An alternative fairytale in bite-sized portions
Suitable for family reading
When Buttons jumped on the bed to greet Mistress next morning, she was still asleep. Her eyes, when they opened, shone as bright as they used to before the Master died.
Harriet came down to the basement to help with breakfast.
‘They’re still being horrible up there,’ she said, ‘because I told them you should be coming to the ball.’
‘Maybe I will,’ she said.
Harriet’s eyebrows rose. ‘One of my gowns might fit you, if you take it up,’ but Cindy was laughing. She shook her head, and then the Baroness summoned Harriet from the hall above. It was time to go to the hairdresser.
‘Go on,’ said Mistress, ‘you don’t want to be late for the appointment. Come down before you dress for the ball for me to do your make-up.’
The front door opened, and twittering voices entered the house. It closed again as the twittering passed through the hall.
Buttons barked at the stranger coming down their stairs until he recognised Harriet.
‘Your hair, it’s…’ the Mistress paused. ‘Actually, it suits you, now I’m over the shock.’ Harriet had hesitated but now continued down. ‘We can see the shape of your face. It’s quite pixy-ish.’
The face under the new haircut had reddened. ‘Are you sure you don’t mean troll-ish?’
Buttons didn’t think so. He’d once watched a TV programme about them with Master and Mistress, and knew that trolls looked like Tabitha.
The make-up didn’t take long. With a few strokes, Mistress emphasised Harriet’s soft brown eyes and balanced a slight unevenness. Even Buttons saw a difference.
‘Magic!’ said Harriet. ‘My skin’s glowing.’
‘That isn’t make-up. That’s you.’
Harriet went to get ready but came down again for their approval before leaving. Mistress had found a russet stole worn in happier times. ‘This will set off your ballgown.’
The ceiling creaked as the sisters strutted above, awaiting their taxi.
‘Go,’ said Mistress. ‘Enjoy.’
The stairs creaked too, as Harriet hurried to join them.
As soon as the front door closed, Mistress brought out the ballgown she had found in a trunk of her mother’s clothes. It had needed no alteration. She told Buttons that retro designs were back in fashion as she slipped her feet into her mother’s tiny glittering court shoes.
Buttons barked in case she hadn’t heard the tapping at the door.
Aunt Phemie bustled in. He ran past her and up the basement steps, to make sure the taxi had left. While he was there the door closed, but it was a warm evening, and he sat watching the cars.
His nose detected a trace of old leather. His eyes followed it to a darker shadow lurking on the neighbour’s basement steps. Eyes glinted under a wide-brimmed hat. The shadow moved and a stocky figure stood on the pavement.
‘Hello there, feller. You are an old grey one too, is it so? Like old Rodriguez.’ As he bent to rub Buttons’ ears, the blanket he wore brushed the ground.
‘And are you an old scrounger like me, boy? Or do you live here with the young one?’ His drooping moustache twisted as he muttered. ‘Is she family to that white-haired witch?’
He winced as he straightened. ‘I am too old for this. But Rodriguez’ brave boys are in prison because of her. My Sofia says they are training for useful occupations.’ He spat at the pavement. ‘Sofia plans to divorce me and marry the Police Inspector.’ He spat again, just missing Buttons. ‘That old meddler has taken my family from me so I, Rodriguez, take her family from her.’
A limousine drew up and its driver got out to stand by the passenger door. Under the peaked cap, a sharp little face twitched, and Buttons caught a familiar waft of something familiar. He couldn’t quite identify it, his nose confused by competing smells of car exhaust and old leather.
When he turned again, the pavement was empty where Rodriguez had stood, and Mistress was emerging from the basement, transformed.
Click here to catch up with the story so far.
The Godmother is now available in e-book and print from Smashwords and your local Amazon
90 pages, no illustrations