The Sighing Snowman

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Ink and Dimitri are out for a walk, after spending a few hours bored sitting indoors. It’s the weekend, the weather is cold and the two kids are thinking of building a snowman but where to do that exactly? It’s not that snow doesn’t cover most of the areas the two are stomping on, with their thick boots – the problem is more of where to place the snowman so that the carts and carriages passing by don’t think Ink and Dimitri are lunatics building a snowman on the side of the road reserved for walking.

Ink: I think if we could find a friendly farm or a valley, it would be alright. But I don’t know any, aside from my family’s farm of course.
Dimitri: I know a valley we can build a snowman on. It’s past the markets – maybe a twenty or thirty minutes walk from the corner curry shop will do.
Ink: Alright! Let’s go there then! That would be perfect.

Ink and Dimitri walk to the valley, passing by lots of busy folks out shopping in the markets or drinking in the village pubs. Ink thinks to herself that no one even cares that two kids are going to an empty valley on a weekend, which actually just suits her fine because she could use a more spacious environment outdoors than the one the weekend is currently letting her have. The valley is covered with snow, with broken fences feebly standing here and there, as well as the odd tree and twigs littering the very white landscape.

Ink: Can we start building the snowman? We can use some of the twigs for its arms…if there are fallen nuts or something maybe we can use them for the snowman’s eyes and the nose too.
Dimitri: Sure! I’ll start by gathering some of the snow for us…it will be easier that way to build it.
Ink: Yes! You do that while I rest from our long walk to get up here. In fact, I think I will just plop myself down on the snow and just I don’t know…talk for a few minutes at least, alright?
Dimitri: Sure! Anything up?
Ink: Nope!…I was just thinking about a lot of things lately. My neighbour came over last night and I overheard from the kitchen that her son is dying. He’s like a teenager and he’s got this incurable disease and she might have to move from Sheffield for it. She’s like actually not from this country…she came here from Guadeloupe.
Dimitri: Oh! Are you alright?
Ink: Me? Yeah, I’m alright! But why wouldn’t I be alright?…I don’t even know the woman – my mother and grandfather does. I have actually got no idea who she is.
Dimitri: I meant are you alright, as in, meeting the news of your neighbour’s son dying is not something small to handle, or something. So I was just concerned a wee bit.
Ink: Mmmm…
Dimitri: Why is that woman’s son dying? What kind of disease is this?
Ink: I am not sure because the woman didn’t share that much. I think she just dropped by to let my mother know something at least because that way my mother won’t wake up one day and find out that our neighbour is no longer there in the house next door, with no clue as to why. The woman use to even come up to our house to borrow sugar, every now and then, because she’s actually a war widow. Her husband was English, which is why she moved here to Sheffield but he died a very long time ago.
Dimitri: Oh!
Ink (sigh): I wish I had brought my dogs with me today. I didn’t get any chance to play with them yesterday because the woman was at our house for a visit. Even my mom was fretting she couldn’t take a look at the beehive she keeps in our farm. I think the bees are busy doing a winter cluster, or something like that.
Dimitri: Ah! Don’t worry about it. I’m sure you can play with your dogs after we get back.
Ink: You sure about that? What if the woman drops by again, you know her son’s really sick?
Dimitri (sigh): Alright! Just come here and help me with the snowman…I think I gathered too much snow than is needed.
Ink (sigh): Alright! Let’s build that snowman…be a good boy and get me some twigs, while I assemble the snow into a snowman.
Dimitri: Is it going to be a sighing snowman?
Ink: I think it might be, as soon as you get me those twigs.


Ink’s ‘My Diary’

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Ink is sitting in her home’s living room, with a brand new journal, whilst her Rottweiler is fast asleep next to her couch. Ink’s planning on keeping the journal as a diary – it’s almost the end of the year and not the perfect time to start writing a diary to Ink, but she’s convinced it’s going to be the best idea in the whole world. The diary is a simple yellow alligator-skin notebook, with lined pages, and it’s got ‘1800’ – the year, inscribed on it, with golden letters; the journal was a gift from her grandfather, this winter.

It’s an unusually hot winter’s day, with no wind in sight and the only good thing about the sunshine today is that it has managed to clear up most of the snow, from the past couple of days, which was making it difficult for villagers to walk around town. To Ink, her house seems less packed than usual even though Mother is busy talking to her grandfather and cooking in the kitchen – it’s one of the many thoughts she’s having whilst trying to figure out something to write in her new diary.

Twenty minutes later, Ink writes a whole page in her diary…

Dear Diary,

I am Ink Williams. I am a student in school. Well, boarding school. And I am here, at home, for the holidays. It’s not even the holidays, if truth be told, because yesterday, I had winter school. This is inbetween getting privately tutored. I needed to go to winter school because I am weak in Geography. If they taught me more about maps, maybe I would find the subject more interesting but they don’t. It’s most of the time about Africa and it’s not even South Africa, which I find really fascinating. I think it’s the worst subject I have to learn sometimes but I’ve still got to learn it. Also, I got the chance to eat a vegetable roll during lunch break in school, recently and I thought it was the oiliest and tastiest thing in the world – my best friend, Dimitri, shared it with me, from his lunch box. Normally, all I eat are bland egg sandwiches and although I really love to have eggs for lunch, it’s nice to have fried food to eat, once in a while. I felt it was the sneakiest moment ever but it was really, really worth it. Then I came back home, after stopping by Dimitri’s house for a quick bite to eat and did nothing but read about African geography because I have a test coming up on it. I spent most of the hours, glass-eyed and daydreaming about riding a magic broomstick, like a young witch, with a cute black cat for company, and now I am afraid I will not do very good in the test because I barely learnt anything at all. I also read a good book, before going to bed: it was a short story on two pigs, but they can talk and they have got some very amazing observations on a farmyard full of animals. It’s also where they live and the farm is a very fun-filled place, filled with hay, sunshine and noisy animals. That’s it. That was all I did. Wait, till everything becomes a lot more interesting!


Ink Williams

It’s One Of Those Days

Ink and Dimitri are sitting next to each other in special school today. They have had a change of seats suddenly to accommodate some exchange students coming in from York. Ink is busy scribbling on her notepad whatever that is coming to her mind, and she’s very absentminded in Geography. She has no clue what the teacher is talking about and can barely make out blurry shapes of her classmates seated all around her in their school uniforms of oxford blue and white. After doodling one too many flowers, which are smiling at the sunshine, whilst a teddy bear rides a rainbow in a heavy snowstorm, Dimitri pokes Ink with his thumb.

Ink (taken aback and loudly): What? Don’t disturb me.
Dimitri (whispers): I’m sorry. But what are you doodling? I’m really bored too.
Ink (whispers): Nothing interesting.
Dimitri (whispers): Come on! Let me have a look!
Ink (whispers): No! And be quiet! I don’t want the teacher to think I’m talking to another student when class is happening!

Thirty minutes later…

Ink and Dimitri are at the cafeteria, sharing their lunchboxes. Ink has brought three egg sandwiches and has swapped one of them for Dimitri’s very large vegetable rolls.

Ink (munching on the vegetable roll): Oh! I am not supposed to eat this much. I am on a diet. But I can’t resist the look of the oily vegetable roll.
Dimitri: Oh! Go on! Mother will throw a fit if she ever finds out I ate eggs for lunch.
Ink: Why? Does she think your porky?
Dimitri: Porky’s my middle name. What’s yours?
Ink: Lazy. And I hate it.
Dimitri: I like it.
Ink (annoyed): WHAT?
Dimitri: No, I mean lazy’s not a bad nick name.
Ink: Sure!
Dimitri: I mean it! Lazy’s so much better than porky.
Ink: I suppose it is, yeah!

Three hours later…

Dimitri and Ink are spending their late afternoon with each other in the former’s house. They have only got cheese sandwiches, Dimitri’s pet rabbit, Shoomuchos, and each other for company.

Ink: Oh! Look at Shoomuchos’ whiskers! He’s a really cute and grumpy looking rabbit.
Dimitri: He is. And he keeps me in great company during evenings.
Ink: Just like how my dogs keep me company?
Dimitri: Just like that…had to do a lot of talking to get my mother to get me Shoomuchos.
Ink: Really? We are more alike than I thought.
Dimitri: I like that we are alike…that’s the point of a best friend.
Ink (smiles): ……Dimitri…do you know what happened to the woman from the Rogers family who eloped?
Dimitri: I didn’t hear much from my living room window. But I think the lady’s called Caroline, and she’s never coming back.
Ink: Why?
Dimitri: Because her parents never accepted her husband. I think she finds that her parents are not understanding of this big decision she’s taken in her life.
Ink: But it’s not the right decision?
Dimtri: Oh! What do I know? It’s just village gossip. If luck will have its way as it usually does with me, we’ll never find out anything further than that.

Mud and Ice

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When the first drops of rain falls in winter, the feeling you get from it is hard to pin down. Ink , sitting on her very broad (and brown) window pane discovers she has always enjoyed the rain. It’s one of her favourite things in Sheffield, besides of course stories of ‘The Great War’. In the Williams household, war stories are huge. It’s almost as if everyday there is a new story to tell of a war, which feels so long ago to her. Smiling at the thought, Ink notices that a bright ray of sunshine has suddenly taken over the skies following the rain. It’s one of those aftereffects of a weather downpour she absolutely detests but sunshine is often rare in winter, and it reminds her if she can ask her mother to go to the grocery store now, instead of in the evening when she really wants to reserve some time for learning.

At the kitchen…

Mother Williams: I am certain you can. What do you want to get for yourself?
Ink: Apples and chicken.
Mother Williams: We need a loaf of bread, bell peppers and some sugar. But that seems like a lot to carry. Why don’t you ask the butler to accompany you?
Ink: Sure! Anything else?
Mother Williams: No, I think that’s it.

Trodding on muddy ground littered with snow speckles, Sebastian (the middle-aged butler in the Williams household) and Ink Williams are trying to get to the grocery store.

Sebastian: Master, how can you even walk today? Even wearing the right shoes won’t help. It’s muddy every few feet for the roads, and…
Ink: Icy sheets on the pavements everywhere.
Sebastian: Yes, that’s why we should go back.
Ink: But I really need chicken for tonight. I have got absolutely nothing in the fridge apart from cheese and leftover toasties. Try to keep up!
Sebastian: Oh…

When Ink and her butler reach the grocery store, it’s packed.

Sebastian (glancing at the crowd): Well, this is just ridiculous!
Ink: I know. Why does everyone have to be out today? It’s not even the weekend.
Sebastian: Maybe they got fresh produce?
Ink: I hope. Although, I am not really buying much.
Sebastian: Maybe you should.
Ink:…I could use some bell peppers of my own.
Sebastian: Alright, Ink, let’s walk to buy apples. Lord save the Queen!

Two hours and two pairs of muddy trousers later…

Sebastian: Master, do you have everything you need?
Ink: Yes, I do!
Sebastian: Well, then let’s head right back home. Our trousers are muddy as it is.
Ink: I think I overheard some neighbourhood gossip while shopping.
Sebastian: What did you hear?
Ink: A young maiden has eloped and her family is in deep shame (and a lot of tears) for it because he is a good-for-nothing.
Sebastian: Am I hearing this right? You actually heard of a story like that?
Ink: Yes. Why?
Sebastian: Well, people ought to know better than to air their shameless dirty laundry in the air like that, when children are about at the grocer’s too, don’t you think?
Ink: So what if I heard it? Don’t you think it makes me wiser?
Sebastian: Tales like that?
Ink: Sure. I now know there are kinds of women who elope with idiots.
Sebastian: Wow! You do?…and what family is this?
Ink: The Rogers. They live close to where Dimitri does. Oh! Maybe he knows about it too. I can’t wait to ask him if actually saw anything up close.

A Cold Winter

It is a fine dewy morning in Sheffield. The town is completely covered with the aftereffects of heavy snowfall. As you tread on the soft snow, you can sight that the town is slowly waking up. Villagers are rummaging around shops, schools and parks, as the elders of the town, which mostly populate it are busy picking up their morning newspapers from their doorsteps.
Ever since “The Great War”, Sheffield has been somewhat of a quiet town, which is surprising because most major towns in England are the busiest in the country. One family, who lives in a thatched house close to the village markets and many farms, are the Williams. The Williams are a family of three – Grandfather Williams, Mother Williams and Ink Williams. The family also own a farm, where they regularly reap very good harvest, and have a hive of bees from which honey is produced – the honey and the farm harvest is both for the family, and the markets, to sell; Ink Williams has an Afghan Hound, a Rottweiler, and a Bernese Mountain Dog of her own as pets.
The Williams family has lived in Sheffield for generations, and their house is pretty popular in Sheffield because it is nestled between the many farms and village markets. It is the year 1800. Ink Williams spends most of her time in boarding school or getting privately tutored because unlike most young girls in England, Ink is from an aristocratic family. Aside from Ink, all girls her age in Sheffield spend all day either preparing to get married, working in the village markets, or helping out with farming instead. Like Ink, they do not learn and do not have to worry about getting educated, getting the top grades and excelling in school activities – Ink thinks her days spent getting schooled is very boring and exhausting. Still, she manages to convince herself that all this hard work is worth it…
Ink: So many French words! I am not even ever ending up in Paris!
Tutor: Revise!
Ink: Can I go home?
Tutor: No! Revise!
On the other side of town, some hours later, Matthew, Ink, Dimitri and Andrew are at a cricket game thrown by their schools.
Matthew: I think the game is going to go great! You all think the same?
Ink: Maybe!
Dimitri: Ink, how are you going to get home! You don’t have your carriage with you?
Andrew: Why don’t you walk with her, you hippo?
Dimitri: I am not a hippo!!!!!!!!!!
Ink: Come to think of it…I might actually do that instead of joining the three of you later! How long is the game going to be?
Matthew: At least, two hours long…
Dimitri and Andrew have broken up from the conversation and are trying to clobber each other, with their shoes. Ink tries to break the fight up but it’s not until the whistle blows singalling the start of the match, when the two stop fighting.
Dimitri: Ink…are you alright?
Ink: I am fine! Why?
Dimitri: Do you think I have put on weight?
Ink: No! You still look slender to me!
Dimitri: Oh!
Andrew: Cricket is so boring!
Matthew: Then why are you watching it?
Andrew: What is it with you? I can do what I want!
After the game, Dimitri and Ink walk back home together. Ink has known Dimitri since she was 11 years old. Dimitri lives with most other kids in a Sheffield neighbourhood that has a church of its own. It is about a half-hour walk away from Ink’s home; Ink’s family and Dimitri’s family, which consists of his mother and an uncle, from his mother’s side, are good friends.
Ink: The scarecrow in our farm can never manage to scare the crows away!
Dimitri: That useless thing! I think ours look like a clown!