If only I was there
Once upon a time in a land far far away from this, but strangely like our own, a 10 year old girl called Lucy lay on a chair on a balcony looked at the setting sun and put her thumb in her mouth while her other hand felt the silver locket on a chain round her neck.
“I wonder …” she thought. She had never opened it. She found a catch on the side she pushed it and it sprang open. inside there was a tiny picture of a beautiful lush green island surrounded by beautiful deep blue sea. She took her thumb out of her mouth,
“If only I was there…” she whispered to herself with a sigh. Then a shrill shriek sharply shredded Lucy’s lingering look at the locket ;
“Eeeugh! what filthy bollards! disgusting! Lucy? come and polish them! Now!”
The bollards lay far below the balcony next to a golf buggy, and the voice belonged to Brenda, her step mum.
Lucy and her step parents, Roderick and Brenda lived in a large grey house on top of the only hill in a town surrounded by what seemed like an endless rocky desert.
Roderick and Brenda- quite ordinary names you might think, but Roderick and Brenda weren’t ordinary people - oh no! they were important, very important, and wanted everyone to know how very important they were. nobody knew why they were so frightfully important, but everybody knew they always had terribly important things to do that had to get done by yesterday. They were always busy, and in a rush. Lucy never knew what was so important either, she just knew that it was more important than her, far more important. They made her do things for them all the time, even though they always said, “be a dear and …” she knew she had to do what she was told or she wouldn’t get any supper. She had to –
1. Clean the floors (because Brenda and Roderick were much too busy talking to important people on the phone- and how could they possibly think clearly if they were pacing around on a dirty floor? and besides, what would the neighbours think?)
2. Write down passwords. They had lots - at the last count they had 463- (because they spent so much time at the computer, doing very important things).
3. Make the tea (they drank many cups of tea because as Brenda said, ‘you can’t think clearly without a cup of tea in your hand can you?’) and besides what would the neighbours think?
4. Tidy up and keep the house perfectly clean and tidy (the place was a mess because they spent so much time at the computer, doing very important things). this included putting things away, cleaning the mugs, setting the mousetraps in the attic and polishing the … bollards
“Polish the bollards? but they’re made of concrete!” Lucy dared to say to Brenda once, “you can’t polish concrete.” It was as if she had pressed a button
“Don’t be impertinent” said Brenda furiously, ‘”the bollards need polishing! what will the neighbours say? I want those bollards spotless! do you hear me?”
She felt like their slave. And she was sad, and she never smiled and even when people told her jokes, she never laughed, even if they were good jokes, even if she understood the joke she wouldn’t smile and she never ever laughed, she just looked at them blankly. They all thought she was a bit stupid.
But Lucy knew in her heart of hearts that one day things would change. She didn’t know how, she couldn’t imagine how, but she knew they would someday. Somehow
Sometimes, Brenda and Roderick would send her into the town on an errand- shoes from Jack the Cobbler or something like that and her spirits would rise at the thought of being away from the gloomy house but after walking downhill into town they would sink again as soon as she saw the townspeople who had greyish skin, who never smiled and looked at her, and never recognised her, and made her feel cold and claustrophobic. Even Jack the Cobbler He was kind to her once - many months ago, just as she was leaving his shop, when she had to pick up a pair of Brenda’s terribly important garish pink stilettos, she felt a pain in her toes and stumbled. He noticed and said, ‘Are your feet hurting?’ “my shoes are too tight now. I think I’ve grown out of them” she said.
“Let me fix that” and with brute force, he stretched the leather and gave her back her shoe- it fitted perfectly. That was the only bit of kindness she had ever encountered in that miserable village. Even Jack the Cobbler, who once had a smily face had a heavy disillusioned heart, even he made her feel cold, disappointed and claustrophobic, even he had fallen under Brenda and Roderick’s grey spell.
She was almost glad to get back inside the house on the hill. At least it was a world that she knew, where she had the little habits and routines that only she knew and made her world just about bearable.
“Only good thing about the house on the hill”, Lucy thought, “was that balcony” because from that balcony there was a fantastic view and in that land faraway but curiously like our own, they had very very beautiful sunsets - not that Lucy often got time to look at them, because there was always more work to be done and there was no time and Lucy knew that would only make her sad and wish for another life “how trivial and utterly pointless!” her stepmum said one day when she caught Lucy on the balcony gazing longingly at a particularly beautiful sunset.
“Lucy! - Looking at sunsets again? Silly girl get back to work! there’s always more to be done. Be a dear and clean something! I’d better check my email, I’m expecting some terribly important news”.
“I’m so tired! I want a holiday!’ Lucy hissed, but not loud enough for them to hear and she was glad they didn’t hear because they would only send her to bed without any supper.
But Lucy knew in her heart of hearts that one day things would change. She didn’t know how, she couldn’t imagine how, but she knew they would someday.
One hot midsummer night after a particularly beautiful sunset she was working late and thought that at last she was finished when Roderick called out in his screechy voice,
“Be a dear and set the mouse traps in the attic - the pitter patter of their feet never stops. it’s driving me mad and I can’t think!”
Wearily, reluctantly, she climbed the creaking ladder to the attic but could not find the light switch. She stumbled around in the dark,
“Maybe its …”
and then she stepped on something - she thought it was a mouse’s tail - but a very big mouse – a rat maybe? she heard a squeal and then a scurrying of tiny feet “I’m not scared!” she shouted, “I’ll get you!” eventually she found the light switch. she turned it on and there, cowering in front of a cardboard box was a Lurt. A Lurt?- A Lurt is a sleepy but twitchy creature always looking around like an anxious mouse, but bigger than a rat in fact as big as a cat, but fat. Lurts are almost … cuddly. He had in his hand two brushes
The Lurt said, ‘”please don’t kill me! I was pretending to be a mouse!”
“But you are a mouse`” Lucy said.
“no, a small mouse pitter pattering around” and he drummed the brushes like mice footsteps running around on the floor.”
“ its driving Roderick crazy” said Lucy. They smirked He yawned and looked around, “I want to go back to sleep, will you let me?” He said timidly.
Lucy was shocked at the thought that the Lurt was actually scared of her but she was so glad to be with someone, something else.
“Of course I won’t hurt you”, she said, ‘”I thought YOU were going to hurt ME” She paused, looked at him and then she just burst into tears, “I have had a bad day. Every day is bad”
The Lurt looked at her and whilst Lucy’s hand covered her tearful eyes the Lurt began to tip toe away to safety, but the pitiful sound of her sobbing drew him back to comfort her,
“D-d-don’t be upset…what’s wrong?’
“I don’t know … I’m so unhappy and so tired” she blurted out, “my step-parents they are so mean, its all work and no play and no breaks and they make me work and they always have terribly important things to do and I’m always too tired to dream. I just fall asleep and then wake again the next day, and its exactly the same all over again, I’m important too, you know” she said timidly through her tears.
“Of course you are” said the Lurt. “I know how you feel. I used to be someone once and then I gave up and now I sit here in this attic. I sleep, I get up, I pitter patter about. At least I’m safe … but it is a bit … boring. I could do with a change.”
He was more awake now and looked at her tenderly. He blinked, blushed and nearly choked. “Ooh Lucy I feel a speech coming on!” He looked like he was going to fall over then planted his feet firmly on the floor and cleared his throat and said slowly but seriously, “Ahem …. I have something terribly important to tell you, are you listening?” Lucy stopped crying and looked at the Lurt.
“If you are not living your own dream, you are living in someone elses” the Lurt said rather grandly, “Do you want to be a nobody in Roderick and Brenda’s dream? … or be the queen of your own dream?”
At that moment Lucy heard her stepfather shouting up the stairs “Lucy? are you up there girl? come down immediately there’s just somethings I’d like you to do before going to bed. I’ve just done a big poo in the toilet and its got stuck and there’s water everywhere and I’m terribly busy. I’ve got to check my email, and I haven’t even begun to prepare for a terribly important meeting first thing tomorrow so be a dear and unblock it will you?”
The Lurt motioned towards an open skylight where, in the twilight the stars were just beginning to twinkle,
“C’mon, let escape!” the Lurt whispered
“Lucy? come down immediately!” and a terrifying picture flashed through her mind of her as a slave in her step-parents’ dream rapidly getting old. Her skin was drying up and getting wrinkled, her hair was going grey and brittle. she felt bitter, twisted and resentful in the picture in her mind. She looked at the Lurt he was nodding sympathetically
“yes, you’ll get bitter and go grey early” the Lurt said, and she saw him looking at her knowingly,
‘”How did you know that was what I was thinking…?”
‘”Your own dream or theirs? The loo or you?’’ said the Lurt, and as an image of her cleaning Roderick’s poo in the loo flashed in front of her “Ugh! Let’s go!” she hissed and without thinking she hauled herself up to the skylight with the Lurt following. They squeezed through and climbed down a drainpipe, and ran as fast as they could down the hill leaving Roderick calling “Lucy!” up the stairs.
Meanwhile Brenda was absent mindedly looking out of the window having a terribly important telephone conversation when she saw Lucy and the Lurt running away from the house. Her mouth dropped open and not in a quiet whisper, but a deafening, shrill gasp,
“No! I…I… don’t believe it!”
“Roderick!” she shrieked, ‘Lucy’s escaping! With a…a…a Lurt! How disgusting! Did she unblock the loo? STOP HER!’
They ran downstairs and rushed to their golf buggy by the bollards. Jumped in and with Roderick driving and Brenda next to him, they started it, revved it up and it hurtled downhill through the gates chasing Lucy and the Lurt. In the town, alarms went off and klaxons sounded and all the townspeople, who were getting ready for bed, joined in because the terribly important people who lived in the big grey house on the hill had to find the cleaning girl.
Lucy and the Lurt crept in the shadows beyond the town limits to the rocky wilderness beyond, followed by the sound of barking dogs, yelling townspeople, led by Jack the Cobbler, and beeping klaxons. the morning light was gathering in the eastern sky and Lucy and the Lurt knew that as it got light they would be easily seen. They needed somewhere to hide … quickly …they looked around them. then she saw an old dusty sign saying,
SEE THE WORLD!
and the sign had an arrow on it pointing down a dark rocky ravine, it was their only chance … she and the Lurt dashed down the dark ravine but it seemed to be a dead end. Lucy and the Lurt looked up and down and all around them but there was nothing there but red stone cliff walls and they turned round to go back out of the rocky ravine when Lucy saw her stepparents on their golf buggy coming towards them, not laughing (her step parents never laughed) but cackling, followed by a horde of the towns people, hands with long sharp fingernails, holding big nets to catch her, through which Lucy could see their dull frightening lifeless faces. they were trapped! they didn’t know what to do when behind them, they heard the biggest yawn they had ever heard and a sleepy voice said ‘ah! passengers! at last! I’ve been waiting for years!” and a particularly large round boulder in front of their very eyes changed into a particularly large round–fat man wearing a shabby flatpeaked cap, he was waking up!
‘”What do you mean passengers? where’s your ship? help! rescue us!”
Roderick looked at Brenda and cackled,
”We have them trapped! – Lucy there’s no escape now give yourself up! lots to be done, don’t be silly this is a frightful waste of time and…”
“Help! get us out of here!” Lucy screamed desperately and the fat captain with the flat cap said slowly and sleepily,
“Let me see now…”
He levered a tree that was growing out of a cleft between two rocks. There was this deep wrenching sound as if the land was yawning itself awake, the bottom of the ravine and the high rocky walls of the ravine tore themselves away from the surrounding groaning ground and became a sky chariot. the tree that the fat pink captain had pulled became a joy stick, and its branches, a steering wheel. It sprouted some wings like big palm leaves and the laid back fat captain steered the sky chariot up and away from the ground below leaving the terribly important step parents waving their fists and hollering “But you haven’t cleaned the loo! you are a bad girl! We are SO disappointed in you, aren’t we Roderick? you are wilfully neglecting your duties, you are a naughty, naughty girl!” but by now the fat captain had steered the sky chariot high into the sky. Roderick and Brenda in their golf buggy became distant dots and their cries became distant cries. Lucy breathed a big sigh of relief “Goodbye Brenda! Goodbye Roderick!”
But that was not the last time she saw them.
She looked around her, hardly able to believe they had been rescued as they lay back on the deck of the amazing sky chariot and looked at the amazing sky.
“Its been waiting for you to come along for years.” said the fat captain and he explained to Lucy and the Lurt how he had been asleep in the boulder waiting for a passenger for years and had practically given up hope of a passenger ever turning up “But now, not one but 2 show up. I’ve always wanted to rescue people and be a hero”
“Well you are now a true hero!” and Lucy planted a big kiss on his cheek and gave him a great big hug.
Lucy saw little green shoots of plants emerging out of the growing sky chariot, some grew into chairs and a table, a sofa ,upon which some soft furry moss for turned into the ,ost cosy of cushions, and in the corner was a dusty hand painted sign that said ‘No thumbsuckers allowed on board’. A rock split apart to become a little drinking fountain trickling a never ending supply of fresh chilled water.
‘”Just slurp baby slurp, whenever your thirsty! Don’t you know lots of water a day makes the blues go away” said the captain.
‘So now’ said the Lurt, “We are off to find your dream, but now is the time to rest”
and Lucy lay back on the sofa, and on the softest of cushions fell into a deep slumber
‘WE ARE OFF TO FIND YOUR DREAM’
“How’s it going Lucy?’ asked the Lurt as the sky chariot soared through the morning sky towards the rising sun.
“Oh wonderful!” Lucy giggled and yawned as she lay back on the bed of moss and watched the sky and clouds scud by still half asleep. After some minutes the Lurt cleared his throat and began to speak:
“Lucy, listen closely. Your journey has just begun. You have escaped from your step-parents, you have escaped from their dream but you have not yet found the dream that is truly your own- that is a long way off and we have just begun the journey. To find your dream, you have to learn how to dip into other worlds, other dreams to collect the parts that you can add to your unique dream”
Lucy began to smile because the Lurt was sounding so serious, then thought she’d better not because she didn’t want to hurt his feelings and then fell silent and then got a bit nervous herself and blurted out, ‘”But where are we going now? What happens next?”
Now it was the Lurt’s turn to smile and he didn’t say any more but lay back on the mossy cushion and let his eyelids flutter together and (for he had not slept since leaving the attic and it was way past his bedtime) now it was his turn to fall into a deep sleep.
“Relax all in good time, but for now just sit back and enjoy the view’ said the fat captain. and what a view it was!
The chariot soared in a blue sky between big fluffy white clouds that towered all around them and high high above the world of other people and their little lives far below. They journeyed on for some hours until Lucy noticed the fat captain was yawning. She looked down and far far below them was the clear deep blue sea and in that sea was a vivid green island.
“I think the driver needs a rest”, she said, and without a word the fat captain, his eyelids drooping with sleepyness, steered the sky chariot downwards, towards the island, a new world, a new dream that Lucy had never seen.
HOW LUCY FOUND HER SENSE OF HUMOUR
As the sky chariot descended towards the island a field of lush green grass came into view. They landed with a bump. She looked at the fat captain.
“Thankyou Lucy’ he said and tipped his flat cap over his eyes and took a nap. She looked at the Lurt: he was sleepily, deeply reading a book.
She looked around: apart from the occasional squawking of birds in the trees, and a gentle breeze, it was quiet and peaceful. the Lurt and the Captain were fast asleep But Lucy was not - she had had her sleep - and was wide awake, in fact she had never felt so alive in her whole life.
She took a sip of water from the fountain and pondered what to do next. She felt free and brave and said to herself “ right, let’s explore!” She stepped off the sky chariot onto the lush green grass, the birds stopped squawking and all was quiet around her. She sniffed the air. It felt cool fresh and sweet, but the silence of the place she found a little strange. She felt eyes on her she felt like someone was scrutinizing her. Her ears burned and her cheeks went red.
then she thought she heard a snigger … then another … then another … and then a muffled laugh then another and eventually huge gales of laughter from all around and out from the forest emerged the strangest creatures that Lucy had ever seen. They had two legs with a huge pair of laughing lips above them and an outstretched arm pointing at her and their mirthful mouths were all hooting with laughter … at her!
She blushed and felt very self conscious. ‘What’s wrong with me? she said. “Whats so funny? Why are you laughing?” at this the laughter doubled, something was very very funny. Lucy didn’t get the joke and was beginning to feel flustered and sorry for herself, she looked back at the Lurt and the captain but they were still fast asleep.
The strange laughing creatures were coming towards her, the laughing got louder and more intense. She was getting frightened and clambered back on the ship, crying, “Help! they are laughing at me! They are coming to get me!” and she shook the Lurt. He started waking up, and through one dimly open eyesaw what was happening. he said “Quick! they are laughing at you! you’ve got to make them laugh with you, not at you. dance!
“But …but I can’t dance !” she spluttered.
“Yes you can! just start tapping your foot and then let the rest of your body join in.” He began singing ‘da dah da ….’ and opened his other eye and encouraged her. Lucy began tapping her foot then her finger, then her shoulder began to twitch and before she knew it there, in front of the strange laughing, pointing creatures, she was dancing her heart out for the first time in her life and as she danced the creatures began to join in, tapping their feet and the laughter began to change. Lucy began to smile at herself dancing and the creatures began to laugh with her, eventually they all finished dancing and collapsed in a giggling heap. The Lurt fully awake, watched this strange scene and infected by the laughter and Lucy’s dancing, began to join in. The noise woke the fat captain.
“Oi what’s going on here? what’s the joke?”
Lucy and all the laughing creatures stopped laughing momentarily and looked at the fat captain and then burst out laughing even louder because they could see he badly needed to blow his nose. The captain at first went red and looked like he was going to get angry, but then realised they were laughing at him.
‘What’s so funny?’ He picked the bogey absent mindedly and half awake, thought about eating it and then, whilst looking at the laughing creatures, reached into his captain’s cabinet and produced not the crumpled white ordinary handkerchief that you might expect a man like the fat captain to have, but a frilly lace pink handkerchief neatly folded. He shook it open and he delicately deposited the bogeying it squished it up and put it in his pocket. They watched and then after a silent pause, they all burst out laughing He blushed, looked like he was going to get angry, looked at them sheepishly, then his face broke into a smile and then he laughed.
“You’ve got to laugh at yourself sometimes eh Lucy?” said the Lurt.
‘”Let’s go!” cried the captain. One of the laughing creatures who had clambered aboard begged to come with them.
‘I can’t promise not to laugh but I’ll try. When you're funny I won’t be able to stop myself laughing” said the creature.
‘Yes but laugh with me not at me’ said Lucy. Once she would have found the laughing creature really annoying, but now she didn’t mind one little bit and even smiled back.
The sky chariot began to lift into the air and Lucy, the Lurt, the creature and the captain waved good bye to the other laughing creatures and left the island for the next leg of the epic journey to find Lucy’s dream.
“So” said the Lurt, “what did you learn to add to your dream?”
Lucy thought for a bit and then said, “I learned to dance …and laugh WITH rather than AT” and she thought as she looked at the Lurt, “You are funny when you try to be serious” but thought she’d better not say it and as the sky chariot sped through the vast blue sky the captain sang as he manned the steering wheel,
“OH, my liver is next to my kidney,
my foot is next to my toes,
my left leg is connected to my left knee,
but my hand ain’t connected to my nose.”
“except when you pick it!” said the Lurt and they all laughed as the sky chariot sped on through the blue sky over the blue blue ocean towards their next adventure.
HOW LUCY LEARNED THAT TECHNOLOGY ISN’T EVERYTHING.
They journeyed on through the clear blue sky and then after some time it got a little hazy then the haze became a mist that got thicker and thicker until the captain said, ‘”Its no use I can’t see a thing, I’m going to have to take her down so he steered the sky chariot down hoping to get under the mist but it only got thicker the lower they went. The mist turned grey and murky and the harder they looked ahead the less they could see. They carried on for what seemed like days but was probably just a few hours or maybe a few minutes, and then the captain said “We have to find a place to land and let this infernal mist pass, so he pulled the lever saying ‘to the land’ and the fat captain steered the chariot down until almost without warning, the ground appeared beneath them and with a gentle bump they landed in a pale green field that merged into the pale grey mist around them. Everything was dripping wet.
“Phew!” said the captain ‘that was a bit hairy!” and they all looked at him as a single drop of dew (or was it sweat?) gathered on the tip of his nose... for a moment everyone thought that the captain would get out his pink hanky to wipe off the dew drop, but then they were distracted by a sound at first distant but getting louder and closer - the brisk click click click of approaching shoes. It got louder and closer until a smartly suited secretary emerged out of the mist.
“Very punctual! can I show you around madam? feel free to ask any questions.”
“Oh, thankyou” Lucy stuttered ‘what a strange land!” Lucy thought and said “yes, please show us around. how kind of you to offer”. She stepped out of the sky chariot and the laughing creature said “can I come with you?”
“yes, but don’t laugh.” Lucy whispered.
“I’ll try not to” whispered the laughing creature. “But she does look very serious.’
‘She does, doesn’t she?’ agreed Lucy, smiling conspiratorially.
They followed the secretary into the mist and as they walked away from the sky chariot – it was out of view in the mist behind them -an extraordinary sight emerged - rows upon rows of young men in badly fitting suits and badly ironed shirts sat at desks on the wet pale green grass in the misty field staring into computer screens. The rows of desks went as far as the eye could see and then disappeared into the mist. The pale faces of the young men were lit by the only light in the pale grey green misty field, the light from the computer screens. Lucy and the secretary walked between two rows of men, at their computers. they all looked very busy.
“They must be doing terribly important things” thought Lucy.
“What’s he doing?’ Lucy asked as they passed one man. “he’s doing some very difficult sums” the secretary replied.
“And what’s he doing?” she asked as they passed an identical man at an identical desk. “he’s watching a film” the secretary replied.
“And what’s he doing?” she asked as they passed an identical man at an identical desk. “he’s buying tonight’s supper” the secretary replied
“And what’s he doing?” she asked as they passed an identical man at an identical desk..“he’s interviewing a footballer who’s on holiday”
“And what’s he doing?” she asked as they passed an identical man at an identical desk. “he’s designing a golf course”
“And what’s he doing?” she asked as they passed an identical man at an identical desk. ‘he’s learning to ride a bicycle”
Lucy looked at the laughing creature and couldn’t help smiling and shrugging her shoulders as if to say “this is crazy!”
“no he’s not. he’s just sitting still at a desk looking at a screen”
The secretary looked at him, and said again, a little bit louder, and a little bit slower “ “He is learning to ride a bike”
The laughing creature began to giggle, “Ssh!” said Lucy and turned to the secretary and said,
“I don’t mean to be rude but you can’t learn to ride a bike off a computer! I mean computers are great but you can’t do everything with them”
“Yes you can” said the secretary who was getting a little stressed because this was not in her script. The laughing creature stifled a snigger.
“Ssh!” Lucy hissed and quickly turned back to the secretary, “No you can’t! and I’ll prove it! Get me a bicycle” Lucy demanded,
The secretary looked at her watch and said, “with all respect, madam, you are wasting valuable time, and time is money and you are wasting both time and money!”
“Get me a bicycle!” Lucy repeated. She had never heard her voice being so strong. the secretary quaked.
“Y-es madam. Madam wants a bicycle! now!” she said sniffily and unctuously. She clicked her fingers and out of the mist came a porter in a brown coat whistling and carrying a gleaming new bicycle. “There you are madam, so glad to help you, have a nice day.” and the secretary turned to the man at the desk doing the bicycle learning programme, “Excuse me sir could you show madam how you have learned to ride the bicycle.”
He explained, very clear and confident in words and reasons repeating what the computer told him, but when he got on the bike, his body had no sense of balance then he fell off. He tried several times and he couldn’t balance and fell off again and again.
‘”You see! how can a computer teach you a sense of balance? give it here” said Lucy, and the man gave her the bicycle, and went back to his computer, (blushing with confused shame) stared into the screen and absent mindedly checked his facebook page.
She held the bike by the handlebars and pushed the pedal so it was nearly vertical and then out of the mist, she heard a voice “I’ve got to connect! where can I connect? I gotta get online”- it was a teenage boy staring into a tablet that he held in his hand. “he looks unhappy and doesn’t know where he is” thought Lucy. he was staring into the screen so much that he did not see anything around him - he wasn’t going anywhere, he didn’t know who was around him, what was around him, and he kept bumping into things.
‘Do you know where I can get connected?” he said desperately. There was a big crash as the boy bumped into a computer desk and knocked it over, “Where can I get connected?” he pleaded, oblivious to the chaos he was creating and then Lucy giggled, and had an idea. ‘Get on and push the pedal.’ She took the tablet out of his hands and gave him the bike.
“Get on! and push the pedals hard” she said. the boy shot forward and after several attempts began to find his balance. he began to cycle, wobbly at first and then in neat circles, and then up and down the lines of men at their computers “whoa! this is fun” he said. he stopped and nearly fell off but didn’t. They all clapped giggled spontaneously and then there was an awkward pause and no-one knew what to do.
“There you see?” said Lucy, “that’s how you learn to ride a bike!” and turning to the boy “that’s how you get connected!”
She looked back at this extraordinary scene - all the men in that pale green misty field doing exactly the same thing - their faces lit by the light of the screens into which they stared, sitting, their mouths slightly open, almost still the only movement was the rapid tapping of their fingers on the keyboards
“This place is a bit like my step-parent’s house - people always looking at computers, never at each other.
She watched them hardly believing what she saw.
and the laughing creature began to giggle
“Ssh!” hissed Lucy who could hardly stop giggling herself. The secretary in her immaculate dress turned round and frowned at them both.
‘Right! time to go!’ she said and she called for the fat captain to get them away from this strange humourless place. ‘do you want to come with us?” she said to the disconnected boy on the bike. she felt sorry for him.
“There’s plenty of room’ her head turned slowly to the fat captain, “isn’t there?” she said. he nodded and sniffed.
Lucy and the laughing creature sat on the handlebars, and the Lurt clambered on the boy’s back. The fat captain appeared above with the sky chariot and threw a rope with a hook over the side of the sky chariot and Lucy attached it to the frame of the bicycle, the fat captain began to haul the rope up to the sky chariot and the bike, the boy, Lucy and the laughing creature began to rise into the air.
“Hang on hang on!” said the secretary “you haven’t got my invoice yet!” but it was too late for the bike, was already winched over halfway back up to the sky chariot and they giggled and waved at the frantic secretary and the suited men at the rows of computers far below. They clambered aboard the sky chariot. Lucy had scarcely recovered her breath before the Lurt waddled up to her,
“So” said the Lurt,’ “what did you learn to add to your dream?”
Lucy thought for a moment, “I learned to ride a bicycle and that you can’t learn everything from a computer”
“and you told people what to do” said the Lurt.
“And that some things can be funny and serious, and that if you laugh people might think you are laughing at them not with them”.
The world of the bollards, captivity and stepparents seemed far far away.
“Be careful Lucy you are not there yet. There are things you must learn.”
“You must learn the difference between lying and using your imagination, for example” said the Lurt mysteriously.
“What’s the difference?” Lucy asked.
The laughing creature giggled.
In another part of the sky far behind the sky chariot, in a golf buggy, followed by the townspeople, teeth gnashing, net and knives at the ready, Roderick screamed “Lucy the loo! Come back You haven’t cleaned the loo!” Brenda turned to Roderick and said,
“Don’t you worry my lamb she is here somewhere, we can’t be far behind. we’ll bring her back”
THE ISLAND OF THE RUSH HOUR THUMBSUCKERS
And so they went on to the next island through the night until dawn came and as the light grew the fat captain saw the outline of another island. ‘Lets have a look’ he said. Bright rays of morning sunlight shafted in almost horizontally, as the fat captain steered the sky chariot down between big fluffy white clouds. Lucy looked at her watch- 8.20am it said.. “Oh no! it’s the rush hour!”
“Don’t worry”, said the Lurt, “on islands they don’t have the rush hour”
But he was wrong - no sooner had the sky chariot touched down than they heard an angry ‘“Get out of my way! I’m in a hurry, I can’t be late!” Lucy looked up and there was a man in a suit with a briefcase and a mobile phone in one hand and a wet glistening thumb in the other, which, as soon as he had finished speaking went back in his mouth and he walked in a completely straight line right over the sky chariot leaving wet foot prints everywhere! Yes, it was a very silly walk- big huge steps and it was at least a three feet step up onto the sky chariot. Lucy looked around and there were loads more pedestrians walking in straight lines over the sky chariot in a hurry and they all left wet footprints and they all had their thumbs in their mouths, apart from that they looked completely normal.
“Cool!” said Lucy and put her thumb in her mouth to join them. “at last a place where grown ups suck their thumbs”.
The Lurt froze, looked aghast and then started wagging a finger as if to say “no no no!”
“Shtgurgh!’ the strangest sound came out of the fat captain who was usually completely jolly, very pink and in a good mood. But now he was purple with anger. “But they are all asleep! I am not taking you as my passenger from island to island just so you can suck your thumb and walk nowhere in straightlines fast! Grow up! Wake up! Either get out of my sky chariot right now, and stay with these thumbsuckers, or stay with sky chariot and face your future”
‘”Well said captain! Which is it to be Lucy?” said the Lurt “they are always sucking their thumbs here. Maybe its always rush hour”.
Lucy looked at all the rushing thumbsuckers then looked at the sky chariot. then she looked at her watch- it still said 8.20 and still more thumbsuckers rushed by. She slowly took her thumb out of her mouth and as the rush hour thumbsuckers poured by they turned their heads to look at her and gasped in astonishment. slowly, almost sadly Lucy turned to the fat captain and said
“you’re right I suppose, its just that I haven’t sucked my thumb for ages, ok lets go”
The Lurt looked at the fat captain and gave him a thumbs up sign. the fat captain laughed and said
“That’s my girl! Let’s go!’’ and the Lurt pointed the sky chariot towards the blue sky, and they headed eagerly into the blue beyond to the unknowable future to find Lucy’s dream.
THE SENSIBLE AND BORING ISLAND
As soon as the sky chariot touched down, Lucy felt a cold blast of wind across her face.
“You need a sensible jumper!”she heard and bouncing towards the sky chariot was a boy, (probably about 11, thought Lucy) wearing big baggy grey shorts that would have fallen down if it wasn’t for the elastic belt that held them up they nearly came down to his knees.-‘are those long shorts or short longs?’ thought Lucy as she shivered in the cold wind.
“Hello Lucy, my name is Peter and you need this” he gave her a sensible looking woollen jumper. Following Peter, in a line, were 6 other children, all wearing similar wooly jumpers in different colours- green, light brown, ochre and blue ‘ooh what a spiffing ship maybe it can help you find King Bruce’
“Who’s King Bruce?” asked Lucy
‘“Don’t you know ?” said Peter,
“He’s the best!” said one of the children
“He’s incredible!” said another. The others nodded in unison and then looked back at the sky chariot in rapt appreciation.
“Wow look at that ship! We’re on a quest to find King Bruces treasure” said one. “Lets look at the map! There are bound to be some clues somewhere!”said another, “lets have a sandwich and think what to do next! said another “rather!’ the little dog barked. “who are you?” said another, looking at Lucy and they all turned and looked at Lucy.
“My name is Lucy, and I’m trying to find my own dream” she said shyly.
they all burst out laughing, looked at each other and with their hands on their hips, rolled their eyes. ”Boring!” they chorussed
“ Find your dream? dreams aren’t real, silly.” they all said in unison, “But you can join our quest to find King Bruce’s treasure”
Lucy went red and felt like crying, she looked at the Lurt. The Lurt smiled and mouthed “Say it again! but mean it!”
Lucy took a deep breath in and with her feet firmly planted on the ground, she said loudly and proudly( and a little bit fiercely),
“I am on a quest to find my own dream” and the children around her just looked at her amazed by how big Lucy suddenly seemed. they paused in astonishment.
“Hooray!’ and then Peter whose big shorts were nearly falling down, said “Can we come to? I say, gang, until we find King Bruce’s treasure, lets help Lucy! We can make it a quest! Lets find Lucy’s dream!”
“To Lucy!” they all said, and raised their plastic beakers.
Lucy looked at the Lurt. The Lurt winked at her. The fat captain said we’ve gotta go, and Lucy turned to seven children,
“but there’s one problem - we don’t have enough food.”
“Don’t worry”, said Peter, “we love a quest don’t we gang? We’ve come prepared - we have sandwiches, and unicorns!”
“yes! yes! yes, Bruce would want us to help!” they all said.
Peter clicked his fingers and seven beautiful obedient white unicorns appeared, “We’ll follow you.” He tapped his canvas satchel, “we’ve got plenty of sandwiches and other snacks haven’t we gang?”
“Yes yes yes!” they all said triumphantly, producing satchels and picnic boxes which they held aloft as they climbed onto the unicorns.
‘Lets’s go!’ said the fat captain and the sky chariot went up into the sky followed by the excited children in the sensible jumpers on the back of their obedient unicorns flying close behind.
“Lucy watched them “How silly. How seriously silly” she thought and turned again to the Lurt and said,”who IS Bruce anyway?”
“You’ll see! you’ll see!”
They journeyed on and on, day followed night followed day followed night, on and on, Lucy, the Lurt, the laughing creature, the boy who wanted to be connected, the boy learning how to ride a bike, (he was so good now that he showed off his cycling skills to everyone by riding along the rail around the sky chariot as they soared thousands of feet above the ground.)
The sky chariot was followed by the sensible seven on the backs of their beautiful white unicorns, and then one day, Lucy turned to the Lurt and said,
“My dreams have changed- now I don’t know if I am dreaming or awake and I wake up and feel as if I am still dreaming, and then I fall asleep and dream I am awake”.
“Yes its like that sometimes” was all the Lurt said, “slurp baby slurp, enjoy the ride” said the captain.
Lucy looked at the Lurt and stopped thinking and had another slurp of the beautiful water.
The captain chuckled and on they sped, into the unknowable future. Lucy was on an adventure! she had escaped from the boring old drudgery as Brenda and Roderick’s slave. She usually dreaded what came next, but now, as she looked ahead, she couldn’t wait to see what might happen …