Margaret Anning didn’t dislike April Fools’ Day. Not exactly.

She thought it could be used for more important things.

Margaret, always with determination and resolution, spent her whole, abbreviated life campaigning for the better: for global peace, for an end to leaders’ tyranny, for a stop to global warming, for every protested issue ever contested, justice and harmony and happiness her guiding sigils throughout existence. What good was a holiday where everyone pranked each other relentlessly, like unfunny clowns? And during her childhood days, she had always been the scapegoat for many silly and unsightly pranks: never again, she would whisper, seeing her Oreo filling being swapped with toothpaste, or her bedroom ransacked and toilet papered during an outing at her townhouse. Childhood memories died hard, and, along with her hatred of such a superficial, affected holiday, Margaret grew to actively be disgusted by April Fools’ Day. She only sighed and muttered as her children filled exploding pens with octopus ink, splattering a nearby person; or blew up water balloons, releasing them onto the paved street below, then ducking at the nearest glance at their window. Of course, though, the passer-by would only genteelly smile at the open window, knowing it was April Fools’ Day, and be content that they hadn’t been pranked more. However, Margaret, of course, would spank them and scold them severely. Some of her wilder actions had spoilt previous celebrations in the past, and she didn’t care in the least. Didn’t the overall well-being of the globe prevail against family and friend issues and dilemmas?

As a little girl, Margaret had been studious and upstanding, with little wire-framed glasses always perched on the bridge of her nose. She seemed so ready to become a famous artist; her delicate pencil drawings, coloured neatly in, seeming more than deserving to be framed and hung in a prestigious gallery. But that was only for ‘fun’, Margaret repeatedly assured; and she was snobby and sniffed at nearly every other student in her boarding school. Even to a miserable little boy whose parents had been going through a bitter, unfriendly divorce, she was ill-tempered. She honestly believed that she needed to focus on something else, not the poor boy; as if focussing on the whole of humanity was more important than being truly kind, giving and sympathetic, for once.

And even though her dedication to all the myriad problems of humanity was admirable, in maturity, Margaret was haughty and unpolite. Always encumbered by the assumption that she had better, more noble things to care for than the ‘petty’ people who lived beside her. Oh, they were important, she thought in blatant unfairness, but to what degree? She saw herself as an active heroine crusading to save the world, like in grainy superhero movies. And Margaret, at the core...spent so much time attempting to spark a revolution, that her closest human relationships decayed.

Just a jot of affection and sympathy certainly wouldn’t solve an international issue. But it could save her gradually perishing connections with her family and friends.

This April Fools’ Day, they would get her back.

Margaret paced like a child awaiting punishment around the empty rutted road, still glistening with last night’s flowing buckets of rain. A weak lemon yellow sun, brushed by fingers of spidery grey clouds and highlighted by the baby blue sky, burst out into her eyesight. Had the charity organisation set up their wares yet? Why couldn’t they go more quickly? Homelessness was such an imperative issue, in her bustling metropolis. It didn’t matter if her doleful, loving daughter missed her beloved violin lessons. It didn’t matter if her energetic and rambunctious son didn’t get his normal Saturday time with her, practicing typical soccer moves. It didn’t matter if her husband was left, helpless and hapless, having left all the basic housework to her, in his frenetic work duties in recent months. All that mattered was charity-the word spilled out of her mouth like a gem, ancient and precious.

Indeed it was. But, to onlookers, wouldn’t it be more charitable to spend some time with her family? They hardly even saw her anymore, too busy hurrying to the constant lures of humanitarian functions, protests, and lectures: a schedule of goodwill, at least to Margaret. However, her house was growing more and more decrepit by the day, her friends had all but lost touch, and passers-by shot shifty looks at her, wondering pointedly how she could neglect her affectionate family, going to potentially save the world all day and night. If there was a single word for distant, unsympathetic, and alien to her familys’ basic needs, Margaret Anning was it. And with pride, not scorn, at what she had made her family.

She scrabbled around inside her battered brown wallet for an emerald hundred-dollar note, which she dropped into the giant yawning collection bucket. Margaret then debated fiercely with the gangly teenager manning the homelessness charity stand about respect for the poor: offending several homeless as they sadly shuffled by. Cutting and condescending without realising it, her words flew by like this...

They can’t possibly take care of themselves! We must!

They’re so dirty and dirt poor, they’re offensive to the fabric of this city! We need to give them food, water and resources, otherwise they’ll look even more disgusting!

Money! That’s what they need. Not squandering their lives away on an unkempt pavement, being foolish and silly!

’Do you realise that they might not have a choice?’ whispered the teenager, now looking ruffled but alert. ‘Do you honestly think so? Good deeds don’t mean much when they aren’t made by good people.’ And Margaret hung her head like a woeful puppy, for the first time ashamed by her condescension towards the homeless, and her neglect for her devoted family and friends. But what she didn’t realise...her family were still planning their big prank, the spectacular garnish for their morning. She was standing right below. their historic red brick home, proudly refurnished until it resembled a 1900’s, grandiose landscape inside. Margaret darted home, wishing to beg for forgiveness. Never again would she put her charitable deeds above those who had been the most charitable, to her. And, just then, a bucket of splendid water fell raucously on her head, splashing all the passers-by, and cackling ensued from the upstairs window. ‘Happy April Fools’ Day!’ they laughed...

March 26, 2021 23:06

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