For Children

Summer Loh

Dinnertime

3rd & 4th Grade Prose Honorable Mention

Dinnertime

Mia dug out her key and opened the door. "I'm home!" she shouted. Her two-year old brother ran out of his room and wrapped his arms around her.

"Mia!!!" he said with stars in his eyes like she was a celebrity. "Hi Mikey," she said as he stroked her silky brown hair. She softly put him down and took off her backpack.

"Where's mom?" Mikey looked sad and pointed to their mom's room. Mia entered her mom's room. The blinds were drawn. Her mother's eyes were closed. Her mom had been home from the hospital for three days and had barely left her room. Dad had been home over the weekend but today had to return to work. But that morning, her mom seemed fine. She was even walking around. "Don't worry. I'll take care of you guys," her mom had said as Mia left for school. Mia was supposed to have basketball practice, but came home to help just in case.

She'll get up soon, Mia reassured herself. Mia handed Mikey a toy to keep him busy while she did her homework.

Time passed and then Mikey said, "I'm bored. When is mommy coming out?"

Mia started to get worried. Why wasn't mom coming out? Trying to hide her feelings, she turned on Mikey's favorite cartoon. But when she finished her homework, the sun was setting.

She waited for her mom to wake up and cook dinner. "Mia, I'm hungry," Mikey whined. She looked at her watch, and it was dinnertime. "Mom's going to be up soon," she said, but when she checked on her mom again, her mom's eyes were still closed. Mia tried to ignore him, but Mikey was too cute. She prayed. "Please help my mom." She even tried to call her dad, but he didn't pick up.

If she didn't cook, Mikey would go to bed starving. But she had never cooked before. What if she started a fire? What if she stained her dress with sauce? What if she chopped off her finger?

Then she remembered the first time her mom had cooked fried zucchini for her. "So yummy! Is it hard to make?" she had said.

Her mom had looked at little Mia with a smile. "It's not hard if you've done it a lot, but the first time you have to be brave," she had said. Mia had a choice to make. Have Mikey starve-or be brave?

Encouraged by the memory of her mom's words, Mia told Mikey, "I'll cook for you."

She went into the kitchen and opened the fridge. She took out carrots, cucumbers and tomatoes. She picked up the knife to chop the vegetables. Her fingers clenched the handle. She placed a cucumber on the cutting board, raised the knife and cut slowly. The first slice was uneven but she'd done it!! She continued carefully. Soon she was done.

"This looks like a real salad," she thought, surprised. Next she opened the pantry and took out spaghetti. She poured water into a heavy pot and put it on the stove. Her hands shook as she placed her hand on the stove knob and turned it. She saw the flame as her heart beat quickly.

When the water was boiling, she dumped the spaghetti in. Some hot water splashed out of the pot but it missed her by an inch. That was close! Mia heated up some sauce. Twelve minutes later, she slowly and carefully took the pot off the stove, hands trembling. Then she drained the spaghetti under cool water.

When the food was ready, Mia couldn't believe it. She did it! "Mikey! Dinner's ready!" she shouted. Mikey rushed over, smiling so big. He grabbed the bowl and devoured the food. Mia felt like she had won first prize. She gleamed.

Then she remembered her mother. Mia tiptoed into her mom's room with a tray. "Mom?" Mia said timidly. Her mother's eyes were still closed. "I made you dinner," she said. No response. Mia left the tray of food on the nightstand and was turning to leave when she heard her mother whisper, "Mia?"

The sound of her daughter's voice and the smell of the food had woken her mom up! When her mom saw the food, she gasped.

"Who made this?" Mia pointed to herself. Her mom reached out to Mia and pulled her close. Mia felt relieved, proud and loved all at once. When Mia looked up, she saw her mom smiling for the first time in weeks.