What preceded everything. . .
In the Television
30th July 1987, 09:00 AM
A seven-year-old boy crept into the living room and hid behind a couch directly facing the television set, hoping to watch some cartoon he liked. He was extremely annoyed when he realised that the television remote lay on the tea table just out of reach. It was too late to creep out from his hiding place, though, because a woman with long neck and long face entered with a cup of tea, ready for a break after gardening all morning. Grumbling about an ungrateful brat and suitable punishments for a freaky thing, she seated herself on the sofa right in front of the hidden boy, forcing him to move as quietly as possible to the side to gain a better view of the television screen.
To the boy’s relief, the woman changed the channel from music to news. He was not particularly fond of news programmes, but almost anything was better, in his opinion, than the weird screaming-singing in the music channel.
He kept as quiet as he could, while praying she would stop grumbling soon so that he could watch the mid-morning news that had just begun. `When can she be grateful for something?` he thought glumly to himself while playing with a fold in the sleeve of his oversized T-shirt – which made him look even smaller and younger.
The first part of the regional news in the nine-o’clock bulletin was filled with an official visit of the Duke of Surrey to a fair held in the town square of Little Whinging. A frown creased his brow. He did not like such boring information.
Well, apparently the pair of girls in the screen thought so, as they did not quite care about masking their uninterested expressions. It seemed that said Duke brought his family with him to attend the ceremony of the fair’s opening without having the children’s consent beforehand.
`Mmm. I’m glad I’m out of the option for that,` the boy smirked sympathetically to the girls – who cast a veiled glare to the camera. The pair seemed to be just a few years older than he was, and, judged from their nervous bearings, they had never attended any other official events with their father.
They seem lovely, unlike the girls at school, the boy mused when the focus returned to the Duke. He ignored the speeches of both said Duke and the news reader, yawning silently while thinking of the girls the camera man had managed to spy. He wished they could be his friends, not because of their father but because… well, they looked so intelligent, beyond their age, unlike his boring – and sometimes brutish – schoolmates. If only…
He completely zoned out afterwards, until the news had ended. Stifling a stream of curses (which he learnt by watching his cousin speak out of the hearing of his doting parents) by biting at his lower lip, he kept his mind, eyes and ears alert for the next programme on the telly.
Unfortunately, now it was a gossip programme…
He had to stick his hands together behind his back, now, and meticulously even out his breathing. A gossip programme would not do for him, although the woman sitting on the sofa before him nearly bounced on it with joy like a girl. `Great. Half an hour crouching here and getting a cramp with nothing to show for it,` he griped to himself.
Grudgingly, he relaxed, leaning against the cool wall behind him, careful so as not to make any rustling sound. Now that he sat more comfortably, he could not look over the top of the sofa again, yet it was the least of his problems as he had no desire to watch the rumors about those celebrities.
Then the flirting tone of the presenter announced, “Now we come to the news and information our secret crew have managed to gather about the unknown daughters of Lord and Lady Kensington, little Ladies Ardila and Ariana.” The boy was frozen in place, not only because of the startling piece of information, but also because he had just inhaled a sharp breath. Cursing silently while pinching his nose to keep himself from sneezing, he brought himself down sidewise to the floor. At least, the woman would suspect him sleeping, if not at all visible. The sound coming out of the television set was muffled from his current position, yet he had to be satisfied with it.
Lying on his right arm in a crammed, damp and dusty place was not a pleasant experience. What he heard from the telly quenched the feeling, however. He had things to muse about now, in case his aunt would lock him back in his cupboard for skipping the gardening chore today. His senses were pulled away from the uncomfortable position he was in.
Then, when the woman had left to the kitchen to make more tea, he darted out of his hiding place and crossed the room in long, silent strides. In a short moment, he had already escaped the house completely. If he would end up caged in his cupboard tonight, then it was better for him to use what freedom he had in the best way he could before that time. Visiting the local library sounded like a good idea at the moment.