Saturday, 11 October 2014

PAWNING PEARL - A Serial Novel - Chapter 11

Simon was sitting with Pearl in the kitchen after dinner, nursing his tea, making it last, so she would stay with him a little longer, when Thali snuck into the kitchen, the doll under one arm, the book under the other.

"Thali" Said Pearl sternly, "You should be sleeping."

"I wanted Mr Simon to read to me."

Pearl frowned and opened her mouth to protest and Simon rushed in:

"Yes Pearl, I promised Thali. A bed-time story and a piggy-back ride." He looked at her with exactly the same pleading expression as Thali (had he but known it) "And you know we should always keep our word to children."

"Alright then, away with you both, while I wash the dishes."

Simon and Thali tripped down the corridor, and Thali clambered up onto the bed she shared with Pearl and pulled the blankets up to her chin.

Simon picked up the book, turned to page one, cleared his throat theatrically and proclaimed:
"Rudyard Kipling's Just So Stories Told To Little Ones."

"What does that mean?"

"Rudyard Kipling is the writer's name."

"I mean, just so stories?"

Simon skimmed the first story and said "It means little ones hear the story and just go straight to bed without asking WHY WHERE WHEN. Because it Just IS. Its a JUST SO Don't ASK Anymore Questions Story book."

Thali stared at him suspiciously. "That is what it says?"

"Yes. It is the rule of this book. You hear the story and you go to sleep. You are not allowed any questions."

"I may have picked the wrong book."

"I like it. I like this rule. Let us begin: How The Elephant Got his Trunk..."

Thali lay in silence while the Elephant's child got warmer and warmer and curiouser and curiouser, but never did a single question escape her mouth. She stared entranced when Simon manipulated the book and showed her the pop-ups, all in absolute silence. "And that my children, is how the elephant got his trunk!" Simon snapped the book shut and smiled. "Very good story. I like it."

"Mr. Simon...I have a question? It's not about the story. Can I ask?"

"Yes Miss Thali, you can ask."

"Can I keep the book when you go away ?"

"Go away?" Simon stared down at the tiny face in consternation. "I am not going away."

"Oh! It's alright Mr Simon! I won't be sad. It is not easy for people to care for children like Isaiah and me. Nice people try, and you and Pearl are nice."

"Nice people. Nice people tried to take care of you and Isaiah?"

"Yes. Nice people.They came to the children's house where we lived and they took us home. But I think something went wrong, and one day we went for ice cream, and they went to the bathroom and they never came back."

"They never came back."

Thali wriggled deeper into the bed. "Nope, we sat there for such a long time Then the lady had to close the shop. So we left."

Horror overcame Simon Thambisa. He leaned over the tiny girl on the bed.

"Thali, I am not sending you away,and I am not leaving you anywhere. This is your home, this is your bed. I am not leaving you, Thali, no-one is leaving you or Isaiah alone ever, ever again."

He sat and held her hand (he had to kiss the doll goodnight) until she fell asleep. He walked past the kitchen where Pearl was clacking dishes and cutlery to her heart's content, and stopped at the door to his lounge.

There was Isaiah, fast asleep on the couch, the football tucked under his arm, and the bright green brand-new tackies still on his feet. Tomorrow he would order furniture for the middle room, for his children's room. He would go to his lawyer. He would make them safe. He would make his family safe.



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