By child request, here is chapter two for bedtime stories. I’m so pleased you want to read more!
Willie took a step closer to her so he could hear better.
Dame Nettle didn’t notice. She was too busy listening to the person on the other end. ‘Oh, thank you for calling me back,’ she said. ‘I’m planning on retiring soon, and I’d like to sell the boot I live in and move to Mermaid Creek.’ She started to walk, hunched over, towards her private room at the toe end. ‘An estate agent will visit tomorrow – hey diddle diddle!’ She tucked her grey hair behind her ear to hear better. ‘It’ll be Mr Sprat, the manager – cock-a-doodle doo! Three o’clock tomorrow afternoon – ’ She headed through her door and knocked it shut behind her with her whip.
‘What’s an estate agent?’ Jill asked Jack.
‘It’s someone who sells a house, castle or boot for you.’ They all listened to him. ‘The first thing he does is decide how much money people will pay for it. Then he puts it up for sale.’
‘Hoorah! She’s leaving us,’ said Patience Muffet, a girl with orangey-brown hair and freckles. The seven-year-old had ended up at Old Boot House after she ran away from a spider that sat down beside her. She had never been able to find her way back home again.
Children slapped hands and hugged each other.
‘It’s not a good thing,’ said Willie. ‘If Dame Nettle sells the boot we’ll have nowhere to live.’
‘I’m sure she’ll take us with her,’ said Jill.
Jack marched over to the table Dame Nettle had been sitting at. ‘I saw her circling some pictures of houses,’ he said, picking up the copy of Home Sweet Home.
‘Perhaps she’s looking for a bigger place for us all,’ said Puss in Boots. He was a silky grey cat in leather boots.
Jack started to leaf through the pages and Jill joined him at the table.
‘She’s not after somewhere bigger,’ he said, eventually. ‘All the houses she’s drawn rings around are tiny cottages.’
The boys and girls stopped celebrating and Jill pulled out a chair and flopped on it.
‘It might take ages for Dame Nettle to find someone who wants to buy the boot. It does smell of sweaty feet,’ said a boy made of wood. ‘By then we could all be back at home with our families.’
Willie turned towards him. ‘I’m sure your da will be found at sea, Pinocchio – and that he’ll come and get you,’ he said. ‘But I don’t have anywhere else to go. I don’t even know who my family are.’
Jill gave him a small smile. ‘You could wish for one.’
Willie shook his head firmly at her suggestion. ‘What good will that do? No-one’s going to wave a magic wand and make everything better.’ He noticed Patience Muffet and Tom Thumb looking at him. Their bottom lips were trembling. ‘Don’t worry yourselves.’ He paused to think. ‘All we have to do is stop the estate agent from coming here. That way he won’t be able to put it up for sale.’
Jack nodded. ‘I’ll do whatever it takes.’
‘Oh, please don’t get us into trouble,’ said Jill.
The two boys stared at her and Willie said, ‘Do you want to be homeless?’
Later that night, when all the other children were fast asleep, Willie lay awake in his hammock with the scratchy wool blanket pulled over him. He kept turning from side to side. He had far too many thoughts swarming in his head to sleep.
‘It’s daft to make wishes,’ he muttered. ‘They never come true.’ He wriggled onto his back and looked up through a hole in the roof at the moon and the stars. ‘So, all I have to do is ask for a palace and a teapot will magically turn into one!’ He made a false laugh. ‘I can’t believe even Jack made a wish before bed.’
He checked the hammocks nearest to him to make sure everyone was asleep and pulled a torn magazine picture out from under his thin pillow. He held it in the beam of moonlight coming through the roof. The photo was dog-eared and crumpled and showed a family : a mum, dad, a girl slightly younger than Willie and their pet unicorn. They were holding hands and flying through the air together with the aid of fairy dust. Willie always imagined being part of their family. Over the years, the picture had become fixed in his mind. As far as he was concerned, they were his family.
‘Ach, maybe I could make one wee wish… it’s only words.’ Willie chewed his lip. ‘Just a bit of fun to pass the time. That’s all.’
But his face looked deadly serious as he held the picture to his chest, stared up at the stars and whispered,
‘Star light, star bright,
The first star I see tonight;
I wish I may, I wish I might,
Have the wish I wish tonight.’
He paused and said, ‘I wish for a family.’
This story is dedicated to Tom Donovan, my fantastic nephew.
I’ll post chapter three soon.
Story by Kim Donovan. All rights reserved. Image: Pixabay