Monday, July 22, 2013

A new adventure?...

I am of a mind to assemble my children's short stories in to one e-book volume. A number have been published but for one reason or another some never got their chance to shine. So I will be gathering, deciding, primping, editing, and formatting from both the published and the unpublished. I have more than 20 to choose from. It will be fun to think of a title and cover. And I will let you know when it is ready to go. Here is an example of one from my files...

Clean Hands
Mrs Blackstock licked her forefinger and smoothed back a stray hair.
"There. You'll do," the large woman said as she looked from the top of the little girl's head down to her feet in shiny black shoes. The girl's dress was bright red velvet with a white, wavy-edged collar, red velvet buttons and a wide shiny satin sash. It was smart and new looking although it was a little tight and a little short. You could see the girl's knees with three plasters and two bruises, even through the milky white tights that wrinkled at her ankles and strangled her underpants into an uncomfortable mass of folds. Her straight long yellow hair refused to stay in the orderly plait her mother had wrestled it into. How difficult is it, Mrs Blackstock wondered, for straight hair to stay where it was put.
"You have a few minutes before our guest arrives. This is a very important person and I want you to be on your best behaviour, but I'm sure it won't do any harm for you to be outside for a little while before they get here," Mrs Blackstock said. This will give me time to set out the rest of the teacups and do some last minute tidying she thought. How little Mrs Blackstock knew her daughter. How different they were.
The girl looked up, wide eyed, at her mother. Time outside? This was almost too much to hope for.
Mrs Blackstock propelled the girl toward the French-doors that led out onto the verandah.
"Just a few minutes, mind," the woman said. "And Careen, try and keep clean." This was her mistake. As we all know, keeping clean and trying to keep clean are two very different things.
The girl stepped out through the door and surveyed the Blackstock garden. From the verandah two steps brought you to the lawn which swept down grandly and steeply for some distance before it came to a stand of tall trees. Through the trees a shell path took you to a little wooden bridge over the puddle her mother liked to call 'The Pond'. One tree had a wooden swing suspended from it and closer to the house, on a tilt, sat a metal swing-set with a slide attached. Hidden by the fence amongst the weeds just a short distance from 'The Pond' an old box cart seemed to call magnetically to the young girl. So many things to do and so little time. The girl had to think quick.  She looked back at the house and saw her mother's head bobbing round through the kitchen window. Mrs Blackstock seemed too busy to be watching her daughter. Careen ran down the slope, still wet from last night's big rain. The grass felt spongy and a little slippery as well. Not the best for carting but it would have to do.
The cart was right amongst the bushes against the wire fence and the girl had to rummage around for what seemed like ages before she felt the rope attached to the steering bar that controlled the front wheels. She pulled and pulled and finally the cart let go of the weeds and jumped out at her. Plop, she sat down in more weeds with the cart half on top of her.
Over the bridge she pulled the cart, and on up the hill to the top of the garden. She sat square in the seat, on the damp wood and tucked the edges of her dress and the long sash in underneath her. She had to really dig her heels in to get the cart moving and it was slow going most of the way down, the wheels sinking a little in the soft ground. But a slope makes everything speed up. Careen tried to leap out of the cart at the bottom of the hill before it hit the trees, but it was going faster than she thought, lurching wildly on the uneven ground. It began to veer away from the trees toward 'The Pond' and before she could even think what to do the cart landed in the puddle with a splash. Then, in the stillness that followed she could hear her mother calling.
Careen tried to look at herself in 'The Pond' but it wasn't any good for reflections, being a bit too green. She bent over and wiggled her hands around in the water, wiping them carefully on her skirt afterwards. She smoothed down her dress and trying her mother's trick, licked her finger and pushed a few strands of hair back from her face. There. You'll do, she thought.
"This is my daughter, Careen," Mrs Blackstock said proudly without turning around. Careen put out her hand to shake the guest's hand as her mother had taught her. The lady smiled as she shook hands with Careen. Mrs Blackstock turned to survey her daughter, her mouth dropping open, her hands flying upwards in horror. Where was Careen in her red velvet dress, the white tights, the prim plait? "Oh your majesty!" she gasped.
"Why Careen, what lovely clean hands you have," said the Queen. And who could disagree?

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