Copyright© 2012 Angharad
All Rights Reserved.
“C’mon, Mummy,” Trish called as we followed her into the toyshop in Gun Wharf Quay. It was fine for her dodging through the shoppers, but for me pushing the pushchair for Catherine, we had to be a little more careful to avoid scything down doddery old ladies, some of who so deserved being cut off at the knees the way they zigzagged across in front of me as if following a sat nav system that hadn’t been updated since the Romans left.
I found Trish standing looking at a model of a caveman. “Nevo looked a bit like that, Mummy.”
“What hairy chest and eyebrows you could make a hat from?”
“No, Mummy,” she laughed, “he wore woollen trousers and was bare on top.” She looked wistfully at the model who looked nothing like the person she’d described. The model looked like a Neanderthal having a bad hair day, enough body hair to require a sheep shearer and a brow ridge which looked deep enough to have a colony of nesting swallows under it.
I suspect the boy Trish saw looked like any other five year old with long hair and a garrotte. I still shivered at the thought of the ritual killing of children—but then soldiers and militias in Africa do it all the time and it looks like the Syrians are doing the same. The ritual has changed, now they just herd them together and machine gun them, women and children and old people. It’s disgusting and indefensible to any remotely civilised human and I hope will bring the full force of the international community’s anger when things settle down. The killing of children is never justified as an act of deliberate violence, and can never be justified by any stretch of the imagination.
“I’m up here, Mummy,” Trish called from the first floor waving at us. If I ever actually caught her up, I began to fantasise chaining her to the pushchair to stop her running off—either that or a putting a large heavy ball around her ankle to slow her career.
I plodded on behind, holding on the pushchair and lifting its rear wheels as we went up the escalator—Catherine had become bored with our pursuit and nodded off to sleep. Finally, I found Trish looking through the Barbie dolls and she selected one and handed it to me.
“Are you sure this is what you want, because if there’s something of similar value you can have that instead.”
“I want this one, Mummy,” She added, “please,” when I gave her a dirty look.
“So, Catherine gets the old one.”
“It doesn’t have a head, Mummy—she ate it, if you remember.”
“I remember, it was only yesterday and I’m not quite in my dotage yet.”
“Wossa dotage, Mummy?”
“Old age and associated decrepitude.”
She looked at me in uncertainty and I knew I’d done it again. “Decrepitude, it means falling apart through old age.”
“You’re only twenty eight, Mummy,” she said and I smiled at her. “You’ve got to be at least thirty before you’re really old.” The ways she’s going she’ll end up predeceasing it by twenty two years.
“So Daddy is really old, is he?” I offered her, baiting the trap.
“No, he’s quite young really.”
“He’s thirty two.”
She looked shocked at this revelation and her bottom lip crinkled and tears started.
“What’s the matter, sweetheart?”
“Daddy, I don’t want him to be thirty two,” she blubbed and then dissolved in tears.
“What’s the matter with your little girl?” asked a well meaning passer-by.
“She’s just realised her daddy is over thirty,” I replied and shrugged.
“How strange is that?” replied the woman in a tone which suggested she didn’t quite believe that I wasn’t beating my children and generally abusing them.
We actually left the Barbie behind on the shelf and I dragged Trish and the pushchair back to the ground floor and out to the shopping mall where I found a seat and tried to calm her down. She was close to hysterical by this time and it seemed to take forever to shut her up and stop the sobbing which was attracting attention and making feel even hotter.
“What ’ave you done to ’er?” asked another passer-by.
“Please just leave her, she’ll be alright.”
“Oh, so you ’ave done somethink to ’er, then—you should be ashamed of yerself.”
“And you shouldn’t stick your long proboscis into things which don’t concern you—so butt out and mind your own business.”
By now I was seated with Trish sitting on my lap and weeping all over my shoulder. Finally I managed to calm her down and got her a little drink when the nosy woman came back with a policeman—fortunately it was Andy Bond and he shooed her away saying he would deal with it. She reluctantly left, hoping I’d be taken off in chains and transported to the colonies or something for child abuse.
“I didn’t realise it was you, Cathy, they only said two children not twenty five.”
“Ha ha, Andy; I’ve enough trouble with smart arse interferers without smart arse coppers as well.”
Trish had fallen asleep on my lap, sucking her thumb and making the odd little shudder. She’d exhausted herself and all her hair was sweaty and sticking to her forehead.
“Are you alright or d’you want me to help you back to your car?”
I accepted his offer of help, and eventually he took my sleeping charge who allowed herself to be lifted off my lap and into his arms—I was quite glad to have a moment to stretch and move my aching limbs and we wandered back to the car park where he deposited sleeping beauty into the car seat and I strapped her in. Thankfully, Catherine was no trouble and after thanking Andy, I drove home feeling close to exhaustion myself.
I had no idea what the problem with Trish was, and she hadn’t been in any position to explain what the matter was, but just in case she was sickening for something I resolved to keep a wary eye on her for the next day or two.
When Simon and Sammi returned from work, Trish made a huge fuss of Simon and stuck to him like a limpet which he enjoyed but was puzzled over. While I was making tea—David had the afternoon off—he managed to escape Trish’s grasp—she’d fallen asleep on the sofa—he came to ask what was going on with her.
All I could think was it was a reaction to her ordeal on the ferry the previous week—sort of delayed shock. He was satisfied by that but asked me to keep an eye on her and take her to the doctor or call Stephanie if it happened again.
When I took her up to bed, she was still acting very strangely and I gave her a little cuddle. “Now, missy, please tell me what is going on?”
“Nothin’,” she replied.
“I wasn’t found on a Christmas tree, so come off it, I know there’s something wrong and it obviously concerns Daddy—now, what is it?”
She burst into tears again.
“Look, sweetheart, I can’t help you if you don’t tell me what the problem is.”
“You can’t help,” she wailed.
“Of course I can—I’m your mother, so please tell me.” I held her tightly as she cried.
“It was that boy,” she sobbed and hiccupped. “He told me Daddy was going to die when he was thirty two.”
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