The boy with the crusts


The little boy sits at the table. His long socks begin to wiggle out of position, tickling his calf shamelessly on the way down. He shifts slightly in his seat, not wanting to disturb the important people at the table. His mom glances over at him with a cautionary eye; she sees everything. It feels like forever, this tea arrangement, and he’s eaten all his toast; only crusts are left. He doesn’t like crusts. They’re dry and hard and cut into his soft checks and palate as he chews. Yuck! But his mom will know; she will see them there on his plate, ungratefully abandoned, and he will have to eat them. He doesn’t want to. The sock that was on its way down is now sagging at his ankle. He’d better pull it up. He does. A quick read of the room suggests no one’s noticing him. He takes the crusts, carefully and quietly. Still no one looking. What will he do with them? He glances to his left and then to his right and his eager eyes stumble over a black hole, brushing unobtrusively against his side—a gift from the gods. He sidles his hand over, intuitively casting a glance at the all-seeing mother, and drops the crusts into the pocket of the man’s jacket. He is an important man but…they’re crusts. It’s worth the risk.

Storyteller: Clare Paterson

Author: Andrea Zanin

Clare Paterson grew up in Durban but moved to Joburg in her twenties, and is currently teaching history at Saheti. Her three children and 10 grandchildren live in England; she misses them lots but enjoys visiting her family and jolling around London and the green pastures of the UK. 

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