A Little Coco at Bedtime
La Cioccolata
A Little Coco at Bedtime
by Gillian B

SHE WAS 18 and her name was Colette, a pretty and feminine name but shortened by her parents to Coco. There was nothing wrong with that either, perhaps a name for a witty and carefree child, except for the bitter irony of her abiding passion for chocolate.

     Coco couldn't remember a time when she wasn't considered fat by her contemporaries at school. She didn't really mind the shape that she was and her friends didn't seem to care either. Being short and fat didn't seem to do her any harm physically either: she could run faster than some quite skinny girls in her class. She was also cleverer than almost anyone she knew. It exasperated her sometimes: her friends often seemed so slow to grasp quite simple concepts.

     It was not so easy with the adults in her life. Some of her teachers didn't seem to notice how bright she was. Even when hers was the only hand up to answer a question in class, some of them would ignore her as if she must be slow and stupid because she was fat and wore spectacles. It was worse with her parents, who agonised over their daughter's weight. Coco would not have minded this if their concern had been for her wellbeing, but she always felt that they were concerned about themselves and their aspirations for a perfect family. She felt that they blamed her for being fat and for letting them down by being fat. She wondered why they couldn't focus on her good points like her beautiful ash-blonde hair and striking periwinkle blue eyes. After all, it was 1972 and everyone was supposed to be allowed to be themselves and to do their own thing.

     Rationing had always been a spectre in the background of Coco's life. "That's enough chocolate for today, dear," they would say, or, "No chocolate today, Coco, you had too much yesterday." As she grew older, she came to have a weekly pocket-money allowance and, of course, some of it would be spent on chocolate at the small newsagent, sweet shop and post office in the quiet English country village where she lived. Coco grew fond of the postmistress, a woman in her mid twenties who remembered what it felt like to be a teenager. To her credit, the postmistress refused to take sides in the battle over Coco's chocolate, although Coco's parents had tried to coerce her into refusing to serve their daughter.

     Rationing evolved into accountancy. Coco was strictly forbidden to spend any of her money on chocolate unless she obtained explicit permission beforehand. To enforce this rule, she was required to account, in writing, in neat columns of figures, for every penny she spent.

AN INDEPENDENT income seemed to be the key to Coco's freedom. As soon as she was old enough to do a newspaper round, she obtained a job from her friend the postmistress. Faithfully, she rose early each day to cycle through the streets and country lanes in rain, hail or snow. Alas, even money she had earned by her own labours was subject to the same scrutiny. Her earnings were known and her balance sheets as carefully audited as before. Chocolate was as rare a treat as it had ever been and her very soul yearned for it.

     These frustrations plagued her but remained largely private. A few close friends and confidants, the wise postmistress included, were aware or guessed. Nevertheless, others knew her as a friendly, polite and helpful teenager. She moved from her paper round to helping out in the shop and post office as the Saturday girl. With apparent good grace, she endured her own private purgatory as she served chocolate to customers but could have none herself.

     The postmistress took pity on her and they came to a private and secret arrangement. Coco would have a small chocolate allowance aside from her earnings and no-one else would know about it. Coco came to look forward to Saturdays. She genuinely enjoyed working in the shop and her sunny disposition made her a real asset to the business. She also relished her secret chocolate supply. She surprised herself by being more disciplined than she ever believed she could be. Her allowance was one 4oz chocolate bar of her choice. She found that she could make it last the entire four hours she worked at the shop on a Saturday, consuming it nibble by tiny nibble. She responded to the responsibility she had been given and the trust shown to her by the postmistress by never abusing her position. Her self-esteem grew week by week as she performed her duties and took her reward.

     All went well until the fateful Saturday when Coco's mother discovered the awful secret of the chocolate allowance. Coco was serving at the cash register with her bar of chocolate by her elbow. She had not noticed her mother enter the shop, nor did she notice her mother's eyes follow a square of the precious chocolate from its foil wrapping to her mouth. Coco could never recall clearly what happened after that. There was a lot of shouting and her mother dragged her bodily out of the shop, then along the fifty yards of village street to their house where she was marched upstairs to her bedroom and locked in.

COCO WAS miserable. She had lost her job and that had been the main focus of her freedom outside home and school. After a while, she was allowed to visit the post office again, with her spending as closely controlled as ever, but not to resume her job. Coco felt betrayed by everyone who had been involved in the loss of her job, the postmistress included, even though it was hardly her fault in any way. If Coco's friendship with the postmistress cooled, her attitude towards the boy who had displaced her in her job was positively icy. Whenever she went to the shop, whether it was to buy a newspaper or just to post a letter, she lingered and looked longingly at the chocolate, especially at the big expensive boxes of chocolates, which she had never even tasted.

     Little by little, Coco evolved an audacious plan. If she could not get chocolate by fair means, then she would do so by foul. It would be easy to choose a moment carefully when she was unobserved in the post office and to slip a box of those tempting chocolates under her coat.

     Cautious by nature, Coco, decided not to rush into her plan. Instead, she rehearsed it several times to be sure that it would work. Each time, she carefully looked around, made sure that no-one was watching her, then selected a box of chocolates and hid it under her coat. For these trial runs, she simply returned the box to its place on the shelf each time and quietly left the shop with a pounding heart and as much poise as she could muster.

     Coco was almost ready to put her plan into action when events caused her to reconsider what she was doing. The boy who replaced her as Saturday assistant, decided one day to do just what she planned to do; he helped himself to a box of chocolates. It was never clear why he had done this but there was no doubt as to his guilt. The postmistress saw him take the box but took no action until he actually left the premises, when she challenged him. He had no option but to admit to his crime. The village police constable and the boy's parents were summoned. The postmistress chose not to press charges, but a very public lecture from the policeman and severe parental disapproval followed by censure at school all made for a very telling punishment.

     Coco's parents, her mother in particular, already put her under considerable scrutiny and pressure. If she were to be caught shoplifting, and shoplifting chocolates at that, the consequences would be unthinkable. Coco decided that a far more intelligent plan would be required to acquire the chocolate she now considered to be her legitimate target.

COCO'S MOTHER became more and more obsessed with her daughter's unrequited passion for chocolate. As a consequence, Coco was only very rarely permitted to visit schoolfriends' houses in case she had the opportunity to obtain chocolate there. Coco did, however, invite her friends to visit her home, despite the suspicion with which her mother regarded them, viewing them all as probable chocolate smugglers. This uneasy situation finally came to grief in the worst possible way for Coco. One sunny Saturday afternoon, Coco and her closest schoolfriend were passing the time together in Coco's room as teenagers do with endless talk about anything and everything while listening to records turned up very loud. Coco's friend showed her the box of chocolates she had bought earlier that day for her mother's birthday. It was hardly a pleasure for Coco, but the chocolates were not hers and she had enough self discipline and self respect not even to think of asking for one.

     Coco's mother happened to look in to put away some clean clothes just as the chocolates were being shown to her daughter. Not one to ask questions first, Coco's mother leaped into action like an avenging harpy. She seized the offending chocolates and hurled them out through the open window. Next, she seized her offending daughter and hurled her face down on her bed. Two of the socks in the bundle of clothes she was carrying found immediate use to bind Coco's wrists tightly behind her back and to bind her ankles together. Coco's outraged protests at the unfairness of all this were stifled as a handkerchief was stuffed into her mouth then tied in place with another sock. All the while, Coco's friend looked on in open-mouthed shock and disbelief at what was happening. While Coco fulminated on the bed, her mother dragged the unfortunate friend out of the room, locking the door behind her, then marched her downstairs and unceremoniously ejected her from the house.

     In a blind red haze of fury, Coco struggled ineffectually with her bonds. She stopped only when she was too tired to struggle more. Exhausted, she dozed fitfully for a while. When she awoke, her rage had subsided to a cold and dangerous anger. She concentrated on applying her mind to the immediate problem of getting free. She rolled over and swung her legs over the side of the bed, working herself into a sitting position. It took several attempts, but Coco managed to stand up, swaying alarmingly, but eventually gaining her balance. Tentatively and trying not to make any noise that would attract attention, she hopped across to her dressing table and squinted over her shoulder to see how her hands were tied behind her back.

     Now in control of herself and detached and dispassionate, Coco considered her predicament as an abstract problem to solve. It was really quite simple: her wrists were crossed and bound by a long white sock passing twice round them and secured with a reef knot. If she could lessen the angle between her wrists, she could lessen the tension on that sock. Looking further up, she observed that her upper arms were almost vertical and her forearms at about 45 degrees. What she needed to do was to straighten her elbows while not pulling on the binding. She experimented. Straightening her elbows tended to pull her hands apart. It needed real concentration to straighten both elbows while still keeping her wrists tightly together. However, it worked; she could tell that the sock was much looser with her arms like that. She looked around for something to do service as a hook and decided to try one of the handles on her wardrobe, a flattened brass knob, almost a disc. Coco carefully hopped across to the wardrobe and positioned her arms again. This time she attempted to hook her wrist bond on the wardrobe door knob. At the third try, she succeeded and, pushing herself up onto tiptoe, managed to force the hateful sock down over her hands and off.

     Coco's rage began to bubble up again. She would show her mother that she couldn't be treated like this. It would take more than a pair of socks to hold her. She sat on the edge of her bed again and reached down to free her ankles, then stopped. A cooler, calmer thought had floated to the top of her mind. As far as her mother knew, it did only take a pair of socks to hold her. There was an advantage in knowing she could free herself. There was power there too, if she could just work out how to apply it. For now, knowing that she had secretly stolen a march on her mother was enough.

     Coco's wrists were red and swollen with her exertions. Ruefully, she realised as she examined them that perhaps struggling for the sake of it was not such a good idea. Never one to hold a grudge against herself, she mentally chalked it up to experience. Leaving her ankles bound and the gag in place, Coco loosened the knot in the sock that had held her wrists, eased the double loop it formed slightly and then re-tightened the knot. She laid the sock down on her bed, then quite casually picked up her bedtime book from its place on her bedside table and lay on the bed on her tummy happily reading.

     There was a telltale creak on the stairs. As soon as she heard it, Coco moved like lightning. She closed the book and returned it to its place then worked her hands back through the discarded wrist binding. By the time the key turned in the lock, she was apparently securely tied again. When Coco's mother entered the room, she found her daughter much as she had left her, if calmer, and staring up at her balefully. Without comment, she freed Coco, pausing slightly at the sock tied round her wrists which was not quite as tight as she thought she had tied it.

     Coco rejoiced silently as he mother left the room. The victory was a secret one, but sweet and precious.

COCO'S MOTIVATION to steal chocolate was stronger than ever. She decided that it was time to evolve a detailed plan and to put it into action as soon as she possibly could.

     She was by nature a very careful and painstaking individual and Coco applied these characteristics to her preparation. Her first task was to ensure that she had a reliable means of illicitly and secretly leaving and entering her own bedroom. Her room was upstairs at the back of the house. It was a clear 12 foot drop to the ground from the windowsill, but there was a convenient drainpipe only a foot or so from the side of the window. Over a period of almost two weeks, Coco engaged in clandestine building repairs. An initial investigation had shown that the inviting pipe's grip on the wall was tenuous in places and probably not equal to the task of supporting her not inconsiderable weight. Starting at ground level, she progressively replaced the bolts securing the cast iron brackets which supported the pipe. She worked quickly and quietly in the early morning between dawn and her parents rising, using borrowed tools and salvaged bolts. In addition, she placed some additional bolts to act as step irons. She had managed to borrow an old-fashioned masonry drill of the kind that is turned by hand with a steel cross-bar and works almost silently.

     With her means of access to the ground secure, Coco could use it as a way to getting out swiftly and silently at night to carry out reconnaissance of the post office. The rear of the post office and the rear of Coco's house were both served by a narrow lane, little overlooked and deserted during the hours of darkness. After initially rejecting traditional cat-burglar attire as too melodramatic, Coco concluded that she should wear the stereotypical dark clothes and rubber-soled shoes if she was to be truly inconspicuous in the night. Accordingly, feeling terribly self-conscious, Coco crept out one night dressed entirely in black. Stretchy stirrup pants with socks pulled up over them gave her freedom of movement, while a black roll-necked sweater kept her warm in the night chill. Her easily recognisable hair was hidden by a black balaclava, she had removed her spectacles and her face was partly hidden by a black eye mask. She had acquired a pair of old black rubber gloves, which were slightly too big for her, but allowed her a good sense of touch and of course prevented fingerprints. As she made her way down the lane, she was sure every eye in the village must be on her and felt that she just needed a sack labelled SWAG to complete the outfit.

     With her initial nerves behind her, Coco used a pencil-sized electric torch to carry out a minute inspection of the rear of the post office. The building itself was not particularly secure; all official material was stored in a safe and that was its main defence. The windows looked invitingly vulnerable. They were old and steel-framed, slightly rusty in places and with prominently exposed hinge knuckles. Coco checked to see how tightly the windows closed against their frames and applied a little oil to the hinges. Satisfied, she retired back to her bedroom.

COCO HAD considered doing one or two trial runs, breaching the security of the post office but not actually carrying out the theft. However, on consideration, she concluded that doing so would only increase the risk of being caught.

     On the night she had decided to make her move, Coco lay in bed with her heart pounding and butterflies in her stomach. She reminded herself that it wasn't too late to call the whole thing off, but her mind was made up; she had made a promise to herself.

     Well after midnight, Coco slipped silently out of bed and donned her burglary outfit. The lower sash of her bedroom window slid up, perfectly lubricated and silent. The vertical path of the drainpipe was negotiated rapidly and quietly and the lane was as deserted as usual. Coco found that once she had embarked on her first truly criminal act, her panic became strangely calm and she was able to be emotionally detached from the whole business.

     Coco's chosen weapon was a length of flexible steel strapping which had been used to secure a packing case. The steel was a springy ribbon about half an inch wide. She folded it and guided it between the window and its frame, pulling hard on the window to widen the gap. Once it was through, she could open the end of the steel strip into a wide loop by pushing on one of the two layers of steel in her hand. As she did so, the side she pushed would form a bulge against the crease of the fold at the tip of her instrument. She guided the loop over the window handle and eased it upwards. Repositioning it slightly, she was able to lift the stay securing the lower part of the window off the two steel pegs on which it was placed when the window was shut.

     Opening the window wide, Coco scrambled up through the opening. She was in; it was as easy as that. Back in the days of Coco's teenage years, small village post offices did not have the alarm systems that they would have as a matter of course today, so there was nothing to stop her going straight to her quarry, and that is what she did. She already knew which box of chocolates she wished to take and had it in her hand in seconds. She climbed out through the window again and dropped lightly to the ground.

     It was harder to secure the window than it had been to open it, but after some concentrated work, Coco succeeded. Less than fifteen minutes after she left, Coco was back in her bedroom, surprisingly tired but elated.

     It was tempting to relax at that point, but Coco knew that thoroughness had to be maintained right through to the end of the job. She changed into her pyjamas then folded and put away her burglary clothes and returned the mask to a box of toys she still had from her childhood days. She emptied the chocolates into an old tea caddy, which she kept as an ornament, and gazed regretfully at the beautiful beribboned box. Fine chocolates should be presented appropriately but the box was damning evidence and it had to go. Painstakingly, Coco demolished the box into a pile of small scraps of paper, card, cellophane and ribbon, which she packed into a paper bag for safe disposal the next day.

     Satisfied with her night's work, Coco allowed herself one chocolate then retired peacefully and contentedly to bed.

COCO ROSE early on the day following her first raid. It was a school day but she also had to do her final piece of evidence disposal. Some weeks earlier, Coco had taken on the job of ensuring that the various waste bins in the house were all emptied into the dustbin outside the back door on the day each week that the dustmen came.

     It was no great effort to do the bins each week, but it gave Coco the double advantage of ingratiating her with her mother and also giving her the opportunity to dispose of any material she might wish her mother not to discover.

     Coco's mother smiled benignly at her daughter as the evidence of the previous night's crime left the house under her nose. Coco rejoiced inwardly and was still rejoicing as she waited for the school bus.

     The dustbins in the village were all emptied and the dustcart long gone by the time the post office would open.

ON HER return from school, Coco's mother mentioned that somehow someone had stolen a box of chocolates from the post office the previous night. Coco knew that she had covered her tracks carefully, but all the same, she had an icy feeling in the pit of her stomach. Her mother went on to say that she had been suspicious but knew the perpetrator hadn't been Coco as she had searched her bedroom.

     Coco struggled to keep her face expressionless but a combination of relief and triumph bubbled up inside her. On an impulse, she had emptied the stolen chocolates from the caddy in which they were hidden into a polythene bag which she had transferred to her schoolbag before leaving that morning. At the first opportunity, she transferred them back, bag and all, in case her bag was also searched.

     On reflection, Coco was not surprised that her mother suspected her. It was in her nature to be suspicious and, when all was said and done, Coco had actually committed the crime. To have her mother genuinely convinced that Coco was innocent was almost more than she could have hoped for.

COCO WASCoco carefully rationed her stolen chocolates, allowing herself only one each night before bed, always chosen at random. Deep within her heart, she knew that she would have to steal again when they were all gone.

     Despite her mother's apparent certainty of her daughter's innocence, Coco began to realise that there was still an atmosphere of suspicion in the house. If she repeated the modus operandi of the previous burglary, then she would still be under suspicion and close scrutiny and might well be caught.

     One possibility that occurred to Coco was to steal chocolates but not their wrapping next time. If she emptied and resealed the box in the post office, it might be several days before the theft was discovered. That would take the immediate pressure off Coco as regards covering her trail. However, she realised, she could not predict when the theft would be discovered and she might find herself unable to furnish an alibi for the crucial time.

     After some thought, Coco came up with another plan which was riskier but which, if it worked, would relieve her of any suspicion on the part of her mother.

THE NIGHT before her planned second raid, Coco undertook a reconnaissance expedition. She planned to enter the post office through the same window that she had used previously. She was disappointed, but not entirely surprised to discover that the main window catch had been replaced by one with a lock. That, however, seemed to be the sum total of the additional security. She smiled to herself as she applied some more oil to the hinges and departed back to her bed.

AT EVERY opportunity the next day, a Friday, Coco did her best to irritate her mother just a tiny bit, a skill at which most teenagers are adept. She managed to stay just back from the brink of disaster, but by mid-evening, her mother was close to boiling point. All was going according to plan.

     Just before bedtime came the critical step in Coco's plan. She had already changed into her pyjamas and was reading in bed when her mother came in to wish her goodnight. Strategically placed on the corner of the bedside table was the very last chocolate from the previous raid. Coco's heart was pounding as she awaited the inevitable explosion.

     As Coco's mother's eagle eyes spotted the offending chocolate, Coco was subjected to a tirade of invective about how disobedient and deceitful a daughter she was. While apparently wilting under the onslaught, Coco was listening very carefully. There was no mention of the chocolate being stolen, which suggested that her mother had not connected it with the post office burglary which was by then several weeks in the past.

     Would her mother take the same robust approach to punishment again? Coco braced herself in anticipation. There was little doubt as her mother turned to the big chest of drawers in Coco's room and extracted a bunch of long socks.

     Coco offered no resistance as her mother rolled her over and bound her wrists behind her back with a sock. Coco applied as much pressure with her wrists as she dared to keep the binding from tightening fully. Her ankles were bound next, then just as on the previous occasion, a handkerchief was stuffed into her mouth and held in place with a third sock. Coco's mother hesitated over what to do with the remaining sock of the two pairs she had selected then used it to blindfold her daughter.

     There was silence. Coco thought she had heard her mother leave the room but had not heard the door close, so she lay still awaiting developments. A few moments later, her mother returned and Coco felt something being tied around her arms and body just above her elbows. It felt as though it might be a scarf. Something else, possibly another scarf was tied round her legs at the knees. Coco felt herself being shoved into the middle of the bed so she was lying on her tummy with her head on the pillow. The bedclothes were pulled tight over her and her mother informed her that for her crimes, she could just spend the night like that. Coco felt a lurch of fear until she realised that her mother meant crimes against the household rules, not crimes against the post office. She heard the light being switched off and the door being closed and locked.

COCO WAS mildly uncomfortable but very pleased. Assuming she could free and later re-tie herself and assuming that her absence from the house was not discovered, she had the perfect alibi she had hoped for.

     Coco was worried about losing track of the time or falling asleep. Fortunately, she discovered that she was able to rub the blindfold off against her pillow enough to see the luminous hands of her alarm clock.

     At 12.30 am, Coco began the second stage of her plan. It was surprisingly hard to wriggle free of the bedclothes which had been tucked in so tightly around her without making too much noise. Eventually, however, she was able to struggle to a sitting position on the side of the bed and then to rise to a slightly unstable standing position. She hopped as quietly as she could across to her wardrobe. The scarf tied around her arms and body actually made her escape easier. Her arms were held in tightly so that her elbows were already almost straight. She hooked her wrist binding onto the useful doorknob. With the extra binding at her knees, it was much harder to use her legs to lift her whole body up without toppling over. After some unsuccessful fumbling, she finally managed to pull the sock down over her hands.

     Rather than rushing to free herself, Coco took careful note of how and where each of her remaining bonds was tied, so that she could reproduce the knots later. Once she was free, she stood very quietly and listened, but there was no indication that she had disturbed anyone else in the house.

IT TOOK only a few minutes for Coco to assume her burglar persona. She left by way of her bedroom window with well-practised skill and almost no sound at all. The entire village seemed to be peacefully asleep as she crept down the lane to the back of the post office.

     The window was still hopelessly vulnerable, but only to a more subtle and time-consuming line of attack. Coco took a small pair of pliers out of the tool pouch she had on a belt round her waist. Carefully, she eased away the small spring steel retaining clips at the bottoms of the window's hinge pins. The hinges had been the subject of Coco's lavish attention with lubricants and the pins slid cleanly up out of the knuckles with surprisingly little pressure.

     There was enough flexibility and slack in the locked window catch that Coco was able to open a gap of nearly two inches on the hinge side. That in turn gave her room to manoeuvre the casement so that she simply unhooked the catch, with its handle still locked in the closed position, from the hook on the frame in which it engaged.

     Coco hoisted herself up through the open window and made her way through to the shop. She already knew which box of chocolate would be hers next and she was already enjoying a frisson of excitement in anticipation.

     If her plan was to work out, it was essential that the burglary be discovered immediately on the postmistress arriving in the morning. Accordingly, Coco took the box round behind the shop counter and unwrapped it on the floor, carefully packing the chocolates in a polythene back which she tucked into the tool pouch. She left the violated box where it lay and made her way back to the open window.

     Getting out was easy but restoring the window to working order was harder than she expected. The casement was heavy and tiring to manoeuvre when held up so high. After several attempts, the catch engaged successfully and she was able to realign the hinges and slide the pins back in. It took only a few seconds to restore the retaining clips and all was as she had found it.

     The 50 yards or so along the lane to Coco's own house was tense but uneventful. She swung the tool pouch round behind her back so that it would not bang on the drainpipe for the climb back to her bedroom. It was still only about 1.15 when she closed her bedroom window.

AS SHE changed out of her burglary clothes and back into her pyjamas, Coco reflected that this part of the procedure already felt like a well-rehearsed routine. The chocolates went into the old tea caddy as before except for one which Coco ate. The exquisite flavour and sensuous texture of the chocolate melting in her mouth and the sheer scale of the deception and daring she had exercised to gain it fizzed through her entire being like a breaking wave of ecstasy.

     However, Coco scolded herself, it was not yet time to relax. She still had to tie herself up convincingly to establish her unbreakable alibi. Coco paused to think how she was going to do this. She began by arranging the bedclothes so that they were tucked in all round but not as tightly as they had been.

     Next, Coco sat down on the edge of the bed and tied first her ankles then her knees. The gag, now cold, soggy and uncomfortable, came next. Coco hauled herself up onto the bed so she was kneeling just below the pillow with her feet under the bedclothes.

     Coco tied the sock that had been her blindfold back round her head, but positioned it slightly above her eyes. She tied the scarf round her arms and body next, her own school scarf she noted with amusement, and worked the knot round to the back. She slid her left hand through the doubled loop of sock that had been used to bind her wrists and then reaching up as far as she could, pulled the blindfold down with her fingertips.

     It was exceedingly hard work to get her right hand through the wrist binding but little by little it slid past the sock then, quite suddenly, it was through as the sock passed the joint of her thumb. Coco tested her bonds for security. She knew that she could still escape using the method that she had used earlier, but none of the bindings were about to fall off her and she was at least as firmly bound as when her mother had left her.

     Coco leaned forward until her hair touched the headboard of her bed then pushed hard, propelling herself down under the bedclothes. It was tricky to make sure the sheets and blankets rode smoothly up over her bottom and her bound arms, but with persistence she managed it. She wormed her way right down under the sheet then worked her way back up again so that the bedclothes would cover her up to her shoulders. Finally, she settled her head on the pillow and relaxed. It had been a good night's work and she was pleasantly tired. Despite being bound hand and foot, gagged and blindfolded, she slipped off into a deep and refreshing sleep remarkably easily.

WHEN COCO'S mother at last came into her room to free her on the Saturday morning, Coco had been partly awake but dozing for some time. As soon as her blindfold was off, she saw that it was almost 10.00 am. Her mother explained that she had been delayed by the local excitement that the post office had been burgled for chocolates again. Coco noted that her mother offered an explanation but no apology for leaving her tied up so long.

     Having removed Coco's gag and blindfold, her mother hesitated before untying her, as if checking to see if there was any way in which her daughter could conceivably have been involved in the burglary. She shook her head: of course not, this was dull, fat Coco. She would never have the audacity to commit a crime. Besides, Coco had been bound and gagged and locked in her room. How could she possibly have been burgling a post office?

The Chronicles of La Cioccolata
KP Presents Contents
© Gillian B 2002