After eating alone and putting a bowl aside, Shahrazad spent the evening at her table, her work spread out ahead of her, but mostly just staring into space. Tomorrow was market day, which meant she had to either take Tommy with her and have him hang around all day while she tried to sell some of her jewellery, or leave him here alone. And there was no possible way to keep him inside. Footsteps sounded outside the door and she glanced up, despite hearing that they were too heavy to be Tommy’s. She sighed and picked up a necklace which she’d been trying to thread for over half an hour. She kept getting lost in her thoughts and forgetting what she was supposed to be doing.
Finally, the door opened and Tommy walked in, looking at her sheepishly.
“Tommy! Don’t ever do that again!”
“Why?” said Tommy. “Tommy out always in big... bigger city before. I don’t want to stay inside!”
Shahrazad sat Tommy down on the sofa with her, hands on his shoulders, and waited until he looked up and met her eyes. Look, Tommy... I know you can look after yourself, and I know you’re bored stuck in here all the time, I do, and I wish I could let you do what you want. But it’s not the same here. It’s dangerous. You remember those bad men, don’t you, Tommy? The ones who came here?”
He nodded. “They willn’t catch Tommy!”
“I know you’ll be careful,” said Shahrazad. “But they could do, and we can’t take the risk. Because Tommy, they are looking for you. They want you.”
“Why bad men don’t want Tommy live here?”
“That’s not important. They are stupid, stupid men. And I promise you, I will not let them get to you. But you have to promise me that you will stay inside, okay?”
Tommy said nothing.
“Tommy, do you understand?”
“Do you promise me?”
He nodded again, the smallest jerk of his head.
She hugged him. “Thank you, Tommy. Now one day soon I will go to the park with you so you can go out. How does that sound?”
“We’ll go the park. Okay?”
“Good... Now come on, I’ve saved some dinner for you.”