A Pumpkin for Chelsie

A Pumpkin for Chelsie

-LA Clark

He gingerly knelt down along the side of the pumpkin patch to get a better view of the crop. He couldn’t stop trying to recall if this place had been so busy last year. It seemed to him that it had been much quieter when he brought Chelsie. But now children ran all about, trampling without care through the patch; parents in tow, telling them to watch their step. He was trying hard to focus but the shrieks of “I want this one!” continuously cut through his concentration. All of the pumpkins in this area were too small he determined as he labored a bit to stand up. His knees were sore and worn and squatting was always hard on them. He gave out a little groan as he was finally able to right himself. He took one last glance over the section and confirmed his most recent instinct that these were too small. He reached down with ease and picked up the pumpkin he had placed on the ground next to his feet. He had easily picked out his own pumpkin and continued to carry it around from spot to spot searching in earnest for the perfect pumpkin for Chelsie.

He always had to carve Chelsie’s pumpkins for her. She was too young and unsteady with sharp objects to do it herself. He secretly loved it. He knew that he would be happy to be her daddy and do all the things daddy’s do for their little girls for as long as he possibly could. He had always dreaded the day she wouldn’t need him to do things for her anymore. A sad frown made his face sink for a brief moment but he pushed aside all his thoughts and instead resolved to think only about hunting out the perfect pumpkin. His mind flashed to last years pumpkin carving and he laughed to himself as he was reminded of her annual insistence that her pumpkin have triangles for eyes and small circle for a nose and a bigger circle for a mouth. Every year he followed her directions exactly and every year he thought it was a silly looking pumpkin but she took such delight in the finished product. It came to be that her pumpkin had to be carved with that same goofy expression not matter how much he attempted, in vain, to convince her to try something different. She stuck to her guns and without fail insisted that design was superior.

He gave his head a slight shake as his memory brought with it a smile. He was more determined than ever to find Chelsie’s pumpkin. He wandered about closely inspecting numerous pumpkins but found fault with each of them. They were either too big or too small or lopsided or not a good enough color. He was just about to give up and go to a different patch when, out of the corner of his eye, he spotted it. He could tell from this distance that it was the one. It was perfect. He sprinted toward it like so many of the kids did. It was a bit of a sight to see. More than a couple of the adults couldn’t help but stare at this rather large man in overalls and work boots with one pumpkin tucked under his arm like a football dash across a pumpkin patch with the bottom of his flannel shirt waving behind him like a cape. When he reached the pumpkin he snatched it off the ground and held it up turning it over in his hands to be certain that there were no flaws. When none were found he triumphantly marched it to the check out as if he were carrying the most precious gem he had ever seen.

He anxiously headed home planning in his mind all that he would have to set out to be ready for the big carving. After ensuring that the table was properly prepared with newspaper and all the tools necessary he began the process of turning this simple pumpkin into a work of art. He took a deep breath as he reached for the knife as a surgeon picks up a scalpel. He quickly went to work carving, stopping only on occasion to pull back his head in order to get a full view of the masterpiece before leaning back in with focused determination. Every detail had to be just right. This would be Chelsie’s best pumpkin yet. The simple design made for easy work but he labored at it for close to an hour making certain that nothing was amiss or out of place in even the slightest bit. When he finished he looked it over intently. He grinned at himself. It was done. It was time to show Chelsie.

He bundled up his artwork and set it on the passenger seat of his truck as he cautiously drove it to Chelsie. He knew this would be her favorite yet.

He carefully set the jack-o-lantern on the ground and lit the candle; delicately he replaced the top of the pumpkin before taking a step back to admire his work. The face on the pumpkin came to life with the flame behind it flickering away. He told her all about the events of his day and that he knew she would love this year’s pumpkin the best. He tried to keep his voice upbeat but the pangs in his heart were too much to bear. He gently knelt beside the pumpkin and placed his large hand on his daughter’s cold headstone. His chin dropped to his chest and he wept.

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