Tag Archives: The Inklings

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.

The Inklings: Chapter 78

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

When Syafika went back to her old office to meet Leah she noticed that everyone else was back at work but her old desk was still empty. Helen and Julie came over and asked her how her new job was and soon everyone was milling around her, but Syafika wasn’t sure how much anyone knew. Nobody showed her any sympathy so she wasn’t sure if they had just decided not to mention her having had to leave in disgrace or if they had been told she’d decided to leave instead of being forced to. Syafika thought Helen and Julie might be a bit cross with her, but wasn’t sure. She hadn’t been close to Helen or Julie since they abandoned her in the pub.

Leah came out of her special office in the corner and suggested to Syafika that they go out to a café for coffee.

“What happened?” asked Leah as soon as she and Syafika had settled down at café table.

Syafika wished she’d been given a narrower question to answer. She didn’t know whether Leah wanted to know the sequence of events or whether she wanted to know why Syafika had stuffed up. Syafika decided to give her the sequence of events – she didn’t understand how she’d stuffed up anyway.

So Syafika told Leah about the phonecall she’d received and the email she’d sent in response. And then about how Glenda had come for her a couple of days later but Christine had rescued her and had told her that Joe had made some kind of mistake and blamed her for it.

“Joe was meant to be looking after you while I was away” said Leah, in an exasperated voice. “I’m sorry” said Leah.

Syafika hadn’t been expecting this. She started to cry.

Leah gave Syafika some tissues and patted her on the shoulder. When Syafika had calmed down Leah asked her how her new job was going and told her that if it had been up to her Syafika wouldn’t have had to move. Leah explained that she’d told Syafika’s team that Syafika had chosen to move and hoped that was ok.

When the coffee was all gone and it was time for Leah and Syafika to get back to work Leah handed Syafika her card saying “If you ever need my help please call me.”


The Inklings: Chapter 77

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

Anthony was more worried than angry as he ran away. He was under a lot of pressure at the moment and he knew that if he made any mistakes his life could be ruined.

When Anthony ran past the spot where Syafika had been hiding the day before he smiled as he remembered how Syafika had followed him on his run. Anthony had taken an extra long and convoluted route just to make sure Syafika really was following him. He had enjoyed being chased by Syafika but wasn’t sure if it was just another one of her games or if she really thought he hadn’t noticed her.

Anthony decided he’d probably need to call Syafika soon because she might be able to tell him things that Nelson wouldn’t. Thinking of Syafika made Anthony feel happy, and he smiled. When Anthony realized he was smiling it made him remember how dangerous it was for him to interact with Syafika.It wasn’t unusual for him to develop a fondness for people he had spent a lot of time watching, but with Syafika it was worse than usual. Anthony didn’t feel in control of his actions when he was near Syafika. He kept forgetting he was meant to be working. If he made a mistake and told her too much he would be in real danger, and so would she. And Anthony wasn’t sure how much Syafika knew. Sometimes she seemed clueless but other times he thought he could see in her eyes that she knew everything and was just pretending she didn’t.


The Inklings: Chapter 76

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

On Tuesday morning Syafika put some running shoes in her work bag and then became frustrated as she looked through her clothes because she couldn’t find anything that was both suitable for running in, and flattering. In the end she chose comfort over appearance because Anthony ran so fast that she wasn’t in danger of getting close enough for him to be able to evaluate her outfit. Syafika had to power walk to work to make it in time for the team meeting and was sweaty when she arrived.

At the end of the team meeting Christine announced that she and Nelson were interviewing applicants for the jobs that morning. Syafika was so excited that Fanta would be coming into the office that she couldn’t concentrate on her work. Syafika kept looking at the door to see if Fanta had arrived, and it took an email from her old boss to distract her from watching out for Fanta.

Syafika’s old Executive Director Leah had never had much time for her and so when Syafika saw an email invitation from Leah for a coffee and chat that afternoon she was concerned. Syafika realized that Leah must have just returned from leave and wondered what Leah thought of her shameful departure from the branch. Syafika wrote a reply saying she would come to coffee and had just hit the ‘send’ button when she noticed that the elegant woman from the café was walking into the meeting room with Christine, Nelson and a man Syafika recognized as being from Human Resources (She tried to remember his name and thought it might be Douglas).

Syafika started sweating immediately. Not only was the elegant woman competing with her for Anthony, she was competing with Fanta for a job. Syafika forgot where she was and swore out loud. Fortunately nobody seemed to notice because most people liked to wear headphones when they were at their computers. Syafika kept watching the door of the meeting room and in half an hour the elegant woman came out. The elegant woman wore a confident smile as she walked out the door. Syafika decided that she hated her and narrowed her eyes as she watched her go.

Christine emerged from the meeting room not long after and went to get Fanta, who must have been waiting in the foyer. Fanta waved to Syafika as she walked past. Syafika thought Fanta looked nervous, but Fanta also looked beautiful. She was wearing a dark blue dress and had her hair in an intimidatingly complicated layered bun.

Syafika noted the time that Fanta and Christine went into the meeting room. She wanted to know exactly how much time Christine gave Fanta, because she imagined that if the interview went longer it would mean that Christine liked Fanta better than the elegant woman.

Thirty five minutes later Christine and Fanta came out of the meeting room. Christine looked happy but a bit tired. Fanta still looked nervous. Syafika didn’t know what to think. She couldn’t wait to find out from Fanta what happened in the meeting room. Christine walked Fanta out and came back with a man who looked a bit old to be a graduate and so Syafika hoped that he was being interviewed for the team leader position.

Syafika’s phone rang and she was surprised to hear Fanta on the other end. Fanta was calling from a pay phone outside the building.

“How was it?” asked Syafika.

“Mostly good” said Fanta. “Christine and the other two seemed to like me and were talking as if the job was mine until I told them that I only wanted to work two or three days a week.”

“What did they say?” asked Syafika.

“Christine told me that things move fast and that if I wasn’t there every day I would have trouble keeping up” said Fanta. “And Nelson said that nobody else works part time. But Doug said that it was possible to work five hour days instead of fewer days.”

“I hope Doug can convince Christine and Nelson then” said Syafika.

“I guess it depends what the other candiates were like too. Have you seen any?” asked Fanta.

“There was one before you but I don’t think Christine liked her as much as she liked you” said Syafika. She was about to tell Fanta that the other candidate was the elegant woman who had met Anthony in the café, but when Syafika looked to her left she noticed that Bronwyn wasn’t wearing headphones and was worried that Bronwyn was listening to her conversation with Fanta. “I’ll tell you more tonight” said Syafika. “Want to bring your sisters for dinner?”

Two more candidates came and left before Christine, Nelson and Doug stopped for lunch, but Syafika had stopped paying attention. She’d been busy getting work done so she could go to the Botanic Gardens at lunch and still have time for afternoon coffee with Leah.

Syafika knew there were some showers and change rooms in the building but had never been there so she asked Bronwyn where they were. Bronwyn rode her bike to work so she was an expert in the facilities and was happy to take Syafika to see them.

“I saw you wave at the second candidate this morning” said Bronwyn as she and Syafika walked down the back stairs to the ground floor. “Is she your friend?”

“Yep” answered Syafika.

“Which position is she trying out for?” asked Bronwyn

“Graduate” said Syafika.

“Phew” said Bronwyn “Because I applied for the team leader position. My interview is after lunch”

“I hope you get the job” said Syafika. She meant what she said. Syafika thought it would be wise for Christine to give Bronwyn the team leader position because otherwise she might lose her. Who would want to stick around in the team working for another team leader if you’d failed to get the job?

“Thanks” said Bronwyn. “I hope your friend gets the other job. What’s her name?”

“Her name is Fanta. She would be perfect for the job. She’s clever and very wise. But she only wants to work part time. Do you think Christine would agree to that?” said Syafika.

“I think it would be up to the new team leader, actually” said Bronwyn. “They would be responsible for allocating work between members of the team”

“Would you agree to let her work part time if you get the team leader job?” asked Syafika.

“Yes” said Bronwyn. “I like people who know what they want. Most people just copy everyone else. But it would mean interviewing for someone else to do the rest of the hours. We have been allocated a full time position so we’d be stupid to not try to fill both halves of it. It will be a struggle to get projects done on time otherwise. It is a pity Fanta didn’t apply with someone else so they could fill the position together”

“That’s a good idea!” said Syafika. “I wish I’d thought of that earlier. If Fanta doesn’t get the job I will feel like I let her down”.

“Don’t be silly. You can’t think of everything” said Bronwyn. “You will feel better after your run. I need to go and have lunch now, so I’m not hungry in the interview”

Syafika looked at her watch and calculated that she had to be back in 40 minutes if she wanted to have time to have a shower before heading back to her desk. She got changed as fast as she could and was soon jogging up the hill to the Botanic Gardens.

Syafika was puffed by the time she got through the gates of the Botanic Gardens, but it felt good. She stopped to walk for a little bit, telling herself that she was doing this for fun, not for exercise. Syafika wondered where Anthony started his run. She thought it was likely to be the place he’d ended it last time and so she followed the path that led towards Government House. The trouble was that even if Syafika was right about where Anthony started his run, she didn’t know what time he started, or whether he started at the same time everyday or even whether he went for a run everyday.

When Syafika got to Government House she hid behind a hedge and looked out for Anthony. She looked at her watch and saw that she needed to be back at the showers in 30 minutes. She decided to wait another ten minutes for Anthony before giving up and just going for a walk. Ten minutes later Syafika reluctantly stood up and started walking towards the cafe. She thought a treat might help make up for the disappointment of not seeing Anthony. Then Syafika remembered that it was all downhill to the café and decided she may as well run there. Syafika felt silly when she ran. It wasn’t something she was used to doing and she imagined she must look very awkward. Syafika had a laugh at herself and by the time she reached the café she was feeling very happy and very sweaty. A small group of runners was ahead of Syafika in the queue and they all ordered salads for lunch, so when it was Syafika’s turn to order she chose a fruit salad instead of the slice of chocolate cake she’d been thinking about.

Syafika looked at her watch as she left the café and realized she’d have to choose between eating the fruit salad now and running back to the office to make up time, or walking back and eating the fruit salad at her desk after her shower. She decided to compromise and quickly ate a couple of mouthfuls of fruit salad before closing the container tightly and jogging back towards the gate closest to work.

Syafika couldn’t make it all the way back to the gate before she had to stop and catch her breath. Syafika could hear her heart beating but she could also hear something else. There were familiar voices speaking on the other side of some large bushes. Syafika peeped between the bushes and saw Anthony and Nelson. They seemed to be having an argument.

“I can’t change her mind” said Nelson. “Christine doesn’t like Celine”

“But if the other girl only wants to work part time surely that rules her out!” said Anthony

“Not in Christine’s eyes” said Nelson. “Anyway, we have to decide on the team leader first and then the team leader will get the final say”

“I know! What if Celine agrees to fill the other half of the job?” suggested Anthony.

“Ok. That might work. But now we need to worry about what the new team leader wants” said Nelson.

“I’m sure you can sort that out” said Anthony. “You know how important this is!”

Then Anthony ran off and Nelson started walking towards the gate.

Syafika wanted to follow Anthony but when she looked at the time she knew she had to follow Nelson instead.

The Inklings Chapter 73

You can read the story from the start here: https://the-inkling.com/catch-up-with-the-inklings/

When John woke up he felt happy because it was his day off. John was even happier when he realized that D’arby was there. D’arby was busy at the kitchen bench and John began to anticipate a nice breakfast, but as he watched he realized that D’arby was just making some kind of coffee drink. D’arby poured hot coffee from a saucepan through a tea strainer into a jug full of ice. Then D’arby added a splash of milk and poured out two glasses of what he called ‘iced coffee’. As John sipped his glass of the bitter drink he longed for sugar and whipped cream.

“Did you see the note on the fridge?” D’arby asked John.

“Yep. I’m looking forward to dinner time” answered John.

“Why aren’t you at uni?” John asked D’arby. John had begun to hope that D’arby would head off to uni soon so D’arby wouldn’t know if he poured the rest of the iced coffee down the drain instead of drinking it.

“I’m taking the day off to refine some thinking” said D’arby.

John had no idea what D’arby meant, but guessed that he wouldn’t be leaving the house for a while. “What thinking are you refining?” asked John.

“About combining banking and money with renewable energy” answered D’arby and he walked to the bedroom to get his bundle of notes. He was keen to explain his ideas to John.

John quickly tipped his coffee down the sink and had started rinsing the glass by the time D’arby got back.

Then the phone rang. It was someone from uni. They were wondering where D’arby was.

“Oh no!” said D’arby. He’d forgotten that there was a special event on that morning where PhD students could meet potential employers. D’arby evaluated what he was wearing and decided to quickly get changed. Then he ran all the way to uni.

After D’arby had gone John made himself some toast and while he ate it he sat at the table and looked through D’arby’s notes.

When D’arby arrived at uni he ran straight to the drawing office, which had been transformed into a kind of gallery for research. There were research posters up on every vertical surface and all the PhD students and post doctoral researchers were standing near their posters looking serious.  D’arby was relieved to discover that his friend Cate had put up his poster for him. He sat down near it and tried to get his breath back. But D’arby didn’t have much time to recover before an intimidating couple approached him. When the woman looked at D’arby he felt like she could see right into his mind. It made him feel naked and he wanted to hide. The man at her side looked unimpressed with the research he could see around him, but as he approached D’arby he gave him a hint of a smile.

“I’m Rudnika and this is Leopold” said the woman and she shook D’arby’s hand firmly. D’arby introduced himself and turned towards his poster. He was about to start explaining his research when Rudnika interrupted him.

“We already read your poster” she said. “We want to talk about something a bit different”.

Leopold handed D’arby his card and explained that they were from a new bank that also supplied renewable energy and were looking for someone with impeccable character who wanted a challenge.

Then Rudnika explained that what they were attempting to do was so revolutionary that it needed to be kept top secret and that if he joined them he needed to be as discreet as if he were dealing with state secrets.

Leopold then told D’arby that the application process involved him sitting a number of tests and that he would need to consent to a background check.

“Are you interested?” Leopold asked D’arby.

“Yes” said D’arby. He didn’t know if his heart was still racing because he’d run all the way to uni or because this opportunity sounded like just the thing he wanted to be doing next. D’arby couldn’t help looking over his shoulder and wondered how much Guitarman had to do with Rudnika and Leopold.

The Inklings: Chapter 72

You can read the story from the start here: https://the-inkling.com/catch-up-with-the-inklings/

Fanta was happy on Monday. She’d sent off her job application the night before and so was anticipating that she’d hear back about it that week. Although Fanta was not confident that she would get the job, having an application in the pipeline gave Fanta hope for the future.  Fanta was also happy that John and D’arby were going to move in to her house. She’d been losing sleep over how to pay the bills, but with D’arby and John paying rent she wouldn’t have to worry anymore.

Ruby and Nancy were helping Fanta sort out the spare rooms. The room her aunt and uncle usually stayed in was in the best condition. It had a comfortable bed and the wardrobe was empty. Fanta had decided that when her aunt and uncle came to visit next time she would give them her room and squeeze in with her sisters, who had a spare mattress that they put on the floor when their school friends stayed.

The other spare room was less inviting. It had no furniture and there was a pile of cardboard boxes in the corner. The boxes had old clothes, books and toys that needed to be given away.

Ruby threaded a clean curtain onto the curtain rod while Nancy tied some boxes onto a two-wheel shopping trolley and Fanta put some other things into a backpack. Fanta had the backpack on and Nancy was pulling the trolley towards the front door when the phone rang.

Fanta answered the phone and was delighted to hear that she’d been shortlisted for the job. As Fanta agreed to an interview the next day she created a mental list of people she could ask to look after Nancy and Ruby while she was at the interview.

The Inklings: Chapter 71

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

It was Monday morning. The sky was cloudy but the air was warm and it was predicted to be a very hot day. Syafika was feeling nervously excited about going to work. As she walked along she was humming to herself. Would she be able to contribute anything to the morning team meeting now that she understood so much more of what the team was working on? Would she be able to go for a walk in the Botanic Gardens at lunchtime, and if she did, would she bump into Anthony there? Then after work Syafika was going to Fanta’s house for dinner with D’arby and John. It was meant to be one of their activism meetings but Syafika anticipated that the others would just want to talk about the plan for John and D’arby to move in with Fanta and that was something Syafika didn’t want to hear about because it made her feel left out. She felt like John and D’arby were stealing Fanta from her.

The closer Syafika got to work, the more anxious she felt. Her usual response to anxiety was to eat or drink something and so Syafika stopped at a cafe to order a takeaway coffee. As she waited nervously near the cash register for her coffee to be made Syafika noticed an elegant woman walk in. Syafika noticed the woman because she was everything Syafika thought she could never be – so neat, so clean and confident. She had sleek hair and very thin arms and legs. A bead of sweat began to run down Syafika’s face and as she wiped it off with the back of her hand Syafika noticed that the elegant lady had no signs of sweat or grease on her face – it was as if she’d just walked out of a fridge. Syafika watched as the woman sat down at one of the tables where a man was sitting with his back to Syafika. Syafika wished she could see the man’s face because she was sure he would be handsome.

Syafika’s coffee was ready and it was time to go but she didn’t want to go. She wanted to watch the couple at the table. So she sat down at another table and pretended to be looking for something in her bag while watching them. The waiter took their order over – two black coffees. Syafika took a deep breath because black coffee reminded her of Anthony and at the top of her breath she thought she could smell Anthony. She looked at the back of the man’s head again. If it was Anthony then he’d had a haircut, but it could be him. Then he turned his head slightly to the side and Syafika saw that it was Anthony.

By then Anthony and the elegant woman had each taken their mobile phones out. It looked like they were swapping phone numbers. Syafika had never before wanted to own a mobile phone because she thought they were a sign of unreliability and poor morals, but for a moment when she saw that elegant woman putting Anthony’s phone number into her phone Syafika wished she had one too.

Syafika realized that she had to leave the café before Anthony noticed she was there because she didn’t want him to see her distress. So she rushed off to work, making it just in time for the morning meeting. Syafika didn’t pay attention during the meeting though. She was too busy keeping tears at bay and wondering about things. Syafika wondered why Anthony was having coffee with the elegant woman. She wondered whether Anthony was in love with the elegant woman already or whether there was still time to stop that from happening. But the thing that hurt Syafika the most was Anthony had given the elegant woman his mobile phone number when he’d only given Syafika his landline phone number (and that number didn’t even work).

At lunchtime Syafika did manage to get out of the office and walk in the Botanic Gardens. Her reason for walking there had changed though. She didn’t expect to meet Anthony there, or even want to. She just wanted to go somewhere where she could cry without anyone at work seeing or hearing. As soon as Syafika got through the gates of the gardens her tears started flowing. At first the tears stayed inside her sunglasses and Syafika thought she might get away with impersonating someone who was fine and just enjoying a lunchtime walk, but then the tears started escaping the sunglasses and running down her cheeks. A couple of ladies carrying containers of salad noticed that Syafika was crying and asked if she was ok, but they didn’t really want to get involved with Syafika’s troubles and so when Syafika told them she was ok they were satisfied and left her alone.

Syafika looked for somewhere to hide because she didn’t want to have to spend the rest of her lunchtime fending off strangers who were uncomfortable when they saw someone crying. Syafika realized she’d have to leave the path. Feeling grateful that she’d worn sensible shoes, Syafika squeezed between two bushes and sat down on some freshly laid mulch with her back against a large tree. If Syafika peeped between the branches of the bushes she could see people walking past on the path, but they didn’t seem to be able to see her. Syafika was so pleased with her spot that she was no longer feeling sad enough to cry. She decided to try and relax instead. She rested her head against the tree and looked up at the shapes the canopy made as the wind moved the leaves. Then the tears started again. Syafika felt well and truly sorry for herself and cried for ten minutes or so before being distracted by the sound of someone running along the path. Syafika peeped through the bushes because she wanted to see what sort of person went running on such a hot day. When she saw that it was Anthony, and that he had somehow managed to undo his haircut Syafika shook her head at how ridiculous that was. Then, before she could really think about what she was doing, Syafika was up and running after Anthony. She didn’t want to catch up with Anthony. She just wanted to see where he went. The trouble was that Anthony could run faster than Syafika and so Syafika had to take a couple of short cuts through garden beds to keep sight of Anthony. Syafika laughed as she jumped over a low hedge of azaleas and hoped the Ranger wouldn’t see her.

Anthony ran a complicated path around the botanic gardens before sprinting uphill towards Government House and then stopping to stretch. By then Syafika was so out of breath that her throat was sore, so when she saw that Anthony had stopped to stretch she stopped running too, but kept walking towards Anthony. After Anthony finished stretching he left the gardens through the gate behind Government House and crossed the street. Then he went into a block of apartments that overlooked the harbour. Syafika couldn’t follow Anthony inside, but she didn’t have to go inside to know that it was strange that Anthony could afford to live there.

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