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Nine (part 11)

Joe Spivey's picture
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When Finny crossed the threshold into Joe’s entrance hall she was not expecting the explosion of noise that greeted them and tried to hurriedly turn and flee. Along with the noise-makers, and party poppers exploding their coloured streams around her, shouts of; “Surprise!” And “Happy Birthday!” added to the confusion. Then Joe had his hands on her shoulders, turning her back around and preventing her ducking around him.

Unable to escape then, Finny could only face the little crowd of cheering, grinning, clapping people, surrounded by pink and white decorations, who were insisting that this was her birthday. Confusion turned to dread as she realised that she was going to have to tell all these happy people that they were wrong. She didn’t know when her birthday was. Nor did the orphanage because they always recorded the day she arrived as the day her age officially changed, and that was a couple of months away. It was that moment that Joe pushed her forward. Finny gulped.

“It’s not...”

But that was as far as she got before she was grabbed and bustled through the streamer and balloon decorated hallway into the even more lavishly bedecked living room.

Joe took his time taking off his duster and hanging it on the coat stand by the front door before ambling after the throng.  He stood in the doorway and leaned on the door jamb, watching the the proceedings.

“Open mine first!”

Anneka ran to the pile of presents on the couch and returned with a badly wrapped lumpy parcel. She thrust it into Finny hands and stepped back expectantly.

Having gotten over the initial shock, Finny concentrated on coping with the unfamiliar situation. She sank to her knees to be more on a level with the four-year-old and began to very carefully prise open the sticky-taped seams of the expensive looking decorated paper.

“No. Like this, Silly.” Anneka mimed various energetic tearing motions that would in no way preserve the wrapping paper for future use.

Doubtful about following the destructive instructions, Finny looked to Kirsten for guidance only to be met with eager nods for Finny to copy her daughter. So, Finny shrugged and plunged into the spirit of things, quickly tearing the paper and letting it gather on the floor at her knees.

It didn’t take much to reveal the fluffy, fat, stuffed blightwolf toy, carefully selected by Anneka from her collection.

“I picked it speshul for you.”

Finny opened up her arms and Anneka ran into them.

“Thank you, Annie. It’s lovely.”

“He’s called Growler an’ he likes hugs at bedtime.” Annie put her lips next to Finny’s ear. “He scares the monsters away.” Then she stepped back, solemnly nodding to confirm the toy’s magical ability.

“Who’s next?” Kirsten asked, looking pointedly towards the unnaturally clean Onetooth and Worms.

The order of the gift-giving had been decided by Kirsten shortly after the three boys had arrived and their presents catalogued.

So encouraged, Onetooth and Worms went to the couch and between them carried a large, loosely wrapped and apparently quite heavy, parcel back to where Finny had shifted into a more comfortable position on the floor. The boys carefully lowered it down onto the living room carpet before standing back up, all smiles and happy winks.

“You can just lift the paper up, it’s only sorta not properly wrapped.”

Taking the hint, Finny pulled the wrapping paper up and off the whatever it was underneath.

What it was, was what remained of the dozens of bags of sweets Onetooth and Worms had bought, but now all poured into a twenty-litre glass jar that sported an ornate lid which looked specially made to fit. The whole thing was attached to a tailored wooden base.

Finny’s eyes grew huge. So much candy.


Onetooth and Worms nudged each other. Kirsten and Silja exchanged knowing grins. Joe stopped leaning on the door jamb and took a couple of steps into the room. He was giving the glass jar a suspicious look.

Finny’s hand was drawn to the lid. Sooo much candy. But her fingers were an inch from reaching the lid when Kirsten’s voice stopped Finny’s hand in mid-air.

“No candy until after you’ve had your party snacks please.”

Finny and the other three orphans watched longingly as the huge jar was picked up by Silja and deposited back on the couch. The teenager returned with the smallest of the presents and held it out to Finny.

“This is from me.”


Hyle Troy's picture

( I love this story.  Sadly, personal responsibilities are taking all my time and I am unable to contribute as I usually do. So disappointing.

BUT   Joe is doing a great job s usal  xx

I would rather die peacefully in my sleep, like Grandad, than screaming, like his passengers

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