General Fiction posted December 26, 2019

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The water has cured Ben

Water chapter 13

by Mabaker

Being closer to three weeks than a fortnight, we'd not been to town when Raymond suggested a shopping trip.

We arrived at the supermarket, and I observed a small crowd of women shoppers discussing an item, they peered at through the window.
And I noticed Pat, with a small boy standing at her side. With honest surprise we saw it was Ben, but not as I had seen him the times before. Today there wasn't a stroller in sight, and the child clasped his mother's hand confidently. His blond hair fluffed by the breeze. 

Some folk claim strange events are Heaven sent. Perhaps, however I respond with, 'insufficient evidence,' but this time that wouldn't have been accurate. As I knew who the receptor was and more importantly... why.

'Anne, Raymond! I am so pleased you are here today, look at Ben, isn't it magic!'
And it sure looked as if some magician had waved a wand, and the child had responded.
'Hello, Ben. My what a big boy you are. I'm Aunty Anne and this is Uncle Raymond.'
The child gazing at us responded polity, 'Hello Aunty Anne,' then holding out his hand towards Raymond saying, 'Uncle Raymond may I walk with you?'

Raymond smiled and with a head nod to Pat informed her gravely, 'Ben and I are going to the Bank. Okay?' And away they went, leaving Pat and myself staring after them 
 'Pat whatever happened. I know it's been a while but Ben was in a stroller, and today he is walking and talking as any intelligent six years old.'

'I'm unsure Anne. Nothing in his life has changed, just one morning a couple of weeks ago, he called out to me. ' She paused, then looking embarrassed said, 'like that bloke you see on the television, you know, that evangelist Gentle Lamb, or whatever he calls himself. And his 'laying on of hands, where people fall backwards and are cured of whatever.'
 I turned the conversation into safer channels by telling her of my fridge and stove.
'Gee how did you manage without a stove? Fridge might be okay to go without but a stove!' She looked at me. 'I can see Ben and you're hubby coming. I'm going to the Orphanage this arvo, I'd best be getting on,� 
'What Orphanage,� Pat, ' I asked full of curiosity.

'Haven't� you heard of it.�  Oh, well, It's an orphanage for young boys.� � It's called 'Safe Haven'. Lots of little kids from newborn to age four and boys who aren't wanted get put in there.

� � She paused, then shocked me by,� placing a finger to her lips she whispered, ' I was supposed to put Ben there. The Sister at the hospital where I had him told me she could tell he wasn't 'all there,'. Once his father heard that he told me to get rid of the 'mental case.' 
He got so angry he belted me, to make me, but I wouldn't. Some blokes from the town got holda' him and belted him something' fierce. It's called Safe Haven Boys Orphanage.
Pausing for a second, she continued. 'It's a spooky place all these kiddies sitting in a big sandpit silent as stones. You see Anne some can't talk but the ones who can be punished if they talk or cry. Also, they have a large part as a hospital.

She stood reflective for a moment or two, then said,
'Some ladies go out once a month and take cakes and clothes for the kids.' She had tears in her eyes as she said, 'but none of the parents who put their baby or toddler in that place, visit.'
We talked for another five minutes until Raymond with Ben clutching his much larger finger came up and Pat bid us 'Good-Bye
When we finished our shopping, we strolled to the second-hand shop run by a church group to see what they had.
Raymond needed some jeans, for yard work while I too needed a coat for working outside
We prowled the aisles and shortly both of our needs were met.
These shops run by volunteers are so important and a  small donation they sell high-class garments. Completely sated we headed home. 

Throughout the nighttime meal preparation, the cooking and eating it, my mind swirled with the story Pat had told me. Unable to remain quiet any longer, I told Raymond all about this place called 'Safe Haven.'

Once I finished speaking, we sat looking at each other when Raymond asked, 'What happens to the kids? Is there an age bracket? And, if so, what happens as they get older. I mean common sense tells us the carers don't just push them out the gates, at age five. So what does happen.' 
We were tired enough to sleep standing up, and once we had a basin bath, we switched the jenny off and retired to bed.
I whispered 'good night' and I mumbled something like 'having a plan'.
 I took my first ever tray of golden cupcakes out of the oven and slid them onto some folded newspaper. As the sound of Cliffs ute rumbled up the driveway. I put more wood in the firebox, pulled the kettle into the centre of the stove. As Cliff walked ahead of Raymond into the kitchen.
'I have an interesting item for you Anne, want to come take a look?'

The two men wandered along talking as I headed for the truck, both grinned when I gasped. There in all its glory was a sink, and no cheap imitation, but a deep older model made from porcelain over cast iron. The wooden draining board so faded to almost white.
Also, a framework that� I did not understand, so I stared confused, before asking Cliff  

'What's the frame for?' 
'Okay, Anne, what were you going to set your sink into. I suppose Raymond and I could've held it up while you washed the pots and pans. I reckon it will be easier if we fit it to the frame.'
Then without any look of apology, he turned to Raymond, saying,
'Couple 'o blokes coming in a tic. One's a plumber and he has a couple 'o lads to dig the trench.'

The sound of a motor was� heard and a double cab truck pulled in behind Cliff's ute. They flung doors open and four men jumped down.
I remembered something and� headed inside. Out came my mixing bowl, and I began baking. When the men entered the table loaded. with three trays of cupcakes and a square chocolate cake all sat at one end of the table cooling. I spread a net over the top in case someone took a fancy to them.

I also located seven mugs, though not all matching, but they would hold tea or coffee.� � The cold milk was in the fridge.
The men washed their hands, and I kept busy making tea and coffee and refilling the kettle.� 
Once everyone was about to leave the youngest working lad presented me with a box of chocolates.� � 
Wow. A sink and a box of candy. I felt like a Queen.� 
Three hours later, I was the proud owner of a kitchen sink. Yea! A rubber pipe from the sink to a trench lined with terracotta pipes to take away the wastewater.� � 
I put my new sink through its paces and it came up tops. There was a tap but not connected. As the only water was in the tank. Plus, the well water we kept in a bucket for everyday use.
I heated the water on the stove then tipped into my sink.

It was at that point Raymond walked in and stood by the sink arms folded and eyes non-committal.
'Okay, Anne, you've had sufficient time to work this plan you reckon you have and let's see if two heads can work something out. '� 
'Raymond, one thing Pat did mention, that the boys in the hospital are mostly non-verbal, special needs kids. She also spoke of two aged spinster sisters who used to take kids out on weekend passes. And how later, adopted two of the boys. '
Raymond picked up a tea towel and dried the dishes as I placed them on the draining board. Then he asked questions.

'How would the boys in the hospital be easier to give the water?
Holding a jug in one hand, he looked a bit perplexed.� 
'How do you intend giving it? Being non-verbal how are you going to work it.'
I turned and faced my husband saying softly, 'We were made Guardians of the water for a reason. We weren't given an explanation, only examples, of its power. Ourselves, Mitten� ...and Ben.� 
The water will guide us in whichever way it wants us to proceed. Let's wait and be ready.'
To Be Continued.

Meeting Pat in town with a cured little boy, Anne hears of another place that needs help
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