"It was a work accident," said the man on the phone in the kitchen, playing with the reciever between his beefy fingers.
"Tragic. Ida's not herself," said another woman, positioned carefully on the couch with her cell phone.
"The girl? Oh yes, one child, a daughter...oh of course you know her, Mr. Brocke, but she doesn't seem to understand...oh yes, I see, with you? You and Ellie? Well yes, of course...Ida may want her here, but we'll definitely consider..." The man turned towards Kariya and looked at her down the end of his long nose. "It would be a great help to us," he added finally, and she glanced away.
"Kari..." The woman in the living room let her cell phone drop and spread her large arms across the sofa. "Come sit with Auntie Tara, darling." She reached down and pulled Kariya's tiny body into her large lap, and Kariya had the feeling of being coddled by a very tame grizzly bear. "Do you know when you were small," the woman continued, "You used to call me Tar-tar? Would you still like to call me Tar-tar?"
Kariya blinked, and tried desperately to remember where she had seen this woman before. "No thank you," she whimpered finally, and subjected herself to the tight hugs of her Auntie. She wanted her mother, really. No, it was her father, she decided, that she really wanted, but somehow she decided not to ask for him now. Not in front of that sharp-nosed man and this bouncing woman. Maybe later, when Mama came back.
"The sweetheart," Auntie Tara cooed, patting the heads of both Kariya and her little pink rabbit. "Sweetie pie, baby cakes, Kari-Tari, do you want to go on a little trip with Auntie Tara? To see some nice friends?"
"N-no...Auntie..." Kariya squirmed, and managed to slide off the sofa and onto the floor. "I want Mama, please."
The woman began to cry, and held out her arms again to the little girl, who backed against the wall. "Oh, the angel, the sweet baby, the poor darling," she sobbed. "Brucie, did you hear this little girl? The young thing wants her Mama," and she buried her nose in a white hankercheif.
"Or my Daddy please," Kariya murmered, slightly alarmed.