Wednesday, December 10, 2008

December Prompt: Sweets from October 005/Artistic License

A Sweet Surprise

(Vukovar 1991)

"Mama...there's nothing to do." Despite the consequences that she knew would come from her actions, the five year old's voice altered to more of a whine as she gave in to the frustration that had been building for far too long

"Jasna, lower your voice before you wake Tata." Danijela offered the warning to her oldest child with barely a glance up from the laundry she was sorting and folding.

"You've got plenty of things you can do, if you can't figure something out yourself, you can come help me or play with Marko." At the mention of her youngest child, she immediately glanced to where the toddler was sitting on the floor, an assortment of cups scattered around him.

"I don't want to play with Marko, he's a baby. I want to go outside." With her anger peaking her chair very nearly toppled over as she shoved it backward in her haste to vacate it.

"Ou'si'" Marko almost immediately echoed his sister's word, and as a smile spread across his face he abandoned his own play to scramble to his feet so he could follow her.

" look what you've done. You know you can't go outside." Danijela's voice held mixed emotions in it, as angry as she might be at her daughter for fueling things, she understood only too well how hard it must be for the children to be confined to the small apartment day after day. With a sigh she lay the stack of clothing on her lap to the side before rising.

"What's going on?" Danijela had just scooped Marko up, when she heard her husband's sleepy voice over her young son's protesting cries.

"Tata, we want to go outside." Jasna immediately changed her target, and before Luka had even sat up she was climbing onto the bed where he was.

"I'm sorry they woke you, Luka." Danijela offered the apology as she continued with her efforts to calm Marko.

"It's all right." He gave his wife a tired smile before turning his attention to his daughter as she finally settled beside him.

"Tell me what's going on, Beba?" After wiping the last of the sleep from his eyes Luka sat up and slid his arm around her.

"I just want to go outside, Tata, we don't get to do anything anymore." Whether it was because of her closeness to her father, or simply because the anger that she'd seemed to hold had been released, the girl's voice no longer held it's earlier anger.

"Jasna, we've talked about this, you know it's not safe for you to be outside. I wish it was different but, it's not. How about if I get dressed and you can take your jump-rope into the hallway, would that be okay?" As he offered the compromise, Luka idly stroked his daughter's hair.

"It's not the same thing, Tata." Even as she voiced her discontent, the five year old realized that what her father was offering her was likely going to be the only option open to her other then playing in the apartment.

"What do you say, Jasna?" Luka dropped his hand to her shoulder as he asked for her final decision.

"I guess that's okay, but, just me and you, not Marko, right?" In that moment it seemed equally important that her escape from the apartment be something that she alone experience.

"Marko can stay here with Mama, besides, I have a surprise for both of you." Tossing aside the blanket that still covered him, Luka climbed off the bed and went to retrieve a small bag from the pocket of his coat. With the sack in hand, he motioned for Danijela to join the as he returned and took a seat on the side of the bed closest to his daughter.

"Tata, Marko, up." As soon as he got close to his father, the 18 month old's mood brightened.

"What do you have, Tata?" Jasna's curiosity grew as she saw the bag, and by the time he had it open she had almost draped herself over his shoulder to get a better look. As he withdrew a red sucker she elicited a squeal of delight, which was echoed by Marko.

"Let me give this one to your brother, okay?" Pulling the cellophane off he handed the sucker over to the toddler before reaching again in the bag and producing a second one.

"Here you go, Beba." Luka handed the second one to his daughter and wasn't surprised to see that it went immediately into her mouth. Realizing almost as quickly what she'd forgotten, the girl removed it and rose up to kiss her father's cheek.

"Thank you, Tata." She followed the words up with a smile, then, with the sucker back in her mouth, she climbed off the bed and coaxed Marko to follow.

"You're welcome, Beba." With the children now occupied, Danijela moved to the spot her daughter had just left.

"Where in the world did you find sweets?" She found herself trying to steal a peek in the bag as she questioned him, but, as he had with the children, Luka was being equally secretive with her.

"No peeking." The chiding came with one of his quiet laughs and it was only after he'd secured payment of a kiss from her that he revealed the chocolate bar that was her surprise.

"Luka, where did you find it?" Danijela's smile grew as broad as those of the children's when she saw what he'd found. After so many weeks of sacrifice, to have found something like this, she didn't even want to think about what it might have cost him.

"Did you get something for yourself? Take part of this." She'd already begun to section the bar off when her husband stopped her.

"We'll talk about what I want tonight, after the kids are asleep, you just enjoy it, I'm fine." It wasn't until he said them aloud that he realized how much truth the words held, despite all the sacrifices they were living with, in this moment, they were truly happy, and they couldn't ask for more than that.

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