Toy Kitchen

We got the call whilst choosing frozen pizza in Waitrose.
I wondered how everyone was able to get on with their lives,
when you were laying in a blanket of morphine with your chest 
broken open.
I barely heard the words – just what was important
they call it survival mode.
‘She’s now in the PICU’
I looked at you, and without talking, we put the pizza
back and hurried through the after-workers choosing 
meals for one

at the hospital, the shiny corridors and cheery nurses were offensive
Our heads were down as if this would get us to you quicker

we thought we’d be able to see you
straight away
But we were made to wait in the narrow waiting room,
Nearly touching knees with the other parents.
Despite the closeness
we were all far away.

You said to me
‘Focus on the toy kitchen.’
The lone toy, too big for the room.
So I did.
I took in the wooden sides,
one of which had been scribbled on in 
black marker.
There was also a ghost of a sticker that 
had been scratched at.
There was an oven door with a missing handle.
Little fingers would have to scrape in at the sides
for any chance of opening it.
On top were four hobs painted red
eternally on
‘Not very safe’, I remember thinking.
Next to this was the sink, the neck of the tap
protruding like a hook.
Two taps – hot and cold.
A little oven hood enveloped everything
as if keeping it safe against all the odds.

Then the soft sounds of feet could be heard
coming down the corridor
dulcet tones from the chatter of the nurses
and a voice announcing
‘You can now come and see her, she’s awake.’

by Emma Dawson

Emma Dawson has written for pleasure and processing emotions for as long as she can remember – she used to invent characters and stories from about the age of five. It’s only recently she’s thought about submitting her work. She is currently unpublished.