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Unexpected Turns - The Painted Bear

Kasia sat by herself in the big, shadowy room. Her toys lay in disorder around her. Spread out across the dusty floor, her books were strewn, some open, some shut, lying just where she had left them. Her bed, with its grubby sheets, was unmade, and spilling over in a tangle of cloth and wool.

Her mother was coming. Kasia heard the thump of her mother's feet as they came up the hall. The key turned in the lock and a thin woman, with grey hair and sharp blue eyes, cold as ice, stood in the doorway.

"Kasia?" said the woman, "Have you finished your breakfast?"


The woman lifted a cigarette to her mouth and sucked. Her cheeks went in as she drew the poisons.

Kasia, still sitting, turned half a circle and picked up her spoon. She shoveled the last of her porridge into her mouth and pushed the bowl away from her.

"Don't like it," she said.

"Hard luck," said her mother, "That's all you get!"

"But I don't like it." said Kasia again.

"You argue with me and you get nothing, you hear me? Nothing."

"Yes Mummy."

The woman picked the bowl up and left the room. The door closed and the key turned. Kasia didn't even watch her mother go. It was pointless.

For long minutes, she sat in the empty room. She hummed a tuneless tune and rocked gently for a while, then she lay on her side and looked at nothing. Time slipped by. Outside, through the cob-webby window, she saw the thick branches of a tree moving slightly. Birds, hunting for food hopped about it's branches. She saw tiny chinks of blue sky showing through gaps between the twigs. She had never seen the sky. Not the whole sky. Never stood outside and filled her head with the wide, endless expanse of blue that most people saw when they walked outside. Mice in the ceiling scurried about, and a spider walked carefully up the wall. It was a familiar spider. Kasia often talked to it, as if it was a human friend. She had no real human friends. Only the spiders and the mice and the birds. Sometimes she heard a dog bark, somewhere, far away. It was her dream dog. She called it Yawl. She loved the sound of Yawl, barking in his world, so far away from her.
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tags: panda, friend, imaginary, caged, cooped, prisoner, imprisoned, captive, harsh, unkind, bear, escape, escaped, imagine, pretend, make-believe, room, outside
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