It’s surprising how everyday comments and events can be the inspiration for a story.
Have you encountered the ‘missing sock’ syndrome, or visited a preserved property and been intrigued by the gadgets of yesteryear?
If so this story is for you.
Photos courtesy of Paula Harmon. National Trust property Kingston Lacey.
Lacey was excited. Grandma had gone away for the day and left her second best broomstick unattended. Although the girl had been forbidden to touch it, she was finding it hard to resist.
Surely it wouldn’t hurt to just go for a quick spin around the yard. No one would know, and after all she was sixteen and would be finishing her witching apprenticeship soon. How was she to learn the practicalities if she wasn’t allowed to try?
Tentatively Lacey edged towards the broomstick and stretched out one hand. As her fingers lightly touched the handle she jumped back in alarm. It felt slimy as if hundreds of snails had crawled along its surface; not only that, it would be slippery to ride and she could fall off.
She should have realised that the old witch would have left some sort of spell on it. Not to be defeated she browsed her textbooks to find some way to overcome the problem. Nothing there. In a huff she wandered into the kitchen to make a cup of tea when suddenly the hanging clothes rack caught her eye.
If magic wouldn’t help perhaps plain inventiveness would? She managed to pull down one of the black and white socks and wrapped it firmly round the handle. Perfect. It seemed the stripes had confused the spell. Returning to fetch the matching sock she hit another barrier. It kept jumping out of her reach and just the one on its own was not enough. Snatching at the pink sock she managed to hold onto it, and soon had that too wrapped round the broomstick handle.
Climbing aboard she made herself comfortable, adopted the correct position, took a deep breath and whispered the starting words.
Whoosh! The broom took off like a rocket and for a while she struggled to keep her balance. She hadn’t expected it to be quite so fast, but soon got the hang of things and even tried some gentle drops, lifts and turns. This was fun.
As her confidence grew she decided to make the most of the opportunity, and pulling back hard flew over the garden gate and into the open fields beyond. Swooping and weaving she forgot the time until in the distance she noticed Grandma returning.
In a panic she steered for home but had forgotten the words to stop. Nearly crashing into the garden fence she just managed to haul up high enough to avoid it, although one of the socks snagged on a protruding nail. As she flew back into the space of the fields it began to unravel, and before long there were streamers of black, white and pink trailing behind her.
Why hadn’t she done as she was told? Maybe if she’d asked Granny properly she wouldn’t be in this fix now, slipping and sliding on the gooey mess of the now naked broomstick handle. Just as she managed to turn back into the kitchen she fell off and landed with a bump, bruising her knees on the rough stone floor.
At least the broom had stopped and returned to its usual place in the corner. With a bit of luck Grandma wouldn’t even notice and she could get away with it. Just as she got to her feet the door opened and the old witch entered.
‘Everything been OK?’ she asked. ‘Be a good girl and make me a cup of tea. All that flying this afternoon has plumb worn me out. What on earth have you done to your knees?’
‘Fine Grandma. Oh that, I slipped and grazed them on some rough stones when I was walking through the woods. I’ll go and put the kettle on.’
Phew. She had got away with it. Maybe she would even have another go next time the old witch went out for the day.
‘Lacey. When you come in could you bring my black socks from the kitchen? They should be dry by now and my feet are cold.’
Perhaps she wasn’t in the clear after all. She couldn’t even blame losing the odd socks on the washing machine. It hadn’t been invented yet.