I am a regular at my aunt’s therapeutic center. She has a gift, it is rumored and people visit her establishment in droves. The place has a shortage of staff so I volunteer to help in whatever way possible. Not that Aunt Rhonda has ever asked, but she welcomes my presence. I know it and she knows that I know.
The building is small, white-walled, and has a strip of neatly trimmed grass around it. Inside, it is cool and pleasant and large urns topped by bright bougainvillea add to the cheeriness. A spacious nursery at the far corner – my favorite spot, has walls that are papered in a lively jungle-like pattern. My aunt reasoned that this, and the playthings within, would give the ones that needed the diversion; myriad ways to spend time. She was accurate to a degree and I can vouch for that.
Ruth’s instant reaction to this was a loud and sarcastic, ‘ha, ha.’
Mabel shushed her with a suddenness that startled.
A multicolored inflated slide within the room gave a quick jerk. The twins were behind it of course. They were quick on their feet but subtlety was never their strong point.
My lips twitched. A game of hide-and-seek seemed to be underway.
Where was Sean my second-in-command and guide to meek little Sara? ‘Come on. Come on. Show up,’ I intone softly.
My eyes rested on a dimly lit cave to the right and I suddenly felt excited. Sean and Sara understood that they had been outwitted and emerged from within to sit by my side. Sara entwined her slim fingers with those of mine. I gave her hand a gentle squeeze. Sean sensed the camaraderie and smiled at us.
I now point at a bundle of colored charts placed haphazardly in a corner and sure enough, Ruth topples out. The slide trembled violently and Mabel giggled from behind a stuffed lion. Uproarious laughter followed and the game was over in minutes.
‘What next?’ was the query as we gathered together.
I was mulling over possibilities when the door opened with a crash and a gaggle of children burst in. The surprise was mutual and we watched each other in silence.
‘Hey, whatcha doin’ here – all alone?’ asked the biggest one in the group. He seemed to be the meanest of the lot.
I heard someone murmur the word ‘weirdo’ and trained my eyes on the person. The sidekick avoided my gaze and flushed guiltily. The air within the room grew tense.
I sensed the discomfort and the fear. It was however the thought of Aunt Rhonda that helped me loosen up. And so, I found myself mumbling to no one in particular, ‘…was waiting for someone to turn up.’
The tension slackened imperceptibly as I continued, ‘Felt that this was a fun place for all of us to be in.’
I thought I heard Ruth snigger.
Ignoring her, I turned to face my newfound friends.
Photo By: Andrew Seaman
This is an entry for Five00-9, #Vintage. Find all the entries here: https://writers.artoonsinn.com/category/five00/five00-9/
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