"What did you just do?"
"I said...what did you just do?" The look in her eyes showed that she was not happy at something.
He looked perplexed and confused. Clearly she felt that he had done something unacceptable. He looked around...confused, searching for a satisfactory answer.
"I don't er...." he stammered. He wanted to give the 'right' answer as her disapproval upset him so much.
Her gaze remained fixed on his face, an eyebrow raised in expectation of a childish response or excuse as he turned back to face her.
"I don't know Mummy. I haven't done anything . I don't think."
"Well, you are right about that anyway! You don't think do you?" she paused. "Where is the sweetie wrapper that you had?" she asked, her patience clearly wearing thin at his lack of adequate response.
The realisation of what she was referring to suddenly dawned on him. He inhaled anxiously, fearing her anticipated reaction to what he had inadvertently done.
"..I think I dropped it Mummy. I think it fell on the floor under my seat."
Her eyes widened with annoyance. She was oblivious to the rest of the audience around them waiting for the show to begin.
Her voice remained calm but terse. "I think you need to pick it up then don't you?" she asked rhetorically.
"But it's all chocolatey Mummy and I didn't want to get it on my hands and my best clothes because they're just new."
"And what has Mummy always taught you to do with sweetie papers?" she asked patiently.
"Give them to......" his voice trailed off to a mumble as he became aware that their dialogue was being overheard by others who were sitting adjacent to them.
"What did you say? Speak clearly so Mummy can hear you!" she snapped.
"I have to give them to Mummy to put in her pocket to take home."
"Because good little boys do not make a mess and drop sweetie papers." This time his reply had been clear and seemed to have been learnt by rote.
"That's right!" she said. "Good little boys do NOT drop their sweetie papers on the ground. People will think that you have no manners at all! Now find it and pick it up. Do it now!"
As he stood up, the seat cushion sprang noisily up behind him, signalling his movement to everyone around him.
He lowered his eyes to the darkened floor, struggling to see the compacted silver ball of foil that had once contained his sweetie treat. His heart sank when he saw that it had rolled the distance of two seats away and was nestling close to the shiny, leather booted heels of a young woman in her mid 20's, who had been watching and listening intently to his telling off.
He inhaled deeply and raised his eyes to look at her, realising she was already fully aware of his childish search.
"Excuse me," he said hesitantly, "...I wonder if you would mind if I picked up something I dropped that's rolled beside your foot?"
She smiled kindly and replied, "You mean your sweetie paper?"
He blushed as he realised that she was fully aware of the dialogue between him and his Mummy.
The lady looked directly at him and indicated casually with her hand that he should get it.
Awkwardly he manouevered himself downwards to retrieve the wrapper. He instantly felt the smooth gooey consistency of the chocolate which had prompted him to drop it in the first place. He grimaced as he gripped it between his thumb and forefinger.
He stood up and half smiled his gratitude at the lady who smirked openly at his behaviour.
He turned back to his seat, holding out the shiny, reflective paper to his Mummy which she took into her outstretched hand.
"Now sit down and be still...and don't you EVER do that again! Do you hear me?"
"Yes Mummy. I'm sorry."
"I should think so!" his wife replied with a poorly hidden smile of satisfaction.
Copyright Colin Milton 2011