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The Sweets

-Rodica, darling, do not go through my pockets again.
-No daddy, I never do that! And she crosses her legs and her fingers behind her back.
-As you say darling! And no hoards of children in the garden.
-No daddy! And she crosses her legs and fingers once again.
-You’re indulging her dear. All those sweets you keep bringing her. Utters his wife as she is painting her long polished nails.
He kisses her in passing, hugs darling Rodica and ruffles Dorin’s hair, who never gets any attention as he is still at kindergarten.
It is scorching hot and the tarmac is melting under the shoes.
Rodica and Dorin are perched on the top of their fence, in the hope of finding other children to play. They can see the neighbours’ children walk towards them. They start waving. Rodica runs into the kitchen, picks up the key and opens the gate to let them in.
“Come in! Mum does not mind! She is painting her nails!” The children walk into the yard as a fluffy dog starts barking straight on cue.
“Pay no attention. It doesn’t bite!” Rodica shakes her new dress as she walks along the path.
“I can give you some sweets!” she says smiling with both mouth and eyes.
“Daddy always brings some for me, every day!” she says salivating.
They enter through the open living-room door.
“Who are you with, darlings?”
“Just the children from next-door, mummy!” says Dorin.
“What shall we play? But first, let’s get some sweets. Then we can play in the barn!’
Rodica leaves the room and rummages in the usual place inside the sideboard. Nothing. She goes into the hall where her father hangs his coats.
“Rodica, you mustn’t go through daddy’s coats! He said you must not! I’ll tell of you!” says Dorin with a worried face.
Rodica comes back into the room. She is waving a small brown bag.
“There are only two sweets. How are we going to share them?
Lucia looks at them, and makes a gesture with her mouth,
“They look like medicine tablets,”
Her younger brother, Relu who is checking his nose with his fingers, mumbles:
“I don’t like these sweets!”
Costel, the violin player, who is full of himself as his uncle is a philharmonic director in the capital spares a glance,
“I don’t like their colour!”
Maruca moves her nose up and down,
“I like only chocolate bonbons!”
Dorin, who is scared of his father utters forcefully,
“I am not touching them! Daddy said we must not go through his pockets!” With a glowing face, Rodica stuffs both sweets into her mouth full of expectation. Her face goes funny, as if she were biting from a lemon. She spits out only one of them as the other one has already gone down her throat.
“They taste disgusting!”
“I told you, haven’t I?
“Mum, mum!”
The children look at each other. They are bored. Throats parched and rumbling tums. They walk home.
The sky is a burning blue mirror and the gardens bombard the air with a smell of rotting lilies.
Maruca runs up the grand stairs of the house with the Italian façade and through the heavy oak doors, and passed the entrance hall, she collapses on a kitchen chair.
“Wash your hands and try some aubergine and char grilled pepper salad.
“Scrumptious, grandma!” she says after she gobbles up a whole glass of water!
Outside, one can hear the siren of an ambulance.
“I wonder who has been taken ill!” Says grandma, but Maruca takes a bite from grandma’s salad
“Grandma, it’s very good!” and the morning disappears from her mind.

Mariana Zavati Gardner    11/8/2013


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