“What is it?” he asked eagerly. “Tell me!” Charlie urged.
“I am a witch.” said Aunt Trudy softly and slowly.
Charlie’s eyes lit with joy. He had always known there was something unusual about his lovable aunt. “Does that mean I’m a witch too?” he asked excitedly.
“Don’t be stupid boy,” said Trudy. Charlie’s hopes were dashed in an instant. When Trudy saw his sad little face she continued, “Being a witch takes years of practice. I will show you but in the meantime … What to do about those bullies…” her voice trailed off as she heaved a heavy, dusty, green leather bound book, slammed it on the table and proceeded to unbuckle the golden clip that held the book closed. Dust flew from the pages as they were turned. Aunt Trudy ran her finger slowly over the hand written words. The writing was so scribbled and hurried it was difficult to read.
“Aha!” announced Aunt Trudy in triumph disturbing their quiet contemplation. “This ought to do the trick!”
Aunt Trudy’s first spell: Removing an enemies voice
With lizard tails,
And an old woman’s nails,
Take a frog and a pot of snails.
Mush them together in one big stew,
Add a drop of blood but it must be new,
Along with rat tails, not one but two.
Give to your enemy; they must drink it fast,
Every single drop or the effects won’t last,
Now they won’t say a word until you ask.
“Lucky we have all the ingredients right here,” said Aunt Trudy cheerfully pulling bottles from the shelf. Charlie picked up a jar labelled ‘pickled raven’s claw’. He opened the lid and brought the jar to his nose. Aunt Trudy snatched it back from him. “Don’t sniff that, not unless you want a pig snout,” she warned.
“I’m not sure about this,” the nephew said hesitantly.
Aunt Trudy began pouring the ingredients into a black ceramic bowl. The contents were bubbling, mixing together to form an orange paste. “Don’t be silly, that bully will learn.” There was a crazed look in Aunt Trudy’s eyes that Charlie didn’t like one bit.
Charlie asked “Will they get hurt?”
“Not unless you want them to.” Aunt Trudy took the bowl, held it high above her head and whispered the magic words. “Munchlum Doodledum Frooglepop.”
She took some to their garden, Charlie followed. The neighbours’ dog, Benny, had managed to climb onto their grass again ruining Aunt Trudy’s vegetable patch and leaving canine deposits everywhere. Benny was yapping uncontrollably.
“What are you doing?” the little boy asked when he noticed his aunt staring at the dog.
Aunt Trudy held the bowl out in front of her. “First rule of witchcraft Charlie, take out the neighbour’s pesky pet.” Benny was wagging his tail eagerly and still yapping. Trudy lowered the bowl to him and he took several large gulps not stopping to sniff. He started yapping again. Charlie folded his arms across his chest in disappointment. “Give it a moment,” Trudy said. They both watched the dog. Suddenly Benny’s voice was lost. His horrid screeching bark became silent. His jaws were open and his lungs were pushing but no sound came out. “I do that when I want to shut that thing up,” said the aunt. “Now you know how it works, give it to your bully.”
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Jessica knew she couldn’t stop him. Her son, Dorian, had been given a place at the prestigious Filton University and it was a dream come true for him. It would be selfish of her to pull him back because she was afraid to be alone. It wasn’t his fault his father left, no more than it was hers. She knew Dorian felt guilty anyway. He was a sensitive boy and felt some kind of responsibility to become head of their little household. She felt guilty too because she let it happen. She allowed Dorian to look after her when, as a boy, he should have been learning to live his own life. She was a grown woman. She should have been able to look after herself. The mother – son dynamic changed when Walter left. Now she didn’t know how to live any other way.
His eyes darted over the acceptance when he first opened the letter. A smile caused to greyness of his eyes to glint. His lips traced a smile. Jessica watched him. She knew what it meant. The full realisation of what it meant must have clouded over him too because the warmth of excitement cooled like a dying ember.
“I got in,” was all he said.
Jessica managed a smile to match his own. She took her son’s shoulders and pulled him close in an embrace. She felt him shudder slightly. He pulled back and pushed the mop of bottled black hair from his eyes. He nibbled on his lip piercing.
“I’ll come back all the time,” he said knowing the cause of the tension over what should have been good news.
Jessica shook her head. “Don’t worry about me,”she said.
She tried her brave face. She wished she could be more convincing because Dorian looked tired – not a teen boy at all but a weary man who had seen too much.
The celebrated that night by going out to dinner. They picked one of Jessica’s favourite restaurants. Dorian paid. As the son discussed how excited he was for the new chapter in his life, Jessica listened attentively with a beam of pride, hoping Dorian couldn’t hear the thud of her heart at the prospect of him leaving her. Filton wasn’t millions of miles away from the little suburb they lived in but it would mean she wouldn’t see him every day as she was used to.
The day of departure came. Dorian decided to travel alone. He pulled a large rucksack containing everything he deemed important enough to take with him onto his back and he hesitated by the door.
“Are you sure you don’t want me to come with you?” she asked.
Dorian shook his head. “Why don’t you come visit me next week after I’ve had the chance to settle in,” he offered.
Jessica kissed him and held him tightly. “Be safe,” she said.
They both drew back tears and swallowed the separation anxiety.
Jessica knew she would have been selfish to make him stay. Looking back now it would have been better. He would still be with her. He would still be alive.
He was such a sensitive boy after all. As he looked back at her with a wave from the end of the pathway she never would have thought it would be the last time she would see him.
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Timothy Hardship is my name. With that you would think I’ve had a hard life but its really the opposite. The truth is I was a bright and happy boy. That was until I accidentally made myself as tall as a house. Now, simple things like going to school, playing with my friends and other regular kid things present more of a challenge.
Grandad always used to tell me that little kids should give up their seats for adults because they need to stand and grow tall. I was one of the smallest boys in my class so I took my grandad’s advice and kept on my feet as much as possible, thinking it would stretch me out.
Tiny Tim they called me. Well, one day I had had enough.
I was looking through a catalogue that had been lying around the house for years. It was one of those useless things that for some reason my mum wouldn’t throw away. My finger stopped on a very eye catching, star shaped ad. ‘Make yourself as tall as a house!’ it read. A lot of hoodwink and pish posh I thought but since it claimed it was free and all you had to do was call a toll free number I thought ‘why not?’
My parents had been visiting a neighbour who had just had a new baby so I was home alone. I picked up the phone and dialled 0800 – GET – TALL. The ad was so old that I had expected the number to have been disconnected. To my surprise an automated voice came on the other end.
“One moment please,” it said in its computerised, honeyed tone. Then there was a click and the line went dead.
‘Well I don’t feel taller,” I said to myself, putting the phone down with just a little disappointment.
I went to the bathroom. I splashed cold water on my face. I was starting to feel really hot. I hoped I was coming down with something so I could have a day or two off school.
I felt dizzy. I looked down at the sink. It looked a lot smaller and a lot further away than it had a moment ago. I felt something bump against my head. It was the roof! I climbed out of the bathroom and charged downstairs like a stilt walker and squeezed out the front door.
I waved my arms like great boat sails. I could now see in my bedroom window on the top floor.
My tiny mum and miniscule dad came walking down the pathway. Mum shrieked and fell faint. Dad gave a very firm, “Oh my!” and twitched his moustache.
After mum finally recovered I explained to them what had happened. Dad opened the window so I could talk to them, hunching down and peeping in. Dad tried calling the maker of the ad but they had closed business. It seems there wasn’t much business for people wanting to be as big as houses.
I’ve had to make a few adjustments. A sky high house has been built for me to live in. I have to sit in the school yard and listen to my lessons through the window, even when its raining. Mum was shocked at first but she says she loves me no matter my size. I’ll be big until dad can track down the owner of ‘Getting Tall’. At least they don’t call me Tiny Tim anymore.
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