Tag Archives: Bookworm

Once Upon a Wish – Chapter 5

The story continues. I love the idea of puddles going to places.

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Chapter 5

Shortly after Jack Sprat left and Dame Nettle disappeared into her room to write a wish to the Fairy Godfather, there was a rat-tat-tat-tat on the door. For one brief wonderful moment, Willie thought it was his new family here to collect him. Then he realised who it would most likely be – Doctor Foster.

Jack and Jill hurried to the door to answer it at the same time as Willie. He glanced nervously back at Dame Nettle’s room. Through the wall he could hear the TV show Who Lives in a Castle Like This?

Willie got there first and opened it. As expected, the doctor stood on the doorstep, still dripping, holding his bag.

‘I want to talk to whoever’s in charge here,’ he said in an abrupt tone.

‘Oh, please don’t tell Dame Nettle what we did to you,’ whispered Jill.

‘She’ll get out her whip if you do,’ added Willie.

‘She has a whip?’ said Doctor Foster, sounding shocked.

‘Is it someone about the house?’ It was Dame Nettle’s voice.

Willie turned to see her hurrying towards them with her back bent and feet pointed slightly outwards.

‘Goodness, Mr Sprat works quickly. ‘Come inside. Come inside. Out of the cold. We’ll soon get you warm and dry,’ she said.

‘Thank you. That’s very kind.’ Doctor Foster’s feet squelched as he walked in, leaving a trail of watery footprints on the floor. ‘I’m sorry – I appear to be making rather a mess.’

‘Oh, don’t worry about that. Jack will clear it up. Come and sit by the cauldron where it’s nice and warm.’ She took his bags, pulled a chair out for him and he sat down.

‘I’m Dame Nettle and you are?’

The doctor frowned.

‘This is Doctor Foster,’ answered Willie.

The doctor mouthed his own name and nodded. Willie hoped this meant his memory was coming back. But the bump on his head seemed to bulge more than ever and his eyes still looked wide and glassy. ‘Good heavens, this really is a boot,’ he said.

Dame Nettle beamed. ‘Yes, yes. It’s the real thing. I’ve been in it since my house got flattened by Jack’s giant.’

Doctor Foster looked at Jack and frowned. ‘You have a giant?’

‘No, not him.’ The other Jack – although they look horribly like each other with that black hair and blue eyes. I’m talking about the one who got the Golden Goose, the Golden Harp, almost EVERYTHING. ’

Doctor Foster muttered to himself, ‘This is all a dream.’

‘Yes, live the dream!’ Dame Nettle sat opposite him and drummed her fingers on the table. ‘Let’s not beat about the mulberry bush. You want to buy the boot – I can see that – how much money will you give me for it?’

‘I don’t want to buy the boot,’ he replied. ‘That’s not why I’m here.’

Dame Nettle’s smile vanished. Her chin jutted out and her eyes closed to slits. ‘Then why are you here?’

The doctor looked at Willie and his two friends, and Willie shook his head.

Doctor Foster gave him the slightest nod. ‘I’m just trying to get home – only I can’t remember the way. You see, I banged my head. I don’t remember much at all,’ he said. ‘I’m hoping you might be able to help me.’

Dame Nettle scraped back her chair and stood up. ‘It’s time you were leaving.’

‘What is the last thing you remember before coming here?’ Jack said quickly.

‘I went to Gloucester in a shower of rain. I stepped in a puddle right up to my middle – ’

‘That’s a crazy thing to do. Everyone knows that puddles go to places,’ said Pinocchio.

‘No, they really don’t.’ The doctor smirked at the suggestion and bent closer to Pinocchio. ‘You’re made of wood.’

‘Of course he’s made of wood. He’s a puppet.’ Dame Nettle pulled the doctor up by the arm until he was on his feet. ‘Now, clear off back to Gloucester or wherever it is. You’re making a mess of my nice clean floor.’

‘A talking puppet? I need to go to hospital.’ He just managed to pick up his bags before she frogmarched him to the door, keeping a tight grip on his sleeve.

‘I’ve never heard of Gloucester,’ said Willie. ‘And I’ve lived here all of my life.’

‘Perhaps he’s from another world,’ said Jack. ‘Puddles are mysterious things.’

Dame Nettle took a sharp intake of breath and let go of the doctor’s sleeve. She smoothed the fabric. ‘I wished for a man who could do jobs for me around the boot and you’ve magically appeared. The Godfather sent you to me – he granted my wish! I never expected it to happen so soon! I’m so happy!’

‘Please, I just want to go home, have a hot bath and an early night, and tomorrow go to work as normal,’ said Doctor Foster.

Dame Nettle sucked in her cheeks and said nothing for a moment. ‘Do the jobs I need done and I’ll help you find your way home.’ She pointed to the leather ankle and the hole in the roof. ‘I’d like you to climb up there and mend the broken tiles. That’s your first task.’

‘But I have a head injury. I shouldn’t be going up there.’

‘Take my offer or leave it – that’s the deal.’ She placed her hands on her bony hips.

‘And you’ll help me if I do this for you?’

‘Cross my heart and hope to sleep for a hundred years,’ she said.

But Willie Knew Dame Nettle never kept her promises.

 

This story is dedicated to Tom Donovan, my nephew.

Story by Kim Donovan. (c) copyright. All rights reserved. Image: pixabay.

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Once Upon a Wish – Chapter 2

By child request, here is chapter two for bedtime stories. I’m so pleased you want to read more!

Chapter 2

shoe-1519804__4801Dame Nettle held the receiver to her ear and spoke in the posh voice she only used on the telephone. ‘Old Boot House. How may I help?’

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,shooting-star-147722__4801

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

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Home for Christmas

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Jake found the little orange star washed up on the shoreline on a winter’s afternoon out walking with Mum. The star was no bigger than his small hand. It didn’t glow, twinkle or shine like normal stars but he decided it must have fallen from the sky.

‘Don’t worry,’ said Jake. ‘I’ll help you get home.’

He threw the star as high as he could into the air, but it tumbled back down and he caught it. He tried again and again….

‘You were too low anyway,’ Jake said to the little star. ‘Seagulls would have bumped into you.’

When Mum said it was time to go, Jake put the star in his pocket. They walked through the town and saw two fishermen decorating a Christmas tree next to the lifeboat station. A glittery star perched on the very top of the tree. It gave Jake an idea.

He persuaded his mum to stop off at the park, just for a few minutes. He left her on a bench with a takeaway coffee and ran over to the tallest tree.

‘You’ll be very high when I reach the top,’ Jake said as he started climbing.

He stepped onto some branches and pulled himself up onto others. Normally, Jake wasn’t brave enough to climb more than a few feet off the ground but today he didn’t allow himself to look down and kept going.

When he ran out of branches thick enough to take his weight, he took the star out of his pocket and reached up and placed it on top of the tree. But when he let go, it toppled over and fell to the bottom.

Jake quickly climbed down after it. He picked it up; it didn’t seem to be hurt, although it looked very pale. ‘Don’t be sad. I promise I’ll get you home for Christmas.’

There was only one thing for it ─ he’d have to take the star back himself.

At home he headed straight into his dad’s garage and built a spaceship from lots of different cardboard boxes, using masking tape to join them. He collected a few things from the house for the journey: a packet of cheese and onion crisps, a torch for when it grew dark and his favourite teddy to be co-pilot, and then dragged the spaceship onto their driveway and climbed in. There was only one rubber ring to sit on, so teddy and the little star perched on his legs.

‘Three, two, one… We have lift off!’ he said.

The spaceship shot into the sky above their seaside town and kept rising until the houses looked no bigger than those on a Monopoly board. Jake ate his crisps and switched on the torch as the sky turned inky-blue and then black. Millions of bright stars appeared in the darkness, and Jake lifted the little star so it could see that it was back home. But it still didn’t shine.

‘Can’t you see your family?’ Jake chewed his bottom lip, knowing the answer. With so many stars in the sky, it might take years to find the star’s parents.

He needed help. So, he touched down on the surface of the moon and climbed out.

‘Excuse me, have you seen any stars like this one?’ He showed the moon the little star.

The moon smiled and replied, ‘Oh, yes. Down there.’

Jake followed his gaze. He was looking towards Planet Earth at the ocean, where a cluster of tiny orange stars shone in the dark water.

‘He’s a sea star,’ said the moon.

‘I did find him on the beach,’ said Jake. ‘Thank you for your help!’

He climbed back into his spaceship and they took off once again, this time flying back to Earth and low over the ocean until he spotted some sea stars. It was like the world had turned upside down and the sky was beneath him.

‘You’re home now,’ said Jake and he dropped the little sea star into the water.

It sank down and down until it reached the sea floor.

And then it began to glow.

 

A note about Sea Stars

I have wanted to write about sea stars (starfish) glowing, like stars in the night sky, ever since I read A Year of Marvellous Ways by Sarah Winman. The truth is only a few sea stars shine as a result of bioluminescence, not all of them. But it makes a nice story!

Story by Kim Donovan. All rights reserved. Image: Pixabay.

 

 

 

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The Shoemaker’s Secret

heels-1236641__4801The Shoemaker’s glass slippers and soft leather boots were coveted by celebrities and the very rich. Other shoemakers wanted to know the secret techniques and materials he used to craft them, but his big secret was he didn’t make the shoes; they were the work of elves.

He had found the elves working in his shop late one night, stitching fabric. They were no bigger than dolls and wore tatty, green tunics over woollen tights. He thought he should pay them in some way and presented them with new clothing; they were like excited children on Christmas morning.

Over the next few months the elves produced more and more new designs while The Shoemaker took the credit for their craftsmanship, gaining considerable wealth and status. He continued to pay his workers in tiny shirts, trousers, underwear and socks, but then one night the elves turned the tables. They took something belonging to him before they made the shoes: the book he was reading. He bought another copy and thought no more of it.

But the following evening, the same thing happened. This time they chose a framed picture of his baby daughter and paid him five pairs of sandals. The day after, they took a curl of her blonde hair.

The Shoemaker held his child tight to his chest and said to his wife, ‘I’ll put a stop to it.’

The next night he waited up for the elves. They appeared on the stroke of midnight.

‘I don’t need your services any more,’ he said firmly. ‘Please go.’

They smiled smugly, bowed and left the shop. He hoped this was the end of it all, but in the morning he discovered a pair of sparkly silver shoes taking pride of place in the shop’s display window. His daughter’s beloved teddy bear had disappeared.

He tried moving his family to a nearby coaching inn, but that night they took the child’s little toe. The Shoemaker wept, not knowing what to do. The elves would take her bit by bit; he was sure of it.

The bell tinkled as the shop door swung open and a young man walked in.

‘I’m enquiring to see if you have any jobs?’ he said. ‘I want to be as good a shoemaker as you.’

‘Do you have a wife, children?’ asked The Shoemaker.

‘No, it’s just me,’ he replied.

The Shoemaker sighed with relief and smiled. ‘You can have my business for free,’ he said.

He handed the bewildered man the keys to the shop and left immediately with his wife and child. They were never seen again.

The new shoemaker was the talk of town. His glass slippers were exquisite.

 

Story by Kim Donovan. Image Pixabay. All rights reserved.

 

 

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Beauty & the Witch

I’m about to go to a lecture on Europe’s Great Witch Hunt. Clearly, I have witches on the brain because here is my latest micro story. Hope you like it!

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They called him Monster

‘I wonder if any of us set out to be monsters?’ I read this last night in one of Neil Gaiman’s short stories, and it made me start thinking about whether you are born a monster because of how you look or become a monster through your actions. It inspired this piece of flash fiction. Let me know your thoughts!

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The Ride of a Lifetime

Here’s another piece of flash fiction – a twist on fairy folklore. I hope you like it! Kim.

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