Before you read this please be aware that you may find it distressing, and that Smiler is sat comfortably on my lap as I type.
He spluttered, and I glanced to check he was okay...but he wasn't. Smiler looked up at me, eyes wide with panic, dropping the food he had in his hand as he desperately tried to suck in air. I yanked him to his feet, pulling his back against me as I leaned over, forcing his body to bend. I could still hear the choked wheezing sound, and stood to the side of him, thumping his back, trying to shift whatever was lodged in his throat, preventing him from drawing precious oxygen into his lungs. He looked straight at me, panic in his eyes, his face grey, his lips purple, and I could feel him shaking. I twisted behind him again, slapping his back, not even sure if I was doing the right thing, but unable to think of anything else to do. Noah and Petal must have still been sat down behind me, and although I didn't raise my head I knew people were watching - probably openmouthed, but I needed Mr Manley to help hold Smiler up, as his legs were no longer able to bear his weight. I slammed my hand flat against his back again, between his shoulder blades, knowing I was probably hurting him, leaving bruises, but doing nothing was not an option. I looked at Mr Manley, and he looked back at me - what were we meant to do? Should we phone for an ambulance? But if either of us let go of Smiler the other would not be able to hold him up and keeping trying to dislodge whatever was obstructing his airway. In a second we had both thought this through and realised we didn't dare. I shifted so I could see Smilers face, as a strangled whistling sound emerged from his throat, and the skin around his lips turned a dusky blue. His wide eyes, bulging and wild, meet mine one more time, then slowly rolled backwards into his head as he passed out. His body went limp and strangely still, his head drooping forwards until his chin was touching his chest, his arms lax. I told Mr Manley to phone for an ambulance now and whacked Smiler as hard as I could, realising there were tears in my eyes - was this it? Were we going to lose him to a stupid piece of food? I watched Mr Manley reluctantly let go of him with one hand, yanking his phone from his pocket. As Smiler's torso lurched forwards I smacked him, my arm stinging from the contact, and he jerked forwards, and seemed to cough. There was a long drawn out wheezing sound, and another cough, and as Smiler's head drew back, his eyes jerked around with no focus, like a butterfly fluttering around a flower garden. One more gasping breath in and his feet scrambled to find the ground, as Mr Manley dropped his phone and took his weight, holding him upright as he continued desperately gulping air. I glanced past Smiler to where Noah and Petal were sat, pale and wide eyed, staring as their big brother was gently lowered to the ground. They appeared frozen in place, as unmoving as the concrete step on which they sat. I suddenly realised I was shaking violently, my hands were tingling, as though the blood passing through them was fizzing. I leaned down towards Smiler, shivering on the ground, and helped him sit up, his body shaking along with mine. Mr Manley knelt down next to our son and wrapped his arms around him, as I stepped towards Noah and Petal, stretching my arms around them, holding their shivering bodies tight against my own. Mr Manley and I looked at one another, realising how easily this fun family day out could have ended so differently, and looked back to Smiler, his face and neck blotchy from blood vessels, burst under the incredible pressure of his fight for air.
A fight he had won.