The Society That Stole Our Father: Part 1 by Natasha Minchin
The cerulean canvas around me was spotted with inviting clouds, appearing ginormous and fierce, yet so weightless and gracious. I could almost see the laughter, chanting and conversations spiralling up towards the sky and being swallowed amongst such a large space. Although I was level with everyone else, and being pushed by a clumsy dragon that’s profession is to fly, and not walk, was one of the things that started to prod at my very thin nerves. Goblins were wearing smiles larger than themselves, and the street urchins were also wearing grins as they giggled, moving on to the next stall to steal some glazed apples. Everyone was close to each other, like a tightly packed suitcase, as more and more creatures poured in. My vision that once was crystal clear, started to blur aggressively like glasses do in warm steam, and I knew for a fact my eyes could never pull off such a trendy accessory. My head started to spin like a never ending spinning top, and behind me the danger of the waterfall flashed before me. I was going to fall, and be welcomed kindly into the bottom of the water, where my body would never be fished out. As both my feet lifted off the ground, and my brain stopped sending panic signals in a sort of shocked reaction, I felt a strong hand grip onto my skeleton like figure and place me right back where I was.
‘You alright?’ came a voice, from left, no right, maybe beneath me?
Once I had the correct sense of direction, I saw where the question came from. To my surprise, it wasn’t a baby dragon who had lost its mother, or an old goblin trying to sell potions he claims have amazing outcomes. It was what looked like an ordinary man, until I realised he was the lead singer of the band, his appearance almost putting me in a coma. I saw small children, looking up at him as if he was such an inspiration, dressed head to toe in his merch. I decided that I wanted to observe this human closely, so for a few minutes there was silence as I watched him. He was a lanky figure like me, his elbows and some certain joints protruding out, as if the bag of skin he was in was a size too small for his bones. The eyes that sat gently on his petite face were large and glistened against the peeping sun. Greener than a ripe avocado, his pupils pierced into my soul, as I realised this man saved my life.
‘I’m okay,’ I finally said, as I put my shaking hand to my warm forehead, it was pounding like a beating heart.
‘Rickshaw Hues’. This man extended his arm towards me and I stared at it for a moment, then coming to a conclusion, that shaking it was the least I could do.
‘Kie,’ I said, pursing my lips together into a grateful smile, and being conscious of how crossed my eyebrows probably were, but I nearly did fall to my death. ‘Thank you, for uh, saving my life’.
‘I wasn’t going to let you tumble over, was I?’ he replied as he gave out a relaxed laugh.
I laughed sarcastically along with him, imagining myself if he had not seen me at the right moment.
‘Why don’t you come down, grab a drink and listen to some music?’ said Rickshaw Hues softly as he looked over at the bursting crowd.
‘Yes, great idea,’ I said looking over at him as he looked into the distance.
‘Wake up!!’ screamed Misty in a distressed tone, unlike the usual quiet, soft peep I expect from him.
He was shaking my shoulders violently and patting me on the face.
‘What?’ I said groggily. I rubbed my eyes until the crust was out and I could see properly.
Sitting up on the mattress, I took a sip of water that had been brewing with lemon for too long, and as it trickled down my dry throat, I was convinced that this was the remedy to a hoarse voice, which is what I had been struggling with for the past few days. I looked up at Misty, and started pinning pieces of my thick hair back.
‘Did you have a nightmare?’ he asked.
‘I think so, but it’s hard to remember as soon as you wake up,’ I replied, trying to figure out if I did.
‘Well, you screamed very loud,’ whispered Misty, his voice being back to what I recognised.
He was now lying on the mattress and staring ominously towards the caved in ceiling.
‘What did I scream?’ I asked curiously, staring up at the ceiling thinking the same thing as Misty, dad.
‘Something like Rick, Rick Shawn or Ricky?’ said Misty, knowing the words coming out of his mouth sounded ridiculous.
‘Well that’s bizarre, I don’t recall anything about a Rick, Ricky, or whoever you just said,’ I replied, getting up from the sunken mattress, opening the small window, and smelling the sourdough Valerie was baking from across the road.
‘You really scared me Kie.’ Misty placed his hand on my shoulder and gave me a tight hug.
We both stood there and watched the horizon, citizens of Ahoy shivering uncontrollably, tightening the scarves around their necks, and watching the breath coming out of their mouth appear as a thick cloud, disappearing into the climate. Stall owners stumbled in, still half asleep, as they set up and made sure they were ready for 8:30 on the dot. Knowing that the same thought was on both of our minds, I spat out the sour words that made my mouth feel disgusting.
‘Where’s dad?’ I said, trying to hold myself together as pools of water gathered in my eyes, and my lips trembled, on the verge of crying.
‘I told you, Kie. He was forced to go on a mission, orders by the secret society.’ Misty did not even seem to be phased, but that is because he’s the one who got an actual goodbye from the only parental figure existing in our life.
‘He’s been gone for too long,’ I said angrily, as my anxiety started to grow. ‘You told me Misty, that he was going to take two weeks, if not less. It has been three weeks and two days, and we haven’t heard a word from him; no letter, no return, nothing!’ I signed heavily.
I started to clench my teeth together to relieve the pain, and wipe my eyes on my sleeve until there was a wet patch.
‘It’s not my fault Kie! Dad came to me to inform me about him leaving, not to ask me if I was okay with it! He didn’t have a choice, he had to go,’ screamed Misty back at me in a frustrated tone.
We hadn’t talked about dad’s departure since the day he left, and each day the uncertainty grew, and made me more worried.
‘You don’t understand Misty! You are four years younger than me, and I am responsible for you. In this small house, that feels it will collapse any second, which is also how I feel, I’m supposed to look after you, provide you with food, and keep you safe until dad come- if dad ever comes back,’ I shouted.
Exhausted, I went to the rusty sink and threw out my stale lemon water and ran the tap, until the brown water coming out, turned into something drinkable.
‘Whatever! Dad will come back, I know. I don’t just feel it in my bones I feel it in my heart’.
I took a deep breath and sat back on the mattress next to Misty, who looked very distressed.
‘We aren’t achieving anything,’ I said quietly as I peered over to Misty. ‘You should go get changed, put the warmest clothes you have on. I will prepare… something, for breakfast, and then we will leave for the market. The pantry’s empty’. With that, I stood up and patted Misty gently on his cheek.
I left the bedroom and went into the only other room, the kitchen, which consisted of another sink, a wooden shelf dad built, and a rickety table we found on the side of the street. I was afraid to see, but it had to be done. Looking into the panty is the scariest thing I have to do, and it has to be done every day. One can of beans left; we’ll have to ration that out for another week. If we are lucky enough to get hold of some tinned pudding, that will have to last another week as well. I opened the doors briskly to see a dented can of spaghetti hoops, standing there alone isolated from any other tin, that will never be next to each other because I simply can’t afford. I took the can out and scanned for the sell by date, although two poor children living in a shack don’t see this as a problem at all.
‘The twenty fourth,’ I whispered to myself, calculating that that had been about four weeks ago.
‘Hey Misty? Spaghetti hoops for breakfast?’ I shouted, pouring the questionable mush into a pot, and lighting the small, but effective, bonfire outside.
‘Sure!’ shouted back Misty.
I smiled truthfully at the thought of me and Misty gathered around the table, eating our breakfast like every other morning, and counting our pennies to see if we could buy another can of beans.