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New Year, New Story!

January 1, 2012

I’m writing this in the first minutes of 2012 with starbursts over the Weaver and a small Irish cream at my elbow.

I thought it might be fun to write a new story for the New Year and will post below my newly completed tale for children, ‘Spinky’, about a magical spider. 

Truthfully, this is an old story radically rehashed.  As a young dad in the latter 70s, I began telling stories to amuse my children.  And some of the better ones I wrote up on a primitive typewriter.  The original ‘Spinky’, dated March 1980, was a skimpy piece indeed.

Rewriting this (and other stories from the period) has been like collaborating with my younger self, a slimline, less bald Paul Beech sporting dark sideburns instead of a grey beard…quite a good experience really!

Of course I’m much too close to the story at the moment to see it in perspective.  Is it any good?  You decide.  I look forward to your comments.

Happy New Year, everyone, and all the very best for 2012.

SPINKY

It was a fine summer’s eve and the white cottage had a magical gleam in the moonlight.  Daphne and her little sister Ruth were fast asleep in the bed they shared.  How surprised they’d have been had they known about the tiny creature passing on the breeze.

    Awake, the sisters were full of mischief and fun, but now, asleep, they had the look of angels.  And the teeny-weeny heart of the creature went thumpety-thumpety-thump as he spied their sweet faces through parted curtains. 

    The window was ajar, and in he sailed on a balloon of purest gossamer.

    Daphne and Ruth had never noticed that the stout oak beam above their bed had a deep notch on one side, like a little cave.  Here it was the tiny black creature would make his home.  By the first light of day, Spinky the spider had spun a shallow web, like a hammock.

    Pleased with himself, Spinky lay back on his hammock to rest his eight weary legs and wait for the angels to wake.  It would be so lovely to meet them, he thought…

***

The little redheaded angel opened her eyes and rubbed them to get the sleep out.  Then screamed!

    Daphne raised herself on one elbow as her sister dived under the eiderdown, sobbing and shaking with fear.

    “Ruth, Ruth, whatever’s the matter?  Did you have a bad dream?”

    Ruth’s voice came muffled from the depths of the bed.  “It was real!  It was tiny and black with big shiny eyes and danced on the tip of my nose.  It was horrible-horrible-horrible…”

    “Poor you,” said Daphne, soothingly.  “But I think it’s safe to come out now.”

    “Are you sure, Daffy?”

    “Quite sure.”

    “No nasty beasties?”

    “Not a one.”

    “Promise, Daffy?”

    “Promise.”

    “Very well then.”

    A pair of small hands popped out from under the eiderdown.  Then a mop of red curls.  Then a flushed and tear-stained face with blotchy eyes.

    Such a sweet face, thought Spinky, lovingly.  And down a thread of silk he came, to dance again on the little angel’s nose…

***

In the next room Ma and Pa were sitting up in bed, reading their books.  They wore earmuffs to shut out the noise of their daughters’ high jinks.  But not even the fluffiest, puffiest earmuffs could have muffled the pandemonium from the girls’ room that morning.

    “Whack him, Daffy!  Squish him, squash him, mash him with your shoe!”

    Ma put her book down with a sigh and pulled off her earmuffs.

    Pa followed suit.  “I was just getting to an exciting bit,” he grumbled.

    Ma said, “Sounds like the little savages have found a new game.”

    And savage was exactly how they sounded.

    “Missed him again!  Blast and bother, he’s getting away.”

    “Poke him with your hockey stick, Daffy!  Pulp the blighter.  C’mon, c’mon…”

    Now came the unmistakable TWANG of bedsprings.

    Pa was on his feet in an instant.  “A new game?  Be blowed to that!”

    Robed now, he flung wide the girls’ door with Ma at his side… to be greeted with a sort of crazy snow scene!

    Well, it wasn’t really snow that filled the air and covered everything; snow isn’t brown.  It was the down of a duck.

    Through the burst eiderdown protruded three coiled springs, which twanged as Daphne and Ruth bounced on the bed.  Ruth was waving a rolled-up Mickey Mouse Weekly.  And Daphne was about to bash the overhead beam with her hockey stick again, hoping to flatten the spider.

    “Don’t you dare!” bellowed Pa, who was not in one of his jokey moods that morning.

    Ma was tearful.  “You’ve ruined your eiderdown.  Ruined your mattress too.  You little savages, how could you?”

    Pa held up a hand.  “Don’t even try to explain,” he said.  “There can be no excuse for wrecking your room.  No more pocket money for you two until the damage is paid for.  Do you understand?”

    “Yes, Pa.  Sorry, Pa.”

    “Yes, Pa.  Sorry, Pa.”

    “Right then.  Daphne, the broom.  Ruth, the shovel.  You shall tidy this mess right away.”

    Above their heads a tiny voice said, “Can I do anything to help?”

    It was Spinky the spider, back on his hammock.  But nobody heard him of course.

    Such angels, he thought.  They’d had such fun and he hated to see them in trouble.   Spinky felt guilty somehow.

***

Pa bought a new mattress for Daphne and Ruth.  He couldn’t afford meat for their evening meal but Ma did her best with larder-scraps.  The sisters went to bed with bellyache.

    Ma had patched their eiderdown but it was thinner than before and felt less cosy in the dark. 

    “It was all the nasty beastie’s fault, wasn’t it, Daffy?”

    “Go to sleep, Ruth.”

    “And now, poor Ma, we’ve no money to buy a present for her birthday tomorrow.”

    “Go to sleep, please.”

    Daphne was upset and soon her little sister was sobbing too.  Eventually they fell asleep with the rolled-up Mickey Mouse Weekly between them.

    The morning light fell dusty gold on their bedside cabinet.  And gummy-eyed, redheaded Ruth shook her sister awake.

    “Daffy, do you believe in magic?  Do you believe in miracles?”

    “I believe I need more sleep.  What do you want, Ruth?”

    The little girl pointed, and there on the bedside cabinet was a pile of newly minted coins.

    Daphne gasped.  She was dreaming, had to be…surely?  She took a handful of coins and jangled them together until she knew beyond doubt they were real.  Then she set about counting.

    “After paying back Pa, we’ll have thruppence three-farthing to buy Ma a present.”

    “Wow, a proper present!” squealed Ruth.  “We could buy her a sherbet dip with that.”

    Daphne laughed.  “With a couple of Blackjacks for good measure!”

    “But the coins, Daffy – where did they come from?”

    Where indeed?  “Thruppence three-farthing, thruppence three-farthing,” sang the sisters as they twirled a giddy dance.

    It was then they spotted the tiny black creature with big shiny eyes on the uppermost coin of the pile.

    Ruth reached for her Mickey Mouse Weekly…

    “Did you see that, Daffy?  The creature took a bow like a performing magician.  Then, in a trice, he was gone!”

    A silken scribble of words hung in the golden dust of the morning light, and Daphne read aloud:

    “Dearest Angels, these coins so bright I leave with love – your favourite Money Spider.”

    Spinky was away on the breeze again.  And the sisters would be savages no more.

– THE END –        

© Copyright Paul Beech 2012

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