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Rites of Passage

May 7th, 2010 by the_lifer

“I blew it,” Winona moans. “I could’ve prevaricated and spun them a load of – ” Winona glances at her sister Helena’s two children, sitting attentively with them at the café table. “A load of guff, but no, I couldn’t not explain.”

Helena says, philosophically, “They can’t be mad at you for telling them the truth.”

“No, but they can not hire me for making them look like idiots.”

“Perhaps they’ll hire you to be smart for them, then. Tch! What did I tell you boys? No mustaches, we’re not at home.” Clicking her tongue, she wipes foamed milk off her sons’ upper lips.

Winona sighs. “I’ve been gone so long you’re ordering regular-sized drinks for the boys.”

Her older nephew nods. “This is my favorite café.”

“Is it?” echoes Winona.

“It is. They have the head like Bart Simpson’s as decoration, and the best chips, and when you order a hot chocolate you get a skinny Whittaker’s to stir it with.”

“I – I – I like this cafe but I like the other place too,” adds the younger nephew. “I like the place with the mini bagels. They give Mummy two Jaffas with her moccachino so we can each have one.” The boy has lost both his front teeth and has a lisp, but he still pronounces “moccachino” correctly.

“Do you want my biscuit?” Winona offers him the nubbin of shortbread that accompanied her drink.

Suddenly shy, the six-year-old nods. His brother, all of eight, watches the scene. “If he gets your biscuit can I have a sip of your coffee?”

The fretful crease between Winona’s brows vanishes as she smiles. “Eight going on twenty-eight,” she says, and hands him her flat white.

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