This is for Sue Vincent’s Thursday Photo prompt.
The little girl backed out of the nursery with a frown on her face and shook her head.
“Go on, Dawn, have a look! This is the kind of playroom children had in the olden days.”
The child shook her head again. “Don’t like it.”
Her grandmother sighed in exaggerated exasperation and rolled her eyes for the benefit of Dawn’s mother. “I don’t know why you make such a fuss of her. You should have made her go with Tony to the zoo. She only says she doesn’t like to see animals in cages. All children like zoos.”
Dawn’s mother bristled. Her mother-in-law had been spoiling for a fight since she got into the car that morning. Since she and Darren had been married, come to that.
“Museums aren’t suitable for four-year-olds.” She ploughed on relentlessly. “You spoil her. I was only telling Darren this morning—”
“Fine. Come on Dawn, let’s go and see if we can find an ice cream somewhere.”
She took the child’s hand and turned on her heel. The older woman followed, her mouth pinched and puckered as if she’d been sucking lemons. Dawn looked back, just once, and narrowed her eyes. The doll in the cot stared back, coldly.
Later, when the last visitors had left, the gift shop was closed, and the hall locked up for the night, something stirred. Two cats, the mousers, prowled cautiously around the cafeteria area and hesitated at the bottom of the stairs. Fur bristled and bushed, and they slunk back into the smooth-tiled, plastic-chaired section, leaving the upper floors to the shadows.
In the nursery, a regular creak-creak began as the rocking horse swayed into movement. And from the bed in the far corner of the room, came the faint, hiccoughing sound of a child weeping.