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Nineteen Thirty-Nine

Let me tell you a story. A tale of a day seventy-seven years ago. It’s not exactly a true story – not everything happened just the way I tell it here. But certainly some of it did, even if not precisely on that day; those it happened to told me of it themselves. It’s a bit longer than some of the stories I usually put down here, and far more serious – I’m really sticking out my neck here. But I had to write this story, and I had to share it with you. So please bear with me – I think you’ll get the picture.

 

TKaroline

NINETEEN THIRTY-NINE

Johanna ran down the Friedrichstrasse, her blonde braids flying out behind her, her school satchel bouncing on her back. She cast a quick glance up at the church clock, visible between two of the brown tile roofs of the houses. Ten to eight—she had to hurry, or she’d be late again!

Neumeier’s bakery at the corner of Friedrichstrasse and Glockenweg was releasing some delicious smells of fresh bread and pastries. As she ran past, Johanna cast a longing glance at the apple turnovers that were on display behind the front window panes. The display window had only just been fixed a month or so ago; for most of the past year, since Crystal Night in November of last year, the window had been boarded up. Johanna could still remember the glitter of the glass shards that had littered the cobble stones in front of the shop, like the crystals that dangled from the chandelier in Grandmother’s parlour. The shop was Stern’s bakery then, but it wasn’t long afterwards that the Sterns had gone away. Johanna didn’t know where they’d gone, but probably back to wherever it was that Jews belonged. She had felt sorry for them having their shop window smashed up—she didn’t think it was quite fair, attacking people’s shops and houses. The synagogue at the Goetheplatz was a different matter, though; that’s where the Jews used to gather together, and everyone knew that their strange religion had them plotting all sorts of vicious things against the Fatherland. Johanna was glad that that place had been destroyed, to keep them all safe. Sometimes now the farmers temporarily stabled their pigs in there when they were taken them through on their way to the sausage factory on the other side of town; Father said that was just as well, as the smell of a dozen or so pigs all gathered in the middle of the Goetheplatz was really revolting.

Johanna missed the Sterns, though. Baker Stern had made the best breakfast rolls—white, soft and chewy on the inside, golden brown and crispy on the outside. There was nothing like fresh rolls, picked up from the baker’s just before breakfast so they were still warm, spread with butter and a bit of Mother’s apple jelly. Johanna’s mouth watered just thinking about it. While Baker Neumeier’s rolls weren’t bad, Johanna had never tasted one as good as the ones Herr Stern used to make. And when Johanna was little and had gone into the bakery with Mother or Tante Gerda to get their bread for the day, or maybe a pastry if there was company for afternoon coffee, Frau Stern had always given her a treat—a cookie, or the trimmings from a cake they’d been icing. When Mother protested that she really didn’t need to do that, Frau Stern had smiled and said, “Ach, the cookie was broken anyway,” and then she’d winked at Johanna. The Neumeiers weren’t nearly as nice; Johanna’s little brother Karl never got any free cookies, broken or otherwise. Ah well—Johanna hoped that wherever the Sterns had gone, Herr Stern was still baking his amazing rolls, and little kids got “broken” cookies from Frau Stern.

Johanna hitched her satchel higher on her back, and rounded the corner by the church yard. She ran through the stone arch that marked the entrance to the Kirchweg, the path that led up between the church and the cemetery, and mentally counted off the big trunks of the pairs of chestnut trees that were facing each other across the path. One, two, three… if she got to to the sixth pair by the time the church clock struck eight, she would make it to her seat in the classroom before the school bell rang. But just as she got to five, the deep tone of the church bell reverberated. Bong, bong, bong… And there was the shrill ringing of the school bell!

Johanna panted up the last few meters of the path, took the stairs to the school entrance two at a time, shoved open the big double doors and raced over the shining brown linoleum of the high-ceilinged hallway. She shuddered to a stop in front of the door of classroom 7B and caught her breath. She listened for a second—she could faintly hear Herr Schultheiss’ voice through the door. Softly, she pushed down the door handle, opened the door not much more than a crack, and slipped through into the classroom. Herr Schultheiss had his back to the class; he was writing on the blackboard, the bald patch on the back of his head shining in the morning sun that fell through the tall windows. Johanna raised a flat hand in the required salute. “Heil Hitler!” she said quietly, and she quickly stepped over and slid into her seat in the third row. There was definitely something to be said for having a soft voice; more than once she had been able to slip in late without the teacher even noticing, because he never heard her give the greeting.

But not today. Herr Schultheiss finished writing on the blackboard and turned around to face the class, dusting chalk off his fingers. His gaze sought out Johanna, and his mouth twisted in that sardonic expression Johanna disliked so much.

“Ah, Fräulein Hamel has finally deigned to grace us with her presence,” he said. “Now we can begin. It would be a shame if everyone had to miss today’s geography test because of tardiness.”

He limped over to his desk and picked up a stack of exercise books, looking like a shabby penguin as he did so. A shabby, sarcastic penguin.

Johanna supposed she should have more respect for her teacher—after all, he was a war hero who had lost a limb in the service to the Fatherland, defending Germany against its suppressors. But she couldn’t quite help wishing that Class 7 was still taught by Herr Hartmann, a man who was known throughout the whole town for being one of the best teachers around. Johanna still blushed at the memory of how she had met him on the street last November, and she’d raised her hand to greet him with “Heil Hitler!”—and Herr Hartmann had just given her a nod and simply said, “Good morning, Johanna.” She had felt so ashamed. Though why should she feel like that when she was only honouring their country’s leader—the Führer who had brought Germany out of the poverty and shame that the world had heaped on it after the War, the Führer who made their country great again? But, somehow, Herr Hartmann’s pointed avoidance of the Hitler salute had burned itself on her memory. Not long after that, he had been taken from his position of teaching Class 7, and now he was only allowed to teach Class 1, the little ABC-Shooters who needed to be taught their letters and numbers and had no understanding of politics and patriotism. Father said he supposed that’s where Hartmann could do the least damage to impressionable young minds.

Herr Schultheiss handed out the exercise books, calling out the students’ names as he did so. “Margarete Gaubach!” “Here.” “Fritz Gehringer!” “Here!” “Gloria Giuliano!” “Yes.” The quiet voice came from Johanna’s left. She looked over to see Gloria quickly glance up as Herr Schultheiss gave her her exercise book, then drop her brown-eyed gaze to the table again, a lock of her short black hair dropping down over her forehead. Johanna knew that Gloria hated how Herr Schultheiss mispronounced her last name—he always said it as if it was German, Ghee-yoo-lee-ahno, instead of the way it was supposed to be said, Dshoo-lee-ahno. But there was nothing Gloria could do about it. She was a half-foreigner; her father was Italian, and foreigners didn’t belong in Germany. They only took jobs away from hard-working Germans. At least that’s what Father always said. Fortunately, the job situation was a lot better than it had been just a few years ago; the Führer had made a big change to that—when Adolf Hitler got voted in in 1933, the unemployment rate had been staggering, but soon, anyone who wanted to work had been able to have work. Well, any German. Any German man, anyway. The economy had never been this strong, Father said; the Führer had done wonders for the country. Father was a machinist in the wire factory; he’d been working there for five years already. Herr Giuliano used to have a job there, too, but last week Johanna had seen him in town with a broom in his hand, sweeping up the debris after the weekly market stalls had packed up. Johanna had recognised him because he had the same black wavy hair as Gloria, who wore her hair cut short, not long in the proper German style. The Führer preferred to see a more feminine style on women; he was adamant that women should be women and men should be men. Johanna flicked her own blonde braid back over her shoulder.

“Johanna Hamel!” “Here,” replied Johanna and took the blue-paper-covered exercise book from Herr Schultheiss’ hand. She opened it to the first clean page, picked up the pen, dipped it in the inkwell on her desk, and wrote the date across the top of the page. 1st September, 1939. Mmh, there would be special hazelnut squares for coffee at home that afternoon. They always had hazelnut squares on September 1st, because that was when Onkel Karl’s birthday would have been, and hazelnuts had been his favourite. He would be—Johanna quickly did the math in her head—forty-one today. Would be—if he hadn’t died in the Battle of the Somme when he was just eighteen years old. In fact, September 1st wasn’t just his birthday, it was his death day, too. Some terrible Tommy shell had mowed him down, right where he stood. Mother and Tante Gerda, who were twins, had been twelve, the same age Johanna was now, and they had never gotten over the death of their adored big brother. “Never again,” Mother often said, “never again must there be a war to kill our men—our brothers, our fathers, our sons…” And she usually ran her hand over Little Karlchen’s blond head when she said that, sadness in her grey eyes. Johanna was glad they had the Führer to protect them, to make Germany so strong that no one would dare threaten or attack them. A strong country was a safe country.

Johanna turned to the blackboard and copied the first of the geography test questions into her exercise book.

“1.) What is the extent of the borders of the German Empire?”

That was easy. Johanna let the tune of the Deutschlandlied, the Song of Germany, play in her head. “From the Maas unto the Memel,”—the far West, in France, to the far East, the border of East Prussia with Poland—“From the Etsch,”—a river in South Tyrol, which was almost Italy—“unto the Belt,”—that was the North, where Denmark started.

Johanna nibbled the end of her pen and went on to Question 2: “What is the justification for drawing the borders this way?”

Easy again. It was all the German-speaking peoples. And after the Anschluss of 1938, even Austria properly belonged to the German Empire again. Thomas Müller in Class 6 had claimed that the Austrians hadn’t wanted to become part of the German Empire and that the Anschluss was an unjust act of aggression on the part of Germany, but Johanna didn’t believe it. Why wouldn’t the Austrians want to be part of the Empire, where they could have all the advantages of belonging to a wonderful country under the strong leadership of a man who didn’t put up with nonsense and always had the best of the Nation at the forefront of his mind? Besides, what did Thomas know, anyhow? His parents were Socialists, and everyone knew that Socialism was a sure way to the ruination of a country.

Herr Schultheiss pulled out his pocket watch and glanced at it; Johanna caught a glimpse of its face. Only half past eight… She sighed. Another four-and-a-half hours before she could go home for dinner.

*********

Mother ladled another spoonful of thick lentil soup onto Johanna’s soup plate, a small piece of sausage landing amidst the brown legumes with a little plop.

“You too, Karlchen,” she said, and she reached for the little boy’s plate.

“No, Mama! Don’t want more soup! I want…”

“Hush!” said Tante Gerda, who was fiddling with the dial on the Volksempfänger, the square brown radio box with its round cloth speaker in the middle, which sat on the dresser in the corner of the dining room. “There is a special broadcast on from Berlin!”

They all fell silent as Tante Gerda turned up the volume. There was that squeaking, hissing noise of the radio warming up, and suddenly the Führer’s voice filled the room.

“I have given my Luftwaffe the task to restrict its attack to military targets. But if the enemy thinks to take this as permission to fight, on their part, with methods that are the exact opposite, they will receive an answer that will set their ears ringing!” Johanna could hear the loud, long applause coming from the people who listened to the Führer in the Reichstag. “For the first time last night Poland attacked on our own territory with regular soldiers. Since 5:45 AM, we are shooting back! From now on, bombs will be met with bombs! He who fights with poison will be fought with poison gas! He who moves away from the rules of humane warfare cannot expect anything else from us but that we take the same step. I will wage this battle, no matter against whom, until the safety of the Empire is assured and its rights guaranteed!” There was another storm of applause coming over the crackling radio waves, but Johanna’s attention was caught by Mother, whose face was chalk white as she looked at her sister.

“It can’t be,” Tante Gerda whispered as she reached out a shaking hand to click off the radio, “for heaven’s sake, it can’t be true! Not war again—dear God, not war…”

Little Karl tugged on Mother’s apron.

“Mama? Mama? Mama, why are you crying? Mama?”

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Jaw Drop

IMG_20160520_104941I’m going to a Writer’s Conference this weekend, and as part of the conference registration you get to have a Blue Pencil (critique) session with a professional writer/editor. I sent in a short story I wrote a couple of years ago, an off-the-cuff piece about a girl who gets a marriage proposal she can’t refuse. I was feeling quite insecure about it – the blue-pencil presenter I’m having my session with judges short story competitions and is a professional editor, and, well, you know my rambling, drivelly style…

I fully expected her to tear the piece to shreds. I’d gone over it plenty of times, but couldn’t think of what else to do with it to improve it; it really was the best I could do with this story. So I just hit “send” on it, casting it on the waves – what will be, will be…

Then this morning, I get back an email from her. With fear and trembling, I open the message, and here is what it said:

“Hi Angelika, I really enjoyed your short story! In fact, it’s so good that I really don’t have a lot of advice to offer. Would you like to email me and bring the first 5-6 pages from another writing project to our consultation this weekend?”

And there I sat, with tears running down my face. Literally, that classic hand-clapped-to-open-mouth, laughing-and-sobbing-in-disbelief pose.

I carried my laptop downstairs to show the message to my Man, dried my cheeks, re-read the mail about another half a dozen times, then booted up my book files and found another piece to send to the editor. The first chapter of Star Bright – we’ll see what she has to say. At this point I’m willing to take almost anything from her.

Life, the Universe, and a Jaw Drop. Maybe I am a real writer, after all?

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Lavender’s Blue

So, that surprise I promised you to shorten the wait until Checkmate comes out? Here it is: a free short story!! It’s all about Cat and Guy and Bibby and something that happened about four years after the end of Cat and Mouse. Seeing as it is a quite short short story, I’m posting it here in its entirety. But you can also go over here and download it as a pdf, if you’d like to put it on your ebook reader or print it on paper (it’s only four pages). That page will stick around, so you can go back to it whenever you like.

So now, without further ado, I give you:

LAVENDER’S BLUE

Fresh lavender

LAVENDER’S BLUE

 

“Lavender’s blue, dilly, dilly, lavender’s green,” Cat sang, “when you are king, dilly, dilly, I shall be queen.” The baby gurgled quietly to himself as he sucked his fist, and his eyes drifted shut, as they usually did when Cat sang him this song. He still hadn’t been named, this third one of her baby boys. With Cory and Kell, she had known what they were called almost as soon as she had realised she was pregnant, but this little one with his funny shock of hair that made him look like a red-crested cockatoo had reached the ripe old age of almost four weeks without a name of his own—he was just ‘Baby’.

“Call up your men, dilly dilly, set them to work;” she sang, “some to the plough, some to the fork. Some to make hay, some to cut corn, while you and I, dilly, dilly, keep ourselves warm.” She bent down and laid the sleeping baby into the cradle, his sandy lashes fanned out on his round cheeks.

“Speaking of working men and of forks,” Cat said, “it’s time for Papa to come for dinner.” She walked into the kitchen, where her stepdaughter and oldest son were playing on the floor. “Bibby, could you go get Papa please?”

“No, he’s not ready to come yet,” said the girl, who was in the middle of pulling a shirt knotted out of handkerchiefs over the head of a nondescript little stuffed animal.

“What do you mean, he’s not ready to come?” Cat put the dinner plates on the table.

“He’s still busy,” Bibby said. She was lisping a bit, in typical six-year-old fashion—she had lost both of her front teeth in the space of the last two weeks and wasn’t quite used to talking through the gap in her teeth.

Cory looked up from his block tower. “Mumma, I’m hungwy!”

“Yes, sweetie,” said Cat, “we’ll eat as soon as Papa comes in. Bibby…”

“I told you, Mumma, he’s still doing something! He feels rushed.”

Cat frowned at Bibby. What made the girl think she knew whether her father was ready to come for dinner? This was the second time in the last week she had simply refused to do something Cat had asked her to do, with the same reasoning. Cat knew that Bibby had the same intuitive ability she had herself that allowed her to sense her family’s needs—’being an Unissima’, they called it. It came from being your birth mother’s only child. Bibby supposedly had a double dose of it, being the only daughter of a woman who was an Unissima herself, but Cat had been under the impression that it just meant the girl had shown signs of her ability extremely early, when she was only a toddler. It wasn’t as if she could read minds—could she?

“I guess I’ll get him myself, then,” Cat said, trying to keep herself from sounding annoyed. She untied her apron, then stepped out of the cottage into the warm spring sunshine and went across to the workshop on the other side of the yard, sticking her head in the door. “Guy, dinner is ready! Are you coming?”

“Can’t right now, Cat!” He was standing over a large bucket, dunking a pottery bowl into a greyish slurry. He pulled it out, let it drip off, then put it on a board which already held a dozen of similarly coated dishes. “I have to get these bowls glazed; we’re doing a glost firing tomorrow morning. Don’t wait for me with dinner; I’ll come in when I have this lot done.” He gestured at another batch of bowls which sat on the worktable, waiting to be glazed.

“It’s okay, Mumma,” Bibby said when Cat came back into the kitchen. She twisted a red-gold curl around her finger. “Don’t be upset; Papa’ll come in soon. And I made Cory wash his hands for dinner.”

Cat shook off her irritation and smiled at the girl. “Good job,” she said, then picked up Cory and sat him in his place on the bench. “One potato or two?” she asked, as she began to dish out the food to the kids.

“Two, please,” said Bibby, climbed up on her chair and carefully set her stuffed animal next to her plate. “And lots of butter’n parsley. Flick likes butter’n parsley.”

“Is that what you call your stuffie—Flick? I thought it was Mimi.”

“Yup. I think it’s Flick now,” the girl said through a mouthful of potato. “It only was Mimi last week. Names change sometimes, you know, and you gotta listen and make sure they’re right. Can Flick have some cheese with his ‘tato? He said ‘please’!”

“Oh, very well, if he said ‘please’.” Cat handed her a slice of cheese.

Bibby gave her a bright gap-toothed smile, and let her stuffed animal take a pretend bite of potato from the end of her fork.

Cat sat down to her own dinner. She hoped Baby would nap long enough for her to be able to eat in peace; two-year-old Kell was still asleep in the next room, too, and he often napped right through the dinner hour, which sometimes allowed her an extra break.

She was in luck. Neither of the little boys made a sound until she had finished her meal and cleared up the dirty dishes. Perhaps she would even be able to sneak in a little rest herself before they woke?

Quietly she opened the door to the bedroom and peeked in. In the cradle, Baby was snoring a soft little baby snore like the creak of a tiny weather vane turning in the wind. And over on the boys’ bed—she couldn’t even see little Kell’s red hair; he had buried himself right under the covers again. He would get all sweaty and overheated; she’d better pull the blanket away from at least his face.

But wait—was that lump under the blankets a little boy’s body? Cat took three more strides, reached out a hand and pulled back the quilt.

No Kell. No Kell! Where was he? Her gaze whipped around the room, searching for her toddler. In the corner by the bathroom? No. Inside the open box bed? Not there either. Beside the big cupboard? No again. And then Cat’s eye fell on the outside door, and her heart leapt into her throat: the door was ajar. Just a crack, so slight that she had overlooked it at first, but the door was open! Had she forgotten to latch it? Or had Kell learned to lift the latch himself?

She ran over and yanked open the door. “Kell! Kellie? Where are you?”

No red-headed toddler anywhere in sight. Not by the pump, not by the big kiln, not by the firewood stack. “Kellie!!” Harsh fear clutched her by the throat.

Suddenly she saw out of the corner of her eye Bibby’s copper hair flying as the girl burst out of the front door and ran across the yard to the workshop.

“Papa, Papa,” Bibby called, “come quick, it’s Mumma!”

A moment later, Guy rushed out of the workshop on the heels of his daughter. “Cat! Cat, what is it? Are you hurt?”

“No, Papa,” Bibby called, “she’s over here, and she’s really scared!”

“What is it, what’s wrong?”

“It’s Kell!” A sob caught in Cat’s throat. “He’s not in his bed, and the back door was open! I don’t know where he is! He could be anywhere! Maybe he fell in the clay pit! Maybe he…”

“It’s okay, Mumma,” Bibby said, her big turquoise eyes on Cat’s face. “It’s okay, don’t be scared. You’ll get better.”

“It’s not me! It’s Kell! What if he’s hurt? What if…”

“But he’s not,” the girl said.

“How can you say that? You can’t know that! He’s not here, he’s not anywhere…” Cat could hear the rising hysteria in her own voice. “Guy, do something!”

But her husband’s eyes were on his daughter. “What do you know, Bibby?”

She didn’t respond, so he repeated himself, more sharply. “Ysbina! What are you saying about Kell?”

Her head flew around. “He’s fine!” she said. “ Don’t you know? It’s Mumma that’s scared and needs your help.” She looked from one of them to the other, a slightly puzzled expression on her face.

“How should we know that? We can’t know that! What if…” Cat began, the panic in her throat choking her and setting her ears ringing.

But Guy held up a hand as if to stop her. He was still looking at the girl. “Do you know where Kell is? Is he in the house?”

“No… No, he’s not in the house. I don’t really know where he is, but he’s fine. He’s happy,” she said. “Don’t you know that, Mumma?”

Cat couldn’t think. She couldn’t feel. She couldn’t sense anything but the overwhelming fear that something had happened to her little boy, that he was out there somewhere in the woods, perhaps bleeding, crying, frightened, that…

Suddenly she felt Guy’s hands cupping her shoulders, and his turquoise eyes bored into hers. “Cat,” he said firmly, “Bibby is right! Think, Karana, think! Do you know? You’re Unissima, you have the Knowing! Do you feel that Kell is hurt?”

And with the warmth of his touch, Cat could feel a calm flowing into her that drove the panic into the background. She drew a deep breath, then another one. A feeling rose inside of her that came alongside the fear and pushed it away, replacing it with a certainty of what she needed to do.

“The woods,” she said, “he’s in the Wald! And—no, he’s not hurt. You’re right, Bibby.”

“Yup,” said the girl. “And he’s—something with lavender.” She tipped her head like she was listening to something. “Oh, you know, Mumma.”

And Cat did indeed know. Not exactly what Bibby meant about lavender, but she knew where to start looking for little Kell.

“Watch the boys, sweetie,” she said. “Papa and I are going to get Kell.”

 

He was exactly where Cat knew he had gone, and it was his singing that guided them. A few hundred yards past the Septimus Tree, in a little clearing, they heard him.

“Wawember boo, diwwy diwwy, wawember gheen…” his little voice sang, and there he was, sitting in the middle of a big clump of blooming lavender, happily playing with a handful of flowers and two rocks.

Cat snatched him up and hugged him so tightly he started to squirm.

Guy wrapped his arms around both of them. “Well done, Karana; well done!” he said in Cat’s ear, then gave Kell a squeeze of his own. “Don’t ever run away like that again, you little rascal!” he said.

Kell thrust the lavender blossoms in his grubby little hand at Cat. “Fowers, Mumma!”

“Yes,” said Cat, her voice shaking, “yes, lavender!”

 

“Well done,” said Guy again when they got back to the cottage. “He really was in the lavender. Well done, Bibby Karana.”

The girl smiled a gap-toothed smile, then tipped her head to the side. “I think…” she said, “I think I’m going to be ‘Bina’ now. ‘Bibby’ is a name for little kids.”

Cat smiled back at her. “Makes sense to me,” she said. “You’re sure not a little kid any more; I can’t think what I would have done without you today. I didn’t know that Kellie was okay until you said so and made me pay attention to my Knowing. How did you know?”

The girl wrinkled her forehead. “What do you mean?”

“How did you know that Kellie was okay?”

“Well, you can just feel how people are feeling, can’t you?”

Guy smiled at his little daughter. “No, Karana, we can’t. Most of us don’t know at all what’s happening with other people unless we see it with our eyes, or they tell us. And even an Unissima like Mama doesn’t always know, right, Cat?”

Cat nodded. “I only know sometimes, mostly in emergencies. But you haven’t always been able to feel it so precisely, either, have you, Bibby?”

“I dunno,” the girl said, squeezing the tip of her tongue out between the gap in her teeth. “And it’s Bina.”

“Maybe your special Knowing is getting stronger because you’re growing up,” Cat said. “And you certainly are. So, you want to be Bina now? We’ll try to get used to it. Where’s Cory and Baby?”

“Well, when you and Papa went to find Kell, me and Cory looked at a picture book, and then Dilly woke up and I sang him the Lavender Song and Cory helped rock the cradle, and Dilly went back to sleep for a bit. Oh, but there he’s woke up again!”

They could hear the baby crying in the house, but Cat didn’t immediately go to him.

“Dilly?” she said, thinking hard. “You think Baby’s name is Dilly?”

Bibby—Bina now—tipped her head to the side again. “Yup,” she said after a moment, “seems that’s his name.”

Cat turned to Guy. “What do you think? Could that be short for something?”

“Dilly? Dil—Aldyl! With a ‘y’ in it. That was my grandfather’s name. I like it.”

“Aldyl—yes. It’s right. So Dyllie it is!”

They went inside, and Cat bent down and picked up the baby.

“Lavender’s blue, dilly, dilly,” she sang, “lavender’s green; when you are king, dilly, dilly, I shall be queen.” She looked into Baby Dyllie’s slate-blue eyes and rocked him to the tune. “Let the birds sing, dilly, dilly, and the lambs play; we shall be safe, dilly, dilly, out of harm’s way.” She smiled across at Guy, who held little Kell in his arms, swaying with the music. “Who told me so, dilly, dilly, who told me so?” Cat sang. “’Twas my own heart, Dyllie, Dyllie, that told me so.”

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Filed under The Septimus Series, writing