Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: SMEAR (03/10/16)
- TITLE: Emma's Dilemma
By Cindy Duncan
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It was the combination of birds singing and my fourteen-month-old daughter laughing that pulled me out of my slumber early that morning. The harmony of the two made beautiful music to my ears, because it was the first night in almost a week that she had slept all night and woke up happy. Apparently we had finally found the magic antibiotic needed to obliterate her double ear infection. My husband, Josh, heard the music too. He smiled and nodded as I said, “I’m going to bring her in here with us for a little bit.” I rolled out of bed, and tiptoed down the hall. I loved to sneak up on Emma and watch her play, without her spotting me. This particular morning, however, I didn’t watch for long.
As I stuck my head in her bedroom door, my first thought was, "How in the world did little Emma get that greenish brown finger paint, and why is she painting the walls and her bed with it?" Then the aroma of the substance reached my nostrils, and confirmed that it was definitely not finger paint.
“Josh, could you come here?” I asked, in the calmest voice I could manufacture. “Quickly?”
At the sound of my voice, Emma looked up and grinned, her face covered with the “paint” like a child’s unsuccessful attempt at applying makeup.
Josh walked into the room and immediately began gagging. He was bent over at the waist, covering his mouth lest anything were to begin spewing out, when Emma reached for him with her chubby, newly brown hands. “Da da, out,” she whined, beginning to sense his disapproval.
“I can’t deal with this. It’s disgusting.” Josh turned to leave the room, and Emma wailed. She reached for him again, trying to climb the crib rails to get to him. Her big, blue eyes began to sparkle as tears filled them, and her bottom lip quivered as she realized the disapproval of her father.
Her wail stopped him in his tracks, and he turned back to her and saw her repentant face. He reached out to her and very carefully lifted her out of her “miry pit” of a bed. “Daddy will fix this, Sweetie. He’ll clean you up,” he assured her, as he carried her at arm’s length to the bathroom.
Left alone in Emma’s room, I was faced with the daunting task of cleaning up her world. I carefully removed the sheets from her bed, breathing only through my mouth, and as I carried them down the hall to the laundry room, I paused at the bathroom door. Emma had calmed down, and she held her head back as her father poured water over her silky blond hair.
I reached in to retrieve her soiled pajamas, and proceeded to put all the dirty garments into the washing machine, adding a little more detergent than was probably necessary. I returned to Emma’s room and began scrubbing her crib and the wall behind it, determined that my baby would not have to return to filth after she was clean.
Later that afternoon, when all the remnants of the morning were forever washed down the drain, and lunch had been eaten, Emma, with her sippy cup in one hand and worn out blanket in the other, crawled up onto Josh’s lap and laid her head on his chest. “I guess that antibiotic cleared up her ears, but messed up her stomach this morning,” he said as he rubbed her back, causing her eyelids to grow heavy.
“Yeah, let’s hope it doesn’t happen again.” I smiled as a thought occurred to me. “You know, she was having fun until she saw your disapproval. She didn’t even realize she was playing in filth until you refused to hold her.”
“She didn’t, did she? When I saw those tears, though, I would’ve done anything to help her. Anything. I loved her that much, even if she was disgusting.” Josh brushed Emma’s hair from her face and kissed her on the cheek as her eyes finally closed.
“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8 KJV
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