“Unruly Preschooler Learns Lesson The Hard Way” - Third Place Winner of the CWA Summer Flash Contest

By Amran Gowani

CHICAGO, Ill.  An unseasonably chilly fifth birthday party and miniature golf extravaganza was rocked Saturday when an attendee plunged into the manmade pond adjacent to the second hole.

The bedlam started shortly after the cake, cherry chocolate and shaped like a teddy bear’s severed head, was served. A dozen sugared-up children had gathered around the makeshift pool, each fishing for the colored golf ball they’d intentionally deposited in the nearby tributary.

The dangerous game eventually – and perhaps inevitably – turned life-threatening when a five-year-old Lincoln Park resident found herself gasping for air, crying for help, and dyed blue.

“I was talking to the girl’s dad about the huge garage in the new house we bought in Glenview, and then – BOOM! – pandemonium,” Kyle Rhoades, an attending father, said. “Kids started screaming, moms started yelling. And the dad – I don’t remember his name but he sounded illegal – just started moseying over like it was no big deal,” he added.

Several witnesses said the dying girl’s father apparently failed to grasp the severity of the situation.

“First the guy’s not watching his kid, and then he has no sense of urgency when she’s obviously drowning,” said Becky Lonnergen, local fitness instructor and social media celebrity, who livestreamed the chaos on Instagram.

According to multiple eyewitnesses, the father eventually reached the pool and attempted to corral his child, but she couldn’t maintain traction on the unnatural structure’s concave, slime[1]coated walls. Flailing backward, she resubmerged into the chemical-laden depths.

“God knows what’s in there,” said groundskeeper Eduardo Castroneves. “Behind the shed, it’s like a pato mass grave.”

Out of options, onlookers said the dejected father grudgingly hopped the useless safety ropes, waded into the waist-deep water, and collected his allegedly gifted progeny.

“She was really shaken up,” said the birthday girl’s mother, who declined to be named. “And the dad was just like, ‘I told you this was going to happen.’” The mother said she “felt awful” for “that poor little girl” and found the father’s lack of empathy “disturbing.”

Her husband took a more sanguine view. “Everything worked out fine, and now, for the rest of our lives, we’ll say, ‘Do you remember that time that girl fell into the pond at [our daughter’s]’s fifth birthday party? That was awesome!’"

The rescued girl’s father, [REDACTED], 40, local hobbyist and unpaid writer, was identified by another attendee who wished to remain anonymous. Reached for comment several hours later, the disappointed dad corroborated earlier reports.

“I tried to warn her – over and over and over – but I can only say the same [expletive] thing so many times. Some people just need to learn everything the hard way,” he said.

Ultimately, at least, he appreciated the Kafkaesque nature of the situation. “The whole episode, in a vacuum, was hilarious,” he said, but cautioned others not to “get that blue dye [expletive] on your [testicles].”

“It doesn’t come off.”