Just One More Bounce, Please

On to week 2 of September’s writing challenge. Day 8’s prompt is to write a story about wanting something and not having the power to get it, once, twice, thrice . . . until . . .

“He really is intent on his playing, isn’t he?”

Jana smiled fondly across the park at her four-year old grandson, energetically bouncing his stuffed Tigger against the wooden play structure, singing with atonal enthusiasm, “The most wonderful thing about Tiggers . . . is Tiggers are wonderful things!”

“He’s says Tigger is always asking for just one more bounce. It’s like Robin thinks that ragged old toy is alive. I swear, the interior life of a child knows no bounds.”

“Do you think he remembers?”

Jana took her eyes off Robin and looked her oldest friend somberly. “If there’s any justice in the world, at all, no.”

Both adults looked across at the giggling child and the stuffed Tigger. Robin had tucked Tigger under one arm, scrambling up the toy. At the top, he dropped Tigger to the ground, with the injunction to remember, “They’re tops are made out of rubber. They’re bottoms are made out of springs!”

The Tigger landed awkwardly on the beauty bark below the Big Toy and fell to one side. Robin climbed over the side and jumped after Tigger. Jana half-stood, heart in mouth, to holler, “Robin, stop!” and watched as the boy landed gracefully, snatching Tigger up and hugging him tight.

“I also swear he thinks he can fly.” Jana shook her head, heaving a sigh, half-watching Robin as she packed empty sandwich wrappers and juice boxes into Robin’s Tigger-themed lunchbox. She paused, listening to Robin’s piping voice explain that Tigger’s ” . . . tops are made out of rubber . . . and bottoms are made out of springs!” ending with a plea to Tigger to “just how him one little bounce, all on his very own.”

“The therapist thinks how he plays with Tigger, asking him to show him just one little bounce is how he’s processing what he saw when . . . ” Jana felt bile rising in her throat, with its now-familiar gag reflex kicking in. She swallowed convulsively and looked off across the playground, her eyes swimming.

“I’m so sorry, Jana. This is more than you ever bargained for, isn’t it?”

Her friend paused, and then stood up herself, brushing the bits of bark off her pants and tugging her coat more firmly down around her hips. “When do you think he’ll be able to attend preschool so you can come back to work? We miss you.”

Jana snorted. “Who knows?” and gave her friend a quick hug before heading over to where Robin sat, cradling his Tigger in his arms, eyes far away fixed on some hidden memory.

Jana could hear the quaver in Robin’s voice as he stroked the Tigger’s head. “It’s okay, Tigger. You’ll bounce when you’re ready to . . . I know you will.”

Jana sat quietly down next to Robin. She could feel the wintry sun on her back, while a brisk breeze ruffled her prematurely graying hair into her eyes.

Robin looked up at her. “I can’t remember the next words, Gramma. Tigger won’t bounce if I can’t remember the words.” Tears started to fill his eyes and Jana smiled reassuringly.

“We’ll sing it together, Robin, okay?”

He nodded, and Jana started at the beginning in a low and soothing voice. Robin sang with her, his voice steadying. By the time they reached, “They’re bouncy, flouncy, pouncy, trouncy,” Robin was up and jumping himself, thumping the Tigger’s spring-loaded legs vigorously onto the metal slide next to him . . . “fun, fun, fun, fun, FUN!”

“Catch, Gramma!” Robin charged back up the Big Toy, and dropped Tigger into Jana’s waiting hands. She obligingly held Tigger.

“Bounce him, Gramma, bounce him!”

Jana leaned down, bouncing Tigger off of the beauty bark beneath her feet while Robin slid down the slide, singing at the top of his lungs, “But, by far the most wonderful thing about Tiggers is he’s the only one!”

Jana handed the Tigger over to her grandson, and held out her hand.

“Let’s head home. It’s nap-time.”

Robin pulled away, dashing back up the Big Toy.

“Just one more bounce, Gramma, please? One more? Please?”

 

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