An alternative fairytale in bite-sized portions
Suitable for family reading
Aunt Phemie was waiting by the gate to the basement steps.
‘I’m so sorry, Aunt Phee. I forgot the time.’
Buttons followed Mistress down the steps. At the door she turned, and he nearly bumped into her.
‘I ran like anything when I heard the clock strike, but the car was already driving away and I stumbled on the steps. I’m afraid I’ve lost a shoe.’
She opened the door and dropped the other shoe on the doormat. He went in to drink from his water bowl; it had been a long evening.
He heard his name and listened again.
‘Buttons tried to stop the car, and we ran after it but by the time we got to the gates it had disappeared.’ She held the door open. ‘Are you coming in?’
‘How was Prince Alfred?’
‘He’s sweet. He doesn’t stutter so much once he’s relaxed. We danced every dance. I’m sure I could learn to love him.’ She cocked her head, considering. ‘He’s actually rather good-looking. I can see why Harriet’s smitten. Poor Harriet.’
She turned fully to face her godmother.
‘What’s it like, to be that crazy about someone?’
‘You may never know if you marry Alfred.’
Her tone had hardly altered, but Buttons heard the change. Aunt Phemie was listening differently.
‘But, Aunt Phemie, I’d get to travel the world and see all the places you’ve seen.’
‘Not the places I’ve seen, lass.’ She came down the steps to the door. ‘You’d see a lot of airports and security screens and hotel suites. You’d see the orphanages and hospitals when they’ve been stood to attention for a royal visit – not their everyday faces.’
Mistress leaned against the doorpost.
‘It must feel good to help people, like you do.’
‘Och, I’m getting too old to be much help. It’s young people who do all the work. I just show around the volunteers who come for a couple of months, sometimes after they’ve left college or before they go. There are companies that arrange it all and send them over.’
‘Could I do that, do you think?’
Aunt Phemie acknowledged the possibility with a tilt of her head.
‘Or you could come with me.’
Buttons nuzzled his Mistress’s leg to remind her he was there. Cold air blew through the doorway; a night breeze was stiffening
‘I’m off now, lass. We’ll meet again before I go.’
For once, Buttons was glad to see her leave.
Mistress closed the door and turned on the radio.
Buttons ran up the stairs to a small window that helped light the staircase during the day. This is where he would watch for Mistress’s return when she went shopping and bark at cats who skulked under parked cars.
While Mistress went through to the bedroom, he watched Aunt Phemie mount the steps.
A movement at the street corner drew his attention. A squarish figure in a wide-brimmed hat stepped into the road and aimed something long at Aunt Phemie. Was it a wizard’s staff? His hat wasn’t very tall, but it was sort of pointy.
The staff must be heavy since the wizard needed both hands to raise it to his shoulder and aim it. Buttons barked to warn Aunt Phemie.
As she turned, a spell whizzed past her head, parting stray hairs that had escaped her bun. Something invisible thudded at the door.
The wizard raised his staff again and aimed as a taxi rounded the corner and knocked him down.
He hit the windscreen and fell to the floor, but the driver managed to stop before the wheels ran over him. Or maybe the wizard stopped it with a magic spell.
Scrambling to his feet, the man stumbled away. He merged into the shadows between houses, and Buttons lost sight of him.
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