Monday, April 17, 2006

Sugar Flower

In the kitchen opposite the wood stove was a leadlight kitchen dresser painted white. It had panes of glass, green, burgundy and clear. On the centre door which curved outwards the glass was cracked and the design slumped inwards. I used the wonder if the heat from the stove opposite had melted the lead and imagine that one day the whole panel would drip to the floor.

I stood next to the dresser that day and the ledge where the key was kept was very high. If I stood on my tiptoes I could feel it there with the very tips of my fingers but unless I dragged the stool across, there was little chance I would ever reach it.

I considered the moving of the stool and the noise that it would make. My parents took their midday nap just behind the dresser in the other room. If they heard me I might get the "flapper", a piece of bamboo about 20 inches long, with a folded strap of leather bound with "catgut" to it's end. Mum and Dad would threaten me with it what seemed like every day, but perhaps it was only when I was naughty? It was kept on the front veranda high on the coat hooks above the rifles. All those terrifying items dwelt there at our front door. I wonder now what people thought when they called in, to be greeted by that armoury?

The stool was too heavy for me to lift quietly but I remembered there was another outside. I slowly opened the rattling back door knob, it was dented brass kept shiny from many hands and the sound of that doorknob is more keen in my memory than any other sound I have ever known.

The back stairs creaked slightly and the small yellow stool, made from an apple crate is there.

On the way back my hands are full, the door slams in the breeze and I freeze....
All stays quiet. I carefully place the stool and reach the key. My footsteps through the dining room are swift and sure. I sit down cross-legged in front of the china cabinet and the key moves easily in the lock.

I am not allowed in here. In the very back is a small tin, slightly rusted. Carefully I move the breakables aside, fine china teacups and antique figurines. I grasp my prize. The lid squeaks a little as I pry it loose.

The hard sugar melts slowly in my mouth. I close my eyes in bliss. They won't notice just one more wedding cake decoration disappearing, surely?