YA Fiction - Serial Novels - The Sunshine Time
The Sunshine Time Season 1 Episode 8
Lieutenant Shaughnessy leaned a shoulder against the mossy tree trunk and regarded me in that semi-smiling way of his. A light mist swirled behind him. The forest was just barely visible in blurry green outlines of varying shades. Not that I noticed it much. My attention was focused on him.
“I need to tell you something,” he said, and his hand reached out to cradle my cheek. His thumb stroked my skin. A shiver ran through me.
“What?” I said, breathlessly, but I was not destined to hear it.
A couple of rabid wolves came hurtling at us through the bushes, hitting me hard. I shouted and came awake on that note. It took me a second to realize that Lieutenant Shaughnessy had been a dream, but the wolves were not. They were real and they were trampling all over me.
Polly, who slept in my parents’ room, had nudged open my bedroom door to come wake Mack and the two of them had tumbled on top of me in the excitement of their early morning wrestling session. This had become one of their infamous rituals in the past three weeks; actually, they seemed to roughhouse the entire day with breaks for napping and eating. I caught their squirming bodies now under each arm, trying to get them to calm down, and received wet kisses from each side for my trouble. Dropping smacking kisses in return on their excited faces, I shoved them away from me and off the bed and pulled the sheet over me again. It was 4.15 am and time I was up, but I wanted to get back to my dream and listen to what Lieutenant Shaughnessy had to say. He had been featuring in my dreams almost daily, but the vision always shattered before things got anywhere even remotely interesting. He refused to reappear now as I closed my eyes, and, with a sigh, I opened them again and scowled up the ceiling. It was embarrassing when I was wide awake to be still so obsessed with him, a person who hadn’t even said good-bye to me. Less humiliating though than...
Gawd, I wasn’t going to think of him.
Except, of course, I did. Guy Caraindon, with that dreamy face and those faraway eyes. He filled my mind now, as clear as if he might have been right here in front of me. I turned over and thumped the pillow over my head. It didn’t make the slightest bit of difference. He seemed to have become permanently imprinted inside since that Friday night, and I didn’t know which image I loathed the most, the poetic one spotlit on the dingy stage at Drumont’s Bar or the vile-tempered one at the Loft in South Monzaemon.
“You must learn to ignore people,” Mum had said, which was fine in principle, but a different matter in practice.
I didn’t want to learn to ignore people. I wanted to learn to man a button that would make them disappear forever from the planet I was on.
After they had returned my sketchbook, that is, which, by the way, they still showed no sign of returning.
The furor over my temper tantrum, as Tavi had predicted, had died down, and public interest had moved on to other more truly salacious scandals, but the issue of my sketchbook remained in limbo. Guy had perhaps even forgotten about it in the fast pace of his social life. There didn’t seem to be an happening event in town at which he hadn’t shown up in recent times, more often than not as the favorite arm accessory of the glamorous Angela Carmichael.
She was currently riding on a great wave of popularity with the critical success of the musical play ‘Dizzy Fingers and Magnolia Flowers’. It hadn’t as yet been banned, despite the on-going efforts of the KLF Nationalists, and, according to the leading critics, she was brilliant in it. Not just a great beauty, but one that could act and sing as well.
Hansin, of all people, concurred. He had gone to see the play with Mum, Daddy, Aunt Zarrin, and Uncle Barhis. Krzysztoff Petrassi, true to his promise, had sent us five tickets – free tickets too, he refused to even hear of being paid for them - but I had refused to go and Tavi had already committed himself to dinner at Vanousheh’s. We were a pair of idiots to be more interested in sulking at home and in eating at other people’s home when we had had the chance to be present at such an extravaganza instead, Hansin had informed us. What a show it had been. Such splendid sets and costumes, and what energetic dancing and singing. He had hardly been able to sit still in his seat in his excitement. Yes, Mum had said, he had annoyed the lady in front by kicking the back of her seat twice.
“She was a small-minded, soulless biddy,” Hansin had said, and had got his head rapped for saying that about an older person.
“Manners, my son, my manners!” Mum had said, in exasperation.
“Those theater people don’t have any, do they?” Hansin had said. “Aunt Diana can cuss like two truck drivers.”
She had made him her honorary nephew when they gone backstage on Krzysztoff Petrassi’s invitation afterwards, and the already-impressed Hansin was now star-struck and clearly planning on taking his cues from her hereafter. In between being sarcastic to her assistants for their ineptitude and to Angela for having missed a line, she had charmed Hansin person-to-person, not at all like person-to-little person, as Neem Pairt had attempted. If Hansin had once thought him to be ‘the greatest actor in the world’, he now considered him ‘the biggest twit in the universe’. He had tousled Hansin’s hair, jokingly asked him why he wasn’t in his pushchair, and told Mum, over his head, that she had a sweet, little boy here. Hansin, who was as over-sensitive as I was about being short, had taken deep offense, but Mum hadn’t allowed him to ask the actor what his mother felt like to have such a towering beanpole for a son.
Neem Pairt had also inquired after me.
“How’s Sarmand’s niece?” he had asked and guffawed with laughter.
“Now we only need that getting around,” Mum had said, although Van Heusen had reassured her on that front. No one would find out that I had adopted Sarmand Caraindon, least of all dear Sarmand himself. She would personally cut darling Neem’s throat first. He was such a tease. How was darling Lea, anyway? Why hadn’t she come? Oh, she was home working. Well, what a pity. Her little Pumpkins had been really looking forward to meeting her and patching up their little squabble. He had remained at the theater this evening for that very purpose. Her little Pumpkins, whom she had earlier dug up from Angela Carmichael’s dressing-room, had grinned and not contradicted his mother. My mother had come away even more impressed with him than before. He was, she said, such a nice, charming fellow, completely without airs, very easy to talk to. He had taken Hansin off to show him the stage machinery and lighting system, and now Hansin agreed with Mum.
“Sister,” he had told me, seriously, “you will have to go find someone else to pelt tomatoes and eggs at him, because I don’t think I could do it.”