Tag Archives: Fairy tale

Once Upon a Wish – Chapter 4

Chapter 4

shoe-1519804__4801Willie, Jack and Jill pushed the trunk over the top step and ran after it as it bumped down the rest on its own. The trunk landed on its side on the grass. Quickly, they heaved it back upright and dragged it towards a blackberry bush not far from the staircase. Tick Tock donged again, warning them of trouble.

They hid behind the bush and looked through small gaps. Willie watched the boot’s door swing open and Dame Nettle march out. She stood on the raised platform, looking in all directions – scowling.

The estate agent started to thump on the inside of the trunk. Willie’s insides flip-flopped.

‘We’ll let you go if you stay quiet for a wee minute,’ he whispered. ‘Starting from now.’

The banging stopped.

Pinocchio followed Dame Nettle outside. ‘I told you it wasn’t Mr Sprat. It’s dwarf miners. Their tunnels stretch for miles underground.’ As he spoke his nose grew.

‘See his poor nose – that always happens when he lies,’ said Jill. ‘Oh, I hope she doesn’t look at his face.’

Luckily, Dame Nettle didn’t. She spun on her heel and headed back inside. ‘Tick Tock, if you don’t stop donging at the wrong time I’ll chop you up and turn you into firewood,’ she shouted.

Pinocchio hurried after her.

‘Leave the door open,’ she said to him.

Willie glanced at Jack. He held a hand to his forehead and said, ‘Phew – that was close.’

Jill kneeled beside the trunk. ‘Are you okay in there?’

‘I stayed quiet as you asked. Now, please let me out,’ the man’s muffled voice begged.

Willie squatted down and spoke into the keyhole. ‘There’s one more thing – you’ve got to promise to go straight home.’

‘And not come back,’ added Jack.

‘Come back! Do you really think I want to see you lot again?’

Willie turned to the other two and they both nodded. He slowly lifted the lid.

The estate agent sat up in the trunk and took several gulps of air. He had a bulging red bump on his forehead and his eyes were unusually wide. ‘Where am I?’ He frowned. ‘Who am I?’

Willie and Jill turned to Jack.

‘It seems that bump on his head has made him lose his memory,’ he said.

‘We hit him with the lid!’ Jill covered her mouth with a hand.

‘Sorry. We didn’t mean to hurt you,’ said Willie. ‘You should have ducked.’ He thought again how odd it was for an estate agent to wear a stethoscope around his neck.

‘Your name is Mr Sprat and right now you’re at Old Boot House,’ said Jack slowly.

‘And you’re on your way home.’ Willie straightened back up.

‘But he can’t go home now,’ said Jill. ‘We need to take care of him – fix his head with vinegar and brown paper.’

‘No – he has to go,’ said Willie.

Jack nodded in agreement.

‘What if he can’t find his way home? It’s so cold out here he could freeze to death,’ continued Jill.

At that moment, Pinocchio darted around the bramble bush. Willie hadn’t heard anyone leave the boot and it gave him a fright.

‘I thought you were going to stop the estate agent.’ Pinocchio paused to catch his breath. ‘He’s just flown in on a flying carpet.’

‘He can’t have. This is the estate agent.’ Willie gestured at the man being helped out of the trunk by Jill.

‘It’s not,’ said Pinocchio.

Willie looked at their estate agent and so did his friends. He was stocky, middle-aged and had wiry brown hair. His clothes and shoes were soaking wet. A name badge fell out of his trouser pocket as he climbed free of the trunk. Willie picked it up and read: ‘Doctor Foster’.

‘We’ve got the wrong person.’ Jack took off his glasses, squeezed the bridge of his nose and put his glasses back on again.

Willie cringed and Jill said, many times, how sorry they were.

‘Come on, quick. We’ve got to get back to the boot,’ said Willie.

He sprinted off with Jack and Pinocchio.

‘I’ll come back,’ he heard Jill say to the doctor and she ran after them.

 

***

 

Willie and the others charged through the door together. Dame Nettle stood with the estate agent, staring up the boot’s leather ankle at the circle of daylight showing through the roof. Mr Sprat didn’t look anything like the man they’d locked inside the travelling trunk. He reminded Willie of a grasshopper on account of his bald head, skinny body, long legs and the lime-green tailcoat and tight brown trousers he wore.

Dame Nettle’s head snapped in their direction. ‘Back from the market so soon,’ she said and gave them a fierce glare. Her hand instinctively reached for the whip in her pocket, but then her eyes flicked to the estate agent and she let go of it.

‘Jack Sprat. I sell homes in one second flat.’ He gave them a wide, toothy smile and strode towards them and shook each of their hands in turn.

Willie hoped he really couldn’t sell a house this quickly.

The estate agent headed back across the room to Dame Nettle and peered up at the roof again.

‘To achieve the marvellous price I mentioned, you’ll need to get that fixed,’ he said. ‘And the sink unblocked and – ’ he examined the floor ‘– the insole re-glued in places. We want property buyers falling for your house not falling in it.’ He laughed at his own joke. ‘Do you have a man about the house who can do these things for you?’

Dame Nettle rolled her eyes. ‘I’ve always thought men are more trouble than they’re worth.’ The wrinkles on her forehead grew even deeper as she thought. ‘But I do want someone to pay a lot of money for the boot. Perhaps I should wish for one.’

‘Well, you won’t be granted a wish unless you try.’ Jack Sprat scribbled something down in a notepad. ‘Some lucky person’s dream will come true.’

Dame Nettle walked him to the door, passing Willie and his friends.

‘I just have one last question. Will you be leaving any fixtures and fittings, like curtains and carpets?’ he asked.

‘Oh, yes.’ Dame Nettle smiled a huge smile. ‘I’ll be leaving the children.’

Jack Sprat frowned, tapped his ear and said, ‘Excuse me?’

‘The children, an ugly bird and a few animals come with the house,’ she explained.

He took a step away from her. ‘You can’t leave children or creatures behind – you’ve got to take them with you. The house needs to be left empty or no-one will buy it,’ he said. ‘Is that a problem?’

Dame Nettle pressed her thin lips together and she cast a sideways glance at Willie, Pinocchio, Jack and Jill. Then she looked back at the estate agent and said, ‘No, it’s no problem at all.’

 

Story dedicated to Tom Donovan.

Story by Kim Donovan. (C) all rights reserved. Image: Pixabay

 

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Once Upon a Wish – The man who arrived by travelling trunk (Chapter 3)

shoe-1519804__4801

Willie had fallen asleep imagining what his family would be like. His dad would be a music man and he’d teach Willie how to play the piano – pia, pia, pia-ano – and the big bass drum – bumdi, bumdi, bumdi-bum. He pictured his mum and him rowing a boat gently down the stream, and stopping his sister from pricking her finger on an enchanted spinning wheel. He thought about them arriving on a flying carpet to collect him.

‘Keep wishing. Dreams do come true!’ he’d shout to the boys and girls, as he flew off to his new home – over the rainbow.

But his wished-for family didn’t arrive at breakfast time, by mid-morning or lunchtime.

‘Are you all right?’ Jill touched Willie’s arm.

He spun away from her. ‘It’s just something in ma eye,’ he said, and quickly wiped his face with the sleeve of his nightgown. Daft to believe in magic, anyway, he thought.

At half past two, Dame Nettle singled out Pinocchio and Princess True Love. The princess wore a dirty ball gown. ‘You two stay here,’ said the dame. ‘You’ll make the place look homely.’ Then she shooed the rest of the boys and girls out the door. ‘I want you go to market to buy a fat pig,’ she said to them. ‘The last thing I want is for Mr Sprat to think the place is overrun with horrible children and – ’ she glanced at the bird with muddy-brown feathers ‘– ugly ducklings.’

Willie tried to catch Enid’s eye to tell her not to listen to Dame Nettle, but she bent her long neck towards the wooden slats and didn’t look up.

Jill stretched out her hand, clearly expecting some money to pay for the pig. But Dame Nettle touched the pocket with the whip in it, and Jill’s arm shot behind her back.

‘The market’s in Banbury. It’ll take at least two hours to walk there,’ Jack whispered to Willie, as they headed down the outside steps by the shoe’s heel.

‘She’s only sending us there to get us out of the way,’ replied Willie.

The North wind blew through his flimsy nightshirt, making him shiver. Pale grey clouds hung like heavy sacks in the sky.

‘I think it might snow,’ said Jill.

Willie heard the door to the boot shut. ‘Quick! Let’s hide under the staircase.’ He ran around the side and ducked underneath it.

‘She might see us.’ Jill didn’t follow him.

‘No, she won’t. This is our chance to stop the estate agent; come on!’

Jack and Jill joined him in the small space. The rest of the children waved goodbye and carried on across the field on their long walk.

Jill pulled her sleeves over her hands. ‘Do you think it would feel this cold if we lived under a bridge?’

‘Yes, and we’d have trolls to worry about too.’ Jack peered out of a gap between two steps.

Willie did his best to give her a reassuring smile. ‘We’re not going to live under a bridge or a staircase or in cardboard boxes. We’re staying where we are.’

Inside, Tick Tock donged three times and Princess True Love started to sing like an angel.

‘Dame Nettle must think music will put the estate agent in a good mood,’ said Jack.

‘Aye. She’s after the best price she can get for the boot.’ Willie looked out from their hiding position as well. He scanned his surroundings for a pumpkin carriage bumping across the field or a flying house twirling to the ground. His chest felt like he had fairies fluttering inside of him.

But he had not expected the estate agent to arrive by travelling trunk. The wooden box appeared as a dot in the sky one second and before Willie had time to say Jack in a Box it landed with an almighty bump on the raised platform above their heads.

Tick Tock donged twelve times in warning even though it wasn’t midday or midnight. He’d obviously heard the noise too. Hopefully, Dame Nettle hadn’t.

‘Quick, get him!’ Willie sprinted up the steps to the trunk, his friends at his heel.

A middle-aged man sat wedged inside the box with his arms and legs dangling over the sides, trying to pull himself out. He wore odd clothes for an estate agent – a white cotton coat and a stethoscope around his neck. His clothes were also very wet, like he’d been for a swim fully dressed. A leather briefcase and a plastic carrier bag lay on top of him.

‘Thank goodness you’re here. Please help me,’ he said, breathlessly.

‘We’re very sorry to do this to you.’ Willie grabbed one of the man’s legs and started pushing it inside the box.

At the same time, Jack worked on forcing his arms inside too. Jill half-heartedly tried to push the lid closed.

‘Oh, please lower your head,’ she said to him. ‘I don’t want to hurt you.’

‘We will let you out again,’ said Jack.

‘Help! Someone help me!’ The man kicked Willie and hit Jack with the plastic bag.

The boys stopped what they were doing and helped Jill try to force the lid shut. Eventually, it started to close… the estate agent only just managed to pull his fingers inside the trunk in time. But by the thump and the yelp he let out, he didn’t lower his head fast enough.

‘Sorry!’ whispered Jill.

Willie stopped dead still. The princess had stopped singing part way through the song.

‘Something’s wrong,’ he said. Quick – push. Down the steps.’

 

Once Upon a Wish is dedicated to Tom Donovan

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

 

 

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Once Upon a Wish – The Beginning

Chapter 1

There was an old lady who lived in a shoe.

She had so many children, she didn’t know what to do.

She gave them some broth without any bread;

And whipped them all soundly and put them to bed.

 

shoe-1519804__4801I’m sorry to say the rhyme about Dame Nettle is real. She ran Old Boot House, a home for lost and orphaned children, in a brown leather boot with mustard-yellow laces that had once belonged to a giant. It was a horrible place for boys and girls to grow up. If only The Fairy Godfather would wave his magic wand and make all their dreams come true.

Willie Winkie’s story begins on a late afternoon in the middle of winter when the boot’s laces were tied up tight against the cold. Dame Nettle was sitting at one of two long wooden tables in the middle of the boot, flicking through the property magazine Home Sweet Home. She was dipping her toast into an enormous boiled egg, the size of a dragon’s. Whether she was standing or sitting her back remained rounded, and she had deep wrinkles from years of scowling. She looked like she could be snapped in half, but Willie knew she wasn’t as weak as she seemed. He had watched her attack a troll that jumped out on her on a bridge. From that day on the troll only chased after billy goats.

The children worked around her: sweeping the inner sole of the boot, cleaning the round windows, and tidying the hammocks where they slept high in the leather ankle. Tom Thumb, a boy no bigger than Willie’s little finger, dragged spoons across a table to set it for supper. A large duckling with light brown feathers dusted a cupboard with its wing. Willie had been put in charge of making the meal this evening, among other jobs. He stood watching the watery soup cooking in the cast-iron cauldron, making sure it didn’t boil over.

Some people called him Wee Willie because he was short for ten-years-old and rather scrawny, perhaps because he lived on a diet of only broth and porridge. Even so, he had grown since he’d been at Old Boot House. The faded nightshirt he wore, all day and every day, used to cover his toes, now it barely reached his knees. His feet had got bigger too. His heels hung over the backs of his tatty slippers.

At present only a cupful of thin, clear soup bubbled inside the cauldron, but the amount soon doubled all by itself and continued growing. It rose higher and higher in the pot. Once the soup reached just below the top, Willie said in a firm voice, ‘Stop, little pot’ and it did.

A loud cracking noise made him jump. He looked over his shoulder at Dame Nettle. She had put down her spoon, taken the whip out of her apron pocket and whacked it against the table. She was glaring at Willie’s friend Jack, as usual.

Jack gazed steadily back at her, but didn’t stop scrubbing the floor by the door. Unlike the other boys and girls Jack always managed to look clean and tidy. His glasses had no smudges on them, and his check shirt, brown waistcoat and knee-length trousers, which he’d been wearing for months, could have been clean on today.

‘Why, you’re as lazy as Little Boy Blue,’ Dame Nettle said to him. ‘Take the pail to the top of the hill and fetch some water.’

Jack sighed. ‘All right. I’ll go. But I probably won’t find any water at the top of the hill. I’m more likely to find it at the bottom.’

Willie looked from Jack back to Dame Nettle. Her eyes had narrowed.

‘The pail is too heavy for Jack to carry by himself. I’ll go with him.’ Jill quickly looked down at her welly boots to avoid making eye contact with her. Blonde ringlets hung over her face like curtains.

Some children thought Jack and Jill were brother and sister because they arrived on the same day, but they had just clung together because they were both new.

‘Did I ask you to speak?’ Dame Nettle scraped back her seat and stood up. She tapped the whip against her long, black skirt and stared at Jill.

Willie coughed. He raised an arm as Dame Nettle twisted towards him.

‘Yes, what is it?’ she snapped.

‘I’ll go with them – nae bother.’ He could feel his heart beating fast to the tune of one, two, buckle my shoe. Three, four, open the door…

He knew he was asking for trouble. He also knew they had to stick together, not be singled out. That’s how they all survived in Old Boot House.

Dame Nettle sucked in her cheeks as she looked at Willie and then at the rest of the children. ‘It seems you all need to be taught a lesson. Perhaps I’ll bake you in a pie like four and twenty blackbirds.’

‘Time for tea,’ said Tick Tock, the Grandfather clock in a deep, slow voice.

He stood against the side of the shoe, near the tables and chairs. His black metal clock hands showed it wasn’t supper time for another ten minutes, and his blue eyes looked everywhere but at them.

Dame Nettle ignored Tick Tock, but not the telephone that began to ring on the window ledge. She broke into a huge smile and hurried over to it.

Her smiled worried Willie. He had only ever seen her cheerful when she was up to no good.

 

Dedicated to my nephew, Tom Donovan.

I’ll post the next chapter in a few days.  I’d LOVE some pictures by children if anyone fancies being an illustrator! Kimx

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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