A/N: A short story, where I had a lot of trouble deciding on the ending – so let me know what you think!
Once upon a time there was a couple, who seemed to have everything. They were a handsome couple with a good income, and a charismatic personality. They were the perfect image of what a couple was supposed to be like, and this image only became more perfect when they had a perfect little girl.
The little girl was named Lucy, and she was in her parents’ eyes the most perfect little girl there had ever existed. She truly was a beautiful child with her lithe build and heart-shaped face, her rosy lips and her doe-brown eyes. She was a beautiful little girl and people would often comment on this.
“Oh, what a beautiful little girl,” they would say. “She’s the prettiest little girl I have ever seen. If only she were to stay that way forever.”
The little girl would then smile, and the parents would preen themselves, smile in self-satisfaction and thank whoever the compliment had come from. “Thank you,” they would say. “She really is wonderful. So well-behaved and polite. Never had a tantrum in her life.”
But even though the little girl’s parents generally seemed happy with her, there was one thing that terrified them. One thing that kept them up on countless nights. One thing that people kept commenting on.
If only she were to stay that way forever. But she wouldn’t.
They knew that their little girl would not always be their little girl. One day she would grow up, and not be their perfect, adorable little accomplishment. One day she would lose her charm, her prettiness and her cuteness, and every month they shared their fears over this future with each other. It would be much better if she would just stay their little girl. Everything was perfect just the way it was.
The little girl certainly thought this as well. She spent her days playing with the other children in the street, or having her mother read out loud to her from one of her many picture books. When her dad came home from work he would give her a piggy back ride and tell her that he loved her, and everything was just as it should be. Her mother would bake her chocolate chips cookies, and she was never mean and put raisins in instead like Diane’s mother did.
“Don’t you just want to live like this forever?” her parents would sometimes ask her and she would smile prettily at them.
“I would,” she would say, and her parents would exchange a calculating look.
Then one night they couldn’t take the terror of the future anymore. Their little girl had just turned five, and wouldn’t remain a little girl for much longer. So one night, after they had sang their little girl to sleep, they had a meeting in the kitchen.
“We can’t lose our little girl,” the mother said, and the father nodded in agreement. So in the cover of the darkness they decided that they wouldn’t ever let their little girl grow up, and so they crept into her room, where she lay sound asleep in the knowledge that her parents were close by, protecting her.
The parents looked down on their little girl, their perfect little girl, and told each other with a single look that she would be happier if they did this to her, did this for her, before they reached down in unison and unthinkingly stole her growth.
After that everything was exactly as they’d always wanted it. Their little girl was pretty, and sweet, and happy, but now they also knew that she would stay that way forever. And so her mother baked her cookies three times a week and her father would give her piggy back rides every afternoon without fail, and the little girl’s world was perfect.
Years went by, and the parents often congratulated themselves for being so smart as to steal their little girl’s growth, but over time the little girl herself began to feel like something was missing. She could no longer play with her friends, because her friends grew up and didn’t wish to play with her anymore. There was a void in her life, but knowing how upset her parents became every time she mentioned something was wrong, she kept quiet about it, hoping the feeling would disappear on its own.
It didn’t, though. It just kept growing as she saw her friends from the past grow up, study, work and fall in love. She loved her parents, of course, but she felt that there was something missing in that love, a thought which made her feel ever so selfish for just thinking it. Decades went by, and finally, when one of her old friends had a little girl on her own, she asked her parents why she wasn’t growing up like the rest of the children.
“God gave you a gift,” her parents told her then. “Be thankful, always be thankful for this gift, for it is the gift that allows you to forever remain our little girl.”
And so the little girl never asked again, though she sometimes felt as if something was not quite right with the answer that she was giving.
Decades went by once again, and her mother still baked her chocolate chip cookies – never raisins – and her father still gave her piggy rides, but she had long ago stopped enjoying either. But knowing how much joy her parents got out of doing this for her, she kept quiet, despite growing to detest especially the piggy back rides. Her father was no longer a young man and she knew that they hurt him. She saw how he grimaced in pain every time he got up after one of them, but the one time she said no thank you to one, his eyes filled with tears, and so she never said no again.
Then one day came the day where her father took ill. He coughed and gasped with pain, but still he insisted without fail to give her a daily piggy back ride. A few short weeks after he died, and her mother looked at her with tears in her eyes and a cheerful grin and tells her that her father was waiting for them in Heaven.
And so nothing much changed except now her mother gave her the piggy back rides instead. Something the little girl desperately wished she didn’t, as her mother would cringe in pain every time she bent that far down. The little girl started crying at night. Everything once perfect was now bleak and dark, and there was a place inside of her, which felt empty and void. She felt stilted, as if something was missing, but to her frustration she knew that she would never be able to understand what is was that she was truly missing.
Then came the day where her mother took ill, and the little girl sat at the side of her death bed and listened to her shallow breathing, feeling as if everything inside of her has turned black.
“My perfect, little girl,” her mother whispered and reached out and caressed the little girl’s cheek. “My perfect, little girl. Taking your growth was the best thing your father and I ever did.”
“What?” the little girl asked.
“We knew you would one day grow up and not be perfect, so we took your growth. Aren’t you happy that you could always be our little girl? Our perfect little girl.”
“You stole my growth? I thought God had taken it.”
“No, my precious. We gave you that gift. One day you will die as well and we will meet in heaven where you will for forever be our little girl. Now kiss your mother on the cheek and say thank you.”
The little girl, however, had no chance to decide whether she would do this or scream in new-found rage, before her mother’s eyes closed for the last time and her last breath escaped her lips.
And so she sat next to her dead mother and looked at her ashen face, and the little girl realised that where it truly counted, her parents had always put themselves over her.
And so she hid her face in her hands and cried over her stolen growth.