"We're going to be late!" Janice Dawson moaned. Her eyes darted to the golden anniversary clock sitting on the fireplace mantel. "Mary, put on your shoes. Lisa, come here and let Mommy tie on your hair ribbons."
Five-year-old Lisa shuffled into the living room, her tiny fist clutching the piece of pink ribbon that matched the ruffles on her Sunday dress. Limping behind her in stocking feet came eight-year-old Mary. She held one shoe in her hand with confusion written in her dark brown eyes.
"I don't know where my other shoe is, Mommy," Mary complained.
Janice picked up the ribbon from Lisa's outstretched hand and looped it around the ponytail behind her head. She stole another glance at the clock ticking down to their departure time. "Look under your bed or in the coat closet. Really girls, I must be there on time today. Last week I was late and I can't do this two weeks in a row."
"Where's Daddy?" Lisa inquired. She reached up her hand to tug on the ponytail Janice fashioned. Brown hair fell in soft tendrils around her face. The ribbon came to a rest at her feet.
"Oh Lisa, now look what you did!" With a swipe of her hand, Janice yanked off the hair band. The tiny girl shrieked, accompanied by tears that squirted out of her hazel eyes and rolled down her cheeks. "Oh honey, I'm so sorry," Janice murmured, scooping the distraught child into her arms. "When Mommy gets woken up in the middle of the night and can't go back to sleep, she ends up a mean ol' grouch. I know I shouldn't take it out on you."
Lisa giggled, even as her fist wiped away the tears. "Did Daddy go help with the babies again, Mommy?"
Janice nodded, once more fixing Lisa's hair by twisting the soft strands in her fingers and slipping on a hair band. "Yes. Daddy got a call in the middle of the night. Mrs. Clark is ready to have her baby."
"So Daddy is at the hospital?" Mary inquired. She tugged on the other patent leather shoe found beneath the couch, then waited patiently for Janice to fasten it to her foot.
"Yes. I haven't heard anything, so I guess he's still there." Janice sighed, swiping back a lock of wavy brown hair that fell across her forehead before her fingers fumbled to fasten the buckle on Mary's shoe.