The Tale of Woe - Chapter 2 - The Wilkins

From the outside, the Wilkins seemed like the perfect parents. Julie Wilkins was a scientist for the Queen of Woe's world and as such didn't believe in naïve suppositions surrounding names. Jonah Wilkins ran several charities (and he'd only be too happy to tell you about the good work he was doing).
      “Well, just wait till the club hears about this bundle of joy we now own,” said Jonah happily as they signed some papers in Mother Dorothy's office. Sister Mary bristled at his choice of words but bit her tongue, not wanting to jeopardise Woe's chance at a happy family.
“And wait till they hear his name. I bet none of them would be so enlightened as to adopt a child with such an ominous-sounding name,” replied Julie.
      The Wilkins didn't own a farm. In fact, they lived in the town of Hampty (“Town is where all good, civilised people live,” Julie told Woe.) Almost immediately Woe hated living with the Wilkins. For one, they had no sense of humour and often treated him poorly. They would make him cook and clean for them, yet kept telling him he was very lucky to have them. He didn't think so.
One day when Woe had finished doing the washing up, Julie Wilkins came up to him excited.
“Theodore Russell is in town tomorrow and I've got an appointment for you!”
“Who is Theodore Russell, mum?” Woe asked.
“You don't need to call me mum when no one's around. Call me Mrs Wilkins,” she said before adding, “And Theodore Russell is one of the most respected spotters in the land.”
      In Woe's world there were no schools. Now before you get too jealous, that isn't to say there wasn't an education system. In place of schools, there were spotters. Traditionally around a child's 7th birthday a spotter would spend a day interacting with and observing the child to determine what their future career should be. From that day on instead of school, children were trained in the ways of their future profession.
      Theodore Russell was a large man with a beard that covered much his face and bushy eyebrows that covered just about the only area the beard didn't.
After running a series of tests, Theodore moved onto the final section of the assessment – ink-blot cards. On each card there was a vague shape and Theodore would ask Woe what he saw.
“Oh, that looks like a Synchu drinking at a lake,” Woe answered.
“Are you sure? You don't see money notes, perhaps?” replied Theodore.
“No, definitely a Synchu.”
“And this one?”
“Oh, that's a unicorn.”
“Really... you can't perhaps see a stethoscope?”
“Sorry,” Woe replied, feeling like he'd somehow failed the test.
“Hmpfh,” was all Theodore would reply.
      Later that night Theodore Russell sat down with the Wilkins in their dimly-lit kitchen to deliver the news.
“I'm sorry Miss Wilkins, but every test I ran showed the same result. He's born to work with animals.”
“A common farmer!” she gasped.
“I'm afraid so.”
“Well, that won't do,” said Mr Wilkins sternly, putting down his drink. “I'd heard of... arrangements being made before. Perhaps we could come to some arrangement.”
“You're not suggesting I lie about the boy's results are you?” said Mr Russell horrified, before adding, “...because that sort of... test recalculation would cost a lot of money.”
      And that was how Woe found himself learning to become a dentist. The study bored him immensely. While the other children seemed to delight in the classes, Woe dreaded them. And he didn't like the other children much either.
Woe missed the orphanage. He missed Sister Mary. He missed the Gu'Gons. And he missed Duke and his games of logic. It was Duke he was thinking of one night when he decided to apply some logic to his problem. Knowing how much the Wilkins hated any inconvenience, Woe thought he'd found the perfect solution.
“I wet my bed,” said Woe, waking the Wilkins up one Sunday morning – their favourite time to sleep in.
“You did what!? That's disgusting. Well, clean up the mess and get to work on making breakfast,” said Jonah.
“And don't you dare get behind on doing the garden. The Robertson's are coming over for dinner tonight and they always compliment me on my gardening.”
      And so Woe's plan failed. The only person who suffered seemed to be him. He was the one stuck washing the sheets and being cruelly taunted by the Wilkins. In fact, they liked nothing more than to tell their friends about it – just one more example of how kind they were to take in a boy like Woe. (“He really does live up to his name,” Julie would tell them.)
      Finally, one summer evening Woe finally came about the right solution.
“What is it now?” asked Jonah as Woe entered their bedroom. “You shouldn't be up, it's past your bedtime.”
“Don't tell me you've wet your bed yet again,” added Julie.
“No,” said Woe innocently. “I wet yours.”
The very next day Woe was returned to the orphanage.
      Woe was excited to be back and Sister Mary couldn't hide her joy at seeing him again. Mother Dorothy on the other hand – well, the less said about her mood, the better. Woe told Sister Mary all about his time with the Wilkins and although she told him off for his crude escape plan, he could tell she was quietly proud.
“So what's been happening while I was away?” asked Woe.
“Well, you'll no doubt notice some new faces. In fact, there's one boy here who's the same age as you!” replied Sister Mary. This was significant news, as Woe had gotten used to being the oldest of the orphans.
“I think you might like him. His name is Mudd.”

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1 Response to The Tale of Woe - Chapter 2 - The Wilkins

  1. '"You don't need to call me mum when no one's around. Call me Mrs Wilkins,” she said.'

    My god that crushed me! Poor Woe, but I'm so glad he found a way out. :)