The hula-hoop was deadly enough to make the girl cry her lungs out. Pushed by her father from behind, she fell down face first on the ground. The space was small and uncomfortable with a child and a parent in it. Someone could have thought that one of them would fall. Just as I thought, she was the victim of the hoop. She was urged to stand up again and fought her way to her right position. But before she could stand properly, she was pushed forward again. Now dragged, she fell again, and her bloody knees were easily seen. The girl’s face was red and wet with tears but her father didn’t even care. One of the teachers who were making a commentary on the little family game in the Sports Festival, immediately shouted, “Oh, falling down two times! Is she all right!?” It was a painful sight watching from the tent which was placed as a first-aid station. Poor her, I thought, I would never want anyone to see myself falling head first and get everyone’s attention. The girl and her father finally made their goal, and there was a bit of applause here and there. The girl came to the first-aid station mopping her face with her sleeve.
She was in first grade, as I saw her name sticker. She was still sobbing, and I was patting on her head.
“It’s all right,” I smiled, “You did a great job!” I made her rinse her knees and got her Band-Aids.
“I hate my dad,” the little girl sighed quietly. Then she cried, “Why do I have to get dragged in this stupid game?” Streaking tears showed all of her anger.
I smiled a little and couldn’t say anything else to make her feel better. Her situation was too sad. I just said, “You were the poorest patient today.”
Maybe she was feeling better; the girl stopped crying, hopped off the chair and ran back to her family.
The food court was just the place where we could talk. No change since sixth grade, we are both high school students in different high schools now. Milkshakes in hand, we jabbered on about high school life, including things like friends and studying. Somehow our conversation drifted on to our memories in the past, and I explained what I saw when in fifth grade, helping during the Sports Festival that was held at school.
“I hope she’s thinking of it as a joke by now,” my friend said, laughing.
“Nah, I bet she still hasn’t forgiven her father. He was too thoughtless,” I replied.
“But that’s like five years ago. Maybe she has forgotten about it by now.”
“Well, that would be great for the father. I guess he was shocked to hear his daughter hating him.”
We laughed and drank, until I noticed a text message from Mom to come back home. We hadn’t noticed how long we were talking. We came here at 4:00 after school. Now it’s 7:00 in the evening. Three hours talking non-stop. Well, normal routine. We stood up and left the mall.
As we walk to the station, we were still jabbering on about the little girl and her aggressive father. But I stopped myself suddenly and turned around to see the two people who passed by just now. My friend was behind me, so she was suddenly stopped by bumping into me.
“What’s wrong with you? Are you trying to kill me with your hard back?”
“No, sorry,” I turned my whole body.
Her face hasn’t changed that much just that she has grown up by height. How could I forget her red face with tears? She was smiling, and beside her is the father for sure. They came out of the super market, and plastic bags were too much for the two to hold. The father seemed to hold most of them. The girl was holding the rest and opening the car door. Helping each other was something I never saw back then.
“I guess she has forgiven everything,” I said, as the two walk away, smiling to each other.