Tag Archives: Once Upon a Wish

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 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 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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