The Inklings: Chapter 85

To read the story from the start go to: https://the-inkling.com/catch-up-with-the-inklings/

D’arby had given himself 40 minutes to walk the 2.5 kilometres to work because it was in an area he was unfamiliar with and because Rudnika had stressed the importance of him being there on time. She’d actually instructed D’arby that there was a 6 minute window in which it was acceptable to arrive – from 8:27am to 8:33am, but because D’arby had been half asleep when he’d heard this he had only registered the message that he be there on time, and not the details about the 6 minute time window.

As D’arby walked he held the map he’d drawn on a scrap of paper and because he was feeling nervous he kept checking the map, even though he’d memorized the route.  D’arby was nervous because he didn’t want to disappoint but he had no way of gauging whether he was going to be able to do the job well, and he really wanted to do it well because he could see it was going to be important.

When D’arby turned into the street of his new workplace he noticed that the back of his neck felt cold. He thought he heard someone say “Careful!” but there was nobody in the street. Then he noticed a galah sitting in a tree. The Galah looked D’arby in the eye and raised its crest. Then another galah launched itself from a tree on the other side of the road and flew past so close to D’arby’s head that he ducked.

D’arby turned around to check that there was nobody behind him and looked up at the windows of the houses in the street to see if anyone was looking out, but he didn’t see any faces. Then he looked at his watch and saw that he was 15 minutes early. He continued to walk along the street until he was outside the address Rudnika had given him. It was the second of a group of five terrace houses that were bordered on one side by a laneway and the other side by a small park. The only indication that D’arby was at the right place was a small brass plaque next to the front door saying “RenewBank”. None of the other houses in the street appeared to be businesses and D’arby wondered whether Rudnika had started the business from her house. D’arby wondered if this was why the job application process and testing had all been done online – to hide the modest nature of the business. D’arby looked at his watch again and saw that he was ten minutes early so he walked back to the little park and decided to sit down and wait until 8:29am.

As D’arby sat he looked around him. The back of the park opened onto a laneway and D’arby wondered whether the park had once been another terrace house because it looked like it was the same size as the other houses in the street. D’arby looked across the road at the houses that faced RenewBank and he thought he noticed the curtains move in one of them, but there was no other sign of anyone being home. He listened for sounds of life and could hear the faint sound of music, but couldn’t tell which house it was coming from.

At 8:29 and 45 seconds D’arby opened the front gate of RenewBank, walked up the steps and rang the doorbell. Rudnika answered the door almost immediately and shook D’arby’s hand warmly, then ushered him inside.

Rudnika took D’arby upstairs to meet Sonia, who seemed to be working at four computers at once. D’arby felt like asking lots of questions but Rudnika seemed to be in a hurry and told D’arby to come with her so she could show him his desk. She showed him to the room opposite Sonia’s and gave him a piece of paper then put her finger to her mouth, indicating that she wanted him to not say anything.

The curtains of the room were closed and so D’arby had to strain his eyes to read what was on the paper. It said “Do not say anything or ask any questions. This building has been bugged. When I say something just answer ‘Ok’ and then follow me”.

“So here is where you will be working” said Rudnika. “The computer is all set up and ready to go. Here are some reports you should read. They will probably take you a week to get through. I need to get back to my desk now because I am expecting a phone call. My office is downstairs – please come and have a chat in an hour. The bathroom and kitchen are downstairs too.”

Then Rudnika motioned for D’arby to follow her and they crept downstairs and into a room full of bookshelves. Rudnika went up to one of the shelves and slid it aside to reveal a hidden door. D’arby looked at Rudnika and raised an eyebrow. She was pleased that he seemed to think this was exciting.

Rudnika opened the door and when they had both walked through she quietly closed it. D’arby realized that they were now in the house next door. Rudnika took D’arby down the hall to the kitchen and closed the door.

“We can talk now” said Rudnika. “Would you like a quick cup of tea before we leave for the real office?”

D’arby tried to say “Yes” but his words seemed to have dried up so he nodded. There were so many questions he wanted to ask that he was having trouble getting any of them out of his brain.

“We have about ten minutes.  Ask me any questions” said Rudnika as she made the tea.

“How do you know next door is bugged? Who would do that? How do you know this buiding is safe? What if there are cameras watching you too? Why would anyone believe that you are working next door if there’s nobody there to make any noise? What does Sonia do?”

Rudnika laughed and gave D’arby his cup of tea. D’arby was pleased that it was black without sugar and wondered how Rudnika knew that was what he liked. Hers had milk in it.

“Sonia is very busy all day pretending to be many people at once. She will have to pretend to be you too now. When we get to the real office I will need you to record yourself saying lots of words and phrases so Sonia can use them to make the fake D’arby have a conversation with the fake Rudnika in an hour. Sonia checks all three buildings for bugs and cameras every morning. It is difficult to pretend to be working here everyday when really we work somewhere else, but it is worth it because while they are busy listening to this building here we have control over what they think we are doing – we can throw them off track” explained Rudnika

“Who?” asked D’arby

“That’s a tougher question. The people watching us from across the road are spies for hire so are probably working for one of the big banks, or maybe for all of them. We aren’t sure who is listening to us though” said Rudnika and then she quickly drank the rest of her tea.

“Please wash the cups while I check that the coast is clear” said Rudnika. While D’arby washed the cups he watched Rudnika open one of the kitchen cupboards and turn on a set of monitors that were hidden inside. There must have been cameras watching the side and back lanes as well as the front of the house. D’arby realized that this building was next to the side lane.

Rudnika showed D’arby the monitor showing the back lane and pointed to the upstairs window of the house on the other side of the lane. D’arby could vaguely see someone moving and Rudnika explained that there was often someone there watching the back door of the official office next door and that sometimes she went out and sat in the backyard there to give the spy something to look at.

Then Rudnika carefully checked the view of the side lane. There were no windows overlooking it and nothing seemed to be happening there.

“Don’t talk until I say” said Rudnika and they walked to the back door of the house. It opened onto a covered area, and there was a screen blocking the view from the house across the back lane. Rudnika picked up two bicycle helmets that were hanging on the wall and handed D’arby one. There were two bikes leaning against the side fence and D’arby noticed that there was a gate in the side fence that led onto the side lane. Rudnika opened the gate and rode out, across the side lane and away along the back lane. D’arby followed, trying hard to steer the bike straight and hoping that they didn’t have to ride on any busy roads.

The real office of RenewBank was in the next suburb. It was above a café and had a roof garden. D’arby couldn’t stop smiling as Rudnika showed him around. Leopold was there too and there were two other new employees called Carol and Valentine.

As promised, D’arby’s first task was to record himself saying lots of different things. Rudnika took D’arby to a small sound-proof room and pointed out that he wasn’t going to have time to create a comprehensive library of recordings but it would be enough to make it sound like he was working at the official office that day. The recordings were put on a USB drive and sent by bicycle courier to the Official Office, where Sonia quickly created a convincing conversation between Rudnika and D’arby. Then D’arby had to continue recording more words and phrases, and he had to repeat many of them while pretending to feel different emotions. At the end of the day he was still not finished and realized he’d have to spend at least the next day doing the same thing.

When the working day was over Leopold and Rudnika reminded D’arby that he was not to tell anyone about what he was doing at work or where the real office was. Rudnika gave him a key to the official office and told him that tomorrow he could let himself in and then they would repeat the trip they’d made that morning but that after that he could make the trip on his own because Rudnika preferred to get to the real office a bit earlier.

“What time do Carol and Valentine arrive at the official office?” D’arby asked. He was wondering whether he’d be able to ride with them sometimes.

“Carol and Valentine aren’t official employees” explained Rudnika “So they don’t have to pretend to work at the official office. They just come straight here”

This news hurt D’arby but he didn’t say anything. As he and Rudnika rode back to the official office D’arby wondered whether his job was going to be a real one or whether he was just a decoy. He desperately wanted to know what Carol and Valentine were going to be working on. He’d wanted to talk to them that day but they hadn’t been there at lunchtime.

Rudnika and D’arby snuck back into the official office the same way they’d left and then D’arby was free to leave by the front door and walk home. As he walked he felt really sad. He’d had such a strange and exciting day but he wasn’t allowed to tell anyone about it.

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The Inklings: Chapter 84

To read the story from the start go to: https://the-inkling.com/catch-up-with-the-inklings/

John and D’arby had been living at Fanta’s place for about a month but John still wasn’t used to waking up in his own room. And it was so quiet that it made him feel lonely.

John rushed to get dressed so he could see Fanta and D’arby before they left for the day.

D’arby was drinking coffee and looking out the window when John walked into the dining room.

“I’ve got something for you” said D’arby and he handed his library card to John.

John was very happy because he knew this meant he could access all the journals he needed to continue D’arby’s research on special pills. So far all John had been doing was reading the papers D’arby had already collected but he knew there was a lot more out there. John noticed that the card didn’t expire until the end of the year and was determined to become an expert by then.

Fanta was just heading into the kitchen to make breakfast for her sisters when it was time for D’arby to leave for work. John thought D’arby looked nervous but very happy as he set off down the street.

John was feeling hungry but sat patiently at the dining table, waiting for Fanta to finish what she was doing in the kitchen. He’d learnt that there was only room for one person in the kitchen at once and was careful to not get in Fanta’s way in the morning because she had so much to do to get her sisters off to school and herself off to work.

Ruby and Nancy came into the dining room and sat down at the table. Ruby had a hairbrush in one hand and was looking a bit cross.

“What’s wrong?” John asked Ruby.

“I have a big tangle at the back of my head and Fanta doesn’t have time to untangle it and Nancy hurts too much when she does it” compained Ruby.

John stood up behind Ruby’s chair and looked at Ruby’s hair. It was the most tangled thing he’d ever seen, but he’d seen Fanta untangling it before and so John pretended he knew what to do. He went and got the squirt bottle full of homemade ‘de-tangler’ and got to work. Ruby was silent as John worked, which he took to be a good sign because she usually complained when anyone touched her hair. John kept working while Ruby ate her breakfast and by the time she needed to go and clean her teeth her hair was looking presentable.

Fanta gave John a big smile when she saw Ruby’s hair. And John was still smiling back when the three of them had left for school and work.

John looked at his watch and calculated the time he’d need to leave the library in order to open the restaurant in time for lunch. Then he picked up D’arby’s library card and headed towards the uni library.

There was a roaring sound whenever the automatic sliding doors of the library opened. John enjoyed walking through them. He tried to hide his nerves as he approached the barrier gates. All the security at the library made John very nervous. John used D’arby’s library card to open one of the gates and was feeling so excited when he made it through them that he had to suppress the urge to jump up and click his heels together.

 


The Inklings: Chapter 83

To read the story from the start go to: https://the-inkling.com/catch-up-with-the-inklings/

Syafika was just about to leave work when her phone rang. It was Rose.

“I know you usually go to Fanta’s place for dinner on Mondays but could you please come home for dinner tonight? We want to have a nice dinner together and then talk about what is going to happen when Zikpi comes to film tomorrow” asked Rose.

Syafika couldn’t help groaning. She wasn’t looking forward to tomorrow. Zikpi had insisted Syafika be there for the final filming and Syafika was cross about that because it meant she had to take a day off work. Also, Syafika had been looking forward to seeing Fanta that evening because she wanted to talk about what had happened at lunchtime. Syafika had once imagined that she and Fanta would be able to have lots of nice chats at work, but it had turned out that opportunities for that were rare because work kept them both so busy. They couldn’t even walk home together because Fanta usually had to leave work early to pick up her sisters.

Syafika paused while she made a quick plan in her head. “Ok. I will come home for dinner but I am going to pass by Fanta’s house on the way home. I will be about an hour and 15 minutes” said Syafika.

After Syafika hung up the phone she ran downstairs to get changed into her running clothes. She had calculated that if she ran to Fanta’s place she’d have enough time for a decent chat about Anthony before she had to leave to run home for dinner.

When Syafika arrived at Fanta’s house she was puffed but happy. She’d managed to get there as fast as she’d hoped. Syafika took some deep breaths while she waited for Fanta to answer the door.

“I’m glad you are a bit early” said Fanta when she opened the door. “D’arby is cooking and wants an early dinner because he has to start his new job tomorrow”

Syafika had to try to control her expression because she felt like scowling. She hadn’t run all the way there to talk about D’arby.

“I can’t stay for dinner – Mum wants me at home to plan for tomorrow. I just ran here so we could have a quick chat about what happened at lunchtime” said Syafika.

“Ahh, ok” said Fanta and she came outside and closed the front door so she and Syafika could talk in the relative privacy of the front yard.

“You did see Anthony, didn’t you?” asked Syafika.

“Yeah, I guessed that was him. Who else would you bother chasing?” said Fanta.

“What did you think?” asked Syafika.

“I thought you were an amazing runner” said Fanta.”But didn’t he notice you were chasing him? I think I would notice if someone was running so close behind me”

Syafika felt a bit embarrassed. She answered “I don’t know…” but really she did know. She’d just realized that Anthony had known she was chasing him, and must have also noticed the last time she did it.

“Celine seemed to notice too” said Fanta. “When you went to get changed she kept asking me questions about you and about whether you knew someone called ‘Lawrence’”.

“Ah ha! So Anthony must have been pretending to be Lawrence when he met Celine in the café that time” said Syafika.

When Syafika started jogging home from Fanta’s house she was feeling a bit embarrassed that Anthony had noticed her running after him, but it was also thrilling to think that they were both playing a secret game. Syafika had a chuckle and ran a bit faster.

When Syafika crossed the road in front of her house a car came roaring along the street and beeped the horn as it almost hit her. This made Syafika really cross. Her street used to be quiet but recently there had been a lot more traffic. Syafika made a mental note to be more careful crossing the road there in future, and to make herself feel happy again she ran up the garden path and bounced up the front steps.

The house was looking very tidy and Syafika initially wondered why, but then remembered it was all for Zikpi. Syafika had so far avoided being filmed for Zikpi’s documentary but she knew she couldn’t escape it tomorrow. As Syafika changed out of her sweaty running clothes she had a little daydream about Anthony turning on the TV and seeing her strolling happily in her beautiful back garden.

When everyone had finished eating dinner Rose explained the timetable for the next day. It sounded like it was going to be a long one. Zikpi and the film crew would arrive at sunrise and they would stay as long as it took to get good footage and interview everyone.

“They won’t interview me though, will they? I’ve had nothing to do with it” said Binta.

“I don’t know” answered Rose.

“You can hide in my room if you like” offered Syafika.

Binta looked like she was going to say thank you but the phone rang and she was sitting closest so she got up to answer it instead.

It was India on the phone. She’d called to tell them that the first episode of Zikpi’s show was about to be broadcast and that they should turn the TV on.

So everyone moved to the loungeroom and sat down while Ousman found the right channel.

At first it was enjoyable to watch Zikpi’s show. The episode was about a couple renovating an old house that was in such bad shape that it could apparently collapse at any moment. Everything was respectable at the start but then it started to feature more of the couple arguing than of the work they were doing to stabilize the walls.

“You two didn’t argue infront of the cameras, did you?” Syafika asked Festus and Rose.

Rose assured Syafika that they hadn’t but realized that the footage of her crying would probably make an appearance.

Syafika looked at Mamadou. He looked appalled.

“I don’t like Zikpi anymore” said Mamadou. There was silent agreement from everyone else in the room.

The rest of the program was predictable. The couple managed to save the house and at the end of the program they looked reasonably happy together.

Syafika looked at Mamadou again to see if she could tell what he was thinking. When she saw Mamadou’s devious smile she started looking forward to what might happen during filming tomorrow.


The Inklings: Chapter 82

To read the story from the start go to: https://the-inkling.com/catch-up-with-the-inklings/

Syafika, Celine and Fanta were all heading to the Botanic Gardens for lunch, but only Syafika was wearing running clothes. Celine and Fanta were coming with her, but instead of running they were going to have a nice lunch at the café, then walk back with Syafika.

As Syafika started jogging away from Syafika and Celine she hoped that this time she’d see Anthony. It had been months since she’d seen or heard from Anthony and she was beginning to doubt she would ever see him again. But Syafika knew that her regular running trips had not been wasted. Instead of getting puffed after a couple of hundred metres, Syafika could now jog around the gardens for the whole of lunchtime if she wanted to, and she noticed that she was able to run much faster. Syafika thought it was sort of funny that since she’d become determined to spy on Anthony she’d only caught sight of him once, but she also considered her running scheme to be a kind of spy training and it comforted her to know that if she finally did come across Anthony she would be better prepared than ever to follow him on his run.

Syafika sprinted up a slope to see if she could make it to the top. When Syafika made it to the top of the slope she turned around and ran back down again, enjoying how effortlessly she could run downhill and how running made her feel graceful. Syafika remembered the first time she’d run down that slope a couple of months ago and how silly she’d felt. It made Syafika smile. She was really happy when she was running.

Syafika jogged towards the shadiest part of the gardens where there were lots of windy paths to follow. As she turned a corner she caught a glimpse of a runner disappearing around the next corner. Syafika had chased runners around corners many times in the last couple of months only to find they weren’t Anthony, but this time Syafika knew it was him.  She sped up and was able to get close enough to be sure it was Anthony. Anthony turned his head enough for Syafika to worry he might have spotted her, but he showed no sign of having noticed her and so she continued her persuit.

When Anthony took the path that led to Government House Syafika guessed that he must be at the end of his run and she slowed down because she anticipated that he would soon stop to stretch, but he didn’t. Instead Anthony turned down a side path that headed back towards the café. Syafika sped up and was almost close enough to reach out and touch Anthony by the time they were at the café. Then Syafika saw Fanta and Celine sitting at an outside table and she remembered she was supposed to meet up with them to walk back to work together. Syafika stopped running immediately and looked at her watch. It was time to stop running. Syafika watched as Anthony disappeared around a corner, and then she walked over to Celine and Fanta.

“You run fast!” said Fanta. Fanta was amazed. She’d never imagined that Syafika would run so well. Fanta desperately wanted to confirm that the man Syafika had been chasing was Anthony, but because Celine was with them she couldn’t ask.

Celine was feeling confused.  She’d seen Anthony run past too, only she knew him as Lawrence. Celine wondered what Lawrence was up to and hoped he hadn’t been spying on her. Celine also thought it was suspicious that Syafika was running so close behind him.


The Inklings: Chapter 81

To read the story from the start go to: https://the-inkling.com/catch-up-with-the-inklings/

D’arby had always imagined that when he submitted his thesis he’d be handing in a bound copy and so when he discovered that all he had to do was upload the file he found it a bit underwhelming. Still, as D’arby left uni after doing the upload of his thesis he felt like he was floating instead of walking. Then he realized he’d started walking in the wrong direction – he’d been headed to his old flat instead of to Fanta’s place. D’arby felt sad that he couldn’t go home to the old flat to celebrate this huge milestone and so he decided that he’d walk past the flat anyway, before going ‘home’ to Fanta’s.

The block of flats looked so sad behind the temporary fence that had been put up around it. It was as if the building knew what was going to happen to it. D’arby started crying, and as he walked to Fanta’s place he made a note to avoid walking down his old street for a couple of months so he could avoid seeing the building being knocked down.

When D’arby got back to Fanta’s place there was nobody there. D’arby wondered where John was because it was Monday and the restaurant was closed on Mondays.

D’arby sat down near a window and stared out at the garden. He suddenly felt empty and very tired. D’arby calculated that he’d only had 12 hours sleep in the past four days and decided to have a siesta.

Just as D’arby was drifting off to sleep the phone rang. D’arby struggled to get up and answer the phone but was glad that he had. It was Rudnika and she wanted to tell him about the plans for his first day of work tomorrow.

D’arby wondered why he’d agreed to start his new job without taking a break to recover from all the last minute stress involved in getting his thesis ready for submission, but it was too late to change things now. D’arby wrote down the time and place he had to meet Rudnika tomorrow and then went back to bed.


The Inklings: Chapter 80

To read the story from the start go to: https://the-inkling.com/catch-up-with-the-inklings/

Binta opened the kitchen cupboard and was confronted by Rose’s set of indistinguishable tea cannisters. As Binta tried to guess which canister contained the Earl Grey tea she made a mental note to stick discreet labels on the cannisters so she wouldn’t have to play this game everyday. Binta, Ousman and Mamadou had moved in with Rose a couple of days ago and Binta still felt a bit awkward but things were generally very good. Ousman and Binta had their beds in the back room upstairs. The wardrobe was half full of Rose’s craft materials but Binta didn’t mind. Squashing into the house with Rose reminded Binta of when they’d been kids. Binta liked feeling like a kid again because she hated the weight of responsibility she felt when she realized she was an adult and mother.

While Binta made tea, Rose and Mamadou were sitting at the kitchen table but Festus was outside in the rain. Mamadou smiled as he listened to the rain falling on the roof. “That sound is better than gold coins falling from the sky” said Mamadou.

“What?” asked Rose.

“You can’t buy rain” explained Mamadou.

It was a Monday afternoon in March and to celebrate the last day of work on the renovations they were having a special afternoon tea. Zikpi and her film crew would be coming to film the next day and everyone was going to be proud to show her around because it had all been done on time and under budget, and best of all, the result was amazing.

Mamadou’s garden had been finished before the house, and the plants were thriving. There were already plenty of green vegies ready to pick. As the rain fell Mamadou was imagining the roots of plants drinking it up and the leaves being washed clean. He knew that tomorrow the garden would be looking lush.

Festus had told the others that he was out in the rain to check for leaks in the guttering but really he was standing and watching the stream that Mamadou had built. He wanted to see what happened as it filled with rainwater and flowed through the yard to the waterfall. Festus looked over his shoulder to check that nobody was watching him before he walked over to the waterfall. He was secretly amazed by the water pump Mamadou had built. Festus moved the handle up and down a few times and as he did this water was pumped from the small pond at the bottom of the waterfall up to the tank hidden behind rocks at the top of the waterfall. Festus stopped pumping and watched as water trickled out of the tank and ran down the waterfall, ending up back in the pond at the bottom. As rain ran along the stream into this pond the height rose and eventually water started flowing out of it and continuing down the little river to the big pond at the back of the yard.

Festus took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. He could feel rain running down the back of his neck. Festus couldn’t believe how the yard had changed in the last couple of months. The small trees Mamadou had planted and the tiny river he’d dug made Festus feel like a giant standing in the countryside. Festus the giant turned and walked into the house, passing the tiny fields of vegetables that Rose had planted all the way up to the back door.


The Inklings: Chapter 79

To read the story from the start go to: https://the-inkling.com/catch-up-with-the-inklings/

It had been a productive month. Mamadou and Rose worked well together and the renovations were ahead of schedule. The new bathroom was almost ready. That day they’d been doing tiling. As usual, Mamadou had found a way to turn someone else’s rubbish into something magnificent. A couple of days before they had gone to buy tiles, but when they arrived at the shop Mamadou had insisted he first go around the back of the shop to check out the skip bin he’d noticed. Instead of buying any tiles they’d gone home and waited for night time, then gone back to the shop to take tiles out of the skip bin. Festus had felt nervous as he waited in the van while Rose and Mamadou walked back and forth from the bin to the back of the van with boxes of assorted tiles. He kept imagining that a security guard would appear and shine a torch into his eyes. But nothing like that had happened and eventually Mamadou and Rose had closed the back of the van and squeezed in next to Festus for the drive home.

When they’d gotten home, even though it was getting late, Mamadou had insisted they unpack the tiles and see how they looked together. When Festus saw that each box of tiles was different and that a lot of them were broken he felt disappointed, but then he looked at Rose and saw that she seemed delighted by the prospect of turning this pile of rubbish into something useful. When Mamadou left at midnight the dining room floor and table were covered with tiles arranged in various patterns.

In the days since then they’d been busy recreating those patterns on the walls and floor of the new bathroom, and that afternoon they’d finished.

As Mamadou and Rose tidied up the tools Festus hobbled out to the mailbox. He put his hand in and pulled out a bundle of envelopes. He was worried that one of the envelopes would contain bad news from Council. They’d been carrying on as if they had building permission and Zikpi had been filming it all but Festus knew that it could end in disaster. As Festus made his way back inside his leg started to ache.

Festus handed the mail to Rose and asked her to open it. Rose flicked through the envelopes and discarded all but one. Festus watched her open it. Rose read it quickly then started smiling.

“It’s ok!” said Rose. “We are allowed to build what we’ve already started building!”

Festus realized he’d been holding his breath and let it out in relief. He noticed that his leg had stopped hurting.

Rose realized that it was probably a good time to talk to Festus about something she’d wanted to mention for a couple of weeks.

“You know how Binta has been without a job?” Rose asked Festus.

“Yeah….” said Festus. He was always impatient to know where questions like that were going.

“Well I was thinking that I could give up my craft room for Binta” said Rose.

“What?” asked Festus. He didn’t understand how Rose giving her craft room to Binta was going to help Binta earn a living, unless she meant that Binta was going to start selling things she’d made.

“I mean, what if Binta came to live with us?” said Rose.

Festus understood this but not how it would work. Surely Rose didn’t mean just Binta, but Ousman as well, and then what about Mamadou?

Festus looked to see where Mamadou was before he started talking. When he saw that Mamadou was out in the backyard and too far away to hear he asked Rose “Where will Ousman and Mamadou go?”

“Yes, it isn’t ideal, but maybe Ousman can share with Binta, and Mamadou can live in the shed” said Rose.

Festus couldn’t help laughing and didn’t realise that he was speaking too loudly when he said “Mamadou can live in the shed? What if he wants to share with Binta?”

Rose looked worried. She realized that it was likely nobody would be happy with her plan and it made her feel sad because she’d just wanted to help.

Mamadou had heard Festus laughing and suggesting he live in the shed and so he’d come inside.

“I would like to live in the shed, actually” said Mamadou.


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