Author : Geoffrey Cashmore

The first thing Vinka noticed were the trees, (Bula was late…why was she always late?) the ground was dirty too; some places nothing but bare earth or a covering of ragged grass. That couldn’t be healthy, could it? These pathetic people.

Vinka watched Bula arrive and park up, clumsy as usual, but at least she didn’t hit one of the trees. He glanced at his watch. Charl and Birdo would be expecting him back. It wasn’t fair to leave them finish the shift without him, he’d had so much time off lately.

“Sorry.” Bula wore the silver outfit she got last winter. She wore it once to a party and hadn’t touched it again, saying it was too good for normal wear. She was obviously making a special effort today – first impressions and all that.

“You’ve left your lights on.” Vinka gestured impatiently, sending his wife back into her car to fluster with the controls. “This is the place, isn’t it?” he asked when she finally made it over to stand beside him, smoothing down her jacket and smiling.

“I think so.” She answered. “It’s not very clean. Look at those trees. That can’t be healthy, can it?”

Vinka was gazing around for signs of activity. “No…” he said absently.

“Oh Vin, we are doing the right thing, aren’t we?” Bula had grown increasingly nervous as this day approached. “Adopting one of the under privileged, I mean.”

“Bula, I told you, it’ll be fine.” Vinka was weary from the reassurances, but Bula could be like this; nervous about something at first then confident and self-assured when it finally happened “How could any right minded person stand by and leave them bring up a child in this squalor? And besides, I showed you all the forms we’d need to fill out if we wanted to adopt back home. Look.” He pointed out past the broken down buildings to where something moved at the edge of the trees. “Someone’s coming.”

“Oh yes, there he is!” Bula caught sight of the figure. “Isn’t he adorable?” she said, leaving Vinka to approach the youngster alone for fear of frightening him. He seemed a little nervous, and curled up on the floor as Vinka drew near. “He’s so cute. I hope the other children don’t tease him because of he colour of his skin.” Bula stood to one side while Vinka lifted the child and put him into the back seat of Bula’s car.

“Now.” He said “I’ve really got to get back to work – Birdo’s going to go mad – can you take the kid home and settle him in?”

Bula was smiling even though there were tears in her eyes as she nodded to her husband. She kissed him on the cheek as he closed the car door. “Thank you, darling.”

“Whatever makes you happy, honey.” He said, pulling car keys from his pocket and preparing to go.

As Bula’s car broke free of the little blue-green planet’s atmosphere the child on the back seat began to cry.

“There, there.” She comforted, “You won’t have to live in that nasty old place any more.”

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