She bounced on the balls of feet which seemed almost too small to bear even her own slight weight, the look of concentration on her face intense. One pudgy hand firmly gripped the edge of the sofa. Her mother watched silently, breathless with anticipation yet unwilling to disturb the effort, as the other hand reached slowly out towards the table no more than a half meter away. And then, magically, it happened. She stepped forward, releasing the sofa, and for one precious moment stood suspended between the two supports before lurching forward to grip the table's edge.

She had done it. And she knew she had done it. Turning to look over her shoulder, she smiled triumphantly across to her mother who, paperwork forgotten, was already crossing to her daughter. Dropping to her knees, she enfolded the small figure in her arms. "You did it, darling."

And the child, certain now she was the cleverest person ever, despite still not being certain exactly why, giggled at her mother's delight…

She opened the door quietly, unwilling to disturb but needing to check. Her daughter lay as she had left her beneath the pile of blankets, sweaty blonde hair a tangle across the pillow beneath her head. But at least she seemed to be sleeping peacefully at last. And crossing to the bed, a quick touch to the forehead confirmed what the sweat had already told: the fever had finally broken and the mending had begun. She bent down to readjust the blankets slightly, pulling them over small shoulders to tuck them beneath her daughter's chin and, after a brief kiss upon the now mercifully cool brow, turned and silently left the room…

The supplies had been purchased weeks before and packed and repacked countless times in the backpack which had itself taken far longer to be chosen than it's relative importance warranted. But - as she had been told numerous times - this was fifth grade and these things mattered. Her child wasn't a baby anymore.

For that reason, she had also refused to let her mother walk her down the drive to wait with her for the bus. But she was still only eleven, and so despite her protestations her mother stood watch from the front door. As her daughter reached the front gate, though, she turned one last time to look back over her shoulder. She smiled, and waved, and, for just that instant, she might have once again been the small child gripping tightly to her mother's hand on that first day of kindergarten. But in the next moment she had the lock opened and, slipping out the gate, had soon passed beyond her mother's sight…

A part of her had known, all along, that one day she would be left only the memories of a life too short yet infinitely precious beyond measure. And that part of her knew even now that, one day, she would be able to remember again without crying. That one day her memories would once again bring joy instead of grief.

One day.

But not today.