Editor's ChoiceLife and General Fiction

An Afternoon Nap

Petra would never put herself through the torturous experience of having to babysit Gregor except if she had her wool and needle in hand, knitting her way through the travelling time, and letting her mind escape through it. A few steps from the small wooden stool she sombrely sat was Gregor, sitting with his leg slightly wide open—with a pen by his right hand as he fumbled his left hand on a plain drawing sheet.

Occasionally he would glance at Petra, and see if she was watching before splattering drops of coloured paint over the plain paper. It gave its beautiful colourful combinations that looked like that of a finely designed clothing material. Since he was only four, he did this with obtrusive nonchalance and childishness. And a few times he acted like he was above his age.

“Petra,” he called out.

“Yes?”

“Aunt Tatyana always tell me stories anytime I’m to sleep. Would you love to hear one of them?”

“No, I wouldn’t,” she replied, with her fingers fastidiously working their way on the woollen material she was knitting.

“I promise I will make it short,” he said.

“Be done with that drollery of you’ve got there so you could take a nap.”

“But I don’t want a nap,” he grudgingly replied.

“Well aunt Tatyana said I should make you take a nap at the appropriate time, and now it is.”

With his head directly facing her sited position, he replied, “But Aunt Tatyana always tell me a story every time I was to sleep.” After which he dragged his body a little further to her position.

“Well I don’t know any story to tell,” Petra replied.

“I don’t want to take a nap… at least not yet.”

“If you don’t want to… you would have to keep quiet. We could have a quiet time together.”

“I could try,” Gregor replied, before flipping to the next page of his drawing sheet.

“That would be better,” said Petra.
He brought out his pen and quickly made a drawing that looked like two beings facing each other, before calling out her name again.

“Petra!”

“Yes?”

“Have you heard about the story of Peter Rabbit?”

“Yes, I have.”

“Can you tell it to me?”

“If I tell you, will you go to sleep?”

“Yes… I will.”

“As I can remember, there once lived a rabbit family: they lived in a small forest a few paces from a small nearby village. Their mother, Mother Rabbit had four sons. The most curious and adventurous of them all was the youngest, and his name was Peter Rabbit.”

“I don’t think he was the youngest,” Gregor interrupted.

“Well how could we be so sure?” she said, smirking at him for a short while before getting back to her knitting.

“Aunt Tatyana told it to me,” he said, childishly continuing from where he stopped.

“Well Aunt Tatyana isn’t here, and do you want to hear the story or not?”

“I would love to,” he replied.

“So one day, Peter Rabbit went out to play off to the woods, into the nearby village.

“ ‘Do not go into the village to play, you could get killed,’ his mother would say. But on that faithful day he disobeyed. He had gotten to a small poultry farm at the fringes of the village. But before he could successfully make it through, his foot got stuck in a trap.”

“Did he die?” Gregor asked, with his stomach lying flat on the ground, his head slightly raised up and his hands entangled beneath his jaw.

“No, he didn’t. Right about that time the owner of the poultry farm began thudding his leather boots down that way.”

“Did Peter Rabbit get caught?”

“No, he didn’t. He used his last might to carefully free himself off the trap.”

“What happened next?”

“Well, the farmer spotted him running away from the trap, so he brutally went after him, chasing him down a narrow path.”

“Why would he do that?”

“I don’t know”

“Did he get him?”

“Well, that is supposed be part of the story, and I’m telling it, so listen.”

“But Aunt Tatyana told me he got stuck in a small bush.”

“Well I haven’t gotten there yet.”

“She also told me the farmer found and chased him continuously and endlessly.”

“Well, since you know all the details, there won’t be need for me to go on with the story.”

“I’m sorry. Please would you tell me some other one?” he pleaded.

“I’m sorry I don’t know any other,” she mendaciously replied.

“Please,I promise I would go to sleep afterwards.”

“I don’t know any—”

“Shall I come to join you?” Gregor asked.

“No, thanks”

“Shall I get a cup of water for you?”

“No, that would not be necessary”

“What about a glass of juice? Shall I loosen those wools for you?” he asked, pointing at a few knotted wools that laid on a small shelf beside her stool.

“No!” she exclaimed.

“You know what, I shall tell you one more story, if you promise to go to sleep.”

“I promise,” he replied.

“The story is about Mother Rat,” she continued with a disgusting countenance.

“Wow!”

“Yes. Mother Rat went into the forest to fetch food for her five little rats.”

“Aunt Tatyana told me a lot of stories, but I never heard this one.”

“Well ,you will be hearing about it now,” said Petra.

‘But I want one of Aunt Tatyana’s, I don’t like this one anymore.”

“What do you like?”

“I want another”

“Well, you would have to give me time to think of another.” He nodded in acceptance as he stared fixatedly at her. “You would have to close your eyes and lie down flat on your back,” said Petra. And so he did

“But Petra—”

“No buts, just do as I say. Don’t you want to hear the story?” He nodded again in acceptance. “Just do exactly as I say.”

He steadily laid down on his back with his neck partially turned to her position. After a short period, she could hear his breathe became weary and slower.

“Do not open till I call out your name, and do not ask any question.”

“Shall I open now?” Gregor asked.

“Do not open! Just be quiet,” she replied. She re-positioned a small table fan by her left, towards his lying position as she watched him twist and turn a few times, and saw him faintly open his little eyes. “Do not open your eyes!” she exclaimed.

With the reverberation of her shrieking voice slamming into his hearing, he hastily shut them down. They were consumed in another very short silence before she whispered his name.

“Gregor… Gregor… Gregor… wake up … I’m ready,” she said. But there was no answer, even a louder shrieking voice of hers would not wake him up from his afternoon nap.

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