The Muppet – Joyce Janes

Jill made her way to the bus stop as children from neighbouring houses danced down the street following her.  She tried not to look at the evil little faces as their voices echoed round in her head.

‘Here comes the Muppet. My dad says you’re mad’

‘Where are you going Muppet.’

She tried to ignore them, sang to herself, drowning out the voices to rid herself of the tormenting.

She pulled the worn coat around her in a vain attempt to keep out icy wind and plunged her hands deep in the pockets.  She felt smooth surfaces, her cold comfort, one, two, three, four, five, yes they were all there.

Go away she wanted to shout the words on the tip of her tongue, as always were stuck and her attempt to speak only made the children laugh more.

She huddled against the glass of the bus shelter.

‘How is it they don’t feel the cold,’ she thought.

A gust of wind pulled at her hat and she watched as it lifted into the air and rolled along the street.

Ecstatic the little terrors raced after it screaming with glee at Jill’s discomfort.

‘At least they are away from me’ thought the girl again feeling in her pocket.  Her fingers touched the stones and she was safe.

As a child Jill had watched her mother move the stones around, holding them up to the light examining every small detail. and arranging them in patterns much as she did now.

Jill carried them everywhere and had done ever since her mother let her hold the stones, a present for being kind to an uncle.

When they took her baby away she found comfort in them.

She knew she couldn’t look after a child especially after the man took her mother away.

Now 13 years later Jill considered the stones to be hers after so long in her care.

‘Muppet bus isn’t coming, don’t you know anything Muppet.  Buses are on strike.’

The children ran off laughing bored with tormenting her.

Jill walked home.

As she put the key in her door something hit her on the shoulder.

She turned and looked at the kids, they couldn’t be much older than six or seven, how could they be so young and yet so wicked.

For once the children stared, silent unsure how to react to this challenge.

Jill stepped inside and closed the door.

She didn’t take off her coat, she could see her own breath, the flat was no warmer than outside.

She cleared a space on the table pushing aside an assortment of empty tins and packets.

One by one she brought out the stones.

The first was deepest dark blue flecked with gold, she didn’t hold it up to the light you couldn’t see through that one no matter how hard you tried.

Palest pink silky smooth and misty looking, beautiful, this was her mother’s favourite.  Jill laid it alongside the blue.

Which would be next she wondered recognising the familiar shape before she uncurled her hand, amethyst, purple with a hint of white.

That one must go in between the other two she told herself rearranging the display.

She knew which one she wanted next and felt the two remaining shapes in her pocket making sure she chose the right one.

Tigers eye she always remembered this one because she didn’t like the name.  The idea of tigers was too fierce by half but the stone with its brown satin sheen was lovely and it did look like an eye.

She paused now delaying, holding back the moment, her final treasure this her favourite.  The cold surface warmed as she waited holding it, she turned it over and over in her hand.  This was moonstone, most mystical of all.

She twisted it first one way then the other until she found exactly the right angle, the place where the wintry shaft of light through the grimy window lit the centre of the crystal to reveal a tiny rainbow.  It was a miracle and it never failed to make her smile.

She arranged and rearranged the display until she was quite satisfied

~~~~~~~~~

The tiny circle of stones was there 3 months later when police, contacted by concerned neighbours, broke into the flat.

Of Jill there was no trace.

 

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