Should the Sun Not Shine
By Audrey W.
Joanne DeSoto came into Station 51 through the open rear apparatus bay doors, her two children with her. Eight-year-old Jennifer held on tight to her mother’s hand, while Christopher lagged behind. He was ten-years-old and already trying to be independent.
Suddenly the boy ran past his mother and sister when he saw his dad come out of Captain Stanley’s office and step near the squad. The engine and its crew were out on a run.
“Dad, Dad!” Chris hollered.
“Christopher DeSoto, no running!” Joanne called out.
Roy looked as his son quickly slowed to a walk as told, then glanced at his wife and daughter farther behind. “Hey slugger,” the paramedic said, patting Chris on the head when the boy reached him. “What are you guys doing here?”
“Mom said we could see you on the way home from school.”
“Chris wanted to give you some news,” Joanne explained, stepping up to the other two. She still had a hold of her daughter’s hand, but didn’t notice the little girl eyeing the apparatus bay, then focusing on the doorway to the dorm where Johnny stood watching. The little girl frowned when he looked down and walked back into the room, disappearing.
“What’s up?” Roy wondered, his gaze shifting from his wife to son.
“I won a prize!” Chris blurted out, a big smile on his face. “Best reader in my class!”
“Hey, that’s terrific.”
“You wanna see my trophy?”
“It’s out in the car,” Joanne explained. She looked down when Jenny tapped her on the elbow. “Yes, hon?”
“Can I go see Johnny?”
Overhearing, Roy started to answer the girl’s question with a ‘not now’, but changed his mind after a few more seconds of thought. Seeing Joanne’s puzzled reaction to his pause, Roy explained, “He’s been kind of out if it this shift. But maybe a little chat is what he needs.” Roy smiled down at his daughter. “I know it helps me.”
Jennifer looked up expectantly at her mom. She knew the answer as soon as Joanne let go of her hand. Remembering her mom’s words to Christopher a few moments before, the little blond girl walked quickly towards the dorm.
“Will Hank mind if she’s in there?” Joanne wondered.
Roy shook his head. “Normally, visitors don’t go in there, but she’s royalty.”
The mother caught the teasing tone in his voice. “Oh, just don’t let *her* hear that.”
Chris sighed loudly, putting his hands on his hips. “Can we pul-eeze go look at my trophy now?”
“Sure, lead the way.” Roy took his wife’s hand in his and followed the boy out to the back lot.
Johnny looked up from his seat on his bed and saw Jennifer hesitantly walking towards him. The paramedic was on his feet in an instant. “Uh. . .Jen. . .do your mom and dad know you’re in here?” He looked behind her at the doorway, expecting either Roy or Joanne to come retrieve their daughter.
The little blonde girl nodded. “Uh huh. Daddy said I could visit you.”
“Oh. . .in here?”
“Where’s he at?”
“Lookin’ at Chris’s trophy.”
“Ah, I see.” The paramedic thought he got it now. Jennifer was probably feeling down because her brother had gotten a trophy somehow and she hadn’t. Roy must’ve sent her in for a little pep talk.
“Well,” he said, motioning towards her dad’s bed. “Come on and sit down. We can talk.”
“’Kay.” Jennifer smiled as she took a seat across from Gage. From what her dad had said, she knew Johnny needed cheering up.
“So, what have you been up to, squirt?”
“Nothin’ at all?”
“’Course I’ve been doin’ some stuff,” the girl said, giggling. “That’s a silly question.”
“Okay, then, now we’re gettin’ somewhere.” Johnny rubbed his hands together. “Soooo, c’mon. Spill.”
Jennifer went on to tell Gage about every little detail of the past few days before, during and after school. The paramedic resisted the urge to cut her short. When she was done, he sat staring a moment until it sank in that the room was quiet. Only thing was, she hadn’t mentioned anything that would have indicated she was down about Chris’s award.
As Johnny began to open his mouth to ask another question, Jennifer beat him to the punch. “So, what’ve you been up to? Spill,” she said imitating Gage earlier.
Johnny was taken by surprise. “How old are you again?”
“Eight,” she answered proudly.
“Eight going on thirty-eight,” he mumbled sarcastically. Johnny stared a moment at the child, deciding if he should actually tell her anything beyond the fact he’d slept, ate and worked the past couple of days.
Roy and Joanne had peeked into the dorm to see how things were going. Hearing Jennifer rambling on about her week they figured if nothing else, Johnny would appreciate his peace and quiet after she was out of the station. That alone might be enough to cheer him up.
They left the younger paramedic with their talkative daughter and headed for the dayroom to join up with Chris for a snack.
When Johnny didn’t answer, Jennifer took the lead again. “Daddy says you’re sad.”
Gage couldn’t hide the surprise in his face that she knew. But he took his usual stance when being confronted. “I’m not sad.”
“You were frowning when we got here.”
Jenny nodded. “Uh huh.”
“Hmmm. Well, I guess I can’t hide it very well.” He sat quiet a moment, then sighed. “I’m okay, sweetie. Just sometimes us grownups have a few problems pop up and we get a little down. It’s like a dark cloud is hangin’ over us. Then one day we wake up and things are lookin’ better; the cloud’s gone and we’re back to bein’ okay again.”
“Are you okay again now?”
He flashed a crooked grin and nodded slightly. “I will be.” He reached out and took her hand. “C’mon, let’s go find your mom and dad.”
Jennifer jumped off the bed and followed alongside the paramedic, her hand still in his. “You know what?” She asked looking up.
“It’s not always so bad when it’s cloudy and gray. The sun just gets annoying when it gets in your eyes and makes ‘em water anyway.”
Johnny snickered. “I never thought about it like that. I guess when you look at it that way, a little dark cloud isn’t such a bad deal, huh?” The paramedic had to admit, he did feel better. Besides, life with nothing but sunshine would get awful boring after awhile.
Thanks to Kenda and Vanessa for reading over this for me. This was another story inspired by my daughter. We’ve had a few hurdles the past few months, and the other day she and I heard a song on the radio about sun and clouds in life. She came up with the philosophy about the ‘sun’ being annoying at times and why. :o)
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