"Tell us another one, Mama!" Mia, Mrs Ryder's youngest daughter urged.
"Yeah!" Sarah joined. "I love your stories! They're really magical!" she squealed.
Mama tutted. "Girls, you have school tomorrow, one story is enough."
"Please, it doesn't have to be about fairytales. It can be about...about, your village life when you were a kid!" Sarah cried, her eyes glinting.
Mrs Ryder turned ghastly and pale. "Who told you that I lived in a village?" she choked.
Sarah shrugged merely. "I heard you and Papa talk in the room."
Mama stood up abruptly. "Sarah, didn't I tell you that it's bad to eavesdrop?" she said sharply.
Sarah stooped her head down, low. "I'm sorry Mama. But, can you tell us? I heard that your life was sad."
Mia nodded. "I love sad stories!" she smiled eagerly.
Mama swallowed and her face turned sheet white. She shook her head quickly and her lips turned dry and pale baby pink. She planted a swift kiss on the girls' heads and stood abruptly. "Uhh, I just remembered, I have some laptop work to do sweeties, goodnight." she forced a smile and swept off hastily out of the room.
"But, I wanted to hear that story." Sarah wailed.
Mia nodded. "Me too."
They pushed the door quietly and peeked outside. "Mama isn't doing laptop work!" Mia gasped, spotting Mama in the hall. She was pushing her forehead with her fingers.
They could hear her tell Papa that she had a headache and she was going to sleep early.
Just then, Papa pushed in the door gently, "Are you sleeping? Your mother asked me to check in on you,"
"Why won't Mama tell us her village story?" Sarah wailed.
Papa straightened and coughed. "It's probably for reasons, that Mama won't tell you now honey, but all I can tell you is that Mama's village was cruel to her. Her parents died when she was young and she was brought up by a cruel aunt who starved her. Mama has bad memories of that place, and she doesn't like to talk about it." Papa explained gently.
"Like Cinderella!" Mia cried.
Papa smiled. "Like Cinderella," he repeated.
Sarah's grin widened up. "Papa, I have an idea! Let's take Mama back to her village."
Papa frowned at Sarah. "That's what she doesn't want honey, she fears that the village might bring her unwanted memories. Mama is trying to forget her village." Papa explained, cuddling close to his daughters.
Sarah shook her head. "We need to make Mama overcome her fear!" she declared.
Papa's eyes brightened and he jolted up. "Wonderful idea honey! Let's make a plan!"
Sarah and Mia grinned and clapped hands eagerly and excitedly.
"Tomorrow, when I pick you girls up from school, I will call Mama along too. Then, we can take her to her village. We'll walk her through the village and make her see that she no longer has nothing to fear. We'll hold her hand and support her."
Sarah nodded. "Yeah! Sounds like a good plan!"
Mia grinned. "Hopefully it goes well."
Papa and the girls shone hopefully and prayed everything would go well the next day.
The two girls were picked up from school by Papa's big green jeep. Mama remained in the front seat, seeming pleased but confused.
"I still don't understand where you are taking us, Arnold." she sighed.
"You'll see." Papa grinned. He spun around and winked swiftly at the girls who smiled back.
All three of them prayed their plan would work and run smoothly.
Mama pulled out a box full of cookies. "Here, have some. I knew you would be hungry." she smiled warmly as the two of them pounced hungrily on the box.
As the car drew to a corner, the GPS said that they had started to near their destination and it started to seem quite familiar to Mama.
Mama's brightened face turned pale and her cheeks were white. She gazed at shock as the jeep pulled up onto a corner and Papa parked his car.
"Arnold," she uttered sharply, stuck to her seat. "Arnold, what is this place?"
Papa smiled and took Mama down by a hand. "It's your village."
Mama swallowed and the tears begin to trek down her face. "Why?" she whispered into his face.
Sarah and Mia squeezed her hands tightly as they begin to walk to the village. It seemed ancient and in ruins. The houses were scarcely alive but the plantations grew wide and remained fruitful.
"I - can't." Mama hissed as they neared the village. They halted and glanced at Mama. She was close to tears now. Papa shook his head.
"You can Lorainne, those evil folks aren't here anymore, it's not scary anymore."
"Arnold, you and the girls don't understand! There were memories, memories that were hard to forget! Memories that I worked on for years to try to junk it out of my mind! And coming here brings them all back! I don't need those anymore! I've got a happy life, I don't need to be reminded of my childhood! It was ghastly and you're not doing a favour by bringing them back!" Mama sobbed as she abandoned her husband's hands, and ran along the road, burying her face into her knobbly arms.
Papa and the girls sprinted after Mama. She looked messy and her hair was wisped up into a messy bun. She was breathing like a bee buzzing and she clutched her chest, her face soaked in tears. "I'm so sorry...but I just can't," she wept.
Papa looked at Mama. "I guess that those were really scary memories that were hard to forget."
Mama nodded, suppressing her sobs. "I was beaten every day, my only grandfather died and my sister and I were separated from each other. We never saw each other ever again. I can't tell you how much that village sparked off that memory. Those were broken memories, and nothing can ever heal them." she declared, shuddering.
Sarah and Mia sighed grimly. "I guess we failed." they groaned.
"Yeah," Papa muttered.
"Well, now we know we can't fix them. They're broken. Broken memories."