An alternative fairytale in bite-sized portions
Suitable for family reading
Out of Sight
Unaware of the excitement in the street, Cindy returned to the kitchen in pyjamas as a newsreader reported the flight of Lady Eleanor of Underwood from the royal ball.
She turned up the radio to listen. The Prince had vowed to search every home in Regalia for the mystery guest who lost a shoe while fleeing the palace.
Upstairs, the front door crashed open. The Baroness and her girls flocked into the hallway, still exclaiming over the rapid recovery of the man who their taxi had knocked down. Harriet flew down the stairs.
‘Oh, Cindy, the Prince smiled at me!’ Her hands clasped at her chest.
‘But then this Lady Eleanor turned up – nobody knew who she was – and Prince Alfred didn’t dance with anyone else all night. They were together the whole time. Then, at midnight, she ran out of the palace and disappeared. The Prince didn’t come back to the ball after that, so everyone went home.
‘We hung around for ages waiting for a taxi, but I didn’t care. I was happy watching the Prince. I wouldn’t run away from him, ever. He was so masterful. He sent the palace guards to search the grounds in case she’d fallen into the lake or something, and he wouldn’t let go of the shoe he’d found on the steps, and he told the guard captain that tomorrow they would start searching every. . .
‘home. . .
‘in the. . .’
Mouth open, she stared at the doormat.
The shoe Mistress had left there sparkled in the light from the naked bulb above.
Buttons jumped up at Harriet to divert her attention, but by then Tabitha had appeared at the top of the stairs to demand hot chocolate. The shoe twinkled, and her shriek brought their mother.
The Baroness speared it with her eyes.
Her gaze remained fixed on it as she came down the stairs, as if it might scuttle off if she looked away. She picked it up carefully, like an animal that could bite. Only then did she turn to Mistress in wonder.
‘It was you.’
After that Buttons had to fend for himself – they all did without Mistress to run around after them.
They’d tried to catch him too. Malegra had blocked the stairs while Tabitha and Abigail made to head him off before the dog flap, but clumsy Harriet got in the way and he escaped between her lanky legs.
The garden door was locked and nobody bothered to find the key to follow him, so he crept back to listen behind the door.
Dogs have good hearing. He heard the Baroness announce that Cindy must be kept out of sight while the Prince was searching his kingdom for her.
He heard Tabitha shriek when she spotted her old laptop on the table. After smashing that up, she followed her mother and sisters upstairs, complaining all the way, and their voices grew muffled until they were lost behind the drawing-room door. He waited a while longer before creeping back through the dog flap.
Mistress stirred in the under-stairs cupboard and he whined softly at the door.
‘Shh, Buttons. Don’t let them hear you. While I’m locked in here, I can’t protect you if she catches you.’
This was a new thought to Buttons. Wasn’t he the one doing the protecting? Shouldn’t that be how it worked?
Over the next days, he ate from scraps he found on the washing-up which piled up on the draining board. And the dresser. And the table. They were all terrible cooks, so there were plenty of scraps.
The mice ate well too. He hadn’t the heart to chase them.
Malegra kept the key to the cupboard on a cord around her neck and only gave it to Abigail when it was time to take Mistress her meals and empty her bucket.
At night, when everyone slept, Harriet crept down and whispered to Mistress through the door. Buttons thought Harriet looked ill. He hadn’t seen her eat since the night of the ball.
When the TV news was on, he crept up to listen at the door. But the press soon lost interest, and updates on the Prince’s search for the mystery woman were reduced to a final comment before the weather report.
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