The Inklings: Chapter 1

It was raining just heavily enough to make an umbrella necessary. “Oh great!” complained Syafika, who was already struggling to keep her handbag from slipping off her shoulder while attempting to carry a cake horizontally – after all the effort she had put into making the cake look nice Syafika really didn’t want to get to work to find the cake stuck by the icing to one side of the container. Syafika went back inside to get an umbrella and when she came outside again she had the cake container balanced between her body and right hand, her handbag on her left shoulder and the umbrella in her left hand. After another few minutes and some nasty language she managed to put the umbrella up and then when she finally attempted to walk down the front steps she almost fell because the cake container obstructed her view of where she was putting her feet.

When Syafika had finished making the cake she’d been so proud. It was the best looking cake she’d ever made. But now her pride in the cake had been replaced by feelings of inadequacy as she struggled to cope with her load. Why couldn’t she look elegant and in control like other people, wondered Syafika. Then she started to hope that the cake was good enough. “You never know what the middle is like until you cut it” she worried. Syafika took a deep breath and thought that as long as she didn’t drop the cake on the way to work, it would probably all be worth it.

Syafika took a risky shortcut through the park, despite seeing the potential for slips in the mud. She wasn’t alone. The dirt path through the park was crammed with people. They were mostly people walking to work but there was also a woman taking two dogs for a walk.

“Watch it!” thought Syafika as her cake was bumped by a suited man with his umbrella so far down over his head that he couldn’t see in front of him.

Then, one of the dogs stopped at the side of the path and did a pooh. The woman walking them saw this but did nothing. This annoyed Syafika because she knew what it was like to tread in dog pooh. Apart from the trauma of having to get close to dog pooh while cleaning it off her shoe (and the inevitable mental picture of billions of germs squirming around), Syafika would spend the rest of day assuming that any expressions of distaste she saw were meant for her because she stank. Syafika didn’t say anything to the lady walking the dogs though. She never did in situations like these. She usually just let her annoyance bubble away inside her until she was distracted by something else.

This time the distraction was a skinny, grotty man who had been running past. He ducked into the crowd, picked up the dog pooh and rubbed it into the hair of the dog walking lady while shouting “I’m watching you”. Then he ran off through the rain.

The dog walker stopped. Her face was crimson with anger and embarrassment. She didn’t know what to do. When nobody offered her any sympathy (most people pretended not to notice what had happened and the others stared but kept walking) she began to cry. It would make Syafika feel guilty later, but at the time she thought the whole thing was pretty funny and had to repress a smirk.

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