When Original Bunn was about six months old, Old Spouse’s ex-wife (The HEX) took Che, his then 8 year-old daughter, kicking and screaming to Jan Smuts Airport to commence a new life in Canada. The legal agreement was that the little girl could visit us three times a year, which involved two days of exhausting travel for a child and a hefty Unaccompanied Minor plane fare for Old Spouse. The end result is an emotionally scarred nineteen year-old; but that is not the subject of this post.
On her first visit to us, Che brought OB a little mouse. This mouse, she explained, would watch over OB and keep her safe in the absence of her big sister (Blister) and would forever be the keeper of any secrets OB felt the need to share. I don’t know how she came by the name, but Che called the mouse Cromwell.
Cromwell has taken Che’s trust in him very seriously and has valiantly kept his beady little eyes on his Bunn, even staying up all night, every night; to make sure she never came to any harm.
Every night except one.
When we are in Cape Town, we try to walk on Glencairn Beach every evening, just before sunset. One day, when the Bunn was about four years old, we decided on a swim and left our sandals, towels and Cromwell up on a dune. (There were still dunes there!)
With the scurry of drying ourselves and rushing to cross the railway tracks before the train came; Cromwell was left behind and we only discovered his absence at bedtime. Oh! What a commotion! My child was inconsolable.
Imagine our surprise then, when we arrived at the beach the next day and there was old Crommie sitting exactly where we’d left him! Had our neighbours Alan & Di not been there to witness it, everyone would think we’d made the story up.
Cromwell is old and quite threadbare now, but he’s still unfailing in his loyal vigil. He goes to school tucked in a suitcase on special days like Sports Day, but for the most part he’s quite happy to nap on her bed and wait for her to get home so that they can play Simms or meditate together.
Che arrives for an extra long visit in a few days; she’s taking a gap year with a friend before starting university in Ontario and they will be staying and working in Simonstown. We’ve decided it’s a good idea to send Cromwell along to make sure she’s safe while they’re there. We’ll suggest they don’t take him along when they go to the beach.
First published on Letterdash, October 2008.