A Gifted Child
Alistair sees the last of the guests out, as Emily eases back onto the couch.
She looks up from the baby, sleeping next to her, when he comes back into the living room, a fresh mug of tea steaming in each hand.
“Busy day.” He says, passing her one of the drinks. She nods, and smiles up at him.
“It was nice of them to come.” She says, which makes him smile back. “All at the same time, on the same day.” She continues, grin widening.
“Hm, yeah… I guess I could have suggested staggered visits.”
“No, it’s okay. It was… fun.”
“Heh, fun. Yeah. And they brought gifts.”
She looks around the room at the chaos of opened parcels and styrofoam packing chips, hand stroking the baby’s head.
“The gifts I could have done without.”
“Well, I mean, it was thoughtful of them.”
“Yes, very… Priceless, probably…?”
“Not stuff you’d find in the shops, certainly.”
She leans forward from the sofa, reaching for one of the gifts. Holds it up, turning it this way, then that, examining it.
“I guess I wouldn’t know what sort of a shop would sell this thing.”
“Well, it’s… it’s a golden monkey dragon. Apparently there were only ever five of them created, and in times of danger, they manifest as sacred protectors of the innocent. They’re called ‘The Holy Guardians Of The Forbidden Kingdom’.”
“It’s interesting that they’d think a baby living in suburban Southerton would need so much protection.”
“I mean, by my count, that’s, what – Four wards against fire demons, two antidotes for alchemical poisonings, a charm made by an ancient Sumatran white witch specifically made to defend against Sumatran black witchcraft, and at least one Atlantean orb that’s supposed to help her if Southern England ever sinks into the ocean.”
“You’re forgetting the plastic tiara of unknown origin that will, allegedly, mask her thoughts from the Dinosaur Gods of the Lost Continent – a place which may or may not even exist.”
“Tt. Your friends. Absolutely incredible.”
“Well, they’re your friends too by now, I’d hope.”
“You know what I mean…” She mutters, smiles at her husband and then back at the tiny wriggling bundle on the sofa next to her.
“Well,” he says, holding up a small wooden doll, it’s limbs hanging limp, “this looks more like a proper present. Look, it’s got a talkey string thing.”
He pulls on the string, and the doll comes to life, limbs flailing. It’s voice is gravelly when it speaks.
“I am Anso Dansar, ruler of The Wooden. I am the sworn champion of the Metric Realms, and enemy of the dark god Kalack Klat Krckchack of the First Person Monologue. I will protect this small one fro…” it says, until the string winds down.
The couple look at the doll, then at each other, eyes wide.
“Lets never pull that string again.” They say to each other, in unison.
The baby gurgles on the sofa, tries to roll over, but at only a few days old isn’t really strong enough. Her mother picks her up and gently rocks her, cooing softly.
“Well, at least Sebastian came through with this…” Alistair says, rolling the biggest of the presents back and forth for a second, enjoying the smoothness of the wheels.
“Good old Sebastian. He’s a good ‘un. At least Tera won’t need to use the hand-me-down that mum gave us.” She says, coochie-cooing the baby as Alistair reads the card attached to the present. “Fancy, him providing the stroller.”
“… The, uh, stroller of Mancha Har Falagash.” He mutters under his breath.
“What?” She asks distractedly, tickling Tera’s chin.
“Oh… uh, nothing.” He says, tucking the card into his back pocket.
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