Monday, 24 February 2020

Cromwell Road

by Lena Green

vanilla ice-cream with a chocolate flake 


‘I love to look out at the sea', she said watching the traffic on the Cromwell Road. ‘Why, it’s so refreshing – breath in Molly dear – taste the saltiness of the air.’

‘But Grandma, we're in London. There’s no sea here.’

‘Silly girl,’ Grandma gently rebuked. ‘You tell me there’s no sea here – just look at the seagulls. Seagulls everywhere! … and look, there’s the pier. Come on, let’s walk down to it.’

 
With a gentle smile Molly complied. And so, arm in arm, Grandma leading the way with the tap-tap of her stick, they walked past the shops, crossing at the lights to avoid the traffic, chatting inconsequentially.

Until … ‘Look, Milly dear.  The pier, we’ve reached it. Let’s go and get an ice-cream from that handsome Italian man at the kiosk at the end.’

Again, Milly made no protest, rather she pulled her grandmother closer and said nothing, for nothing was all that was needed.

But then, ‘Oh! Milly dear! The wind. It’s always so blowy here on the pier. Help me with my hat or I shall be completely blown away.’

Respectfully Milly attended to her hat, fitting it more snugly around her ears, until Grandma satisfied, they walked on. One step at a time – bowing against the illusory wind.

But then Grandma suddenly stopped.

‘Milly dear! He’s gone! The ice-cream man. He's been here for years and now he’s gone!’

‘Don’t worry Grandma. I know a place where we can get an ice-cream. And with that she gently turned her grandmother back round to the direction from whence they had just come.

‘It’s all changed,’ mumbled Grandma. ‘It’s all changed. I don’t understand it … he’s been here for years... and now …

Milly let her talk. The occasional, ‘yes’ or ‘I know’ seemed to suffice, until back in the High Street they arrived at a café. 

Milly found a table, outside, in the sunshine. Grandma sat, took off her hat, straightened her hair, rummaged for a hankie while Milly bought two ice-creams: vanilla, both with a chocolate flake.

Contented Grandma ate. While her girlish tongue made swirls and chased the never-ending drips so she said nothing. And Milly, relishing Grandma’s tranquil moment, savoured her’s too.

Then, ‘I love it here on the pier,’ said Grandma. ‘Don’t you too Milly?’

‘Oh, I do Grandma,’ said Milly, her voice almost lost by the roar of the traffic as it made its perpetual way, oblivious to all, along the Cromwell Road, to who knows where.

Sunday, 23 February 2020

Exiled

 by Lena Green

bitter lemon


So, can you tell me how it all started: how you came to feel exiled from yourself, as you say.

Well, it was back last summer. I read an advert in the paper. It said something like: are you fed up with having to hold your phone?  Do you long to have your hands free again? If so, ring a certain number for more details. You’ll never regret this step, it said. 

So I did - I rang the number, and they explained that instead of having the chip inside your phone, you could have it implanted in your brain instead. That way you could control your phone or laptop or whatever, simply by thought. That way you didn’t have to go through all the palaver of the apps and typing in because you could simply direct your thought to wherever, and the answer to whatever you wanted would appear in your mind straight away. It would be the new ‘hands free’; you could leave your phone at home – because the chip would always be with you, implanted in your brain. Easy! It said! Who could refuse?

Were you sceptical at all?

Well... er ... unbelievably, at the time: no. I had started getting this numb thumb, repetitive strain injury the doctor called it, so … well, it seemed like a good idea.

So, I phoned.  I asked a few questions and they explained that his was the new way to go. I would be at the cutting edge of technology –all my friends would be envious. Chips were getting smaller; implanting was getting easier … why get left behind? So, to cut a long story short: I went ahead. 

The procedure itself only took a half day, although I did take the afternoon off from work because I had a bit of a headache. But after that it was fine.

You didn’t have regrets then – once it was in?

No, it was fine. I emailed my friends – simply by ‘thought’, with no problems at all. The system worked. I was glad I had caught on to the idea.  I managed to keep in daily contact with my parents, so they liked it!  And if I wanted to google something, I knew the answer straight away. It was almost as though I knew everything.

So, I thought I would test it out by going to the pub quiz. I didn’t really need to be in a team of four, but to make it look good I asked a few friends to come along with me. Sure enough, every question I knew the answer. In fact, the only question we got wrong was the one Rob insisted he was right and I was wrong. We walked away with the prize, and thought we would go back the following week.

And did you?

Well, no!  The landlord asked us not too! 

So all went well. 

Yes, sort of.  It certainly saved a lot of time at work. But then after a while, things started to boring.   And then worse still, I began losing friends.  People didn’t want to be with me because they said I knew too much.  They said I was no fun to be with, so they stopped including me.  And me? Well, I just switched off.

And then I thought blow them! I will go out and find new friends.  But then as soon as I met someone, I immediately knew everything about them. You see, as I was talking to them so I had immediate access to Facebook and LinkedIn and everything else.  I had nothing to learn from them, I just knew everything!   So you see, I can’t just ‘chat’ any more. Life now has no surprises: life has no excitement: there’s nothing unknown: no challenge.

That sounds sad.

Yes, it is. The result of all this is that I find myself alone and friendless. I’ve become the know-all! They joke behind my back, and well, life has simply become hell.

In a moment of desperation, I contacted the firm and asked if I could have the chip removed. Answer: an emphatic ‘no’.They said I had signed the agreement for a six-year trial and that was that. It was only later that I found out that they were selling the results of my brain activity to some foreign data base company …  and that made me even more distressed!

So, you see: the result is that I have lost myself. I’ve driven myself into exile.

I’m completely at odds with who I was. I have no personality. I have no friends. I am simply a chip – a chip that knows and can do everything, yet a chip that can be out-flanked by some data company since they control my every thought.  

I’m lost to a world beyond myself, because by freeing my hands, I have freed my identity.  I am a nothing. I am completely lost.


Saturday, 22 February 2020

Episode 4 Jean



by Janet Howson 

Costa Coffee

Jean closed her eyes and let the rather monotonous tones of Deidre wash over her. She must have been talking for about ten minutes now and her story was always the same. It wasn’t that Jean didn’t sympathise with her. The account of her abusive husband, four children she couldn’t control and her constant money troubles with no income but benefits coming in to the household. She had heard it all before. In fact since she had been attending the support group, which would be six weeks now, she had heard Deirdre’s tirade every session.

The Cognitive Behavioural Therapy sessions had been suggested by her doctor on her last appointment to collect her prescription for the drugs she needed to keep herself away from that ‘black hole’. That feeling of complete desperation. The ultimate goal of wanting to end it all. They helped. In fact, she knew she relied upon them and didn’t want to take the doctor’s suggestion that she cut them down. Instead she had agreed to come to the group therapy sessions on a Tuesday evening at seven thirty in a rather cold and dingy church hall. Up to now she had not contributed, just listened. She had learnt about the problems of literally all the members of the group, except for a middle-aged man in a city suit who like her sat quietly and listened. He fascinated, Jean, it was obvious he felt out of place and didn’t want to be there. 

“So, Jean, would you like to tell us all about how you are feeling today and how the week has gone for you?”

Jean opened her eyes and was aware everyone was looking at her, the counselor, Colin, was smiling at her encouragingly. He was a wiry, enthusiastic man in his thirties, Jean guessed, with thick curly hair, rather unkempt and always dressed in jeans a T-shirt and trainers that had seen better days. 

“Oh, I erm…” she didn’t know what to say.

“In your own time, we are not going anywhere. We would just like to share and perhaps be of help to you. Could you try and tell us when your problems started and how you feel when you are in a black hole and how you cope with it?”

Jean cleared her throat and took a deep breath, “Well, I first started having panic attacks at university. I put it down to having to adapt to a new area, new people and the stress of the academic work. At school I had always been the top of the pile but then I realised there were people far more intelligent than I was and I just didn’t seem able to keep up. By the second year I was lagging behind. I never socialised, just sat in my room trying to work but somehow I couldn’t. My first attack was in a lecture. I will never forget the embarrassment. I thought I was going to die. I couldn’t breathe.” Jean stopped, the emotions of that day revisiting her. There were murmurs and nods of reciprocal understanding from the group.

“You are doing fine, Jean. Carry on when you are ready,” Colin smiled at her encouragingly, rocking back on two legs of his chair to the point where Jean thought he would topple over.

“After that I couldn’t go into lectures and became more and more isolated and further behind with my work. I was called into the principal’s office and it was suggested I took a year off and apply again for a place. I never went back. I got a job in an insurance company near to my home and I am still there. The attacks have continued though and my doctor put me on Citalopram and Pregabalin. They help a great deal. I don’t know how I would cope without them. I just can’t stand that awful feeling of desperation and hopelessness. She wants me to cut down the dosage, but I don’t feel I can at the moment.” She stopped to blow her nose amazed she was talking so much. 

“Is there anything else that helps you besides the pills?” It was the man in the city suit, who up to now had remained silent.

“Oh, belonging to my amateur drama group. I am playing Hippolyta in ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream, the dress rehearsal is tomorrow.”

“Oh let us know when it’s on and we can come and see you,” Deidre piped up and several others voiced their agreement.

“Not much notice I’m afraid. It is on Thursday, Friday and Saturday of this week. Two performances on Saturday, matinee and evening. I’ve got some flyers in my bag, I can hand them out at the end of the session.”

“How does it help you to be in the group, Jean?” Colin asked.

“I lose myself in the part and forget my problems. It is like being someone else. It’s hard to explain.”

“I think I understand.” This came from the man in the suit. “I belong to a Gospel choir and I get completely absorbed in the music and for those two hours I feel content with myself.” He smiled at Jean.

“I think we are going to have to call it a day. Next week perhaps you would like to talk about your choir, Samuel and its therapeutic effect. The caretaker will be round in five minutes to lock the doors. See you all next week. Don’t forget to collect a flyer from Jean if you can make her play.”

Samuel, what a lovely name, thought Jean as she gathered her belongings together and handed out a few flyers. 

The next day at work, Jean felt very tired. She had gone home after the therapy session and gone over her lines again. The time had flown by and she hadn’t gone to bed before midnight. She knew she had various accounts and invoices to sort out and Dan, her boss wanted them back to him by lunch time. She sipped at the Costa coffee she had brought in with her and pushed sheets of paper about. She could see Dan through the full length glass partitions of his office. She had liked him since the day of her interview for the job. He was so sophisticated and immaculately dressed. Since then her admiration for him had grown to the point of infatuation. She would fantasise about them going to the opera or theatre together, sitting holding hands, discussing the performance in the interval whilst they sipped their gin and tonics. Then, having a coffee in her flat before parting for the evening. It was all a daydream. She was shy in front of him and she always felt clumsy and inadequate. Her mother had always said beauty was in the eye of the beholder. She was still waiting for her beholder. 

“How’s ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream’ going, Jean?” Daphne was the only person in the office that spoke to her. The others were all a lot younger and although she was only thirty-two, she felt she had nothing in common with them.

“Oh, not too badly. I am still a bit wobbly with my lines but hopefully after the dress rehearsal tonight I should be okay with them. Are you coming to see it?

“Shakespeare’s not really my thing, Jean. I liked the Alan Ayckbourne you did in the summer. That was funny. Think I’ll give this one a miss though.”

“No problem.” Jean hid her disappointment. She could normally rely on Daphne to support her. She found it hard to sell tickets. She had very few friends. There was always of course her mum and dad. Her brother and sister were always too busy with their family to come and watch their baby sister perform. They still called her that. There was a big age gap and Jean had been born very prematurely and she was a lot smaller than them and didn’t resemble them in any way. They were both good looking and had married in their twenties and had their children young. She had always felt the runt of the litter.

“So what part are you playing, Jean?” a shrill voice boomed across the office floor, “I expect your Bottom, aint you?” The other girls in the office laughed.

“Do you have to have a face like a backside for that?” One of the young male clerks chipped in.

Jean blushed. She never knew how to cope with office banter. It was all alien to her.  “No, she’s Hippolyta, a queen, so just leave it out you lot unless you’ve got something useful to contribute. You could always learn a bit and go and see the play. A bit of Shakespeare’ll do you good. You might learn something, rather than stare at your phones all day.” Jean could have kissed Daphne for standing up for her.

“Rather stick pins in my eyes,” the young clerk replied, leaving the office, defeated. The girls returned to their work having lost interest in the conversation.

“Take no notice, love. They’re only jealous, they couldn’t stand on a stage to save their lives. Oh by the way, Dan wants to talk to you about something? You’ve not been up to no good with the accounts have you?” She laughed.

“If I had I would be in the Caribbean somewhere not stuck in an office. I’d better see what he wants. I’ll finish this coffee after I come back.” Jean picked up her notebook and feeling a bit apprehensive, approached Dan’s office. Once she could see him she felt the usual flutter in her stomach that she always felt when she was with him. Grow up she told herself you are acting like a teenager in love. She knocked tentatively on the door.

 “Come in, Jean.”

“You wanted to see me, Mr Dennison?”

“I do indeed, and please call me Dan. I think we’ve known each other long enough to do away with the formalities. Now, I have a particular favour to ask of you. It is very short notice but I would be eternally grateful if you could help me out of a tight spot. I am attending a charity dinner and I had forgotten all about it until I glanced in my diary this morning. I have two tickets and don’t want to go on my own. I wondered if you would do me the honour of accompanying me? It promises to be a good evening with entertainment and a four course dinner. We would have a taxi there and back. What do you think?”

What did she think? She was absolutely thrilled. This was the dream of her life. She was speechless. She pulled herself together.

“I would love to go, Mr De.. Dan. When is it?” 

“Well, that is why it is such a big ask, it is tonight.”
Jean swallowed hard, what bad luck, it was the crucial dress rehearsal. Shirley would never forgive her. It was vital to have everyone there. She couldn’t let her down. She looked at Dan, he was leaning towards her, willing her to say yes. She might never get an opportunity like this again. He might assume she didn’t like him and never repeat the invitation. Pushing the image of Shirley’s disappointed face to the back of her mind she gave Dan her answer.

“No problem at all. What time will I have to be ready for?”

:
Links to previous episodes 


About the author

Janet taught for 35 years in Comprehensive schools teaching English and Drama. She wrote scripts for the students to perform. After she retired she found a folder of poetry she had written as a child and this spurred her to join a Writer’s group. She has had short stories published in Best of CaféLit and Nativity. She is waiting for her first novel to be published which she hopes will be soon.

Friday, 21 February 2020

The Skyscraper's Wonder

The Skyscrapers Wonder

by  Kiyasu Oka

Matcha Latte with Honey

TAIPEI 101 (508 meters or 1,667 feet with 101 floors)

In the heart of Asia lies a multi-island country called Taiwan. Even though the main island of the country is so small, it features some of the worlds most fascinating achievements.

One of its stunning world achievements is the skyscraper known as TAIPEI 101.
Once held the title of the #1 tallest building in the world since its completion in 2004, TAIPEI 101 still illuminates its beauty today. A financial center mixed with shopping malls and restaurants and more, there are many tales to be told. The completion of the Burj Khalifa in 2010 (828 meters with 163 floors) made TAIPEI 101 the second tallest building in the world, but even so, its tales of wonder remain just as strong.

Here is a story for you:

I would like to purchase two tickets for the observatory.”

Here you go and enjoy the night!”

All right, the tickets are here and lets look around a bit before we wait in line,” I said to my friend as we looked forward to the night.

Gorgeous architectural design, lovely gift shop souvenirs, luxurious tea, and so much more and not to mention the worlds time zone clock on the floor! So international, so beautiful, and so dazzling, inside and out!

Then, my friend and I looked around the fascinating stores nearby until it is about time. We posed for a photo taken by the machine when waiting in the observatory queue.

Taiwan is so interesting. I am enjoying my trip here very much. Thank you for all of the delicious food.”

You are welcome. I feel so lucky to be living in Taiwan! The cheap, but high-quality food, as well as other things … then there is the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT). Transportation and food is so convenient!”

As the line moved forward, the excitement fills up inside me: “This is the elevator that will take us to the observatory!”

We walked in the elevator, and as the doors closes, the entire lighting changed.
Suddenly, we were on a trip so beautiful and inspiring, in wonder and awe, until we reached the 89th floor.

Wow! What was… this? We are already… here?”

Yes, we were on the worlds fastest elevator! High-class technology manufactured by Toshiba, that was 37 seconds from the 5th floor to the 89th floor!”

Amazing! It didnt feel like an elevator trip at all! I felt like we were in some profound, starry journey into the skies… a very sweet, dazzling journey!”
I smiled as we continued on.

We bought the photos of us taken during the waiting line earlier, as we ordered some drinks and chatting in this lovely, sweet atmosphere.

Then we visited the worlds biggest and heaviest wind damper. “Weighing 660 tons and 5.5 meters (18 feet) in diameter, this unique round object counteracts oscillation during earthquakes and typhoons!”

Wow, the mini-damper character is so cute!!!,” I said as we had our photo taken.

We wrote postcards at the area where the worlds tallest mailboxes are and visited the outdoor observatory.

Wow… look, those binoculars! The city view! So… beautiful!”

Indeed, the beautiful view of the city of Taipei, right in front of our eyes, from the 91st floor of TAIPEI 101.

Stunningly beautiful.

Suddenly, my friend started to speak.

You know, this entire journey from the elevator, all the way to this time… I felt my heart glowing with feelings.”

This atmosphere is so sweet and romantic, isnt it?”

Suddenly, without saying anything, he gently held my hand and gave me a hug.
Thanks for bringing me here,” he said as he gave me a gentle kiss on the cheek.

I felt my heart pounding. It felt so… sweet.

We spent the night gazing into the beautiful night sky as a shooting star shimmered in the night.

Then we continued to spend time in the observatory floors, but hand in hand all this time.

The beautiful atmosphere continues to bring our hearts alive, as our bond with each other deepens in this lovely experience.

Then, I said to my friend, “Thanks for visiting Taiwan and choosing me as your guide.”

You are welcome,” he said as we gazed into each other for quite some time.
Then, we kissed under the beautiful night sky.



The next day he had to return to his country, and I wanted to visit him at the airport so badly.

When he was about to leave for boarding, I hugged him tightly and cried happily.

He petted my head and touched my hair gently. Then he said, “Dear, thanks for the lovely time in Taiwan. I hope to see you again someday,” as he gave me a kiss.

I am so happy to have met you in person for the first time. I feel like this is one of the most profound experiences with a friend… and I will always remember this day in my heart.”

We hugged one more time before we said goodbye.

I returned home tonight feeling this sense of finally meeting my friend in person for the first time, feeling so grateful that we could cross paths in this lifetime.

Thank you so much for today, sweetheart,” I said to myself as I fell asleep, with my hand in my heart, dreaming of him.

Thank you for the lovely experience in Taiwan, love,” he said to himself as he fell asleep that night, after he returned home and prepared to fall asleep.

Every day, I feel a deep sweet feeling in my heart as I move through this world, and I believe he does too. Maybe this bond is telepathic, and more. Every day, this feeling makes me come alive.

This is the story of two friends who loved each other so deeply, as their international friendship lives on…
as their hearts for each other continued to live on, beyond time and space…
forever and ever.

About the author 

KIYASU OKA is a Taiwanese professional illustrator and entrepreneur, whose title can be referred to as a professional color magician. She is the “Magician of Color from Taiwan. Her most well-known writing work is a personal love letter called “Taiwan is my Country,” published on her Web site since April of 2016. Kiyasu Okas Web site is at www.kiyasugreen.com.

Thursday, 20 February 2020

Palvine Part 18

by  Mitzi Danielson-Kaslik

apple wine 

I stood up quickly, suddenly feeling the cold. I dropped the note in the snow and I ran back inside to dress which I did with speed and then, picking the crimson rose from another old jam jar beside a candle in the middle of the table, I cantered back outside into the snowy street. As I began down the alley ways, it dawned on me that I wasn’t actually sure where I was going so I simply located the cathedral on the skyline and started walking. It was a peculiar feeling to be running away from Sylvester Spence Palvine. It was a feeling I could barely recall feeling previously in my life – it was, in fact, a feeling that was the total antithesis of itself; both hollowing and filing; both tragic and thrilling. Indeed, thinking about it, this was an emotion – if one could call it that – that I had only ever felt once previously in my life: when I left The Palvine Residence in February after I'd planted the blossom tree believing it was the last time I would ever go to that place.

And I had stay true to that. Until something had called me back. Him. But this time I wasn’t sure he’d come back for me. As I continued to walk, without a clear route or path in mind, I eventually found myself walking along the paving by the river. The river was a strange place at night. Around the edge of the pavement were wrought iron gas lamps suspended in the trees that were neatly planted, showing the divide between the river and the road and as the light of the subtle shining stars caught them the lanterns seemed to cast their own light out over the water which then mingled with the fog until all the lights were misty in the river.
The light of the moon shone down upon the trees as if it was sustaining the but then, as I looked closer, it seemed almost as if the trees themselves were full of star light and all I could we was Sylvester. Just his face. As I walked, it came to me that the snow had been somewhat cleared from the pavement because it shone like silver in the subtle light – almost as if the concrete was cover in ice, though I knew it couldn’t be because I was walking over it easily. I came to the bridge and began to take my first step from the east side of Paris to the west. To Notre Dame. To Marius.

Wednesday, 19 February 2020

The Baby and the Jinn



by Mason Bushell

honeyed milk


It wasn’t the squirrel bounding among the branches who had ten-month-old baby Petey gurgling from the picnic blanket. In fact, he was watching the man in the white suit on the bench making coins vanish and reappear from the air. 

“Time to go home, Petey darling,” said his mother, Liza, lifting him from the blanket surrounded by a carpet of daisies on the park meadow. He smiled and took hold of a lock of her red hair. He was soon safely buckled into his pushchair. Liza paused at the bench to put her picnic rubbish in the bin. It was then the magician made a large silver coin appear. With a magical flourish it left his hand, and Petey found it in his. The baby looked to the mystical man, but he was gone before Petey’s mother even noticed he was there. Petey put the coin in his mouth and made a funny face, it tasted awful. Liza pushed him home blissfully unaware of what her son was holding.  
 

Soon Petey was sat in his playpen at home. Surrounded by his array of colourful toys and the cartoons on the tv, he was a happy little fellow. Liza brought him a bottle of milk. Whilst helping him drink, she noticed the coin lodged in his romper suit.

“What’s this, hey baby?” she cooed her eyes taking in the sight of the demon surrounded in flames upon the old talisman. Petey just giggled and smiled. “Where did you get this?” Liza read the incantation written around the demon. The last word left her lips with a groan at the sound of the doorbell. She rose and left to answer it at once. 

Petey clapped his hands on his legs and held his toes with a bemused smile. He could feel the room growing warmer. He watched his biggest teddy glowing orange. From behind it stepped a five-inch tall man with flame-red hair. The granite-like muscular body of the Jinn was clad yellow and red polka dot shorts, and white sunglasses. 

“Yes, you summoned me.” he began in a bored voice. “What do you - oh no. Baby.” The Jinn grew wide-eyed as baby Petey grabbed him with a chubby hand. He began squealing with laughter as he shook the shrieking Jinn like a rattle. 

“Waaa! What do you want? Milk, a nappy change, chocolate, teddy bears, dinosaurs, a Ferrari.” The Jinn was being shaken all over the playpen. “Ahhh! I’ll give you anything, just put - me – daaaaa!” The Jinn was sent free and flying through the air. He slammed into a rubber dinosaur, bounced off a squeaking elephant and disappeared in a heap of building blocks. 

“Gaaa,” said Petey gleefully. 

“No, that was not funny.” The Jinn dug himself out of the rubble of bricks and faced the baby. “Never do that again,” he warned. Petey had other ideas and seized him again. This time the Jinn found himself looking into the wide-open mouth of the baby. 

Petey blew a spit bubble as the Jinn grew close to his mouth.

“No way, no sucking and drooling on my hairdo.” The Jinn wrestled an arm free and snapped his fingers. “I am not a chew toy. Have a pacifier.” he said as the yellow soother appeared, aimed and shot into the baby’s mouth. A millisecond later, the Jinn would have become a living gummy bear. Once more he found himself flying across the playpen. This time he vanished and reappeared on one of the pens posts. A second later a scream filled the air. Liza was back and she was terrified by what she was seeing. 

“Why me? I have him throwing me around like a ragdoll and now you screaming at me.” The Jinn slapped his forehead. “Can everybody, please, calm down.” 

“But, but, but you’re a, a.” 

“Yes woman, I’m a five-inch tall man wearing stylish shorts and sunglasses.” The Jinn gave her a disarming smile. “Now seeing as that little monster in there can’t read yet. I’ll assume you read my coin and summoned me.” 

“I guess I did.” Liza came a little closer. Picking up a toy drumstick she poked the little man in the chest, like he was a diseased rat. “What are you? You won’t hurt my baby, will you?” 

“Easy lady.” the Jinn swatted the stick away. “I’m real and I’m a Jinn. You summon the big, evil, fiery one if you want your baby fried. You summon me if you want me to do things for you.” The Jinn put his palms together. “So, did you need something?” 

“Well.” Liza took on a thoughtful gaze. “You can change his nappy if you like.”  

“Ugh, I’d rather throw a lit match in a gas tank, than change his stinky nappies. Thank you very much.” The Jinn folded his arms. “Next request?”      

“Goo, gaa, goo,” gurgled baby Petey trying to reach for the Jinn again.

“It’s okay, Darling. He’s not going to hurt you.” Liza moved to comfort her son. 

“Actually, he just asked for his daddy to come and have a game with him.” 

“I wish he could be here, Jinn. Daddy is always at work from seven in the morning until nine at night.” Liza told him. 

The Jinn whistled. “Wow, that’s a lot of hours.” The Jinn snapped his fingers. In a moment a car was heard pulling up on the driveway. Liza listened to a person get out and shut the door. Footsteps crossed the gravel and her husband entered the house. 

“Max, why are you home early?” Liza asked never noticing that the Jinn had vanished. 

“I was working with a client when I had the strangest urge to come home. I got in the car and I realised that I really have no time for my darling wife and my special little man.” the man took off his suit jacket, picked up his son and pulled his wife into a family hug. “I’ve decided to significantly reduce my hours. I can still get my work done if I schedule properly. That way, I can also be here for the two of you more often.” 

“Really? Oh, Petey, isn’t that great?” Liza beamed and kissed Max. 

“Goo, gaa goo, goo.” Petey chuckled and took his daddy’s glasses off. 

“Really. So, how was your morning?” Max took back his glasses and gave his son one of his dinosaurs instead.

“We had fun in the park, then…” Liza paused and looked for the Jinn. “Came home to watch Petey’s favourite TV shows. He’ll need a nappy change soon.” 

“Great well you change his —” Max froze for a second, his eyes glazed. With a shake of his head, he smiled. “I’ll change his nappy, then hows about we drive to the seaside for the afternoon,” he said instead. 

“We’d love that.” Liza smiled.
“Okay, won’t be too long.” Max left the room with baby Petey. 

Liza looked about her with furrowed brows. “Hmm, where was the Jinn?” 

“He’s a model husband now, don’t you think?” said the Jinn. Liza looked into the playpen to see the little man juggling building bricks. He looked every bit the circus clown with those polka dot shorts on. 

“He is, thank you so much.” 

“My pleasure, from now on he will share the chores and be with you both more. Return that love and you will be a happy family.” The Jinn vanished and reappeared near the door. “Oh, and don’t summon me near that baby again. I have a bloody headache from being used as rattle!” with that, his job was done, he snapped his fingers and vanished.

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