Dusting

The little girl had curly red hair at almost collar length and she wore a yellow jumpsuit. She walked on the footpath with an uneven gait. It would be wrong to call it uncertain, as one might a newborn foal taking its first steps, for she wasn’t uncertain, she knew what she was doing. She was exploring. Stumbling about the house and doing that rocking from side to side walk seems just fine where it is supposed to be done, at home, on the lounge room floor, on soft carpet which will break any fall that might occur. Misadventures happen on the floor in front of the TV – and all the adults say, “Oh, are you OK sweetie?” and “She’ll be fine, look at her get straight up” and “Aw, cute!” and they giggle and enjoy the moment. On the street, outside, things are different. A fall will hurt little knees and the palms of little hands, and there’s no audience at arm’s reach, prepared at any moment to offer one its adult members to take a little hand and right the stricken chassis of the collapsed toddler. In fact there’s no-one there at all. She was all alone, waddling along on a street of houses, making gurgling noises when she encountered a cat sunning itself on a driveway or dogs sniffing at gates and wagging tales.

Mrs. Armstrong from number 27 saw the tiny girl on the other side of the street as she dusted a windowsill in her front room. She was expecting visitors and wanted the house to look as good as could be. She wondered for a moment where the child’s mother was and where it had come from. She was pretty sure that there were no young families in her local area, and she knew about this area very well indeed, for she had moved here with her husband Stanley before her own children were of school age. Now Bianca and Dodo (as the family had always called her son Duncan) were grown up, had jobs and families of their own, and Stanley’s funeral service had been given by Reverend Tomkinson three years ago tomorrow (Mrs. Armstrong knew that because she made a mental note of important dates and never forgot them). She would know of this child if it were local.

The little girl recoiled when one of the “bow wows”, as her grandma had taught her to call dogs, was not as friendly as the others she had encountered, and barked at the tiny stranger when it passed in front of the house it felt itself tasked to look after and protect from foreign influences. The girl changed direction, spun around, falling onto her right knee, and got up slowly, with fat tears filling her eyelids. Blindly she began walking in the direction she was facing. She was facing the road now, and Mrs. Armstrong heard the sound of a car engine in her quiet street. Mrs. Armstrong threw open her freshly dusted front door, began running down her mopped path, and seeing a blue flash in her peripheral vision, accompanying the crescendo of engine noise, the woman threw herself in the direction of the toddler.

The driver never saw either the adult nor the juvenile human female until they were lying on the road in the aftermath of the collision. Mrs. Armstrong was terribly injured, and blood was pooling around the base of her neck, where her head lay on the bitumen. The child was fine. Mrs. Armstrong had protected her from the full force of the vehicle with her ageing body. Paramedics said they had never seen anything like it as they led the little girl away and wrapped the older woman in the blanket reserved for deceased people.

The little girl’s mother was naturally stunned when told the story. She had been at a property viewing just around the corner when her daughter wandered away. She cried as her little girl was handed to her. She really liked this area, and now realised that another property would soon be on the market.

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Published in: on June 2, 2010 at 8:24 pm  Leave a Comment  

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