A Birthday Treat- Mildred
I was relieved. Mr Humble must feel sorry for Angelica and me. He hadn’t met our parents, and he was already doing a great deed for both of us. Angelica and I had liked him ever since we met him six years ago. This is the one-hundredth time in six years we were in his car going somewhere special. And it was our birthday too. We didn’t go to his school anymore, yet he still had time to care for us. It was an absolute miracle. I wished my parents were like him. I wasn’t a worrier like Angelica, so I had never been worried about the consequences if my parents ever found out.
“So, girls, did you get anything for your birthday?”
“Does it look like I have anything? Every year, you’re the only one who acknowledges our birthday,” I said.
“I thought you would say that.”
If I made a rude comment towards Mr Humble, he didn’t mind because he knew I couldn’t help it. The problem was, everything we bought today couldn’t come home with us because of our parents. I already thought they were becoming suspicious. They could both tell we were hiding a big secret behind their backs. Though they didn’t ask us what we were hiding, they were always watching us. Just like how Jesus and God watch everyone all day long. They could be in the car behind us in disguise waiting to pounce like a cat and kill us. Our parents were pushing us away and forcing us to grow up ourselves with no help from them.
“Here we are, girls. We can walk around the mall and find something to do. Shall we?” Mr Humble said while parking his car.
I got out of the car with Angelica and began to run across the road, where both of us nearly got squashed by a big, speeding truck coming the other way.
We both jumped and screamed very loudly, stopping directly in front of the truck. Luckily, there was a policeman there to control the crazy truck driver who was already in a police car chase.
“Ladies, watch where you are going next time. I suggest you stay back with your father next time. Sir, I am going to have to fine you for letting your two daughters walk out in the middle of the road,” the policeman explained to Mr Humble as he approached his car.
Angelica and I both looked at each other from the other side of the road. We were confused. When the policeman had finished taking details from Mr Humble, he went back to helping the other officers who had caught the mad truck driver.
Mr Humble walked over the road to us both with a worried look on his face.
“Angelica and Mildred, be a bit more careful, will you? Haven’t you ever learnt road rules? You could have died. You should have waited!”
“Sir, we have never been taught how to cross the road,” Angelica answered.
“How do you cross the road, Mr Humble?” I asked.
“Stop. Look and listen.”
Angelica and I both looked up at Mr Humble. What was he talking about? How can you stop, look, and listen at the same time when you are trying to cross the road? It didn’t make any sense.
“Firstly, you don’t run over any road without checking if it’s safe to cross. Stop when you get to the road. Look both ways before crossing and listen for any cars coming. Then it’s safe to cross.”
Well, I got that, and it didn’t take any time to click in my head. At least I hadn’t killed myself.
The three of us walked into the mall. It was a busy Saturday morning. Everyone was shopping because the weekends were the only time they had available to do it.
“Do you want to watch a movie and get an ice-cream at the cinemas?” asked Mr Humble.
We both nodded. We had never watched a child movie before, so we watched an adult movie called The Battle of the Arks. We assumed a children’s movie would have been boring because we were used to adult movies. It was a good movie, too. It was about a rich, handsome prince waging war against the Arks to win back his fine Princess Penelope, who had been taken away by their dark lord, Merlin. It was a scary, romantic movie with lots of boys and girls kissing. I was into boys a lot, though I had never had a boyfriend. Angelica thought boys were nasty, so she didn’t pay attention to all the love and kissing in most movies she watched. Angelica tended to drift off and look the other way when romance was going too far in movies. However, it seemed she loved The Battle of the Arks. She didn’t look away once and paid close attention to it the whole time. Usually when we were locked up in the lounge at home, she slept all day when I watched heavy-loaded romance movies. The two things Angelica and I don’t have in common is that I like boys, and she doesn’t; she hates romance, and I love it. No one could pick out another difference between us.
“Did you enjoy the movie, ladies?”
“Yeah, I liked it,” I said.
“It was okay, I suppose,” Angelica said.
It was time to go back home. It had been a long but very enjoyable birthday. Mr Humble dropped us off at home and drove off. I could hear voices in my house.
I could hear my parents fighting again. It sounded like Mildred and I were in trouble. It was as if they had found out we were gone and had seen Mr Humble’s car drive off.
“You idiot! Why did you leave the door unlocked?” shouted my father.
“You had the key, you dumb ass. I had nothing to do with it.”
There was no time to waste by just standing at the door. However, before we even started running, the front door flew open and our scowling parents stood before us.
“Oh, hello, Mildred and Angelica. WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?” screamed my mother.
It was time to run, and so we both did. Our parents ran after us.
“Mildred, wait for me,” I called, trying to keep up with her sprinting.
It was too late; Dad had caught me. He shoved a sock in my mouth and dragged me to his car. Mildred saw me and headed for me, but Mum caught her and pulled her back towards the house.
Our parents were yelling at each other that their relationship was over. Our parents had finished with each other, and now Mildred and I were splitting up. We were both crying and trying to scream for help. It was useless. Mildred had gone, and my wrists were tied together with rope in Dad’s car and then tied to the seat. This was all my fault. I was going to die at a young age, and Mildred didn’t know. I knew the blue book I found in Kindy had something suspicious in it. Why couldn’t I have understood the title Do Not Open?
I panicked, as if I were having a heart attack. Was Dad going to kill me or was I going to get cancer? I hadn’t read any more of the blue book after the first sentence. I should have told Mildred. Mr Humble is now at risk. I couldn’t breathe or do anything with this sock in my mouth. If Dad was going to kill me, fine: I just wanted Mildred to be safe.
“You stupid girl! Angelica, how could you? You betrayed me, you disobedient wretch.”
I didn’t like the sound of that one. He did hate me. I felt as if I were going to jail with these ropes tied around me. I wish our parents had cared about us more; none of this would have happened. Dad stopped the car and pulled out a pink tablet from a container. I didn’t know what it was, but he was forcing it into my mouth. Before I knew it, I had drifted off to sleep.
I woke up in a room with bars blocking any escape. My head was hurting. I think I was in jail. I stood up from my bed and looked around. I couldn’t see anything apart from the mirrors that surrounded me. I don’t know why I was in here, or how I got here. I couldn’t remember anything at all apart from my name. What did I do to get in this place? I hope I didn’t rob a bank or shop...
I felt sick because I was starving, and my stomach had a rippling hard pain in it. I pushed the bars; they were unlocked. I was surprised. Why would they be unlocked? I was free to go. Outside were thousands of rooms, all lined up, and each like the room I was just inside. No one was around.
“Hello? Anyone here?” I called.
No answer. Maybe I could find someone in one of the rooms down this hallway. If one person could tell me what was going on, I would be delighted. Where were my parents? All the rooms were empty. There was not a picture hanging on the wall. There was wooden floors and doors. Very old and rustic looking place. From my distance, it looked like the place has been burnt down in a couple of places and then rebuilt due to the ash and the black markings on the all. I kept walking down the hall until I entered a big, dark shed. I was getting quite nervous and scared. I called again and then suddenly all the lights turned on, and people crowded everywhere. I was in a large room that was filled with tubes of animals. I believe I was in a testing lab, but I didn’t want to ask about it just in case I was the next to be tested on.
“Surprise,” they all sang.
“Angelica, happy birthday, you sleepy head,” said an unfamiliar looking man.
I blinked, then frowned. Hadn’t I already had my birthday? I didn’t know anyone in this room. Who were they all?
“Excuse me, could someone please take me home. Preferably one of my parents, if they are here.”
The crowd of people started laughing. I didn’t find it funny at all. Someone needed to tell me something.
“Hi, I’m Matt, and I am your worst nightmare.”
“Great, I’m so scared, “I answered with sarcasm.
They all laughed. I didn’t get it. They throw a surprise birthday party for me and start being mean and childish towards me? I didn’t remember how old I was. I was getting angry now. I slapped Matt softly on the arm and demanded his attention by giving him an angry face. I thought I was in a dream, so I started to pinch myself. But I didn’t wake up. It was real. I couldn’t understand why I was surrounded by complete idiots and lunatics in a prison cell. I needed to escape, though I had no idea where the exit was. It would be very hard for me to find my way to freedom in this huge place.
“Matt, where is my father?”
“Over there.” He pointed.
I walked over to my father, who I hardly recognised. He pulled a blue book out of his pocket.
“Dad, can we leave and go back home to Mum? I don’t want to be in jail anymore.”
“Angelica, honey, you and your mother had a car crash, remember? She’s dead. Now you have to live with me at work,” he said in a joking way.
I didn’t believe him. Firstly, I wasn’t hurt, and I couldn’t remember anything. He should never have talked about my mother like that. I stared him down with the blue book in his hand. Something smelled fishy about this book. I was sure I had seen it before, but when?
“Dad, what’s the book about?”
“It’s about you. It was sent to us a couple of days ago.”
“Why is it about me?”
Why would Dad want to read a book about me? Who wrote it? I had to find out because it might have answers. The problem was I wasn’t going to get this blue book, no matter how hard I tried. Dad’s powerful hands wouldn’t let it go. I could see the title, however: Consequences for a Little Lost Girl. Well, I wasn’t little, I wasn’t lost, and I had done nothing wrong, so the book couldn’t seriously be about me. I wished I could find out what was inside it, though.
“Dad, can I please see the book?”
“Here, you can see its beautiful blue cover,” Dad said, cheekily holding the book way above me.
I decided it was time to give up. I wanted answers. I wished I could go back to the past and figure it all out. But what happened in the past? I cannot remember anything. As soon as I had woken up a couple of minutes ago, I knew nothing. I hadn’t received a birthday present from this surprise party yet. I knew I wasn’t spoilt; however, I would like to be respected a bit better than this. I knew Matt and Dad in this place and no one else. Apparently, Matt was Dad’s boss. He was a tall muscular man, with reddish hair. A figure that resembled my father’s appearance a little bit. They were both childish, however, as I could tell from the way they replied to people. It was as if I were back in Kindy. My brain gave a huge twitch and began to beat harder than before. I had a greater headache as soon as I thought of Kindy. I couldn’t remember my first day of it.
“Dad, I have a bad headache.”
My father called a doctor from the crowd of people in the corner of the room, who took me back into my room that I woke up in.
“Am I going to be okay, Doctor?”
“You just have a temperature, Angelica. If you rest and wear this mask for a couple of minutes, you will feel much better.”
He put a mask across my face and told me to calm down and breathe slowly. Red dust began to pour out and went up my nose and into my mouth. It felt cold and relaxing. It tasted like strawberries and marshmallows. Surprisingly, my headache had nearly gone, but I was feeling greater pain in my stomach. It was as if I was taking my last breath. I think I had asthma, which I never had before in my life. I panicked as I swelled up like a purple cabbage. The doctor removed the mask from my face, and I immediately went back to normal. That was the worst feeling I had ever experienced in my whole life. Firstly, it was as if I was having a delicious feast and then suddenly dying. I was breathing heavily and turning into a cabbage all at the same time. Was this doctor trying to turn me into a cabbage, or was it my reaction to this red dust? The doctor took me back out to my father, who was waiting for me at an old, rusty desk.
“Sit down, Angelica, we need to talk.”
I was ready to hear what my dad was about to tell me.
“Darling Angelica, have you ever considered having a mother?”
“Dad, you said she died in a car accident.”
“I know, but would you like another one?”
I wanted a mother terribly. But what if I didn’t like her and she didn’t like me? I’d have to meet her first before anyone became my mother.
“You see, Angelica, I have met this incredible woman who I think would be a perfect mother for you.”
An incredible woman? “Oh, I would like to see evidence,” I joked.
My dad called for a woman by the name of Sasha.
“Angelica, this is Sasha. Sasha, this is my daughter Angelica.”
“John, I thought you said you didn’t have children.”
Sasha didn’t seem surprised at all to meet me. I got the impression that she hated young people.
“It was supposed to be a surprise, honey.”
I didn’t like Sasha’s first impression of me. She was tall and had dusty blond hair. She was also extremely skinny like me and attractive, as if she was a supermodel.
“Hi, Angelica. How are you?” Sasha said, gazing at me.
“John, your daughter needs to learn better words than just ‘good’. Maybe I could teach her some?”
“Great idea! Do whatever you want with her.”
I frowned. That sounded chilling. I hoped she wasn’t going to kill me or anything like that. As if I would want to hear better words for “good” in my spare time. I could just grab a thesaurus and look up a word in seconds rather than spending time with her making lists of words. Who did Sasha think she was? The ruler of my father’s life as well as my own? Dad should not marry this woman. She was creeping me out. I wondered what my other mother was like before she died. I couldn’t remember a thing about her. It was as if I had never had a mother or father and was just adopted.
“Sasha, why don’t you spend some quality time with my daughter and get to know each other better?”
“No buts, Angelica.”
Sasha and I went to see her room. As soon as I saw it, my eyes widened. Her room was huge and beautiful, and she had it all to herself while I had to sleep in a jail cell. It didn’t make any sense. It had a laundry, luxurious bathroom and bedroom, as well as a divine kitchen and lounge room that looked more like a movie theatre with rows of seats. I hoped I could sleep in here with her if my dad was. It would be great, and I wouldn’t have to sleep in a jail cell with reflective mirrors all around me. I also suspected that when I was in a prison cell, someone was always watching me and I had no privacy at all. I remember seeing several cameras on my way to finding my father in this extraordinary place.
“Angelica, your dad and I sleep here, and very soon, you will too ... but not tonight.”
I felt like ripping off her head. Why wouldn’t I be able to sleep with my own father? Sasha didn’t own him. The way Sasha talked to me made me want to cry, but I held in the tears. She was almost like a witch, with long fingernails and a mask covering her green, ugly face. I wouldn’t want to try to see if she was one because she might kill me before I killed her.
“Angelica, you’re daydreaming. Snap out of it,” Sasha said, clapping loudly in front of my face.
“Sorry, I often do that.”
“You’ll never learn anything if you have an imagination drifting you off tasks you were already doing.”
“The task of admiring this room. Your father is hopeless in bringing up children by himself. That is why I think I would be a great mother for you because you need one badly. You have a lot to learn from me, young lady, and you won’t be escaping from my presence at all.”
It wasn’t long before I felt a terrible pain in my gut. It hurt to stand. I was still in Sasha’s room and had no choice but to crash on her bed.
“Angelica, get off, you little grub.”
I couldn’t move or speak. The pain was getting to me, and I was feeling a sudden threat of death. I felt dizzy and weak. Was I hungry? When was the last time I ate?
“Angelica, are you all right?”
I couldn’t answer. Within no time, my father and some doctors appeared.
“What happened, Sasha?” asked my father.
“I don’t know. One second she was standing, and the next she was on the bed and couldn’t move or talk.”
The doctor came over to me and knocked me out with a needle. This was the last thing I remembered.
I woke up in the hospital all alone. Everything around me was white. The furniture, the curtains and the walls. I didn’t know the time or what day it was. My pains had gone down a bit, though I was still feeling quite sore. Where was everyone? I began to remember something. That blue book my father showed me the other day reminded me of something terrible that was going to happen; what was it? It was all coming to life. Though I didn’t remember what it had said or how I was to die. I began feeling sick.
A red button was on the wall beside me, and a sign read, “Push for emergencies only.” I was in an emergency right now. I was lonely and I needed answers fast, so I pressed the button. A young nurse and doctor rushed through the door moments later. For once, I thought they were married, though they weren’t. They acted like a couple would in the movies, charming and showing off for each other’s affection. The nurse had long, brown hair pulled to the side in a ponytail and was very slim like the doctor. She was gorgeous: the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. Her cheeks were rosy, her nose was straight. She had a perfect figure and high cheekbones with large luscious lips.
“Angelica, are you all right?” asked the nurse.
“Okay, then let’s do something. I’m Natalie, and this is my boyfriend, Brandon. Your mother and father asked us to help you and keep you comfortable.”
“Sasha is not my mother and I hate her.”
“Why would you say that? She seems so nice when she spoke with me. She was friendly over the phone too when she rang for an ambulance.”
“She doesn’t like me. Could I see my father, please?”
“Angelica, your father has gone away for a week with Sasha for a holiday. They said they would be back to check on you after the week is over. They didn’t want to interrupt you while you were in the hospital, so they decided they would leave Nat and me to look after you this week while you’re in the hospital.”
That was it. I was over the way Sasha was treating me and how she was lying to my father that she liked me. I wasn’t going to see my father for a week. Natalie and Brandon seemed nice, but I wanted my father to look after me this week.
“Are you all right, Angelica? You look a bit sad,” Natalie said.
“I’m fine. I’m just bored.”
That was a lie. I wasn’t fine, and I wanted to cry. What if I had died before my father came back? How could he just have left without saying goodbye to me? I didn’t know Natalie and Brandon. It didn’t make any sense. It was like doing a hard algebra problem. You would sit there for ages trying to figure out the answer, but you couldn’t. That was how I felt. All my life, since the day I was born, I had been trying to look for answers and never could find them.
“Natalie, why am I in this hospital?”
“You have pancreatic cancer.”
“Cancer of the pancreas, and you may experience a lot of vomiting, pain, dizziness, and weakness.”
“Will I die?”
“It’s curable,” Brandon said.
At least I was happy to hear that. If it weren’t curable, I would be panicking. Natalie and Brandon took me into a room where other kids were playing. It was like a games room with a TV, an Xbox, and a box of toys. I had never used any of these appliances before. I knew what they were, and today was going to be the first time for me to use them in my whole life.
“Since you’re bored, you can stay in here for a while and meet some of the other children,” said Brandon.
Natalie and Brandon left, and I walked towards the TV, which, at the moment, wasn’t being used. I turned it onto a channel called ABC kids and started to watch until a little boy, about the age of six, started to cry. A nurse walked in and took the boy out of the room. He had a huge bandage on his head and a cast on his left arm. Though I was in a little pain, I felt sorry for him and sneaked out after him. What could have happened to him? Did he get hit by a car?
I found him in a room with many doctors and nurses, lying down on the bed. Blood flowed from his arm and made a puddle on the floor. My stomach churned. I decided I should go back to the games room. Tears ran down my face when I reached the room. I shouldn’t have followed the boy. I wanted my dad. I wanted to go home.
Natalie and Brandon turned up a few minutes later and found me crying. None of the other kids would come near me because they thought I was a big cry-baby. I was taken out of the room and back into the room I had woken up in.
“Angelica, is something bothering you?” asked Brandon.
I was crying and had been crying for a long time, so I couldn’t talk properly, and I was hiccupping. Natalie handed me a glass of cold water and told me to calm down. Why did I have to have cancer? Why could I not have a good father who cared about me? If my father were here right now, I wouldn’t be crying like this at all. After a while, I calmed down and could speak.
“Could you please tell Brandon and I why you were crying?” Natalie said.
“I just want my father to take me home. Could I at least ring him?”
“He didn’t leave his number. Do you have it?”
“I don’t know his number, or anyone else’s number.”
“Well, then we cannot communicate with him at all.”
I bawled my eyes out again. Natalie and Brandon had no choice but to leave me alone for the rest of the day. They couldn’t solve my problem. As hard as they tried to help me, nothing worked at all to cheer me up or entertain me. I spent the rest of the day alone, sulking and sleeping.