Six Sentence Stories is a weekly writers’ challenge hosted by Denise at Girlie on the Edge blog.
This week’s prompt word is: BLANKET
What A Beautiful Baby! (so may we start?)
It was a chilly November afternoon in the Rope Walk Gardens of Whitechapel, as sisters Edna and Ethel Fusspot of the London chapter of the Freeman’s Unified Church Trust made their daily welfare inspection of the garden’s visitors – in particular the young children accompanied by their parents, and any new-born babies being pushed along in prams… you see, it was Edna and Ethel’s self-appointed duty to inspect each child for signs of rickets and scurvy, nits and cholera, scarlet fever and whooping cough, and to cast their trained eyes over the cleanliness and adequacy of coats, bonnets, mittens, scarves and blankets.
After several circuits of the gardens, the sisters took their five-minute rest at the bandstand, as the local Salvation Army band members began tuning their instruments for afternoon hymns, and it was here the sisters noticed a smartly-dressed man in a top hat pushing along a fine pram in the direction of the glasshouses.
Edna and Ethel couldn’t help wonder if the poor fellow was some widower left to bring up his new-born baby single handed, for it was most uncommon to see a gentleman and his child out and about unaccompanied by a lady… oh the poor creatures… and the sisters wondered then if they shouldn’t ask the man if he needed their help; perhaps they could recommend him a reputable nanny, a good cook, a housekeeper – what with them being high-ups in the FUCT organisation, they could redeem this pitiful soul of a fellow and his motherless infant in no time… it just wasn’t natural or healthy for a man to bring up a baby all on his own!
In the next moment, Edna and Ethel apprehended the man and assertively introduced themselves as his saviour, and then their voices became as soft as a nursery rhyme and as smooth as warm milk, as they cooed and sighed and peered with fluttery eyes at the beautiful baby beneath the hood of the top-hatted man’s fine pram.
But, lord, mercy, what stared back at Edna and Ethel was no beautiful baby – as tiny wooden fingers gripped at a moth-eaten woollen blanket, and two painted eyes looked up from dark sockets hollowed into a gaunt face, and from a cruel mouth of chattering teeth as white as snowdrops did a fiendish voice issue forth the command… “Mesdames, you are feeling sleepy, and I am now going to count from ten backwards, then my master will relieve you of the things you no longer need…. et oui, c’est comme ça… so may we start?”
Later that evening, Edna and Ethel sat in the warm parlour of their Knightsbridge house nursing the most extraordinary migraines either had encountered before, and they wondered how it was that they had lost not only their purses at Rope Walk Gardens that afternoon but their jewellery… so curious… and while they mused over their losses and tended to their throbbing heads, not a mile away, in a hotel room booked for the week, Monsieur Magnifique took off his top hat and settled it onto the bed next to Petit Pierre who was taking a nap, and Monsieur Magnifique would soon join his mannequin partner in peaceful sleep, because hypnotism and pickpocketing was a very exhausting business indeed.
What A Beautiful Baby! (so may we start?) micro-story by Ford 17 November 2021
Artwork – Lunapic clipart digital render by Ford.