Thanks again for all your kind comments. Posting here is very rewarding for an author.
Here is chapter 5, just to prove the story isn’t dying Might be a while before the next chapter arrives though. Summer holidays coming up.
What do little girls need? What do they want to eat? I suppose these things are obvious to a parent, but they provided a real challenge for me. After wandering aimlessly about the shop for a while, I had the bright idea to follow a family around and see what they bought. The kid looked about six I suppose, which seemed to fit Pearl and her needs well enough. I ended up with pancake mix, tacos, pizza, candy and apple juice among other things. Not the best diet in the world, but I wanted to make Pearl happy. And Nutella of course. I couldn’t risk showing up without that. They took their time shopping though, and in the end I felt like a creepy stalker for following them so I moved to the check-out.
I felt weird buying all that stuff. It’s not really the kind of food I normally keep, and I thought maybe the girl at the check-out would start to wonder. After all, I come here all the time. She didn’t though. She went through the motions like a drone, complete with the tired smile and ‘have a nice day’ at the end. Why is it that you can buy anything with total confidence when you feel you have a legitimate reason, but feel transparent and nervous buying the exact same thing when you don’t? Even if it’s just kid’s food. Or so I mused while loading my shopping bags. And then I bumped into my colleague.
Unfortunately, Dean is a bit of a prat. We all know someone like Dean I suppose. Always smug, always excessively friendly and always ready and waiting with a snide remark to put you off balance. Not the kind of person I wanted to meet right now.
“So, not the health-food kind of guy then,” he grinned, eyeing my groceries. “Prefer Brie to Nutella myself, but hey, maybe I’m getting old.” Dean was eight years younger than me.
“Umm…” I muttered. I couldn’t come up with an explanation for my shopping, and, for some reason, I felt I needed one. Something about Dean and his way of talking to you made you feel obliged to explain yourself. Maybe that’s why I didn’t like him. I was glad he hadn’t spotted the Cinderella movie I’d got for Pearl.
“Anyway, good to see you John.” Dean slapped me on the back. “You started holidays yet, or are you just slacking off?”
“It’s Saturday, Dean. But yeah, I’ve started holidays.”
“Well, good for you. No time for holidays myself. Got to hold the fort while you lucky bastards goof off.”
Dean never went on holiday when the rest of us did, preferring to postpone it until work picked up after summer. Don’t know how he got away with it, but Dean always got away with everything.
While walking to our cars, Dean launched into a monologue about work stuff. I might have been vaguely interested had I not been on holiday. And anyway, there was something nagging me - something in the back of my mind. Did I forget to buy something?
“So, this is my new car,” Dean gestured grandly, indicating a brand new, black Porsche convertible. “Got it just the other week.”
With this, Dean insisted a detailed run-through of the technical specs of his car. As he droned on, my thoughts drifted. What the hell was nagging me?
Sensing my disinterest, Dean wrapped up his speech.
“So, still driving that old Mercedes?” he asked smugly, a hand tracing the sleek lines of his own car.
“Actually, it’s not…”
“Those Mercedes are great though. They go for ages, those engines. Good for you, right? Anyway, see you around John. And have a nice holiday. Don’t forget your work-out though. You know, with that diet you’ve got going there, a little exercise will do you good. Lets play squash some day.”
“Sure Dean,” I sighed. And then he was off, gunning the engine and flashing me his perfect white teeth as he sped off.
I made my way back to my Volkswagen. ‘It might not be a Porsche, but it’s quite adequate for my needs, thank you very much,’ I thought to myself. ‘I’m not all that interested in cars anyway, so why would I want to spend all that cash? And why am I explaining myself to me,’ I thought grimly. Dean did that to you. What a prat! He’d taken up quite enough of my day. Time to get back to Pearl.
PEARL! Damn! Now I knew what had been bugging me all along. How old was little-Pearl? Four, maybe five? And I’d just left her at home, as if she was her regular teen self. And how long had I been gone? I glanced at my watch. An HOUR! Who the hell leaves a five-year-old all alone that long? I dumped the groceries in the back of my car and sped back home as fast as I could. I was lucky I didn’t get a ticket.
When I got back I’d half expected to find Pearl bawling, but she wasn’t. It was more like quiet little sobs, large tears trickling down her cheeks. She’d been crying for some time.
“Where WERE you? I was all alone,” she sniffled miserably.
“I went to the shops. I told you, Honey. Didn’t you hear?”
“No you didn’t,” Pearl said accusingly. “You didn’t say anything. You just vanished and you were gone for ever and ever.”
“Oh, I’m so so sorry little gem. I thought you knew.” I hugged her pitiful, small frame tightly, and she rested her head against my chest. I felt her body jerk sharply. Then again. She had hiccups from crying. “I know I shouldn’t have left you like that. It was very thoughtless of me, and I won’t do it again. I promise.”
Pearl nodded as if to convince herself to trust me again.
“Are you alright?” I asked with concern. She seemed genuinely helpless. “Did anything bad happen, Honey?”
Pearl nodded, her face still buried in my chest. My shirt was damp from her tears, but her crying seemed to have stopped now. Maybe she didn’t have any tears left, I thought guiltily.
“What, Honey? Did you hurt yourself?”
Pearl shook her head, still not looking up at me. That’s when I noticed the fabric of her dress at the small of her back. It was wet beneath my hand.
“Oh, I see. Let’s have a look then, little gem,” I said, gently pushing Pearl away from me. She was staring at the floor, covering her face with her hair, hands hanging limply by her side. I saw the hem of her pretty little summer dress was wet. I spun her gently around by the shoulders and found it soaked half-way up her back. The not-so-white fabric clung to her bum and I peeled it loose, lifting the hem to reveal equally drenched panties.
“Poor little Pearl. You’re completely soaked, aren’t you?”
Pear sniffled. “I think I did a pee-pee in my pants, but it just happened all by itself and I didn’t notice so it went all over the floor where I was sitting and now my drawing is all ruined, but it’s not really my fault 'cause I promise, promise, promise I didn’t know I had to go and now you’ll be angry with me. But I made the picture for you and it was really nice.”
“Oh, Pearl. Why would I be mad? I know these things can happen to little girls, and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. Nothing at all. I should have been here, so it’s my fault really.”
“You’re not mad? Even though I said I wanted panties and went pee-pee in them anyway?” Pearl gazed up at me with tearstained, questioning eyes.
“Of course not, little gem. How could I be mad at my sweet little Pearl?”
I hugged her tightly again, and she sniffled loudly.
“I’m cold,” Pearl shivered.
“Alright then, lets get you something dry to wear sweetie,” I said, taking her by the hand and leading her towards the bathroom. As we passed the sizable puddle on the floor I noticed that Pearl’s drawing was indeed well and truly ruined. I’d have to do something about those wet footprints too. Seemed Pearl had run from room to room, looking for me.
“I made a milkshake though,” Pearl said. “It was yummy!”
Glancing over, I surveyed the damage. The door to the freezer was half-open, and there was melted ice-cream and chocolate syrup all over the place, even splashed on the window. I think she forgot to put the lid on the mixer.
“You shouldn’t really do that alone, Honey. It might be dangerous.”
“It was chocolate,” Pearl beamed. “It was the BEST, but you can’t have any 'cause I wanted to save you some but then I drank it all and there wasn’t much anyway.”
“I bet. Most of it is on the wall.”
“Sorry,” Pearl said, but she didn’t seem sorry at all. “I can make some more.”
I guided her into the bathroom, peeled off her wet dress and panties, and placed her in the shower for the second time today. I was glad to see she’d cheered up a bit, but I still felt guilty for leaving her for such a long time. It was like I’d betrayed her trust. Getting used to thinking about Pearl as a dependent little girl was not as easy as I’d thought. Maybe because she seemed so capable and independent when she was her grown self.
“I want the pull-ups now,” she said while I was drying her off. “I don’t need them, but I want them anyway and I don’t think they’re silly anymore.”
“Okay little water gem. I think that’s a good idea. I know you don’t need them, but it’s nice to feel safe and dry anyway, right?”
I grabbed a pull-up from her bag and slipped it up her legs. The fit was nice and snug, so I suppose Pearl was experienced at this kind of shopping. Next, I dressed her in a pair of soft, pink sweat shorts and a white slip with little laces and a big, pink heart on. When I was finished, Pearl looked down and patted her crotch.
“No-one can see it,” she said happily.
That wasn’t quite true, since the shorts were low-cut and the pull-up was peeking up above the waist. Still, Pearl’s slip did cover it. At least until it rode up.
“That’s right Honey. It’ll be our little secret.”
“Goody. It feels nice,” she said, patting her bum. “I like them now. What did you get me at the shop?”
“I got a movie. Cinderella. I suppose you’ve seen it before, but I…”
Then she ran off, and I went back to the kitchen to clear the mess.
TO BE CONTINUED