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The International Writers Magazine - From our Archives 2009

The Mystery of the Missing Mother
Mary Colvin

No one could quite pinpoint exactly when Mother vanished although they spent some time trying to figure it out. Could it have been the day Bernard noticed his underpants stock had dwindled until all that remained was the leopard skin thong bestowed upon him by his cheery colleagues last Christmas (how they had all chortled!) or was it when Bellula reaching into the depths of the Smegging fridge found her dribbling digits unable to detect a Dairylea Dunker? They couldn’t be sure, but vanished she certainly had.

‘We need to look for her logically,’ said Bernard, fumbling unsuccessfully for his bifocals.
‘Rationally,’ said Bellula.
‘Objectively,’ said Bernard.
‘Dramatically,’ declaimed Bellula.
‘Forensically,’ deduced Bernard.
‘Conclusively,’ concluded Bellula. Smugly.
But where? Bernard peered in his sock drawer. Bellula looked in the pantry. Bernard peered in Bellula’s sock drawer. Bellula bolted biscuits in the pantry. Bernard peered in his Lycraman lunchbox. Bellula belched biscuits in the pantry. Bernard peered in the pantry. He found Bellula beating the biscuit barrel.
‘My Lycraman lunchbox is empty,’ he said forlornly. Bellula shook the biscuit barrel.
‘The biscuit barrel is empty too,’ she burped.
‘This is serious,’ they said seriously. ‘Something must be done.’

Now Bernard was a Banker. Bellula was a banker’s daughter. They both knew that before something could be done five working days had to pass. There could be no exceptions, no deviations, no accelerations. It was Policy. Five days was five days too long when one’s Lycraman lunchbox was empty and one’s biscuit barrel bereft. What were they to do? How could Bernard continue living a life that lacked y fronts or z fronts or any kind of fronts at all? Other than weather fronts of course. And those kind of fronts would whistle up Bernard’s sockless legs and settle icily around his doldrums. Bernard shuddered. He was a desperate man. Worse still, Bellula was a hungry woman. Had he imagined the beatific way she had eyed his burgeoning beer belly? He feared not.

Mother was in fact under the settee gathering dust balls. It was possibly a surprising place to be but she found herself quite enjoying the diminutive expectations that a life as an appendage to a three-piece suite brought. She knew she would not be discovered. Neither Bernard nor Bellula ever moved the sofa. In fact Bellula rarely moved from the sofa. She was, it had to be said, a sofa loafer. Professional, and dedicated. Just like Bernard when the cricket was on. Except today the cricket wasn’t on, nor ‘Oprah,’ nor ‘Home and Away.’ In fact, Bellula realised, nothing was on. The enormity of the situation hit her enormously. Not only was the biscuit barrel empty, the TV remote control was missing. And not a mother in sight to remedy the situation. A nightmarish future loomed before her. A future in which, (she could hardly bear to think it) she would have to buy her own biscuits and find her own remote control.

Mother was not unaware of her family’s suffering. It was just that she didn’t give a damn. She had discovered a brave new world amongst the dust balls. A world of tiny people squashed by the super sized demands of others. Here was Mr Chop the Butcher rendered rasher- like by the burdensome beratings of Mrs Chop and here was PC Pratchett poleaxed by the avoirdupois of Mrs (waist not, want not) Pratchett. Best of all, here was Lionel, her favourite undersized and under appreciated colourist from ‘Snippets’ hair salon. Mother had often noticed that although Lionel was undersized in general, his specifics were categorically on the generous side and now that his generalities were even smaller his specifics seemed vastly enhanced. She was further delighted to see that he had already given the others cheeky colourful coiffs and that his equipment was now clearly at her disposal.

Or she would have been delighted were it not for the matter of the remote control. This outsized appendage to her daughter’s happiness lay haplessly amongst the blue rinsed dust balls of her new home. Each time Lionel attempted to retouch her highlights she was aware of it glowering at her. Accusingly. A sullen reminder of a life - sized life lived lifelessly.

A miniature meeting was called. Having been crushed by the dead weight of despotism this pocket- sized populous was keen to dabble in democracy.
‘We need to look at this logically,’ said PC Pratchett.
‘Rationally,’ said Mr Chop.
‘Objectively,’ said Mother.
‘Dramatically,’ declaimed Lionel.
‘Forensically,’ deduced PC Pratchett.
‘Conclusively,’ they all concluded, smugly learning from their biggers.
‘Bellula has to have that remote control. Without it she’ll be desperate,’ said Mother. The others eyed the vast arm dangling lifelessly from the sofa.
‘Doesn’t look very desperate to me,’ PC Pratchett opined.
‘And, if she gets really desperate she may just look under the sofa for it,’ Mother continued.
‘But she’s a sofa loafer,’ Mr Chop stewed, ‘they only stray from their kitchen/sofa axis if their food source runs out. Everyone knows that.’ Mother pointed pointedly to the abandoned biscuit barrel languishing languidly on the ruggedy rug.
‘It has,’ she said ominously. There was a silence as four very small people took in the humungosity of what had just been said.
‘This is serious,’ they said seriously. ‘Something must be done.’

Bernard was also concerned about Bellula. Since the incident with the Lycraman lunchbox and the biscuit barrel she had slumped onto her sofa and begun to chew determinedly at the cushions. There were soggy feathers around her mouth and ‘Feed me NOW’ signs flashing dangerously across her vacant eyes. From time to time one of her hands would twitch and at that moment she would look across at the blank television screen with something that looked worryingly like desperation. Bernard knew the moment he had been dreading all his banking life had finally arrived. He, and he wobbled at the thought, would have to cast aside the five day rule and take independent action; immediately!
Four anxious little people with brightly coloured hairdos had reached a similar conclusion. They were stood one at each corner of the giant remote control limbering up in preparation for the monumental task that awaited them.
‘It’s the right move’ said Mr Chop movingly.
‘It’s a bold move,’ said Lionel boldly.
‘It’s a strategic move,’ said PC Pratchett strategically.
‘It’s the only move’, said only Mother registering with alarm the way the fingers on the lifeless limb were beginning to twitch, ‘and we need to make it now!’

And so with much grunting and groaning, and shunting and moaning three miniature men and a blue rinsed miniature Mother shouldered their electronic burden and edged their way out of sofa land.
Bernard, in a frenzy of indecision and lacking the support of his underpants was circling the circles on the ruggedy rug. ‘Do something now,’ he intoned. ‘Now do something, something now do, something do now.’ Round and round he went. Went he round and round. Round, round and went he…what? There on the ruggedy rug, on the ruggedy rug there was the remote control! With an independent immediate action that would have made his manager manic, bifocal-less Bernard bent down, picked up the remote control and handed it to Bellula.
‘Here you are, my little doolah, Bellula. All better now,’ he said triumphantly.

Blue rinsed miniature Mother stood transfixed. The others had skedaddled back to sofa land the instant they had dropped their electronic baggage but miniature Mother could not tear herself away. She had never seen Bernard do anything independently, ever. And yet here he was acting independently and helping doolah, Bellula at the same time! Her eyes misted over. Perhaps she had misjudged this man. Perhaps…But Bernard was on a roll now. Autonomy was coursing through his veins. He sensed a new, bigger man being born. With a flamboyant flourish he grasped the blue rinsed miniature Mother.
‘And here my Darling doolah Bellula is one of those special Smarties you so adore. Just for you. Just from your Daddy.’ The dribbling digits flexed and closed and miniature Mother was no more.

© Mary Colvin - March 2009
mary at

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