Stories and Poems Heading

 


The Earth is a beautiful place, and we belong to it just as all the other animals and plants belong to it. Without the Earth, we have no place in the Universe. The Earth is our home and our best friend; it gives us everything we need to live and be happy.

But the Earth is being spoiled. Greedy people, who really only wants lots of money and luxuries for themselves, don’t care if they ruin the Earth to get the things they want. The greedy adults will spoil the Earth, and the children of the Earth will be left with nothing but devastation.

In ‘A Boy, A Bubble and a Whole Lot of Trouble’, Terry’s teacher, Mrs Brakespeare told the class that people do not deserve the Earth because they care so little about it and only think of their own selfishness. She said that, one day, people would be sorry when they realised what they had lost – only then it would be too late. She said: ‘It is up to us to make sure that doesn’t happen.’

So we have to do something – we have to be the ones who will change things. The greedy people won’t, because they’re too busy getting richer. They don’t want to change anything, in case they lose a lot of their money.

Your body is also the Earth. The greedy people will ruin your body with the rubbishy stuff they call ‘food’, so their companies can keep on making big profits. Not only manufactured ‘food’, but the other stuff – alcohol, drugs and cigarettes – make those people massive fortunes at the expense of other people’s health.

Say ‘NO!’ to the things that will hurt your body. Other kids might think those things are cool, but you don’t have to. Really cool kids think for themselves.

Keeping your body healthy goes a long way to caring for the Earth. A lot of school communities nowadays are building their own vegetable gardens, where the students learn how to grow things and find out how great and delicious freshly-grown food is. Growing plants is not only fun but it makes you feel good, and proud of what you can achieve. It makes you smarter than people who think that food only comes out of cans or boxes, and smarter than people who think that the floppy fruit and vegetables they see in the shops (most of it is sprayed with water to make it look better) is actually ‘fresh’.

There are loads of things we can do to make sure that the future of the Earth will not be ruin and devastation. We just have to look around and pay attention, and see the good things that people are already trying to do for the Earth. Then we can work out how to make our contribution.

What I want most is for the Earth to be a beautiful, happy place, for you and all the children of the future.

A horse with wings

Imagine this:

     You are riding a horse with wings. Clinging precariously to the back of something that feels like silk stretched over a volcano. Your heart is in your mouth. Suns, planets, moons—spin past. Your winged horse carries you into the sweep of a galactic arm scooping endless stars into a river of light.

     The river dashes into the whirling eddy of the galactic core. You have never seen so much energy in one place—boiling, bubbling, churning. The blood of suns, boiling; the incandescent bubbling of a hundred-billion stars; the churning of constellations like white foam: all that surging maelstrom of life.

     And the horse with wings is plunging headlong into the chaos.

    Will you survive?

     Blink, and there you are. One second inside the biggest tornado in existence then—blink!—and absolute peace surrounds you. The horse folds its wings and allows you to slide off.

     What dimension is this? Everywhere you look spheres are strung like shining beads on crystalline threads. You think of dewdrops on a never-ending spider web until you see the transparent skin that connects each dewdrop to the other. And then you think of bubbles in a pool of water. A pool that continues for ever and ever.

     Each bubble is a world—a universe. In rainbow-coloured waves, ripples of feeling flicker across the endless trembling skin of light, from universe to universe. Look deep into one shining world. Something is changing there—something is happening. And the rainbows flicker the message, and every other universe feels and knows.

     There is no finish to it, and no beginning. It is everything.

     Worlds without end.

Now, look deeper into that pulsing world. The changes you see are the ripples of your life.

     Life without end.

Make it count.

 


Frankie and the Guggaflumpies


Poem: Frankie and the Guggaflumpies

Frankie wanted to be cool. He wanted to be IN.
The Guggaflumpies were cool as cool and definitely IN.

‘If you’re going to be cool,’ the Guggaflumpies said,
‘You’ll have to wear these super-dark sunglasses on your head.’
‘OK,’ said Frankie tossing them on and striking the coolest pose.
He stumbled through the blackness and fell upon his nose.

‘If you’re going to be IN,’ said the Guggaflumpies now,
‘Just swear and pick your nose a lot, and make a noisy row.
‘OK,’ said Cranky Frankie. ‘Though my nose will think that’s awful.
‘It’s already blown up like a balloon and bleeding by the bucketful.’

‘If you want to be the IN-est,’ said the Guggaflumpies then,
‘Don’t brush your teeth or change your socks for five days or for ten.’
‘OK,’ said Frankie locking up his toothbrush in a drawer.
But everyone ran away from him, and he was less IN than before.

‘If you’re going to be the coolest,’ said the Guggaflumpies after,
‘You’ll have to dress in black all day and never give in to laughter.’
‘OK,’ said Frankie wearing black and making a face of dread.
Then someone went and buried him, thinking he was dead.

 


Poem: Tea with a Flea

Oh, dear me! Oh, dear me!
I’ve just been invited to tea with a flea.
What will we drink?
What do you think?
I hope it’s not blood.
I’d rather eat mud!


Tea with a Flea


Poem: On The Way To … Somewhere

I did that once: put my foot into a dinosaur’s footprint,
Somewhere in New Mexico,
Under the shadow of Black Mesa,
In an arroyo of parched sides, worn to dust by a vanished river.

Dry everywhere, only the soak of last night’s rain
In patches of damp clay.
Thin brown stalks of waving grass
And the proof in stone that a dinosaur walked this way.

I measure my shoe in the canyon of its print,
Seeing the mighty leg above the foot,
The mightier head and body above the leg;
A mountain plodding across a mudflat, on the way to … somewhere.

The sky is blue, clear and empty,
The land is golden, still and curiously silent.
What thundered by here once, has gone for ever,
Leaving us with a petrified message: ‘I existed.’

Crossing the damp mud, my footsteps make their own impression
Of life on the way to … somewhere.
Under the baking sun, will it remain,
Turned to stone: the memory of my brief moment in this place?

 

Poem: POSSUM BOOTS

HOOT! BUMP! BASH! CRASH! CRUNCH! CLATTER! GRUMBLE! GROWL! SMASH! THUNK! THONK! WHALLOP!

Little Lucy woke in fright and sat up straight in bed.
    What noise was that? That scary noise right above her bed?
Something spooky’s up there – something big and hairy.
    A monster in a petticoat? I don’t think it’s a fairy.

‘Dad! Dad!’ she yelled, and grabbing Panda, scampered down the hall.
    The scary noises scampered after, rattling the wall.
She leapt straight into Dad’s strong arms. ‘It’s coming, Dad, to eat me!’
    Its favourite food is girls and boys. It’s hungry and a meanie!’

‘What is?’ said her father, glancing at the ceiling.
    ‘The monster,’ groaned poor Lucy, ‘with a hairy scary feeling.’

‘A monster? I don’t think so,’ said Daddy with a grin.
    ‘It’s possums in big boots up there making that awful din.’
‘Possums?’ tearful Lucy cried. ‘Possums in big boots?
    Possums making all that noise – those bumps and dreadful hoots?

Possums playing games? Possums being bad?
    It sounds as if they’re dancing. Where do they get the boots from, Dad?’
‘They buy them in the shoe shop,’ said Daddy with a smile.
    ‘They try them on and prance about to test them for a while.’

‘Are you sure they do?’ said Lucy. ‘Because I don’t really know …
    If possums would go shopping there, the service is too slow.
And if they take their car, there is no place to park it.
    I think they’d rather get their boots at the supermarket.’

‘Or buy them from a catalogue,’ said Daddy, laughing heartily.
    ‘Just pop a letter in the mail, and Postie brings them smartly.’

‘Or if they want them quicker,’ said Lucy laughing, too.
    ‘They’d buy them on the Internet; that’s just what I would do.’
‘Too right,’ said Daddy, grinning. ‘That’s where they’d get them from.
    ‘I’ve seen the website there myself; it’s possumboots.com!

 


Story: The Wimberoo Hall of Fame

‘Youse all oughta look up ‘ere,’ says Hairy Ted, jerking his head at the corrugated iron wall.
    We all – the three German backpackers, a Japanese gentleman named Mr Muto and his incredibly tiny wife, old Mr and Mrs Riley from Coffs Harbour, my mum and me – look up.
    Dangling from a nail in the wall is a dirty old boot with its sole hanging off. Right next to the boot there’s a shelf made out of a fence paling. Sitting on the shelf is something that makes us all cringe: some brownish-yellow false teeth – just the upper set.
    ‘That’s all that’s left of Put-off Pete,’ says Hairy Ted solemnly.
    Mr Muto bows to Hairy Ted. ‘Who is-a-Put-off-a Pete, please?’
    Hairy Ted talks out of one side of his mouth. Occasionally he changes sides to give the other one a go.
    ‘Bloke who used to live ‘round ‘ere,’ he drawls. ‘Lived in a shack just outa town … never did a proper day’s work in ‘is life.’ Hairy Ted looks straight at me. ‘Couldn’t stand kids neither. Used to chase ‘em off with a bucket of wet cow pats.’
    ‘Why was he called Put-off Pete?’ I say.
    ‘Because ‘e was always puttin’ things off till tomorrow,’ says Hairy Ted with his eyes still on me.
    My mum giggles softly. ‘A bit like you,’ she sniggers in my ear.
    ‘Come off it, Mum,’ I whisper back. ‘I only put off stuff I hate, like hard homework and going to the dentist.’
    Hairy Ted narrows his eyes, and his huge shaggy grey eyebrows come down and cover them. This is the stare he reserves for people who aren’t taking his tour seriously. He reminds me of my teacher Mrs Kruschoff when she’s trying to get the class to behave. Except for the eyebrows.
    ‘What sorts of things did Put-off Pete put off?’ old Mr Riley asks.
    Hairy Ted clears his throat. ‘Everything. Never did nothin’ until it was nearly too late. Then he didn’t do it neither. Like the time when ‘is chook pen started to fall apart. Chicken wire rusted away … ‘ole got bigger … fox or dogs, or somethin’ got to the chooks. One by one he lost them chooks, but he kept puttin’ off the fence mending till tomorrow.’
    Mr Muto is muttering to his wife in Japanese. She can’t make head or tail out of Hairy Ted’s sideways-talking tour, so Mr Muto has to translate. But I’m not sure he knows what ‘chooks’ are; if you ask me, they both look totally baffled. The Germans are nodding wisely to each other, as if Germany must be full of chooks and Put-off Petes.
    Hairy Ted coughs explosively to get our attention. ‘Second-worst thing Put-off Pete ever put off doin’ was dental ‘ygiene. Then one day ‘is top teeth fell out. Took ‘im four years to get around t’goin’ to the dentist to get them dentures …’ Hairy Ted jerks his head at the false teeth … ‘lived on tinned soup an’ bread an’ milk …’
    Mr Muto is translating at top speed, flapping his hands up and down in front of his mouth; Mrs Muto turns and stares incredulously at the false teeth. Hairy Ted looks impatient to get on with the tour.
    ‘What was the first-worst thing Put-off Pete put off?’ I say.
    ‘I was gettin’ to that,’ says Hairy Ted.
    He waves his hand at the dirty old boot. ‘When Put-off Pete got ‘is dentures, ‘e went back to eatin’ solid food. You’d think ‘e’d a learned that puttin’ off things is stupid, especially when they’re necessary. But ‘e didn’t. ‘Is shack had a tin roof and a few of the nails was loose. Course, when the rains came –’
    ‘Excuse …’ says one of the Germans. ‘It rains here?’ The Germans are swatting at flies and staring out through the open door at the wide brown hills and scattered thin-leafed trees.
    ‘Now and then,’ says Hairy Ted. ‘When it rains, it rains.’
    ‘So what happened when it rained?’ says Mrs Riley eagerly. I think she wants to hear the end of the story so she can have the damper and the mug of authentic billy tea that come free with the tour.
    ‘Roof leaked,’ says Hairy Ted. ‘Put-off Pete came t’town, whingeing about drips. Wouldn’t do anything about ‘em but. Wouldn’t climb on that roof with a hammer an’ nail ‘is roof down. A few of the local kids overheard him whingeing, an’ decided to get even. Sneaked off to the shack while ‘e was in the pub. Pulled out all the nails – every bloomin’ one. Then up comes a big wind, an’ the roof takes off. Put-off Pete musta tried to hold it down an’ forgot to let go when it blew away. Blew away with it and hasn’t been seen since.’
    ‘Crikey,’ says Mr Riley.
    ‘Left his teeth behind and everything,’ says Mrs Riley.
    The Germans and Mr and Mrs Muto stand in respectful silence.
    Mum nudges me in the ribs. ‘See … let that be a lesson to you. Don’t put things off.’
    Yeah. I kind of agree; it is a good lesson. Good enough to give me the idea for the composition I’ve been putting off writing – ‘The Most Unusual Person I Know’.
    Well, I don’t really know Put-off Pete – just his boot and false teeth. But, hey, I reckon that’ll do. Don’t you?

 


Story: ACCOUNTABILITY

Keith was a counter. He counted everything. He’d even count the freckles on your face if you’d let him.
    When he woke up in the morning the first thing he counted was the number of daffodils on his bedroom wallpaper: six-hundred-and-sixteen on each of two walls, five-hundred-and-thirty one on the door wall and two-hundred-and-ninety on the window wall (it was a big window). In all, two-thousand-and-fifty-three daffodils. Next, the cracks on the ceiling: only twelve of those. It was always the same. Nothing ever changed. But every morning he’d count them, just to be sure.
    At breakfast he counted his rice bubbles. In batches of twenty. He always ate them dry because milk made them stick together and more difficult to count. There had to be twenty rice bubbles to every spoonful. Then he counted the number of spoonfuls as he ate them. This wasn’t the same every morning, due to the varying number of rice bubbles in the bowl. Keith didn’t mind this. He didn’t need everything to be the same all the time. He just had to know how many things there were. Otherwise the whole day would go wrong for him. Keith was really weird.
    This particular morning, though, he woke up and didn’t even think about the wallpaper. Hurriedly he tossed off the doona and stared at his feet. Last night he’d had the oddest dream. He counted his toes, left foot first, starting at the big toe. One, two, three, four, five. Okay. Now the right foot. One, two – oh no. Do it again: big toe ... second toe ... gap ... gap ... little toe. Where had the middle ones gone?
    Two of his toes were missing. He had only eight toes. But he’d gone to bed last night with all ten.
    After recovering from the initial shock of finding himself two toes short, he lay down and slipped back into the old pattern of counting. Six-hundred-and-sixteen wallpaper daffodils on the first wall. Six-hundred-and-sixteen on the second. Two-hundred-and-ninety on the wall with the window. Five-hundred-and-twenty-five on the wall with the door.
    Five-hundred and twenty-five? Keith sat up. Yesterday there had been five-hundred and thirty-one delightful floral emblems on the wall around his bedroom door. Above the door was blank space on the wallpaper, as if someone had rubbed the flowers out with a …well … a rubber. What had happened to them? Had someone stolen six of his daffodils?
    Toes and daffodils. Things were getting hairier by the minute. Keith looked nervously up at the ceiling. But the twelve cracks were all there.
    He decided to get up. He was hungry and wanted rice bubbles. He got out of bed and promptly fell over. With the two middle toes missing off his right foot, he was off balance. He had to practise standing for a while. Then walking. Once he’d got used to the odd feeling, he pulled on his socks. At least that looked better. You couldn’t see the unnerving gap in his toes now.
    In the kitchen Mum was cooking scrambled eggs for herself. Keith always cooked his own later, on account of he took so long to work his way through the bowl of rice bubbles. Keith tilted the rice bubble box into his bowl. Nothing came out.
    ‘Mum, where are all the rice bubbles?’
    ‘You tell me,’ said Mum. ‘The box was empty when I wanted them too. And I only opened it yesterday. Are you sure you didn’t get hungry during the night, and come downstairs and scoff them all?’
    ‘No,’ said Keith. ‘I don’t think so.’
    ‘You could have, you know,’ Mum insisted. ‘I know you sleep-walk sometimes.’
    Keith didn’t think he had sleep-walked. Now all his rice bubbles were missing. How was he going to start his day off right?
    ‘What other cereal have we got?’ he said.
    ‘WeetBix,’ said Mum. ‘How many do you want? One, two or three?’

Keith was planning to study Accountancy in a couple of years. As soon as he had saved enough money to pay for the course. In the meantime he worked in the Men’s Wear Department at Grace Brothers. It was his very first job. Job Number One.
    He was so disturbed by his missing toes, daffodils and rice bubbles that this morning he forgot to count the customers who came to the cash register. He neglected to count the spots on the new silk ties. Or the numbers of underpants on the display stand. He didn’t even count how many chews it took to get down his lunchtime sandwiches. He was really out of sorts.
    The dream he’d had last night kept popping back into his head. How many times, he didn’t know. He’d lost count by the afternoon. It was very distracting.
    After dinner that night he slumped in front of the TV. He watched the two-thousand-three hundred-and-twenty-fifth repeat of The Simpsons, followed by his favourite crime drama,     When Will Your Number Come Up? But it was no good … he just couldn’t concentrate.
    Suddenly he had an idea. I know what I’ll do, he thought. When I go to bed I won’t switch off the bedside lamp. I won’t go to sleep; I’ll keep an eye on those ceiling cracks. All night, if I have to. I bet that, if anything else is going to get stolen, it’ll happen tonight. This is going to be an experiment in investigation.
    To make it properly scientific, Keith counted the cracks. Yep. Still twelve. He settled into the pillows. To keep from nodding off, he counted the paper daffodils, although he’d already re-counted them and his toes as soon as he arrived home from work. When he’d finished that, he turned his attention to something new – the knots in the pine wood floor.
    This was very difficult. Pine knots aren’t spread around neatly and uniformly. They don’t know what neat and uniform means. They were everywhere.
    I’ll take them board by board, Keith decided. That way I can count the boards first then multiply.
    It was impossible. There were too many and he couldn’t keep the numbers in his head. Besides, the counting all but exhausted him, and, without realising, he dropped off to sleep.

A noise woke Keith. He looked at the clock. It was midnight. He stared upwards. A little man was standing upside-down on the ceiling.
    The little man had a strange looking object in his hand. Keith thought it looked like one of those portable car vacuum cleaners. The little man pointed the object at one of the cracks, and there was a whirring sound. The crack was sucked off the ceiling. It vanished inside the vacuum.
    ‘Hey, you,’ Keith shouted. ‘Leave my ceiling alone.’
    ‘Yipes!’ The little man jumped then stared down at Keith.
    Keith stared back. He had never seen anything so odd in his life. This tiny upside-down man, though smaller than a two-year-old child, was obviously middle-aged. His bald head looked polished, and wire-rimmed spectacles balanced on the end of a crooked nose. He wore a grey pin-striped suit, white shirt, blue tie and very shiny black shoes. He also had a long white beard. The beard was the oddest thing, though: it didn’t hang down towards the floor, as you would expect; it stayed neatly in place against his chest.
    How come gravity wasn’t working?
    Gravity aside, it was obvious to Keith that this peculiar man was responsible for all the recent losses. ‘Get off my ceiling, you thief,’ he ordered.
    ‘I’m not a thief,’ said the little man indignantly. He went red in the face and hopped from one foot to the other.
    ‘You’re stealing the ceiling cracks,’ Keith insisted. ‘And you stole my toes, didn’t you? And my flowers and rice bubbles. That makes you a thief.’
    The little man did a spin on one foot. Then, in a flash, he was down. He stood on Keith’s rug. He waved the vacuum cleaner at Keith.
    ‘Don’t point that thing at me,’ said Keith. He was starting to feel nervous, but he didn’t want the man to guess. ‘You give me back everything you took, right now.’
    ‘Can’t,’ said the little man. ‘Got a job to do.’
    ‘What job?’ Keith sneered. ‘You call stealing people’s toes a job?’
    The little man ignored the sneer. He aimed the vacuum cleaner at one of the knots on the floor. ‘Job’s the most important thing. Got to get done by Tuesday. Tuesday’s the deadline.’
    Tuesday was tomorrow. ‘The deadline for what?’ said Keith, as his nervousness started running towards panic.
    ‘My Annual Return. The Department wants it in by Tuesday.’ The little man pressed something on the vacuum cleaner, and a pine knot vanished.
    ‘Stop doing that,’ yelled Keith. ‘What department? And what are you, anyway?’
    The little man put the vacuum cleaner on the rug. He crossed his arms and looked important. ‘I’m an accountant, by profession.’
    ‘Oh, yeah, sure,’ Keith scoffed. ‘The accountants I know aren’t very good at defying gravity. They don’t stand upside-down on ceilings. And they don’t suck up people’s belongings with vacuum cleaners.’
    ‘You must know the wrong accountants,’ said the little man. He picked up the vacuum cleaner and pointed it at the floor. ‘I still need another knot. I’m short two.’
    ‘Oh, no you don’t!’ said Keith, leaping from the bed.
    He snatched the vacuum cleaner out of the little man’s hands. ‘You’re not getting anything else until you tell me the truth. And until you give me back my toes. You can’t keep them, you know. They’re not yours, and I need them.’
    ‘All right,’ the little man yelled. He jumped up and down on the rug. ‘I can see I’ve made a mistake coming here. I should have gone next door instead. I told you, I’m an accountant. A tax-accountant. And that’s the truth.’
    ‘What company do you work for then? One of the Big Four?’ Keith mocked. He didn’t believe this.
    ‘Don’t be ridiculous; I wouldn’t work for them,’ said the man. ‘I’m a Fairyland accountant.’
    ‘A what?’
    The little man sighed. ‘You’re an ignorant boy; but I suppose you’ve heard of the Tooth Fairy, haven’t you?’
    ‘Yeah.’ Keith shrugged. ‘So?’
    ‘So, I’m the Accounting Fairy. I collect the tax owed by humans to Fairyland. Just like the Tooth Fairy collects teeth.’
    I must be going mad, thought Keith. ‘I’ve never heard of the Accounting Fairy. You’re making it up,’ he accused. ‘Anyway, who says we owe you anything?’
    ‘It’s the rules,’ said the little man. ‘You humans owe us a lot. You expect a great deal of us fairies. You want the Tooth Fairy to cart away your teeth and pay you for the privilege. And some of those teeth aren’t nice, I assure you. Some of them are nasty and rotten. Then there’s E B –’
    ‘E B? What’s that?’
    ‘E B is Easter Bunny.’
    Keith sniggered. ‘The Easter Bunny isn’t a fairy.’
    ‘Yes, it is. How else could it manage to hop all over the world, dropping off Easter eggs, if it wasn’t a fairy? An ordinary rabbit couldn’t do it. And then there’s Santa –’
    Keith gaped. ‘Santa Claus is a fairy, too?’
    ‘Of course. And all you want from him ... and E B ... is lots of presents and mountains of chocolate eggs. All you humans do is want … want … want. You ask and ask … all the time, and you never stop.’
    For a moment Keith was speechless. He took a deep breath. ‘Right. OK. So how come you collect your ... tax ... and people don’t know about it, like they do the Tooth Fairy or Santa? How come they don’t notice that some of their things have gone missing?’
    ‘They do, sometimes,’ the Accounting Fairy replied. ‘But they think they’ve just lost their stuff. Like on the train or somewhere.’
    Keith folded his arms. ‘You can’t lose wallpaper daffodils on a train.’
    The Accounting Fairy stared at him oddly. ‘Well, most people don’t count their wallpaper daffodils usually. Most people aren’t that strange.’
    Keith felt himself blushing. Me – strange? This is rich, coming from someone who claims to be an accountant from Fairyland!
    ‘All right,’ he said. ‘But you took all our rice bubbles, and my mother wondered where they’d gone. People miss things like that. They notice. They’re bound to realise something fishy’s going on if their rice bubbles just disappear overnight. That’d make them suspicious.’
    ‘Not of us.’ The Accounting Fairy shook his head. ‘They always think up reasons. They’ll make up a reason, if they can’t think of one. Because if there’s anything you humans are good at, it’s inventing explanations for things you know nothing about.’
    Keith remembered that Mum had said he must have eaten all the rice bubbles in his sleep. Oh, well. But what about the missing toes? That was definitely another kettle of fish. One kettle of one fish, at least.
    ‘But you don’t usually take people’s toes, do you?’ he said. ‘Things like that get noticed for sure. Why did you take my toes? Do I owe them to you or something?’
    ‘Not particularly.’ The Accounting Fairy stared quickly at the rug and drew a circle on it with his shiny shoe. ‘Admin hiccup, I’m afraid. Misread my collection list. Department clerk’s handwriting is dreadful. She wrote toys, but it looked like toes to me. I should have realised it was wrong, because there’s plenty of toys lying about, uncared for by spoiled children who’ll never know they’re gone.’
    ‘You took my toes because of an Admin hiccup?’ said Keith. ‘I lost my toes because you made a mistake?’
    ‘No need to get hysterical,’ said the Accounting Fairy.
    ‘Give them back,’ yelled Keith. ‘Give them back right now.’ He lunged at the Accounting Fairy, who backed off in a hurry.
    ‘Easy now. You have to understand, there’s regulations for returning stuff. You know: official channels … correct procedures … forms to be filled out … permission slips. I have to obey the rules –’
    ‘Rules!’ screeched Keith. ‘I don’t care about stupid rules! You give me back my toes!’ He waved the vacuum cleaner threateningly.
    The Accounting Fairy ducked. ‘Please, don’t fool around with that thing. Give it to me …it’s dangerous.’
    ‘Oho … is it?’ Keith chortled. I have the advantage at last, he thought. ‘Return my toes, and I will. Otherwise, I’ll ... I’ll ...’ he thought quickly, ‘I’ll suck you up with it.’
Horror filled the Accounting Fairy’s eyes. ‘No … no.’
    ‘I will.’ Keith looked down at the instrument in his hand. He hadn’t studied it before. What he wanted was an ON button, but there were two buttons, one red and one green. Neither button had instructions. Which one did you press?
    ‘I’m waiting.’ Keith aimed the vacuum cleaner nozzle right at the Fairy’s chest. ‘Return my toes now, and we’re even. I’ll forget about everything else you took.’
    ‘Can’t,’ moaned the Accounting Fairy. ‘Department won’t let me. So complicated. You don’t understand.’
    ‘Oh, yes, I do,’ shrieked Keith. ‘You just don’t want to give them back, do you?’ His finger descended on the green button, and he pressed it as hard as he could.

On Tuesday morning Keith woke up and stretched wearily. He had a headache. He didn’t feel like eating breakfast. He didn’t even want to get up. He thought he’d take a sickie from work today.
    Letting out a long despairing sigh, he stared at the ceiling. Only eleven cracks up there. The twelfth crack ran along the centre of his floor. Amongst the ceiling cracks were two pine knots and a daffodil. Three more daffodils decorated the floor rug, looking as if they were impressed into the wool for all eternity. Scattered over all four walls of wallpaper, like raindrops on a roof, were rice bubbles. Keith didn’t want to count how many there were. He didn’t think he’d ever count anything again.
    He pulled off the doona and sadly studied his right foot. He stared at the wall above the door. Besides the dancing rice bubbles, two toes sported like fat little frolicking grubs.
    I’ll have to buy new shoes, he thought. He wriggled the two new additions to his foot. He wished they weren’t so yellow or so big. But at least their petals were soft enough to fold under, and the daffodil trumpets were firm enough to walk on. Then he made the biggest decision of his life. He wasn’t going to study Accountancy now; he’d stick with the retail trade instead.

© 2010 Lola M Jesse