"Emily, please eat the rest of your dinner," David said.
"But I'm full!" Emily moaned. Pushing the remains of her spaghetti bolognaise around her plate.
"You asked for more," her mother told her. "So now you're going to eat it."
"But I'm not hungry!" Emily whined.
"Emily, just eat it," her dad frowned. "We're eating ours."
"But you're older than me!"
"It doesn't make a difference, Emily. Julia said sternly. "You have to eat you dinner."
"But you're bigger than me!" Emily moaned again. "I can't eat as much as you!"
"I hardly gave you any. Just eat it."
"But I'm too full! I haven't got any room left!"
"Well then," David grinned. "If you haven't got any room left you won't be able to eat pudding." He went casually back to eating his meal, pretending to ignore Emily's gaping jaw.
"Pudding?" Emily asked. "Pudding?"
"Yep," Julia smiled. "But if you're too full then..." she smirked as she put a forkful of spaghetti into her mouth.
"I'm not full!" Emily exclaimed. Then she thought for a while. "If I eat any more, I won't have room for pudding."
Julia snickered and David laughed openly.
"Well," Julia giggled. "If you don't eat your dinner there won't be any pudding."
"Oh," Emily frowned, making her parents laugh even more. "I'd better eat my dinner, then."
"You'd better," David grinned.
Later that evening, Julia was tucking Emily into bed.
"Goodnight, my little angel," she whispered.
"I have a new friend?" Emily told her. She's called Elixa."
"Really?" Julia asked. "I didn't see her."
"That's because we were playing near the forest," Emily whispered. "I took a picture."
"I'll look at it later, honey" Julia smiled, taking the Polaroid from her daughter and unconsciously placing it face-down on top of the chest of drawers without looking at it. "I thought you weren't allowed to play near the forest."
"That's all right, darling. Just promise me not to do it again, hmm?"
"I promise," Emily smiled.
Julia smiled too. "Now then, go to sleep. You're going to Lucy's house tomorrow and you don't want to be tired now, do you?"
"No, Mummy," Emily yawned. "N'night."
"Night night, honey. Sweet dreams" Julia kissed her daughter gently on her forehead and left the room.
Julia padded quietly across the landing in her slippers. As she climbed into bed and wrapped her arms around her husband, he said
"You seem a bit tense. What are you worried about?"
"Oh, it's nothing," she muttered, shaking her head. "Big deal over something small."
"Tell me?" David asked, stroking Julia's hair.
Julia hesitated. "Did you see Emily playing with another girl?" she asked.
"No," David answered. "She went near the forest but there were no other children."
"That's what I mean!" said Julia. "I was watching her near the forest. She said she was playing with a girl called Elixa but I didn't see anyone else."
"Don't worry about it, darling. She's probably just created an imaginary friend. All little children have them at some point in their lives," he gave his wife's shoulders a squeeze.
"I suppose," she sighed. "I suppose... It'll pass in a few weeks."
"Hmm. And then Elixa will disappear," David reassured her.
"But she took a picture," Julia remembered. "I should've looked at it."
"Look tomorrow. So we didn't see her friend. It's not like they're doing anything dangerous."
"Yeah," Julia agreed. "I guess I'm just overreacting."
"Exactly. But it's natural for a mother to worry about her child."
"Hmm. Do you ever think I worry too much?"
"Sometimes. But like I said, it's only natural" David kissed the top of Julia's head as she closed her eyes.