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Saturday 15 November 2008

The Beautiful Stranger

When Daddy parks by the White Hart I want to know why he’s not taking us all the way, as normal.  He says Nay-me’s got to get back, and tell us to ‘hurry up now girls.’

Helen begins to cry.  She always does.  I push the handle down, open the door and climb down.

When I am standing on the pavement I look back through the open door at Helen.  She’s sucking her thumb and hugging Bun-Bun.  Daddy tells her to cheer up and Helen smiles – a bit.  ‘Come on,’ I say, ‘you heard what Daddy said.

‘Here you are,’ says Nay-me, ‘one each.’  I reach forward as she turns and leans over the front seat to give us two half-crowns.  That’s five whole shillings.  ‘Thank you Nay-me,’ I say as I put the coins away in my pinafore pocket.

‘Naomi’ corrects Daddy, whilst Nao-o-mi gets out of the car and opens the door to let Helen out of her side.  She quickly slides towards me.  Nao-o-mi shrugs and gets back in next to Daddy.

My little sister’s heavy, but I manage.  I put my arms under her armpits and around her chest and lift.  I set her down on the pavement and grab her hand.  I slam the door hard.  ‘OK?,’ says Daddy.  I bit my lip and nod.  I lean forward and kiss him through the open window.  ‘See you in a month.  Be good for Mummy.’  We watch as Daddy starts the engine, waves and drives away.

We begin to walk up the hot road and I cheer Helen up.  ‘We can buy the Bunty Summer Special now.  Better not to tell Mummy about the money.  But we can tell her about Nay-me’s long red finger nails and her yellow hair; and that she smells like a bunch of flowers.’

© Sophia Roberts
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