By Sharon Cupp Pennington
I watch the child from across the room, someone’s niece or granddaughter. I don’t recall. She’s all of three-years old and having a full day of it: Hide-n-Seek behind the sofa, bouncing on an overstuffed chair, taxiing her button-nosed teddy bear in the red wagon, laughing, singing, doing the “tushy” dance — wiggle, wiggle, skip, skip, bow.
Center stage, she curtsies with impish elegance in her pink tutu and tennis shoes. Heads turn; a momentary hush falls over the room. Family members, once immersed in talk of baseball scores and politics, applaud. Her ever appreciative audience.
The child mounts her yellow tricycle, and a woman’s voice calls from the kitchen, “Easy, Sasha. Watch out for the sharp edges on that coffee table.”
Round and round, she goes; faster, harder, frenzied. Paint worn, silver and black labels peeling, the tricycle looks as though it’s braved the journey countless times, and may a hundred more.
The woman’s voice calls out again, “Better slow it down, Sasha. You’re going to spill someone’s iced tea.”
Round and round, the chubby-cheeked daredevil flies. Tiny hands grip the handlebars, her head a flurry of nods and shakes, her dark hair a mass of maverick ringlets that seem to multiply by the nanosecond. She smiles and giggles, shrieks and squeals. Sneaker-clad feet spin in perpetual motion — a blur of pedals and spokes and tires.
The tricycle protests in agonizing creaks and groans. Round and round, the trusty cohorts travel in ever diminishing circles. She leans forward, this elfin femme fatale, further and further, until her elbows jut back like embryonic wings.
Round and round, until she’s nose to nose with the handlebars. Slowly, her eyelids droop and her head sags, tiny chin to chest. The tricycle coasts to a stop.
The child sleeps.
“Round and Round” garnered an honorable mention in a 2003 contest titled "Frenzy" and hosted by the website Writer Online, and an honorable mention again in a 2006 Whim's Place flash fiction contest. Sharon Cupp Pennington’s short stories have appeared in numerous online and print venues, with anthology contributions to The Rocking Chair Reader in the "Coming Home" edition (2004) and "Family Gatherings" (2005), A Cup of Comfort for Weddings: Something Old, Something New (2007), and Good Old Days magazine (March, 2007). Draumr Publishing released her debut romantic suspense novel, Hoodoo Money, in May 2008 and the sequel, Mangroves and Monsters, in November 2009. She resides in Texas with her husband where she is currently working on her next project. To learn more about Sharon, visit her website.