by Charles Rempel
This Little Piggie
She was the light of his life, his little daughter. He loved nothing more that to hold her in his arms, to rock her to sleep, to burp her and to change her and to tickle her and to love her. She was his lovely daughter.
His favorite game with her was "This Little Piggie." Although she was only seven months old, he was fairly sure she could comprehend the piggies, because the game was always the same.
"This little piggie went to market": she would smile.
"This little piggie stayed home": she would roll her head to the left and gurgle.
"This little piggie had roast beef": she would make a sound that he believed to be her attempt at saying "roast beef."
"This little piggie had none": her smile would get bigger.
"And this little piggie went 'wee, wee, wee' all the way home": she would erupt in laughter. He would tickle her and gently tug on her little toes and repeat "wee, wee, wee" and she would laugh and gurgle and roll and be a generally happy baby.
It was his favorite part of the day.
One day, while at the jewelry store to buy his wife a necklace for their fifth anniversary, he saw the perfect gift for his little bundle of joy. It was a charm, a charm designed to decorate a bracelet, a charm of a little roller skate. Its size was what caught his attention. It looked as if it would fit her little toe, her little piggie that went wee, wee, wee all the way home. That piggie could skate home, he thought. He bought the skate charm.
That night he played "This Little Piggie" with his daughter, and when he got to the last little piggie, he placed the skate charm on the little toe. It fit perfectly. He smiled and finished the game, "And this little piggie skated 'wee, wee, wee' all the way home."
The gleam off the silver charm caught her eye and added a sparkle. In her short time on this earth, she had never seen anything, save for the smile of her father, that shined so brightly. She lifted her foot and the skate charm glistened even more. She didn't know much, but she knew one thing for sure: that shiny thing needed to go in her mouth.
The moment that foot entered her mouth, he realized the charm was maybe not the best gift he could have given a seven month old child. He removed the foot from her mouth, and noticed the charm was missing. He put the foot back in her mouth and removed it. Still no charm. He put the foot back in and back out. Once again, no charm.
Okay, he thought, this is no time to panic. He thought he was about to hyperventilate, but since the only bag he found in the room was the diaper bag, he decided against it. He took a deep breath, put his finger in her mouth, and fished around for the charm. Finding it lodged in her cheek, he flipped at it, knocking it out of her mouth and across the room.
Crisis averted, he thought. He kissed her little forehead and wished her good night. Then he crawled on his hands and knees, scouring the floor to find that charm. He found it near the doorway. The light from the hallway caught it just right and it shined like a little star in the sky. So that's the gleam that caught my daughter's eye and made her want to put it in her mouth, he thought. In that moment, he envied her innocence, and wanting that innocence for himself, he did what she did. He put the skate charm in his mouth.
The charm logged in his throat, blocking his windpipe.
Days later, when he came out of his coma, the doctors explained the lack of oxygen to his brain, and the damage to the brain that resulted. He learned that his short-term memory was basically shot. But there was one lesson that his short-term memory didn't forget: don't put shiny things in your mouth.