The main characters.
Lizzie - schoolgirl age 12
Mr. Queen (Lizzie's Dad) - an inventor
Mrs. Queen (Lizzie's Mum)
Mrs. Doris Barnett (aka Mrs. Bucket) - lady next door (and witch next door)
Magic Malcolm - World's greatest wizard (if a bit forgetful)
Big Katie (school bully)
Mrs. Black - Head Mistress and evil witch
"A talking guinea-pig"
"Come out of the bathroom, Lizzie!"
Mrs. Queen, her Mum, was quite stern faced when Lizzie unlocked the door and showed her Mum the bruise on her face.
"I fell over again" she said, but that wasn't the truth.
"You should look where you're going, silly girl" said her Mum.
"I'll bash you again if you tell anyone, QUEENIE", Big Katie sneered. She was the biggest girl in the whole school and the biggest bully too. Even most of the boys were frightened of her. She would twist their arms until they paid her some money or gave her some sweets. It was probably all the sweets that she took and all the chips that she ate, bought with the money she bullied out of other kids that made her so fat!
And she loved picking on Lizzie most of all.
"You're so stuck up, QUEENIE! You think you're so posh coz your Dad's an inventor."
It was true that Lizzie's Dad was an inventor, but he'd only ever invented one thing and that was a new kind of toilet roll holder that charged up your phone. He'd made quite a name for himself and that was probably why Lizzie was in Big Katie's spotlight.
Lizzie didn't really care for her father's inventions or for the money that he'd earned by selling it. They'd been able to go on holiday to Spain every year since then but Lizzie preferred Brighton, because that's where her Gran used to live before she died a few years ago. Those holidays were always the best and even though Lizzie had only just turned 12 years old, they always brought back memories of candy floss and looking for seashells on the beach with Gran. Even now, Mum and Dad were planning this year's holiday to Spain.
"Why do we always have to go to Spain?" she asked her Dad. "Can't we go to Brighton and stay at Gran's bungalow?" Lizzie's Dad couldn't bear to sell the bungalow after Gran died and instead had decided to keep it. As the rain fell outside, the town of York took on a grey and dismal appearance and the thought of Brighton seemed more and more distant to Lizzie. "You know your Mum likes Spain and how much we enjoy meeting Mr. and Mrs. Brice and their daughter Amelia every year" Dad whispered towards Lizzie. Lizzie shuddered at the thought of another holiday with Amelia who seemed to be the most spoiled child that Lizzie had ever met. "Besides, Mum wants to top up her tan before the company Christmas party." Lizzie often wished that her Dad wasn't so clever and hadn't invented that awful thing. Before then, Lizzie's Mum was happy to have holidays in Brighton and to do all the housework herself, but now she employed a cleaner to do it all while she went shopping. Mum was always trying to find a better outfit than Mrs Brice's or a better swimsuit or a better anything. Money wasn't everything to her Dad but Mum certainly made up for that and enjoyed spending it more!
A little while later, the rain stopped. Lizzie went out into the garden to feed her pet guinea pig but to her horror she discovered that 'Fluffy' had escaped. The cage door had come open and he'd got out. "Lizzie. Oh Lizzie. Is that you dear?" It was Mrs. Bucket from next door, leaning over the fence. She wasn't really called that but Mum always said that she was like that Mrs. Bucket on the television; a really nosey busybody. When she started talking to you, you had better have a good reason to leave very soon or you'd be there all day listening, while she gossiped about this and that.
"Lizzie dear, is this your guinea pig? She was in my garden." Mrs. Bucket was leaning over the waist-high fence holding the guinea-pig in her outstretched hands.
"Thank you very much, but Fluffy is a boy guinea-pig." Lizzie smiled and took Fluffy from Mrs. Bucket. "I think you'll find that 'Blossom' is a girl, Lizzie, and doesn't much care for carrot at all!" announced Mrs. Bucket.
"I'm sorry Mrs. Bucket. How do you know that?" Lizzie asked quizzically.
"My name is Mrs. Barnett, Lizzie, no matter what your mother may call me and as matter of fact, I know that your guinea-pig is a girl guinea-pig and that her name is Blossom because she told me, and she doesn't eat the carrot halves you give her every day because she doesn't like them; and yes, she told me that too!"
Lizzie sat down hard on top of the cage and stared at the guinea-pig.
"Are you sure Mrs. Bucket, I mean Mrs. Barnett?" she replied very slowly, wondering whether her next-door neighbour was as completely barmy as her mother kept telling everyone. How on earth could anyone think that they could talk to a guinea-pig? What did she do, squeak to it?
"I know what you're thinking Lizzie but when you've gotten the hang of speaking to guinea-pigs the rest comes pretty easily. She does enjoy the little chats you have with her but you obviously haven't been able to understand her just yet, have you dear?" smiled Mrs. Barnett as she leaned over the fence.
"How do you know I talk to her, I mean him, I mean - oh whatever; no-one can talk to animals and understand what they can say. It's ….."
"Impossible?" laughed Mrs. Barnett. "No, I wouldn't say that. I tell you what, you whisper something to Blossom very quietly and then bring her over to me and if I can repeat to you what you said to her, will you believe me? Well, what do you think of that?"
Lizzie looked rather disbelievingly at Mrs. Barnett for a moment and then, holding her guinea-pig, she turned away from Mrs. Barnett and whispered so quietly that only they could possibly know what was said. "Alright, here you go, what did I say?" Lizzie passed the guinea-pig to Mrs. Barnett who held it up to her ear. Much to Lizzie's surprise it began to squeak and Mrs. Barnett laughed out loud. Passing the small bundle of fur back to Lizzie she said "I'm not sure I'm as daft as your mother seems to think I am, or even a total loony as you think; but if you've got a hat that you think you could eat, I'll share it with you! You might want to close your mouth or a bird might make a nest in there, Lizzie dear!"
Lizzie closed her mouth which had dropped open very suddenly at the realization that Mrs. Barnett had just repeated, word for word, exactly what she'd whispered to her pet not one minute before. "Why don't you come around for tea and biscuits tomorrow after school and we'll have a chat? I might have something very interesting to tell you. Cheerio dearie," and she was gone.
Lizzie's mouth dropped open again as she put her newly renamed guinea-pig back into 'her' cage, taking out the carrot pieces as she did so. "That was just so weird, like she was really talking to it, like some kind of magic or something."
Lizzie's Mum couldn't help but notice her daughter's strange expression as she walked in from the garden. "What's the matter? Is there something wrong with Fluffy?" she asked.
Lizzie just sat down at the table. "Blossom, her name's Blossom and she's a girl" she said, in a quite matter of fact way and began to eat her beef-burgers, chips and peas. Nothing could distract her from what just happened and she was sure it couldn't have been a trick.
"Tea and biscuits tomorrow" she Mumbled to herself. As Mum looked puzzled, Lizzie explained; "Mrs. Barnett asked me 'round for tea and biscuits after school tomorrow. Is that alright?"
"I'm sure it's fine, in fact it'll give your Dad and me some extra time to look through the holiday brochures before teatime." Mum passed the tomato sauce to Lizzie and smiled.
"Tea and Tricks"
At school the next day things weren't any different, in fact because Lizzie was so distracted she'd completely missed what her teacher said to do. That didn't go down well at all. "What's the matter with you today, Lizzie? You don't seem to be 'all there'."
Big Katie shouted from the back of the classroom; "Her brain's gone to Spain, Miss!" That was all she needed, being reminded about blooming Spain and blooming donkeys wearing blooming straw hats. "Oh, shut up!" she thought to herself and just as she did so Big Katie leaned so far back on her chair that she fell backwards and banged her head on the wall. As she crashed to the floor a whole shelf of books, pencils and pens fell right on top of her. The whole class was laughing as the teacher struggled to move Katie from under the mountain of fallen stationery. Katie spent the rest of the day in the first-aid room. "Thank goodness for that" Lizzie sighed as she left school that day, not having to have faced Katie in either the playground or corridors once. "If only everyday could be as good as today was" she dreamed to herself as she walked home.
"LIZZIE. GONE TO TRAVEL AGENTS TO GET SOME MORE BROCHURES AND THEN SHOPS. BACK SOON"
A note on the kitchen cupboard door usually meant that tea would be late. As she got changed into some clothes that were a little more comfortable, Lizzie thought back to the events of the day. What a coincidence that the books and other things fell onto Big Katie. It wasn't as if she'd hit the wall that hard and as the wall was made of brick, how could someone, even someone as big as Katie, manage to shake all those things down from the shelf? "It was funny though, very funny" she chuckled to herself as she closed the front door and walked around the small hedge to Mrs. Barnett's house. A thought crossed Lizzie's mind; "I wonder if Mrs. Barnett has custard creams or Jammie Dodger biscuits?"
Just as she reached up to ring the doorbell the door flew open and there stood Mrs. Barnett in the most horrible green dress that Lizzie had ever seen. Her shoes were green too and she even had some glasses on that had green edges. Big round ones that sat on her nose like a pair of dinner plates, just below the huge mop of curly hair that seemed to stand up like a brush on the top of her head. All Lizzie could think was, how much Mrs. Barnett looked like a Christmas tree with a fairy on top.
"Come in Lizzie, come in."
Lizzie wiped her wet shoes carefully on the rough coconut hair mat in the hallway and closed the door behind her. This was the first time she'd been next door and it was quite a surprise. The house was sparklingly clean and bright, with pretty dolls on shelves, beautiful ornaments and the most splendid big, round clock on the wall. It must have been 3 feet wide and 3 feet tall and it seemed to glisten and glow in the sunlight, except it was dull and raining outside. Lizzie turned around to look out of the window as the weather seemed to have cleared up quite suddenly.
"How do you like it?" asked Mrs. Barnett
"Very nice, Mrs. Barnett" Lizzie answered politely.
"Thank you dear, but I meant tea, not the house" she smirked at Lizzie.
And would you believe it, there on the little table in front of them was a large plate of custard creams and Jammie Dodger biscuits. Weird!
As Mrs. Barnett handed Lizzie a small and delicate cup full of tea, that seemed to be exactly how she liked it, with lots of milk and sugar; she said "Now tell me, just how did you do it?"
Lizzie looked back with a sort of 'I don't know what you mean' face.
"How you did it? How you made the books fall on Katie?"
"But I…." Lizzie started to speak but only managed two words before Mrs. Barnett continued.
"Did you say something or just think it?
"I'm not…." And again, Mrs. Barnett, in the middle of a custard cream and half a cup of tea questioned Lizzie about how it happened.
"How do you know what happened? You weren't there!"
"Just because I wasn't there, doesn't mean I didn't see." Mrs. Barnett stood up and walked the few steps over to the large clock on the wall.
As she stood in front of it, the hands began to spin around very fast, in fact so fast that you couldn't see them anymore. In the whirling clock face appeared a view of Lizzie's school. The view changed to her classroom and then to her back garden where she could see Blossom in the cage on the lawn.
"Think of somewhere nice, where you like to be, Lizzie" Mrs. Barnett asked as she stood before the ever changing clock face.
Just as Lizzie thought it, there it was; Brighton beach, with the pier in the background and the esplanade running along the front.
"But…but…but how?" Lizzie spluttered through a mouth full of biscuit. By this time she was on her feet, walking towards the seaside view on the wall. The waves were rolling and she could almost smell the sea breezes.
"What do you think, Lizzie dear? Is it some kind of TV picture; is it a trick or something else? If 'YOU' thought it and 'IT' happened, what do you think it could be?"
Lizzie turned to look at Mrs. Barnett and realized that Mrs. Barnett's dress and shoes were no longer green; they were blue with white flowers on the dress.
"I thought that! I thought that!" she exclaimed. "I thought the green dress was horrible and that a blue dress would be better!"
"I like the blue glasses too" remarked Mrs. Barnett as she took them off. "I don't really need them at all, but I think they look good on me, don't you? Now, come and sit back down and I'll explain it all to you, little Lizzie Queen."
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