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Sardines At Bedtime

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“What do you mean, he’s bringing him home?” John sounded alarmed as he stood at the hob. He was stirring arborio rice for a chicken risotto in a huge pan.

“Just what I said. Oskar is coming home. I’ll get the spare bedroom ready.” Roxanna went upstairs.

“Where the hell is his mother?” John ran after her.

“Gone AWOL apparently. Don’t panic, John. I think three professional doctors are capable of looking after one five-year-old boy. It won’t be for long. Don’t burn the rice.”

“Shit!” John ran back down the stairs and caught it just in time.

 

*****

 

Three days later, Henrik and Roxanna were clearing up after the evening meal.

 “John’s at the end of his tether. I don’t think he’s comfortable with children,” Roxanna said.

“Well, he didn’t have a lot of say in the matter. Where is he?”

“I think he went out. I hope he hasn’t gone back to the lab.” Roxanna looked anxious. “He ignores Oskar totally. I’m really worried, Henrik.”

“I’ll check on Oskar now.” Henrik went away. Within a moment he was back, smiling. He took Roxanna’s hand and pressed a finger to his lips, then led her up the stairs.

They peered into Oskar’s room. John lay on the bed, the book on his chest. Oskar beckoned to them.

“Uncle John fell asleep. Can you finish the story?” He held up Captain Underpants.

Roxanna took the book and lay next to him.

“There’s room for one more.” Henrik lay next to Roxanna. “We can play Sardines.”

Oskar giggled. Roxanna began to read. On Oskar’s other side, John mumbled and curled up, his arm protectively around the little boy. Oskar gently patted his head.

“Uncle John works hard,” he said kindly.

Beside him, John opened his eyes and winked, then closed them again.