Johnny O'Malley plucked and the strings of his guitar, his granddaughter sat on his knee. Gracie, as she was called affectionately looked up at him with her big sea green eyes. They wavered and cracked, the look of fragilty and sadness was clear.
"Grandpop," Her voice was high, but soft. "How did Mama lose her baby?" She gestured to the young woman who slept in the bed in the corner of the room, her face was pale, it almost seemed moonlit. Her eyes were closed, decorated with long black lashes. Freckles, not having completely faded from her youth, smattered her cheeks. Her hair was strewn across her pillow like raven waves on the whites of Carribean sands. Her lips were an unusual deep rose pink.
Johnny only let out a nervous chuckle, running a hand through his honey colored hair.
"I don't know, sweetie." He ruffled the girl's chesnut colored ringlets. "Sometimes these things just happen, and we can't control them." He tried to smile, but the corners of his lips barely turned up. It was wrong to pretend things were alright, he thought, when they were anything but that. But he tried for his granddaughter, who lived in her bubble of innocence, wonder. It was probably for the best that she waded through the seas of ignorance.
"But why did it happen? Was Mama sick?" Still, the questions persisted.
'Yes, honey. Mama was sick, and she still is."
A gasp came from the young woman in the bed, her figure wriggled and squirmed under the blankets. Johnny's grip on Gracie's pudgy arm grew tight.
Hold your nose and close your eyes. The worst has yet to come. "Papa?" The woman blinked her hazel eyes, they shone amber in the fading sun. Confusion glazed her expression. "Papa, where am I?"
Johnny set Gracie on the shag carpeting with a dull thump. He slowly got up, making his way over to his daughter's bedside.
"Hey, Sugarbug," He reached down to stroke her hair, still soft and silky after days without washing. "You're at home, remember?"
Gracie caught a glimpse of her mother's face in its entirety, and screamed. She was bruised all over, purplish spots smattered her skin like a ruined canvas.
Johnny gave the child a look, his expression hardened. He took her by the hand and led her out of the room. It was then, through the muffled barrier the door provided that the five year old heard her mother's distraught sobbing.
"I..I lost the baby, h-how?" She squeaked.
"Honey, do you remember?"
"I remember the car..Danny? Where is he?"
"He's coming over later, baby."
"Is he okay?"
"He's fine, baby."
"Gracie?" Came a croaky, deep voice.
She turmed around. 'Danny?" She hugged him around his waist, letting herself melt into the warmth of his chest.
"Mommy lost her baby, Danny. Do you know how?"