of the cause, to pity the loss of their daughter. The shame, guilt judgement, hatred and condemnation they endured never let them either.
Years later, Morgan’s Mum was sorting through donated books for the Support Service fair she volunteered at. One book really stood out. The cover had a red stop sign, then written in bold – It’s not your fault. She fanned through the pages and at the back was a torn piece of paper with beautifully neat writing. With the shivers she instantly felt, she knew this message was from her beautiful little Morgan. The note read:
I love you and I never planned to stay.