16 March 2010
4.15 am. What stupid bloody fairy flies around at night dropping coins into stinky slippers and picking up other people’s teeth? And what the hell am I doing? I suppose this could be classified as stealing I ponder while fumbling around in the partial darkness of my bedroom, barely able to focus in my semi-dazed state of awareness. But my concern is short-lived as I continue rummaging, focusing on the purpose I am battling to accomplish.
Johan’s wallet bulges out like a fat toad giving the false impression of a wad of notes though I am not particularly concerned about that part. I unclip the press-stud of the coin section to search for change but it seems empty and I can’t see much in the dark anyhow.
‘Pitiless and dishonest’ would be a fair assessment but I am desperate now and time is running out here. Barefoot I stalk out of our bedroom and up the carpeted stairs, utilizing the only light at the end of the passage to cast a tunnel of focused vision into Emily’s room, just enough to enable me to locate her desk. Pulling the top drawer out quietly with great concentration, lest I wake her or Luke who insists on squashing up next to her, his hand draped casually over her forehead, I scratch around haphazardly looking for her purse.
Oh damn it! Where is the blessed thing now? This drawer is such a mess I’m not surprised she can never find anything.
Jerking the drawer back closed, I catch a glimpse of her purse lying on her desk and unzip it, edging into the stream of light to help me decipher its contents. I see only a few notes and fewer coins. I can’t take any notes – that would be pushing it. I zip it up, place it back on the desk and creep out of her room, relieved that both Emily and Luke lie undisturbed beneath the crumpled duvet.
Walking awkwardly on the balls of my feet past Josie and Annie’s room, I go back down the stairs into our bedroom and pick up Johan’s wallet for a second time, hoping that I missed something on the first attempt. As I run my index finger inside the soft, worn leather, I come upon the familiar ridged edges of a five rand coin and plop it into my left hand, shrugging off the inclination to scribble a debtor’s note to leave in its place. I’ll confess in the morning.
Five rand isn’t enough though I think and so creep back up the stairs and turn into Luke’s room this time. He seldom sleeps here, preferring the company and warmth of Emily’s room. I press my thumb against the light switch on the wall and the room crescendos into light. His fat striped piggybank stares at me shamefully but I pick it up anyway and start shaking its contents gently onto the empty bed.
A few brown coins spill out. Ah, a note, I see through the usefully wide slit in its back. Maybe a ten rand note will do the trick. With a perfect pincer grip, I manage to manoeuvre it out of the piggybank and in doing so, am instantly reminded of the path of the ant I followed yesterday, dragging the hotdog crumb over the stones. But it’s not ten rand note. It’s Mauritian rupees. Bloody useless. So all I have is a total of five rand.
Oh, I know what you’re thinking now. I’m a thief – who watches ants.
You’re only partially correct. I do watch ants. In fact, I spend lots of time doing things that most corporate climbers hunched over their computers in artificially air-conditioned offices would never consider doing at lunchtime. Or ever. That’s because they do not spend time close to the ground with small people.
But I’m not a thief. I’m just a liar. Because when Josie wakes up and discovers the money in that smelly slipper placed next to her bed, the conversation will go something like this:
“ Muuum, the fairy bought me a big money!”
“Mm, that’s wonderful Sweetheart,” I will reply eagerly, feigning any prior knowledge of this serendipitous occasion.
“It’s a big money, hey Mum? Hey? I’m so yucky Mum!” she will continue.
And I will merely play along in this charade as I have done many times before because sometimes Mums have to tell white lies – and that’s just what they do.
But I am used to it now. Fibbing and telling white lies, I mean. I have told many tall stories- think here the Easter Bunny and Father Christmas – despite a lengthy and dedicated background in law which inherently seeks the truth and demands justice.
The real truth, you see, is that after spending more than ten years raising four children, I finally understand that I fit into their agenda.