A Short Story
First published as an ebook in 2017.
Copyright © 2017 E.J. More
The right of E.J.More to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by her in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.
All rights reserved.
All characters in this publication are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
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I can’t hear Luca now. I reckon he gave up looking. It’s been ages and I’m in my very best hidey place, after all. He almost never finds me here. I squidge right down in the teddies and pillows, so only my eyes are peeking out, and I stay really quiet.
‘Quiet as a mouse,’ Mummy always says.
‘Squeak squeak,’ I say.
And she smiles. I miss Mummy.
Me and Luca play hide and seek all the time. But usually it’s in the day, not at night like now. I should be in bed really but Luca said we could play. He said I should hide first. So I did.
‘Quick, go,’ he said.
Mummy always says I should listen to my brother and I do like playing games. I am a bit tired though, and it feels naughty being up this late.
I’m sure Luca will come upstairs soon, then me and Iggle-Piggle can come out and Luca will say I’m the super champion of hiding and I will agree, ‘cause I am. After that it really will be bedtime. And in the morning when I wake up Mummy will come in, and I can have rice pops for breakfast, and it will all be normal again. Yes, it will. I have decided.
It’s nice and warm here. One time I got so comfy when I was hiding I fell asleep. When I woke up Mummy and Daddy were crying and I got a great big cuddle. Luca said they were scared ‘cause I was missing. But I wasn’t missing, I was here the whole time. I hadn’t disappeared. Not like Daddy did.
I’m glad all those noisy people from outside have gone now. They moved all my toys in the garden, and all the banging and stuff made me miss nap time. Mummy said they were trying to find Daddy but they didn’t do a very good job. And anyway, Daddy didn’t need them. Not in the end.
Daddy’s good at climbing. He got my kite out of our tree once, without a ladder or anything. It was stuck in the tree at the bottom of our garden, the big tree where the hole is. But that was ages ago, and the hole wasn’t there then. I helped by pointing to the branch where the kite was. Daddy said I was being very useful and I like to be useful.
When he’s not mending other peoples’ plumbings, Daddy’s job is to do stuff in the garden. It’s Mummy’s job to bring him lots of cups of tea, and to bring out my beaker of squash with the curly straw. Daddy says it’s thirsty work gardening, so we sit on our foldy chairs and Daddy tells me about things I don’t know, like about stinked dinosaurs or space rockets on the moon.
It used to be me and Daddy and Luca that played in the garden, but now Luca goes to school so it’s just me and Daddy, which I quite like ‘cause I like spending time just Daddy and me. The day the hole got Daddy we even had jammy dodgers, which Mummy said was a special treat for working so hard.
That day I was being ‘specially useful. Daddy was cutting the hedge and I was moving the bloody dirt from the edge of the grass into the middle. I made a really big pile. I thought we could put some flowers on it. Mummy likes flowers.
When I’d made a really big pile Daddy said: ‘Stop putting that bloody dirt there!’ So I did.
He shouted it a bit. Mummy says when Daddy shouts he’s tired from work so I asked him if he wanted to sit down and have a jammy dodger. He was a lot less shouty then. He messed up my hair with his hand – Daddy’s got big hands – and he tickled me, and we both laughed.
I would quite like a jammy dodger now. Mummy can’t make me a snack ‘cause she went outside and didn’t come back, and my tummy’s rumbling. Luca will find me for sure if he hears it.
When I was helping Daddy in the garden he said he wanted to chop bits off the bushes under the tree. So he got the big scissors with the big wooden handles and started snip-snip-snipping at all the little branches, like when Mummy made a paper snowflake at Christmas. Me and Iggle-Piggle wanted to know if slugs could swim so we went off to find one.
I scooped up some water from the pond with my blue castle bucket, and pushed over a brick next to the house and found a really big slug under there. It was brown and yellow and had wiggly eyes on sticks. It felt slimy in my fingers and I thought if I squeezed it really hard it would pop. I wished Luca had been there instead of being at school, he likes slugs.
I dropped the slug in my bucket and it went plop. I don’t think they can swim. Then I heard a big rumbly noise. It felt like the floor moved, which is silly, even I know the floor doesn’t move and I’m four.
I looked down the garden and Daddy had one hand on the big tree. He shouted at me to move away from the house, so I did. But then I felt the floor move again and Daddy disappeared. I didn’t like it ‘cause he made a noise like a girl, and then he didn’t make any noise at all.
I ran over to the tree and saw a great big hole where Daddy had been. I looked into it but it was really dark and went down for ever and ever. I couldn’t even see the bottom. I had to stop looking after a little bit ‘cause it was really hot and smelled horrible. A bit like the way bonfire night smells, but not as nice.
Mummy came out from the kitchen. She asked me where Daddy was so I pointed. She came and stood next to me and we both looked at the hole. Then she picked me up and we ran across the lawn really fast.
I said: ‘Weeeeeee,’ but Mummy didn’t.
When Luca got home from school I told him all about the hole and the slug. There were lots of people in the garden then, and lots of flashy lights everywhere. Mummy said they were mergency people, like Spiderman, and they would go down the hole and get Daddy out.
I told her I knew Daddy would come out soon. He’d promised to take me to the fair on my birthday and it was nearly my birthday, so he had to come out before that.
‘A promise is a promise,’ I said. ‘That’s what Daddy said.’
Luca told me not to be such a stupidface, so I told him he was a stupidface, and Mummy told us both to shush.
I slept in Luca’s room that night ‘cause the people in the garden were really noisy. Luca’s room is further away so it was quieter. I really wanted to stay up and see the mergency people get Daddy out but Mummy said no.
‘But I’m not tired,’ I said.
‘I think you might be a little bit tired,’ she said.
I wanted to argue some more but Mummy looked really sad.
‘Don’t cry, Mummy,’ I said, and I gave her my best cuddle. But she pretended she wasn’t crying, so I pretended to believe her.
I think maybe Mummy was right about me being tired ‘cause I was asleep really quick. When I woke up in the morning Luca wasn’t in his bed so I went looking for him. He was out in the garden with Mummy. They were watching the noisy mergency people putting their stuff back in their trucks, so I guessed they must have got Daddy out.
I went and held Mummy’s hand and asked where Daddy was. Mummy kneeled down so she was as tall as me. I don’t like it when she does that ‘cause that means she’s going to be all serious or tell me off for something. But this time she got me and Luca to stand close together so I thought we were both in trouble, but I didn’t know what for.
‘Daddy’s still in the hole,’ Mummy said. ‘It’s a very big hole and the mergency people just didn’t have a rope long enough to find him.’
‘But Spiderman makes ropes long enough to reach up huge big buildings,’ I said.
‘I’m sorry but Daddy’s gone,’ Mummy said, ‘he’s just… gone.’
She was definitely crying then and I think Luca was too, but I didn’t look to see. I didn’t cry though. Daddy said he’d take me to the fair for my birthday so I didn’t really know what all the fuss was about.
Before the mergency people went away they hammered some wood together and put it over the hole. I wanted to get the hammer from my toy toolbox and help, but Mummy said no. Mummy said we couldn’t go in the garden after that so me and Luca played games upstairs instead.
Luca is better at Connect Four than me and it got a bit boring when he was winning all the time, so I started opening the bottom bit which made all the red and yellow coins fell out just before he was going to win, and it got more fun after that, but Luca didn’t think so. Last night I slept in Luca’s room again. Not ‘cause I was scared or anything, just ‘cause I wanted to.
When I woke up this morning Granny and Grampy were here. I heard them through the floor, they were talking to Mummy. We don’t see them very much. They live in Whitby and that’s really far away. When we go to stay there Grampy takes me on the pier, and we watch all the men fishing for mackerel, and we look in their buckets. Grampy says when I’m a bit bigger I can have a fishing rod. I think I’m going to be good at fishing. I’ve already got a bucket.
Granny and Grampy wanted to take me and Luca to stay with them today but Mummy said no. I was glad she said no ‘cause I wanted to be here when Daddy came back. But I didn’t say that out loud ‘cause I thought Mummy would cry again and I didn’t want her to.
‘The children are too little for this,’ Granny said.
‘I will decide what’s best for my children,’ Mummy said.
Then Granny tried to help Mummy by cleaning stuff but Mummy got really angry and shouted at Granny. Me and Luca don’t like it when Mummy shouts so we went and sat in the kitchen and ate crisps.
Granny and Grampy left after that. I don’t think they were very happy. They usually stay longer.
Luca didn’t go to school again today ‘cause it’s Saturday, so we played mostly around the house. Mummy said we still weren’t allowed in the back garden so I was in my bedroom a lot. When I was in my bedroom I saw Mummy kneeling down next to the hole in the garden. She was there for a really long time. Luca said she was probably talking to Daddy, so I knew for sure Daddy would be out in time for my birthday.
We had sausages and spaghetti shapes for tea. After that Mummy said it was okay if I wanted to sleep in Luca’s room again tonight, but I said I was okay to go back in my own room, so I did. I must have slept for a little bit ‘cause when the outside noise woke me up again my dinosaur nightlight was off, and it only goes off after ages.
I thought maybe the mergency people had decided to come back and try to find Daddy again. There was a really lot of banging from the bottom of the garden. But when I looked the mergency people weren’t there. There weren’t any flashy lights or trucks or ropes, and still no Spiderman. I started to think maybe Mummy was wrong about that.
Even though it was night-time the garden was really light. The moon was so shiny it was really easy to see, and every time I heard the banging noise the wood over the hole moved up and down. I knew then that it was Daddy and he was trying to get out.
I ran to tell Mummy. She was really sleepy but she got up when I told her Daddy was back. Luca must’ve heard too ‘cause he was in the hallway, rubbing his eyes, when I came out of Mummy and Daddy’s room. We all went downstairs and into the dining room, but by then the banging noise had stopped.
I think Mummy thought I’d had a bad dream or that I was making up stories, ‘cause she got on her knees again and started telling me that Daddy wasn’t really back at all, that I would upset Luca if I said stuff like that. I was going to tell her I wasn’t making it up but that’s when there was a bang-bang-bang on the dining room window. Mummy stopped talking then.
She looked at the blinds covering the window and then at me. I smiled.
‘See?’ I said. ‘It’s Daddy.’
But she didn’t look as happy as me. Instead she got up really slowly and walked over to the window, and when she got there, in one quick swoosh, she opened the blinds.
Even though I knew he’d be there I jumped a bit when I saw Daddy. I think Luca did too, and Mummy really did ‘cause she moved back away from the window really quickly. He was covered in mud, and his head was a bit wonky, but it was Daddy for sure.
‘Daddy’s home! Daddy’s home!’ I said, and I ran into the kitchen to open the back door.
But Mummy ran after me and told me to go and wait with my brother. She said she would go out and speak to Daddy. She said we weren’t to come outside no matter what. I didn’t know what ‘no matter what’ meant but I nodded anyway and went back and stood with Luca in the dining room.
Daddy was still looking in through the window. He did look a bit angry but I thought if Mummy maybe got him some biscuits and a beaker of milk he’d feel a lot better, ‘specially after all that climbing.
‘That’s not Daddy,’ Luca said. I didn’t know why he was whispering.
‘Course it is, stupidface,’ I said.
‘You’re a stupidface.’
Then we heard Mummy open the back door and go outside.
Daddy turned really quick and walked towards the back door where Mummy was, so we couldn’t see him anymore. Luca switched off the lights and shut the blinds, leaving only a teeny little bit to peek through. I’m too little to reach the dining room window to look, so I asked Luca what Mummy and Daddy were doing. He didn’t answer me.
I really wanted to see so I went to get my step from the upstairs bathroom, the one I stand on to brush my teeth or have a wee-wees. When I came back downstairs Luca was shouting at the window and crying a lot.
‘No, Daddy, no!’ he shouted. ‘Please, Daddy!’
He was right under the blinds and banging on the window with both his hands. I really, really wanted to see but I was bit scared, so I just put my step on the floor and looked at Luca. He’d know what to do, I thought. He’s nearly seven so he knows lots of things more than me. So I waited for him to tell me what to do.
It was a while before Luca turned round and when he did he had runny bogies ‘cause of crying. He wiped his nose on his jimmy-jams, then did what Mummy does and bent down so he was as tall as me. He looked a funny colour but I didn’t say that out loud.
‘Hey, let’s play a game,’ he said.
I thought it was a bit late to play a game, but I wanted to cheer Luca up so I said ‘okay.’
‘What game shall we play?’ I said.
‘Hide and seek,’ he said. ‘You go hide first, yeah? Hide really good. And don’t come out no matter what. Promise?’
‘Promise,’ I said.
Then Luca told me to go, quick, so I did.
I think as I was running up the stairs I might have heard the back door open. As I was shuffling backwards under my bed I heard Luca shout something for sure, but I remembered what he told me so didn’t come out.
After that it was all quiet. I squidged right down into the teddies and pillows so only my eyes were peeking out, and I’ve been here ever since.
It’s been ages and ages so Luca must have stopped looking by now. I think I might come out soon ‘cause I’m really very tired. I think maybe ‘don’t come out, no matter what’ might mean you can come out if you’re really tired. I’ll ask Luca when he comes. I do want to go to bed soon. Iggle-Piggle wants to as well. He told me.
But I might just stay here another little minute, ‘cause now I hear someone coming up the stairs. It could be Mummy or Daddy. They might be in from the garden and they’re coming to tuck me in bed and read me a story. Or maybe Luca’s still looking for me after all. I’ll wait and see.
I do really want him to say I’m the super champion of hiding, so I’ll squidge down in here a little bit more and try not to fall asleep or to sneeze. I reckon if I stay quiet as a mouse, and my tummy doesn’t rumble too much, he’ll not find me here. ‘Cause he almost never does.
After all, this really is my very best hidey place.
Also by E.J. More