I didn’t mean to break it, honest I didn’t. I was running around the sitting room, throwing the cushions at my brother, but he ducked. I knew what was going to happen even before it did but I couldn’t the stop it, so I closed my eyes. The next thing I heard was a smashing sound. That noise caused my tummy to contract, as if I had swallowed a whole bucket full of ice. I had broken granddad’s favourite photograph. He was going to be mad. I knew I was in trouble and what didn’t help my case was David screaming, “I didn’t do it! It was Shauna!”
Granddad, or Pop was we called him, walked in. Now, what you need to know is my Pop is a calm man. He never gets angry, but this time he did.
“What happened?” he asked sternly.
“Shauna did it!” shouted David pointing at me. Pop stared at the smashed photo on the ground and then at me. For the first time in my life I saw him angry.
“Get up stairs!” he shouted.
“It was an accident!” I pleaded.
“Upstairs! Now! And there will be no story for you tonight!” he yelled with his face growing red.
“I didn’t mean to!” I sobbed.
“NOW!” he shouted and the whole room shook.
I ran up the stairs, into my room and hid under the covers. What was I going to do? I was in trouble and what was worse was that Pop was mad and he never gets mad so I must have done something really bad.
I sat there for hours and hours trying to think about how to say sorry but I was afraid that Pop would yell at me again if I went down stairs. I thought about making a card but I had no crayons. I cried even harder because I wouldn’t get a story tonight and David would. Pop’s stories were the best all about faeries and magic. Then, slowly, a plan formed in my mind just as a caterpillar forms his cocoon when it wants to become a butterfly. Pop loved faeries and he said that he had nearly caught one once. So if I go and catch one for him, he wouldn’t be mad anymore!
I crept down the stairs and before I knew it, my legs had brought me to the back garden. I picked up a stick. There was no point going into the unknown with no weapon. I ran the stick along the bricks as I walked to the end of the garden. I climbed up onto the wall but then stopped. I had never set foot outside these boundaries before and I didn’t know what was out there and that scared me. I looked back at the house. It definitely seemed more welcoming than the big unknown tree-filled place that I was about to jump into. Mustering up all my courage, I held my breath, closed my eyes and jumped.
I found myself in a large grassy area. It didn’t seem so bad. Everything was green. It looked like the park except there were no children or swings, there was just grass. I carefully walked forward and with each step taken I became surer that a monster wasn’t going to appear and attack. Perhaps he was grounded today. I reached the wall on the other side and climbed. This next field wasn’t so nice. I couldn’t see the other side and I heard a sound in the distance that was not friendly. Perhaps the monster snuck out of his house as I done. Then I heard someone speak and I jumped.
“I wouldn’t go in there if I were you. Only the bravest adventurers go in there!”
“I’m brave!” I replied.
“No, you’re just a baby!” it said.
I wasn’t sure what exactly was talking to me. I came to the conclusion that it was the tree beside me so I turned to it.
“I’m not a baby! David is the baby not me!” I said angrily.
“Only babies talk to trees!” it said laughing.
“Where are you? Stop hiding!” I demanded.
Then something landed on my foot and I jumped. I fell off the wall and hit the ground. I felt sore then opened my eyes and my elbows were bleeding. They hurt so I cried.
“See you are a baby! Only babies cry!” laughed a small creature sitting on the wall staring down at me.
“I am not a baby!” I said sniffing.
“Yeah and I’m not small!” it laughed.
“What are you?” I asked it.
“I’m a dog!” it said smiling.
“You’re not! Pop has a dog and you look nothing like it!” I said and the creature started to laugh again.
“You’re smarter than you look! Right I see I won’t be able to lie to you. I’m a unicorn.”
“No you’re not! They are horses and you’re too small to be one,” I said annoyed, I didn’t like being fooled.
“Wow! You’re smarter than I give you credit for! Right the truth this time, I’m a Pooka,” it replied.
“What’s a Pooka?” I asked.
“Me! I’m a Pooka!” it said smiling, “Haven’t you heard of me? I’m Seán, the most famous Pooka in all of Ireland.”
“No, I haven’t, but this is my first time going outside the wall so there is probably loads of things I don’t know,” I said. I wasn’t sure if I liked Pookas.
“Anyway you should get out of there! You are not brave enough!” Seán teased.
“I am brave! I left the back garden all by myself!” I said proudly.
“Yeah and you also fell off the wall ‘cause you were afraid of little old me. Come on! You’re at least ten times my size!” he said, laughing.
“Go away!” I said. I didn’t like people laughing at me.
I walked away. He was mean and you should never trust people who were mean. I walked on but everything was quiet. This was strange. There were no birds singing and even the wind had stopped. It was like the quiet before the dive into a swimming pool.
Up ahead of me I saw a big ball just lying in the middle of the grass. I came up to it and poked it with my stick. Big Mistake! It quivered and began to move. It soon became clear to me that the monster was not grounded and even if he was he had probably eaten his parents and run away. In front of me was that huge black monster that haunts nightmares. The only reason I wasn’t dead was because it was still groggy. Its blood-red eyes landed on me. It opened its mouth. I was scared as it had teeth as sharp as knives! Spit was drooling down its face. Then it drew one slow breath and howled. That sound shook right inside me, I could feel it rattling my bones. I started to tremble. I turned and ran. I wanted to escape that horrible sound. I could still hear it, hear it howling in my ears.
All I wanted to do was get as far away from that monster as I could. But it chased med. I could hear its paws running against the ground, getting closer and closer. All I could do was run but I couldn’t run forever because in a few moments it would have me in its clutches and I would be doomed. I felt its hot breath at the back of my neck. I could feel its jagged claws swiping at me. I couldn’t do anything. It was big and I was small.
Then I saw a tree up ahead of me. I scrabbled up into its branches just in the nick of time. The monster was snapping at my heels. I was trapped. It was jumping up the tree. The monster was going to gobble me up for its dinner, like the wolf did in Little Red Riding Hood! Pop always said that curiosity killed that famous cat and I believed him now.
“See! I told you so! You’re not brave enough!” laughed Seán sitting on the wall below. He found this whole mess to be very amusing.
“I’m brave! I am!” I said passionately.
“Then why are you hiding up a tree? Shouldn’t you be fighting back?” he said.
“I dropped my stick!” I said.
“Improvise!” demanded Seán.
The monster was jumping higher. I didn’t even know what improvise meant. It was one of those many big grown up words that make no sense at all. Then, I suddenly realised that I was in a chestnut tree surrounded by concurs hiding in their spiky shells, the perfect projectile. I picked some and they pricked me but I didn’t care. I threw them at the monster. Now it was the one running scared!
I jumped in the air triumphantly but the branch beneath me gave way and I came crashing down. I came out of that one with two grazed knees and Seán in fits of laughter.
“Just go away!” I shouted as I looked at my knees. They hurt but I knew I couldn’t cry in front of the mean Pooka or he would tease me.
“Nope! You’re funny! I think I will stick around for a bit. So what caused to you to bravely decide to go in there?” he asked.
“I’m on an adventure though the unknown to try and capture a faery for my Pop,” I said.
The little Pooka looked at me funny. I thought he was going to laugh again but he didn’t, he seemed to be thinking about something.
“I saw one of them the other day! Come on, I’ll show you where!” he said eagerly.
I ran forward full of enthusiasm now that I was a step closer to completing my mission.
“Oy!” Seán shouted, “You’re legs are longer than mine! Slow down!”
“Oh, sorry!” I said running back.
I picked him up and put him in my pocket. His head stuck out of the top. I learned many lessons that day. One was that Pookas never shut up and that they are not nice at all.
“What’s green and sits in the corner?” said Seán.
“I don’t know,” I said threw gritted teeth, he was trying my patience.
“A bold frog!” he said in stitches laughing. I picked up a stick and hit him.
“Hey!” he said angrily, “Remember I’m helping you out here! You better be nice or you can find this faery by yourself.”
“I’m sorry!” I said though I didn’t mean it, I would have hit him again if he teased me.
“I’ll forgive you if you pretend to be a dog!” he laughed.
“No way!” I said.
“Fine then,” he said, “I’m off! Good luck navigating you way through the Jungle and capturing a faery afterwards!” He attempted to get out of my pocket but I stopped him.
“Fine,” I said frustrated.
So I got down on my knees and crawled around, pretending to be a dog. Seán found this to be very funny. He fell over laughing.
“I’m going to have fun with you!” he said chuckling.
I glared at him.
“Now I shall show you the way through the jungle,” he said happily.
I got up and brushed the muck off my trousers. I then scooped up the annoying little Pooka and placed him in my front pocket. I followed his directions and then found myself on the edge of a thick dense jungle. The trees were so big that they looked towers as they grew much taller than I would ever be.
“We are not going in there, are we?” I asked, unsure if I wanted an answer.
“Of course we are! Sure it’s just a walk in the park,” Seán replied.
I proceeded forward and doubted this would be anything like a nice walk with Pop and David through the park. Perhaps this place was just a VERY big park.
It was very dark inside. The trees were so tall that they caused the sun to go to bed. The air was funny too. It was all hot and dusty like the air in the attic. There was no path either. How was I supposed to know which way to go?
“I don’t like this!” I said, frightened.
“Baby!” replied Seán.
“I am not!” I shouted
“Prove it!” he said smugly, “Continue on.”
I had no choice but to go on, but I was hopelessly lost. The trees were also scratching me. What I really needed was something to chop them down with. I picked up a stick and used it to chop the branches out of the way.
“Do you even know where we are going?” I asked, getting tired of walking and chopping.
“Of course I do! I’m the most famous Pooka in all Ireland! Of course I know where we are going!” he said, offended that I would ask such a question.
“Then how come we are still in here then? We should be out by now!” I said.
“Jungles are big, kiddo, don’t you forget that,” he replied.
So I followed his directions though I knew he was leading me around in circles because he thought it was funny. I had to resist the urge to hit him because if I did he would make me pretend to be a dog again. Suddenly up ahead I saw light.
“Look!” I pointed
“See! Told you I knew where I was going!” said Seán proudly.
I ran forward, excited at the prospect of being out in the open again. However I ran straight into this sticky string that was placed between the trees. I was covered in it.
“What is this?” I asked, confused.
“Run! Quick!” yelled Seán, “That’s a spider’s web! Run! Run away! Fast!”
I ran out very fast, I was so frightened. I don’t like spiders. I then tripped and landed flat on my face but at least I was out of the jungle.
“What’s that?” asked Seán who was on the ground beside me. “AH! It’s a spider!” he screamed.
“Where?” I said beginning to panic. “Where is it? Get it off me! Get it off me!”
I was beginning to have a fit. I don’t like spiders. I ran around but then I stopped when I saw Seán on the ground bursting out laughing.
“You’re so gullible!” he laughed.
“Shut up!” I said pulling the web off me. I don’t like Pookas either, in fact, I hate them.
“Look!” said Seán eagerly pointing down at a stream.
“Oh what now? A monster? Another spider? Or is it something else this time?” I groaned.
“Down there! By the rock, it’s a faery!” he said excitedly.
I looked down and saw it. It was sitting on a rock by the water’s edge. I had never seen a faery before. This one didn’t look at all like the ones that Pop describes in his stories. Then again I had never seen one before so who was I to say if it was a faery or not?
I placed Seán once more in my pocket and quietly moved down towards the stream. I observed the faery for a few moments. He didn’t look bad. Pop said faeries were bad, evil, little tricksters who would con you out of anything for their own amusement.
“What are you waiting for?” said Seán, “catch it quickly before it gets a chance to fly away!”
I picked up my stick and jumped out from our hiding place.
“Freeze faery! You’re mine!” I said.
Then the faery did something I did not understand. It curled up into a small ball. It didn’t fight.
“It has surrendered! Grab it quick!” urged Seán.
I went over and bent down towards the little faery. I poked it with my stick. Nothing happened. It didn’t even quiver. I picked it up.
“OUCH!” I cried.
The pain was unbearable. I fell down into the stream and cried. The faery had used its magic to attack me. It hurt so much. Once again, Seán was in fits of laugher. The world would definitely be a better place without Pookas. I continued to cry.
“Are you OK?” said a quiet voice. The faery was walking towards me
“Stay back faery! I’m crying! Isn’t that enough for you?” I said sobbing.
“What did you call me?” asked the faery.
“A faery,” I replied.
“I’m no faery. I’m a hedgehog!” chuckled the faery.
I was so confused. What was a hedgehog and why do they hurt so much? What happened to the faery?
“Is your hand OK?” said the hedgehog calmly.
“Why did you do that?” I asked, annoyed.
“In my defence you startled me. It’s a reaction. When I am scared I curl up into a ball and my spikes attack anyone who comes near me,” the hedgehog explained. “Anyway, why were you looking for a faery?”
I explained all about the photo braking and how my Pop loved faeries and if I caught one for him, he would not be mad any more.
“Are you sure he wants a faery? They are horrible little things. You’re better off without them. They trick you and find it amusing. They laugh at your misfortune. You are better off if you don’t ever meet one,” said the hedgehog.
At this point Seán suddenly stopped laughing. He then flew out of my pocket and landed beside the hedgehog.
“You see? The faery is tricking you! Don’t listen to it! There is no such thing as hedgehogs!” he said.
Suddenly something clicked in my mind, like those light-bulb thoughts in cartoons. Seán had tricked me a lot today and he found it amusing each time. Also, just there, he had flown out of my pocket. Seán was the faery!
“Stop lying faery!” I told Seán.
“What did you call me?” he asked beginning to get scared.
I tried to grab him but he flew into the water. I jumped in after him. After about ten wet seconds, I had Seán in my grasp and I was the one who would have the last laugh.
“You’re coming back with me!” I said brightly.
He struggled but he was not going to get away. I was holding him too tightly. I should have known from the beginning that he was a faery after all Pooka sounds like a word someone made up.
So I ran out of the stream cheering! I then ran back through the hay field and the potato field, where I saw the neighbour’s dog cowering in the corner. I then ran into the empty field behind the house and scaled the garden wall.
“Let me go and I will grant you three wishes,” said Seán. He was getting desperate if he was trying to barter his way out.
“You’re a baby if you think I am going to fall for that!” I said smirking.
I ran into the house triumphantly. I was a hero! I had vanquished a ferocious monster, survived in a dark jungle and warded off spiders! Not to mention I uncovered a conspiracy and had battled a faery and came out victorious and I now held my prize in my hands as proof!
I burst in the kitchen door.
“Pop! Pop!” I shouted my face beaming.
I found him in the sitting room reading his newspaper. He was sitting in his armchair and the broken photo was nowhere to be found.
“Pop!” I said pulling his shirtsleeve.
He looked over the top of his newspaper and found my wet mucky face beaming at him.
“I’m very sorry,” I said, “but look at this!” I showed him Seán. “I have captured you a faery.”
He laughed at me. I was confused and upset at people always laughing at me. He then bent down and gave me a hug. He smiled at me.
“That’s no faery. It’s a frog!”
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