|Excerpt from "Hitler And Mars Bars" - Chapter 3
Erich's nose dripped. He wiped it with his sleeve as he looked listlessly out of the window. At midday the dark, rainy sky cast a gloomy shadow over the sitting room. But he didn't really mind because his cold allowed him to spend the day home from school with Auntie Alice and Margaret. Rustlings and soft thuds came from the dining room as Auntie Alice dusted. Margaret sprawled on the floor in front of the fire, her nursery rhyme book open in front of her. She looked at a large goose wearing a white lacy bonnet.
"You don't know who that is," Margaret said, pointing to the goose on the page.
"Mutter Goose," Erich replied, glancing over from the window.
"It's not 'Mutter'! You can't talk properly!" Margaret said.
"Is Mutter Goose!" Erich insisted.
"You talk funny!"
"I-I-I talk g-g-good," Erich said, annoyance making him stutter more than usual.
"You talk funny! You talk funny!"
"S-S-Stop!" Erich shouted, tensing his jaw and glaring at her, as Margaret chanted the words.
Margaret closed the book, stood up and skipped to the dining room, chanting as she went, "Erich talks funny! Erich talks funny!"
"S-s-stop it!" Erich shouted, running after her. Aware that he sounded different to other children as he struggled to learn English, he was very sensitive about any teasing.
At the dining room doorway Margaret turned and stuck out her tongue, then ran to hide behind her mother, still chanting. Erich, fists clenched, followed close behind.
"Margaret, stop that. It's very bold," Aunt Alice said, not looking up.
Erich stopped at the doorway. An idea struck him and on impulse, he turned and scurried down the hall to the kitchen. Reaching into the drawer he pulled out a knife then raced back to the dining room with it grasped in his hand. Margaret stayed behind her mother, poking her head out to stick her tongue out again, still humming her chant.
"Margaret!" Auntie Alice admonished.
"I-I-I n-n-not like that!" Erich cried, glaring at Margaret.
"Margaret, did you not hear me? Stop teasing Erich," Auntie Alice ordered, continuing her dusting.
Margaret's chanting died away as Erich waved the knife. Auntie Alice glanced up, duster held in mid-air above the picture frame she was dusting, to see Erich standing with the knife clenched in his fist.
"Erich, what are you doing?" Auntie Alice said with a slight tremor, seeing the knife. Margaret clung to her mother.
"Erich, put down the knife," Auntie Alice said, her voice shaking noticeably as Erich inched closer, knife outstretched. Margaret looked up at her mother. Hearing the tremor in her mother's voice, she whimpered, tears rolling down her cheeks.
"N-n-no!" Erich replied, shoulders hunched and eyes blinking rapidly.
"Erich, I said put down the knife," Auntie Alice repeated, her voice still shaking. Erich watched them silently. Auntie Alice and Margaret stared back at him for what seemed like an hour. No one moved. Finally, under Auntie Alice's steady gaze, Erich set the knife on the table. He dropped his gaze to the floor, shoulders slumped.
"Erich, that was very bold. You can't attack people when they make you angry. You'll go to your room until Uncle Richard comes home from work. He'll decide your punishment." Auntie Alice spoke briskly, with only a hint of a tremor in her voice. "You were very bold too, Margaret. You may also go to your room."
Erich continued to stare at the floor. He didn't want to hurt Auntie Alice or Margaret; he liked them, especially Auntie Alice. He just didn't like to be teased. He didn't want Auntie Alice to be mad at him. He hadn't thought about the consequences before he grabbed the knife. Now he knew he was in trouble. Dejectedly, he went to his room.
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