A Conversation Between Beatrice and Mummy

“Mummy, I don’t want to go to school.”

The rickety chair scrapes the floor unwillingly. A little breadcrumb falls, and lands on the floor.

She wipes her mouth with her tiny, spidery hands, full of eggs and ham, and everything nice. A half-empty mug filled with hot Milo sits on the table, regrettably forlorn, on a sea of red-and-white checkered cloth. The smell of fermented shrimp paste lingers in the air.

The white uniform, with its pleated blue skirt, stands out proudly. A name tag with the name “Beatrice” winks at her mum, as if asking her half in spite and half in glee, “Do you regret giving birth to this little imp already?” But her mum shakes her head, as if to laugh along with the absurd notion. Her smile beams back in reply. “How could I ever regret having my little girl?”

But the answer from the little girl hangs limply, like a wet sock, in the air. The girl repeats her sentence again. Her eyes inadvertently start crinkling down at the corners, a sob trembling her little angel chin.

“Mummy, I don’t want to go to school.”

Her mum sighs, the answer forming lines on her elegant forehead. A few strands of grey hair slide from her windswept bun.”But you must, Beatrice!”

Her answer is met by a downturned mouth, and dangerously watery eyes.

Mummy prepares herself for the inevitable rant.

“But I hate school, Mummy! If I could stop school now, I would be so happy! Studying is so boring! Why can’t I play with my friends instead?”

Mummy kneels down to Beatrice’s level, and smiles once more at her.

“Beatrice, do you know something?” She strokes her daughter’s hair. “You will leave school one day. But not now. School is good for you. It makes you see things in different ways. You can also gain valuable knowledge.”

Beatrice’s eyes widened at the new word. Her curious brain grappled with the unfamiliarity of this new unknown in her mind.”Mummy, what does ‘knowledge’ mean?”

Her mum laughed. “It means you will know much more than Mummy! And with all that good stuff stored away in your brain, you can help me too!”

Beatrice’s formerly glum expression slowly uprights itself into a resplendent smile.

“I will do my best, Mummy!”

(I’ve had this lying in my drafts for god knows how long, lol…)

© Zelda Reville


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