The Banks

Jul 28 2013

The Banks children had been behaving differently and Poppins couldnt be sure when it had begun or what had started it. at first it had just been whispering in corners and falling silent when she asked them what they were talking about. then she had noticed them looking at her sideways when she was busy with something else. after that they began to be less orderly with their possessions, and less gentle. she had even found some of their toys broken in pieces; the face of Jane’s doll had been smashed as though with a heavy blunt implement, and the stuffing of Michael’s teddy had been all torn out and scattered around the nursery. neither of the children complained about what had happened to their toys, and so Poppins could only conclude that that they had brought about these changes of their own volition. she even tried to mend the teddy, but she had only just finished when she found its head torn off and the fabric of its face thrown around in tiny shreds.

Poppins was accustomed to dealing with a certain type of family where things like this didnt happen. none of her charges ever had major behavioural problems; this kind of thing was for other specialist nannies who avoided Poppins as much as she avoided them. the children she was assigned always responded well to her lessons, and never failed to remember what she had taught them; but it seemed that Michael and Jane were deliberately forgetting.

Michael developed an insatiable appetite for meat products, and began refusing to eat his greens. “eat up everything on your plate thats good for you Michael to make you big and strong!” encouraged Poppins’s umbrella during one evening meal. “No,” said Michael “Mind your own business, you sick ugly freak fuck piece of junk.”

“Michael Banks!” exclaimed Poppins. with cold unfamiliar malice, Jane spat “You can shut your fucking mouth too bitch.” for the first time in her life Poppins was truly robbed of speech and tried to pretend nothing had happened, crunching her blanched broccoli and humming “a spoonful of sugar” as tears sprang to her eyes.

later in the privacy of her own little closet, she confided her concerns to her umbrella. “it seems silly, since i never knew we were competing, or – ” (she hesitated) “fighting – but i feel almost as though they have won some sort of victory over me”. the umbrella was not so uncertain of the situation. “im afraid, Poppins” it said “the look in the eye of that girl, ive never seen anything like it before, and im afraid of what those children might do to you, or to me”. this remark jerked Poppins back to reality. “dont be silly” she said “this is Jane and Michael we are talking about. remember that darling little letter they wrote, if you wont scold and dominate us we will never give you cause to hate us? those children could never do anything really wrong”. but the following evening after the umbrella had been missing all day Poppins found its remains in the waste paper basket under her own little writing desk. it was evident by the splintered state of its handle that it had been very brutally and mercilessly treated and had suffered. Poppins wept bitterly all night in an uncontrollable agony of confused rage and grief and helplessness over the evil murder of her closest colleague and true friend and companion.

at the breakfast table the next morning, the children appeared to observe her wan complexion and to take an icy delight in it, exchanging meaningful glances and frigid little smirks. Poppins, so long accustomed to her own vibrant excess of indefatigable good spirit, did not know how to compose herself properly, and pinched her face together only as well as she could. misery flattered her poorly. she scraped some butter onto her toast, but could not manage to bring it to her lips. the children stared at her, smiling, patiently waiting. “do you know what happened to my umbrella Michael?” she finally managed to ask. “Are you asking me? I don’t know who Michael is,” said Michael “I’m John.”

“this is nonsense Michael” she began, but Jane interrupted her. “You should call him by his name if you know what’s good for you, Miss Mary,” she said. Poppins began to lose her temper, which hadnt happened before in front of a child, and in fact rarely ever in her life had she lost her temper before, perhaps never. she ignored Jane in sheer consternation and returned her focus to Michael. she raised her index finger from her fist and began pointing it in his direction, striking the air with it again and again, by which she meant (she was forced to admit) waggling it. she was actually waggling her finger! “Master Banks” she almost shouted “if you dont confess this instant – ”

but she was distracted by something new she had noticed. as she waggled her finger, the children had parted their lips, opening their mouths slightly and displaying their teeth. Poppins noticed that the shape of their teeth had changed, and that they seemed to be sharper. their eyes were fixed not on her face but on her finger, in an expression almost of desire, and as though it had been scorched she withdrew her hand quickly to her lap. “children!” she squeaked “what has happened to your teeth!”

“They have always been this way, Miss Mary,” said Jane. all that day the children stared at her relentlessly, devouring her body with their voracious eyes, and paying no attention to anything she said to them. it was a long, exhausting afternoon, and by the end of it Poppins was tormented with fear. for the first time that evening she attempted to lock her door, only to discover that the mechanism was broken. not expecting to sleep, she as wearily preparing herself to crawl beneath the covers when her door was flung open and the children burst in and slammed it behind them. before she knew it (and she could not tell how they had achieved it) they had overpowered her and bound and gagged her, and she was quivering and shivering in the center of her bed with them louring over her.

Jane bent down and bit off her right index finger. Poppins felt herself attempting to scream, but as she was gagged, this was difficult, and she fainted instead. when she came around the children were still standing there, looking down at her, and she realised that Michael had been slapping her in an attempt to revive her. she began to mumble, trying to show that she had something to say. “Only if you promise not to scream, dear creature,” said Jane, and Poppins nodded vigorously. “If you do try to scream, we’ll only eat another one of your fingers,” cautioned Michael, and Poppins poured all the sincerity of her heart into her nodding until they loosened the gag.

“you havent even been paying me, ive been doing this out of love!” she gasped.

“Father says love can’t buy money,” said Jane. and they gagged her again, and one by one, they ate all of her fingers until there were none of them left and then they stripped off her stockings and started on her toes crunching the bones between their own teeth with her blood running down their chins and then

Poppins woke up screaming and shaking. in fact she was screaming, but she was mistaken that she was herself shaking; she was in actuality being shaken against a broad hairy chest by a pair of strong sooty arms. “Mary Mary” someone was gently repeating, “youre alright Mary you just been having another nightmare”. under the influence of the soft tones of this familiar voice Poppins relaxed. “oh Bert, i was dreaming about The Banks again”, she sighed. “never you worry about that Mary, nothing and no one can ever come between us”, Bert said, and he held her close and kissed her tenderly. after she reassured herself that her umbrella was hanging safe and sound from the hatstand in the hallway, she pressed her face into the warm space between his shoulder, neck, and pillow, and he sang her back to sleep with a long story about a secret escape door in the space-time continuum leading to a place where no one has ever heard of The Banks.

[indebted to J Morrell for original progressive expletive forms. courtesy of S. Morrell.]

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