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About the author:
Kwan Chak Tang lives in the Netherlands. Before he started writing book stories, had a graduate secondary school degree in a mechanic from MBO Amersfoort. He has always dreamed of how to develop children well with his book story.
Here is a short sample from the book:
CHAPTER ONE: A PERFECT PICTURE
Lilian and Kelvin,
10 March 1942
EARLY REQUEST FOR A DAY OFF ON THE 21ST OF MARCH
Hi Mom. As the heading reads, we are requesting that you take a day off on the 21st of March. This early notification is to avoid what happened on your last birthday – you were abruptly called to the hospital – which ruined all our plans. You already know that we are planning something for that day and we would definitely not forgive any disturbance that day. We are committed to creating our own paradise, which includes you.
Chelsea closed her eyes for a moment as if in reflection of what she had just read. Behind her, Benedict noisily gulped water from a cylindrical glass cup. He placed one hand on her shoulder and squeezed it gently – he finished the water and sat across from Chelsea. She seemed like she was about to break down in tears. He peered closely at her shut eyes and brought his head even closer. “I’m not going to cry,” Chelsea said, finally opening her eyes. She glanced at Benedict’s lips and caressed them with one thumb. “These kids are innocent,” she said as she returned Benedict’s intense gaze. He gave a slow nod and rubbed one of her thighs. “What will you do?” he asked and his eyes said he was ready to help. Chelsea rose from her seat. “I am due for furlough in five days after which I’d have to wait another week before I get another one,” she paused. “And if we calculate the interval between today and D-day, you’ve got only eleven days,” Benedict said. “Yes, I’ve got only 11 days,” Chelsea said as she buried her face in one palm.
Benedict, the man who has been with her all this time, appears behind her and squeezes her tender shoulders again. As they remain in silence, the soft music playing on the music box meters away becomes more audible. It played Tom Gerum and His Orchestra’s A Big Bouquet for You oblivious of the dampened spirits of its owners. A screeching sound suddenly occurs outside. Chelsea retreats into an inner chamber while Benedict steals behind the largest windowpane in the room and peeps out the street. A military van has just entered the bend that opens up the house they lived in.
Benedicts bites his lower lip as he watches a blonde emerge from the noisy vehicle and scan some papers. The lady looks familiar and he suddenly remembers she was there two days ago. It was the same lady the district brigader had sent two days ago to convince him to give up his factory to the army and receive compensation. His cheeks became red when he saw her approach the door and raise a fist. He snatched away from where he was and half marched downstairs. He wondered when they would give up.
He flung the doors open and glared at the blonde. “I thought I made my decision clear,” he said, plucking her chance to speak first. The blonde looked dazed by Benedict’s harsh demeanor. She checked her composure and bowed in respect. Benedict rolled his eyes. “I come to deliver merchandise,” the blonde said, her eyes lowered. She stretched a flat envelope balanced carefully on her palms. Benedict raised an eyebrow and signaled for her to open it herself. She did and fished out a thin white sheet from it. He collected the slip from her and checked her out from the corner of his eye.
The note said this blonde was to serve as his and his family’s guard as the war progressed. It was a little token of appreciation to him for “helping the cause with supplies.” Benedict swallowed hard. The idea of having a guard was not ugly but he doubted the blonde could deliver on her duties. He decided to send her back but slipped the note into the only pocket on his coat and instructed the blonde to return by evening. He would discuss the matter with his family first.
When the van disappeared from his sight, Benedict closed one eye and sighed. He had forgotten to ask for her name. He turned to return to Chelsea when a familiar voice called out to him. He turned to see his neighbor returning from a walk. A mean-looking but friendly puppy waltzed ahead of him. Benedict’s cheeks widened in a large smile. He closed the doors behind him and walked over to the new man. Manny, as he was known, was a 65-year-old neighbor of Benedict. The two had been neighbors for many years now and had developed a strong bond in friendship. Benedict embraced Manny tightly. “Mrs. Manny said you’d be back on Sunday,” Benedict said while steadying Manny. “That’s what I thought too but I’m back buddy,” Manny all smiled. “Well, better early than late?” Benedict gave a mischievous grin that threw Manny’s head back in laughter. When the company had stopped laughing, Manny pointed toward the direction of the van that just left, ‘what did they want?” He asked, wearing a concerned look. “It’s nothing Manny, nothing that should have you standing outside in the cold right now,” he paused and finally took his hands off, Manny. “Come on in and have tea with us, Chelsea would be ecstatic to see you,” he said and collected the leash from Manny. The company strode into Benedict’s while laughing at something Manny whispered when he pointed to his own house.
…Still falls the Rain
With a sound like the pulse of the heart that is changed to the hammer-beat
In the Potter’s Field, and the sound of the impious feet…
"I think that's enough Manny," Mrs. Manny said as she placed her spectacles on the wooden counter. "Aww, come on honey, this is the last one," Manny said smiling sheepishly at his wife. She ignored him and signaled to the young boy who was just reading a poem to Manny for him to take his leave. "Aww, come on honey," Manny pleaded again. "You've listened to that poem 80 times. "It's a new poem, it's not old at all. I need to know every word of it. Feel it…." "Oh, Manny, you will do that later, I need to have my tea in peace," Mrs. Manny said as she waved at him to keep quiet.
Chelsea appeared from behind the counter with a steaming tray of pancakes. She smiled at Manny who looked all humbled and innocent after his wife scolded him. She glanced at the wall clock meters ahead and called out to Benedict. She was about to call a second time when he appeared from without. "What happened?" She looked puzzled at him. "I had to make sure I got the pack of steaks Manny likes," he said, bending in for a kiss.
Manny received life again upon hearing that. "Steak?" he said with extra energy. "You got steaks for me?" he said, stretching out his arms for Benedict. While Manny amused Benedict with his reasons for loving steaks, the young boy from before and another young girl appeared from a door that led to the lobby. The boy had a large carton box in one hand and the closest one could guess to knowing what was in it was that it was a music box. Chelsea reached for the two of them in a tight embrace.