“And so the little brother and sister lived happily with their father in their little cottage.” Melina closed the book.
Little Katie’s eyelids were already dropping. Melina straightened the blanket. “I hope you enjoyed the story,” she said.
“Yes,” said Katie. “You make it so much fun!”
Melina smiled. She got a real kick out of trying out different voices while reading the story. Sure, Hansel and Gretel was stupid and nonsensical, but hey, it was Katie’s own choice and she wouldn’t argue with a child over what story they wanted to hear. Let people enjoy things was her mantra.
Katie’s eyes opened wide. “Do witches really exist, Auntie?”
“Oh no!” Melina laughed. “Only in stories. You know, like dragons and mermaids and all that stuff.”
“Will you read me a story about mermaids next time?”
“Of course I will.”
The little girl’s eyelids dropped again and soon, she was asleep. Melina stood up, put the book back on the shelf and left Katie’s bedroom, switching the light off. She settled on the sofa in the living room and turned the TV on. Nothing of interest was on and Theresa didn’t subscribe to any streaming services, but Melina didn’t feel like watching anything anyway. She was thinking.
She was thinking of the stories she could tell little Katie. All the tales of yore, the true tales, not the Brothers Grimm mess. And then, there were other types of stories. Of deadbeat dads and alcoholic grandparents. Of struggling single mums, who couldn’t shake the feeling of guilt when they indulged in going out for only one night a year. For god’s sake, go out with your friends. I can look after Katie, I have nothing to do in the evenings…
One day she would.
She hoped Theresa was having a good time.
She did. Theresa came home, her face shining. She was barefooted. “It’s been so long I’ve worn these,” she said, dangling her high heels in her hand. She hugged Melina. “Thank you so much.”
“Oh it’s a pleasure, you know.”
“Were there any problems?”
“Not at all, she ate her supper like a champ and then I read her a story.”
“You want anything to eat or drink?”
“No thanks, I’m good. I need to head home now.”
“Of course. You want me to get you a cab? You got an Uber?”
“No, no need for that.”
They said goodnight to each other and Melina left.
She walked down the street, then down the next street, until she reached the park gate. She entered.
The park was a deserted, quiet place at this hour. There were only a few street lights, helpless against the darkness. She kept on a steady pace towards the bushes. That was where she hid it.
It was the best spot, really. She always used this park when going to Theresa’s house.
She crouched and, from under the bushes, she retrieved the long thin object. It was a broom.
She perched on the broom, bounced on her feet and flew away.