A Delicate Angel

Posted: August 27, 2010 in #fridayflash, Short stories

It was the school holidays. Lucy dreaded them in some ways. Early mornings still applied because the children whose parents worked would still be dropped off at 8am, a time Lucy would rather not have seen in the school holidays.

One of her mum’s childminding friends, was going on holiday and had asked Lucy’s mum to look after one of her regular children whose parents could not take time off of work.

The little girl, Elizabeth was four years old and was very small with angelic blue eyes and blonde wavy hair. She was like a china doll, very fragile, quiet and timid. Her mum insisted she not partake in any strenuous activities or play any boisterous games. She described her as ‘fragile’ which Lucy knew from school meant she could be breakable, therefore wouldn’t be any trouble.

Lucy went downstairs and saw Elizabeth at the playdough table, sitting quietly starring at the colourful lumps of dough, like chunks of rainbow ready to be realised. The other children were playing in the garden.

“Would you like to play?” Lucy said to Elizabeth gently and sat opposite her at the craft table. Elizabeth just starred at her. “I can help make something?” she continued encouragingly.
“No!” Elizabeth said snatching the playdough from Lucy’s hand. Shocked, Lucy picked up another piece. “Mine!” shouted Elizabeth snatching that too.
“What’s going on in here?” Lucy’s mum came to the playroom door.
“Nothing. I was just asking if she wanted me to help her make something” Lucy said still surprised from the little girl’s reaction.
“If she doesn’t want to, then leave her be Lucy, let her settle in her own time.”
Elizabeth smirked, as Lucy got up and went to the living room to watch cartoons.

Elizabeth soon appeared at the living room door and proceeded to the armchair where Lucy was curled up watching her favourite show. Elizabeth looked at Lucy before snatching the remote and began flicking through the channels, as if each click of the button was a point in a video game.

“Elizabeth! Elizabeth, I was watching that.”
She continued to ignore Lucy and flicked the channels even harder.
“Elizabeth please give me back the remote,” Lucy held out her hand.
Elizabeth turned to look at Lucy. Then she smacked the remote across her own eye, before bursting into tears with a distressed wail.
Lucy’s mum came running into the room. “What on earth…?”
“She said I couldn’t watch it…” Elizabeth cried pointing at Lucy, “Then threw it”, pointing to the remote.
Her mum raised an eye-brow and before Lucy could explain, she took hold of Elizabeth’s hand and led her to the kitchen. “Lets go get you a drink sweety and calm you down a bit”.

When Elizabeth’s mum came to collect her, Lucy listened to her mum explain Elizabeth had hurt herself. She heard her say, she wasn’t sure exactly what had happened but she’d keep a closer eye on things tomorrow. Lucy was speechless; did her mum believe she would hurt another child because they turned over her television programme? A lump formed in the back of her throat like she’d been eating ping-pong balls one after the other, unable to swallow, she fought back the tears.

* * *

Over the next two days, similar incidents occurred. Elizabeth had blamed Jenni for a cut on her leg, but it was only when Elizabeth had pushed Jenni off of the climbing frame that she had cut her leg. Jasmine was told off too, for not sharing with Elizabeth, but it was Elizabeth who wouldn’t let Jasmine into the Wendy house.

* * *

Lucy and Jenni sat at the kitchen table drawing, when they heard Elizabeth’s cry from the bottom of the garden. This time she was blaming Jenni’s younger sister, for shutting her fingers in the shed.

“She looks so sweet,” Jenni said “but actually she’s a nightmare!”
“I know.” Lucy looked out of the window and saw her mum bend down to Elizabeth’s height and talk to her whilst drying her tears. “Mum doesn’t see it, but she is the one causing the trouble not us!”
“What can we do?” Jenni said.
“Don’t know,” Lucy said getting back to her drawing.
As they sat madly colouring, their frustration and thinking showed from the red and black colouring pencils, moving fast over the white paper. For once the two of them were getting on like friends should, rather than a ‘chilminded child’ and a ‘childminders child’ at logger heads, for both being put into a situation either of them had wanted or liked. Like sausage meat in its skin, they both had to be there, but most of the time, they were fighting to get out.
Suddenly Lucy remembered a police programme she had watched with her dad last weekend.
“Come with me,” she said grabbing Jenni’s arm.

* * *

Lucy sat with Jenni in the playroom. One had the Playdough and the other had the fuzzy felts and awaited their prey. Sure enough Elizabeth walked in and immediately made a beeline for Jenni with the fuzzy felts. Lucy leant underneath the craft table and pressed the big red record button, on her beige, chunky fisher price cassette player and slid it behind Jenni’s back.

“I want to play with them!” Elizabeth demanded.
“You can play too,” Jenni smiled
“No I don’t want you to play with them!” she said snatching a fuzzy felt board from the table.
“But I was here first,” Jenni replied, “we can share.”
“NO!” Elizabeth shouted, “Move, I’m playing now.”
Jenni sat and her eyes flickered in Lucy’s direction and Lucy shook her head.
“I’m not moving”, Jenni said crossing her arms.
“You will move or I will get you in trouble like I have everyone else”, smirking at them both.
“You’ve been lying to my mum and yours,” Lucy said getting defensive.
“That’s cos my mummy says I’m special and you and your mummy don’t treat me like a princess! I hate it here,” and with that pushed Jenni off the chair.
Suddenly Lucy’s mum came into the room, “Everyone ok?”
“No, Elizabeth just pushed Jenni off of the chair!” Lucy explained helping Jenni to her feet, “and we can prove its her causing the trouble all week and not us!”
Elizabeth shot them both an evil look and went to Lucy’s mum for comfort, tears forming in her eyes.

* * *

Lucy’s mum had taken Elizabeth to watch a DVD of her choice, whilst she listened to the tape. “What you two did was very sneaky, but I’m pleased to see you both sticking up for each other.” She explained to the girls they only had one more day with Elizabeth and then she’d be going back to her own childminder. “Tomorrow, I’ll spend the whole day with Elizabeth, so she won’t cause anymore problems ok?”
They both smiled and gave each other a high-five.

  1. brainhaze says:

    This is a story from a collection called Diaries of a Childminder’s child. Everyone has opinions and views of children being in nursery and day-care to enable parents to go back to work and how it effects them in later life, but not many think of the children whose parents are those minders or carers and how it effects them. These stories are a mix of fiction and non, exploring Lucy who is 7 when her mum became a childminder. Each story follows her and her sister through different issues and events of being a Childminders child.

  2. DarcKnyt says:

    ARRGH! What a brat! 😉 You depicted this well. I felt myself losing patience. I’m glad the childminder’s daughter was smarter than me. 😉

  3. Quite the minds these young ones have. I never would have thought of something like that at that age. Good story!

  4. Maria Kelly says:

    You painted the picture of this angelic looking little demon very well. Nice telling of a daycare environment. Like the way they turned the tables on the bratty little girl! 🙂

  5. What a terrible child. I’ve met one of those and they’re a nightmare.

  6. Challenging material (for me, anyway) and paints a pretty good scene. The interactions between the children are good, at least from my adult perspective. The description, “flicked the channels even harder” was a little rough for me. Since technically can’t change a channel hard (radio waves,) I imagine pressing the buttons harder, or the channels change faster.

  7. adampb says:

    Being a teacher, I can so see this kind of thing happening. So real. And some parents need to be upsided the head. Very realistic.
    Adam B @revhappiness

  8. Blackbirdsong says:

    I used to work as a teacher at a nursery school and you nailed the description of the kid. I taught many angelic little demons. Still have the scars.

  9. yearzerowriters says:

    Well portrayed – I don’t know why but Elizabeth struck me as a child version of the unrecognised writer with a raging ego!!!

    If she was four years old, I wasn’t sure how old Jenni & Lucy were since their language seems a bit older? To describe someone as ‘a nightmare’ is something I’m not sure children would say, as to them a nightmare is far more pernicous than it is to an adult, so I don’t think they’d downplay it by using it as a desccription of a particularly annoying little tyke.

    Marc Nash

  10. I love the way you write children. It’s almost like the Narnia children which may be because of Lucy, but you capture their essence so well. Thanks.

  11. lauraeno says:

    Exactly what Rachael said – angelic little demon. Nice depiction here and I like the fact that you worked in the fact that her parents told her she was a princess. There’s a difference between showing love and creating a selfish monster.

  12. demery says:

    An interesting story in a familiar setting, but from a different perspective. I felt really sorry for Lucy and Jenni. I hope it’s okay to leave you constructive feedback here – I think that’s what you’re inviting. But if you weren’t asking for it – just ignore b/c I think that uninvited feedback stifles creativity 🙂 I kind of wished for a different ending – I think it would be difficult for the mom to know what happened from listening to a tape – wonder if a child Elizabeth’s age would admit to scheming, to getting kids in trouble all week. I could almost imagine mom just finally walking in at the right moment. But a great story all together! Thank you for the invitation (on Twitter) to come and read.

  13. Vandamir says:

    I remember some of those angelic monsters torturing me in school (I was never in a daycare situation). Teachers never believed me, but my mom did. I’m surprised that Lucy didn’t go to her mom. Even in a childcare environment, the mother/child relationship should be one of trust and honesty.

  14. GP Ching says:

    Very realistic. As a mom, I can say from experience that people often think children are born innocent and corrupted by adults, But the truth is babies are born thinking only of their own needs and adults have to teach altruism as they grow. Great story.

  15. Marisa Birns says:

    Ah, a child with the face of an angel and the temperament of …well, a fallen one at any rate. Have spent time with children like Elizabeth. They make it so hard to like them. Very good story!

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