Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Challenge Number 16 - Write a Short Story

This ended up having to be a short story for Charlotte, as I just didn’t manage to find the time or inspiration to write something more grown-up. But that’s OK, I think. Besides, all the adult stories I could come up with had morbid overtones, involving Second World War bombing, post-natal depression, or the death business that will be the centrepiece of my great as yet unwritten novel, The Funeral Hotel. So writing a children’s story was not only quicker but also much more fun, and it’s so personalised that I have an interested audience (almost) guaranteed.

You will quickly see that I am no Julia Donaldson. This is not a tale of a tiny snail and a great big grey-blue humpback whale, or a Gruffalo’s Child feeling bored, or a school many moons ago that taught young dragons all the things that dragons ought to know. It’s a story about a little girl and her toy monkey, and in a moment of careless anger the monkey gets lost. It is hardly the most riveting of adventures, and it's a bit too long, but any parent whose child has to take a favourite toy with them wherever they go can probably relate to the panic involved when that toy goes missing.

And full marks for effort to me for looking quite ridiculous taking photographs of a cuddly toy at various locations around York. Anyone familiar with Stripey and his rather disgusting levels of hygiene will think he looks suspiciously clean in most of the photographs. This is because I had to use our back-up Stripey, since Charlotte won’t be parted from the real original Stripey for long enough to let me take pictures of him on his own. (Won’t be parted from him for long enough until she randomly drops him somewhere, that is.)

So – enjoy. I plan to make up a photobook of the story for Charlotte when time allows, but for now she is happy reading “Stripey on the cuter”. Though she still prefers Mr Tickle.

The Adventures Of Stripey The Monkey: Lost!

Once there was a little girl called Lottie, and she had a little toy monkey called Stripey. Lottie loved Stripey very much. She snuggled up with him in bed every night. She wanted to take him everywhere she went - in the car, in the push chair, on her trike, out for a walk in the park. 

The only place she didn’t take him was out on her sledge in the snow, because monkeys don’t like snow very much.

But sometimes Lottie was a bit careless with Stripey, and would drop him out of her push chair. Lottie’s Mummy always tried to watch out for Stripey falling on the ground so that she could pick him up again. But Lottie’s Mummy didn’t always see him. Mummies often get distracted.

It was always stressful for Lottie’s Mummy when she realised that Stripey had gone missing, as she knew that Lottie couldn’t fall asleep at night without Stripey. And Lottie’s Mummy didn’t like it when Lottie couldn’t sleep, as it meant that Lottie’s Mummy couldn’t sleep either. Fortunately, Lottie’s Mummy always managed to find Stripey before bedtime.

One day, Lottie and her Mummy were on their way into town. Lottie’s Mummy gave Lottie some of her favourite rice cakes to eat. Stripey was hungry too, and he asked Lottie if he could have a rice cake. But Lottie didn’t like sharing things. So she didn’t want to give Stripey a rice cake. She got angry and threw Stripey onto the ground.

They had just reached some traffic lights. Lottie’s Mummy was busy watching the little red man opposite and waiting for him to turn green to tell them it was safe to cross the road.

This meant that Lottie’s Mummy didn’t see Stripey land on the ground. Stripey called out for help, but the cars on the road were very noisy so nobody heard him.

Poor Stripey was alone on the pavement. He tried to run after Lottie. But Lottie’s Mummy turned a corner with the push chair and Stripey couldn’t see where they went after that. So Stripey had to guess where Lottie and her Mummy had gone. He decided to look in all of Lottie’s favourite places to see if he could find them.

First Stripey tried the park. Lottie loved the swings and the slide and the seesaw. Stripey had a go on all of those, but he couldn’t find Lottie anywhere. 

So he went to the ponds to see if she might be there. But she wasn’t. 

Stripey asked the ducks on the pond and the doves near the dovecote if they had seen Lottie but they weren’t very helpful at all.

So Stripey went to the river. Lottie often spent hours watching the boats sailing up and down. But today there were no boats, and there was no Lottie. 

And Lottie wasn't up on the bridge with the benches that she loved climbing on.

So Stripey went to the train museum. He had a lovely time seeing all the big steam engines and the turn table and the model railways, but he couldn’t see Lottie anywhere.

So Stripey went next door to the station to see some more trains, but Lottie wasn’t there either.

So Stripey went into town. He knew that Lottie liked running up and down the ramps outside the dinosaur museum, but she wasn’t there either.

Then Stripey remembered one last train that Lottie liked to visit. So Stripey went to the shopping centre to find it. But Lottie wasn’t riding on the train today.

So Stripey went to the ice cream café. Lottie was the café’s best customer, but not today.

By now, Stripey was very worried indeed. He had been to all of Lottie’s favourite places and couldn’t think of any more. What if he never found Lottie again?

He decided he had better go home. He hoped that wherever Lottie and her Mummy had been, they would soon need to go home too. Stripey was very tired now. It was getting cold, and he was worried that it might snow. Stripey didn’t like snow AT ALL.

It was a long, hard journey. Stripey had to rest a lot.

At last he reached Lottie’s front door. He was overjoyed to see that CBeebies was on the television, which meant that Lottie was home. Lottie and her Mummy must have been just ahead of him at one of the places he had been looking.

But Stripey couldn’t reach the doorbell because it was very high up, and his paws were so soft that Lottie couldn’t hear him knocking on the door.

Stripey could hear Lottie crying and calling out his name. “Stripey! Stripey!” He could also hear that Lottie’s Mummy was cross with Lottie. She was saying, “Where did you leave him? You must be more careful!” Stripey knew that this meant that Lottie and her Mummy had realised he was missing and that they were looking for him. But he couldn’t make them hear that he was just outside the front door! What was he going to do?

Stripey thought for a minute. And then he remembered the two cats, Ingo and Otto, that lived in the house with them. They also were too small to reach the doorbell and had soft paws that wouldn’t make a noise when knocking on a door. 

So Ingo and Otto had a special door called a cat flap that they used all the time when they needed to go in and out. But it was round at the back of the house. So Stripey set off again to find it. He had to walk all the way to the end of the street to get to the alley that led to the back yard. Stripey was so tired, but he knew he had to carry on if he was going to be able to stop Lottie crying.

Eventually he recognised the right gate. Using his best monkey skills, he climbed up over the back wall, jumped down, and found the cat flap in the yard. 

It was quite stiff but Stripey managed to push it open. He climbed through and landed in the kitchen.

Stripey fell in a heap on the floor and was simply too tired to go any further.

Fortunately, Lottie heard the cat flap banging. Lottie loved Ingo and Otto almost as much as she loved Stripey, so she came running into the kitchen to see them, hoping they might cheer her up, even though they usually ran back outside again whenever they saw her. 

But it wasn’t a pussy cat she had heard, it was Stripey! Lottie was overjoyed to see him. And so was Lottie’s Mummy. Lottie’s Mummy had to lie down for a few minutes to recover from worrying so much about where Stripey was. She had worn a hole in her sock from pacing up and down.

Stripey was quite dirty from all his adventures and needed a good wash.

Lottie said sorry to Stripey for not sharing her rice cakes. She said from now on, she would share her food with him whenever he wanted. And she promised that she would never throw him out of the push chair again.

That night Lottie and Stripey curled up in bed together, cuddling one another tightly, and everybody in the house slept through until morning.

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