A twist

Posted: March 17, 2011 in #fridayflash, Diaries of a Childminder's Child, Short stories

The sun shone through Lucy’s window like a lighthouse beam cutting through the ocean sky. She had been awake thirty minutes before now, but had decided to stay in bed as long as possible to avoid the morning deliveries of children.

Summer holidays were hectic for childminders. For some reason her mum seemed to acquire more ‘minded’ children during the holidays than normal and more often than not they were ‘one-off children’, i.e. they were children her mum probably would never childmind again, it was just for this holidays.

She could hear the commotion downstairs and it was only eight-thirty. She knew it wouldn’t get any quieter, so got up before her name was bellowed up the stairs.

The commotion was Frasier, a four year old cling-on. He was quiet enough, but as soon as he laid eyes on Lucy he was by her side, she knew she had a shadow for the day. “Ucy”, he smiled and dropped the train he had been playing with.

“Hi Frasier,” she smiled, and picked him up.

“Ee is going to park!” he beamed.

“I know, but we have to wait for the others first, so shall we play with the train until they get here?” she explained in a soft tone. For an eight year old, Lucy had picked up from her mum to use gentle tones and clear instructions when dealing with younger children.

Once the rest of the children had been delivered, they each took it in turns to go in the kitchen with Lucy’s mum, to make their own sandwich for the picnic, before setting off with the pushchairs and bags of toys and towels to the park.

Lucy often trailed behind the others, preferring her own company than the screaming of excited youngsters. She wondered even at the age of eight what other people might think of her mum, walking along the road with babies in a double buggy, two toddlers walking alongside her and a small crowd of giggling girls, ranging from four to eight years old, walking in front. Did they think they were all hers? They weren’t, they were just ‘minded’. She was her mum’s and her sister Jasmine, but the others were just temporary.

It was a lovely sunny day, the warmth of the sun made Lucy smile as she swung her legs back and forth, on the swing, watching the younger children playing in the sand filled area. The park had a paddling pool, climbing frames for younger, older and really little children, and an area with trees and bushes where they could explore. “Lets play IT!” Elizabeth shouted from the top of the slide, shooting down the silver shoot like a rocket out of a canon, at the circus. “Yes,” Lucy said jumping from her perch, charging at her younger sister Jasmine and tapping her on the shoulder, “ you’re IT!” and ran up the pretend pirate ship and across the wobbly bridge.

After the picnic Lucy had little choice but to play with Frasier in the sand. She didn’t mind too much, as Jasmine and the other girls were playing unicorns. Frasier had jam smeared up one cheek from his sandwich and Lucy could see sand beginning to stick to it like glitter did with glue. She built him several sand castles, which he insisted on stamping on, pretending he was a transformer robot.

“Girls, its time to start packing away,” Lucy’s mum called as she strapped one of the babies into the pushchair. Frasier began walking over towards Lucy’s mum with his bucket and spade. “Mum I’m just going to rinse the sand off of my hands,” Lucy called over as she headed towards the park’s purpose built paddling pool. As she crouched down to reach the water, she could hear her mum shout. As Lucy stood up to look at what was going on, she caught a glimpse of Frasier standing next to her out of the corner of her eye, before she could spin backwards to catch him, he fell into the pool.

Without hesitation Lucy jumped in and grabbed his little body from the water, before pulling him to the surface. Her mum was now by the side of the pool and grabbed Frasier from Lucy’s arms. Shaken and soaked through to his skin, Frasier coughed and spluttered.

“Is he ok?” Lucy said, pulling herself out of the pool.

“Yes,” her mum said sharply, “Lucy I can’t believe how irresponsible you are!”

Lucy looked at her mum in amazement, “but I saved him!”

“Yes but if it wasn’t for you, he wouldn’t have needed saving. You silly girl. I have told you all, over and over again, always look where the younger ones are, especially if like Frasier they have a habit of following you.” Her mum hugged Frasier as he wept and walked towards the pushchairs. She wrapped him in a dry towel and then put him in Lucy’s hooded jumper.

“Mum thats mine!” Lucy explained as her teeth chattered slightly as the fresh cool air blew against her wet clothes.

“You will have to walk home like that, its not far. Lucy these children are in my care, if they get ill, or hurt themselves, I have to explain myself to their parents.  With you and Jasmine I only have to explain it to myself.”

“But mum I’m freezing,” Lucy said with hot searing tears rising in her already water logged eyes.

“Its not far from home, then you can get dry and change”, her mum said fastening Frasier into the pushchair.

The walk home was a sombre one for everyone. Lucy was cold and wet through, Frasier was still weepy and the girls were no longer giggling like they had been all day, they just took it in turns to look behind them to see what Lucy was doing, then they’d turn back towards each other and whisper.

For once, Lucy wished she was a ‘minded’ child.

  1. I enjoyed this, I thought you captured Lucy’s voice really well along with her sense of the injustice of being blamed for events, and being expected to take second place to the ‘minded’ kids. Really interesting! xx

  2. Aw Brainhaze, you’ve gone and made me feel sorry for poor Lucy . . . and you closed her feelings off in last line fashion. With no little girl giggles for sound-effects I just had to get over the chattering of Lucy’s teeth. Poor kiddo. Someone should tell excitable Frazier’s mum that Lucy has heroic qualities.

    Nice vignette of a walk in the park, in a small girl’s mind
    ~ Absolutely*Kate

  3. laradunning says:

    Really created empathy for Lucy’s character. Wasnt sure what childminding was at first, but quickly caught on. I would suggest breaking up the piece into paragraphs, would make it easier to read, especially on a computer screen.

  4. pegjet says:

    Poor Lucy. Every eight year old gets misunderstood, especially when younger ones are around.
    Breaking this into paragraphs would help tremendously. Slylistically, one long paragraph only really works for monologues where it is internal and some intense action is happening. This story lends itself to traditional style, espcially since you have dialogue.

  5. adampb says:

    You captured the tension between Lucy’s desire to be recognised for her efforts and her mother’s indignation and the simmering sense of injustice. Kids always know when things are unjust.
    Adam B @revhappiness

  6. Tony Noland says:

    Aw, poor kid. Unwillingly drafted into a job she’s not qualified for.

  7. Helen says:

    Poor Lucy. I understand her mum’s concern regarding the other parents, but this piece is a lesson in how to not alienate your own child!

    You expressed Lucy’s voice very well in this piece.

  8. ~Tim says:

    Nice job of portraying Lucy’s situation. I don’t understand the title, though.

  9. akweelife says:

    Wow, you did really good with Lucy. Put into an impossible position, then blamed when things go wrong. Very good. I do like the idea of breaking it into paragraphs though. That just makes it easier to read. The way you wrote it makes it a good story.

    My Writing

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