I am in so much trouble. I am sure that Berthe would have cooked up a plan by now to clean up the mess had she been here with me. But, here I was, stuck all by myself with shards of the broken chocolate cake jar littered on the floor, in tears because a few pieces poked my hands when I had tried to pick them up, and I knew they would not be the only things bleeding when the parents that left me to babysit come back. I go on babysitting jobs with my best friend-stroke-neighbour, who currently had to leave me for a science project she had due by Monday. I wish Berthe were here. She always loved being patient in these sorts of situations.
Unfortunately, I was not a babysitter. I usually just tagged along. But, we needed the money for our sixteenth anniversary of being best friends; we were planning to celebrate at a park with the little children we were in our neighbourhood. Now, I was not so sure I was doing much of a great job in getting the money, judging by how many things had broken, damaged and even spilt, because I did not know how to take care of a six-year-old whose name was Eric, with his year and a half old baby brother. Who knew boys ate a lot and caused chaos wherever they left? I did not, because one, I was an only child, and the only people that I had in my life were females — the few of my cousins included, and two, my dad was a vegetarian who always made sure to watch his weight, so he was excluded from that list.
Okay, Aileen, you can do this. They are just children, ones who spoil things. You need to think like Berthe, what would she do in a situation like this?
"Well, for starters, Berthe would not be in a situation like this; she is too organised and graceful. Besides—"
Why, thank you, brain. Think. I did not say mock and insult.
I cleaned the dried tears off my cheek and sat on one of the kitchen chairs – head in-between my hands. Had Berthe been here, I would have been by the glass pieces, wide-eyed, pointing at them yet looking at her, "Oh my God, Berthe, what do we do? I just broke a jar." Then, she would have stood up from a chair she had been sitting in, walked to me and would have been like, "You need to calm down, A. It is just a jar. Everything would be alright."
I would have looked at her, sombrely, chewing on the insides of my mouth, "But, I am freaking out. Mr and Mrs Nethe would hate us forever. All the parents would hear about it and—"
She would have walked up to me, placed a hand on my shoulder with one of her heartwarming smiles on, then shut me up with a finger on my lips, "Everything would be alright. Just calm down, so we can figure out something together."
I got it! Calm down means deep breaths. One, inhale. Two, exhale. I closed my eyes and took in and out air. I did feel calmer and better.
Then she would have high-fived me and told me I had done great. But, I would have looked around and seen that everywhere was still how it was. I would have sat on the kitchen island, placed my chin on my hands and asked, "Now that I am all calmed down, what do we do next?" And, she would have gestured towards the broom by the cleaning cupboard, "Let us pick up the broken glasses and sweep the remnants to avoid the children getting injured."
I began sweeping all the pieces till it remained none. Then, I disposed of them in the rubbish bin. I picked up a tissue from the sink cabinet and cleaned up all chocolate smears from the ceramic floored tiles.
"Berthe, what next? Then, she would probably look at me and ask me to tuck the kids in while she washed the dishes."
Children. Right. If only I knew where they were. I looked around the kitchen and noticed the tap was still running, the catflap was unlocked, and the cupboards were flung open by me — when I had been trying to get the cereals for lunch while preventing Eric, with my legs, from touching the cooker. Could this day get any worse? Hopefully, they would still be in the house. I walked out of the kitchen and looked at every corner I turned up until I got to the stairs. Those children were not only handfuls, but they also loved scaring people because they taught it was fun; I had had enough of my share of scares for today.
"Eric, Nick, where are you?" I singsonged into the corridor.