I think it is save to acknowledge that my entry into the Woolly Writer Competition hasn’t won (as the winner is being published today), so here is my entry. I wasn’t expecting it to win. I only entered because I’d made up a silly story for the competition. I was “edging my bets” 🙂
She slowly turned the ball of bright red yarn over in her hands, imagining all the wonderful things she could make, but before she could pop it into her basket, she felt a tapping on her shoulder. Startled, Ethel turned and gasped. Shock caused her to drop the wool and the basket. She held onto the display rack so that she didn’t fall over. Of all the people who could have been tapping her on the shoulder, this was the last person she expected it to be.
In fact, was this really a person? Ethel was looking at a living replica of the toy that she had finished making that morning. He had the same straggly hair and the slightly wonky eyes which were bright green in colour. There was a small stain of tea on his cheek. His smile was slightly wonky and pink because Ethel had run out of red wool. He wore a black cloak and had a yellow belt buckle. He had navy blue boots and a green waist coat and wore orange and purple stripped trousers.
“This must be a big surprise,” the toy admitted. His voice was smooth and deep – very manly for a toy!
Ethel couldn’t speak. She just stood, rooted to the spot. Should she feel threatened? Should she feel scared? Was this a dream? Was she going a little bit crazy?
“I had to meet you,” the toy said. “I have spent the last month listening to your stories. I have heard your woes and your fears. I’ve heard your laughter. I just had to come and meet you.”
Ethel swallowed hard, trying to pinch herself. She couldn’t believe that there would be any other explanation than she was dreaming that this encounter was really happening. Put the sharp pain on her forearm told her that this was a very real event and that she really was awake!
“I don’t mean to startle you,” the toy said, gently. He reached out his arm and on his sleeve Ethel saw where she had dropped a stitch. She hadn’t noticed at the time. In fact, she hadn’t noticed it until she was sewing the toy together.
“Please,” the toy begged. “Why don’t we go for a cup of tea? You’ve told me many a time that tea and burgers make the world a better place. And then we can go and sit on the beach that you kept telling me about.”
Ethel smiled, weakly. She wanted to go with the toy, but there was a nagging thought in the back of her head that was suggesting that this probably wasn’t the safest plan – to be alone in a quiet village with an enlarged toy that she had made and left on her kitchen table? Was it safe?
“How about it, then?” the toy pressed.
Ethel nodded. She followed the toy out of the shop and walked alongside him. Although she could see every stitch on him, she had to look closely. Otherwise, besides for his rather odd sense of fashion, he looked rather normal!
Ethel led the toy to the café on the beach where she ordered two burgers and two teas. She went outside to the balcony and joined the toy.
“I presume you can eat?” Ethel asked.
“I can,” the toy confirmed.
After they had enjoyed their meal, they took a walk along the beach.
“I’m glad that I’ve met you”, the toy said, putting his arm around a now relaxed Ethel. “I just had to meet the person who had filled me with so much love. I was saddened when you put the last stitch into me this morning. I knew that it would mean I wouldn’t get to listen to you anymore. I knew that the stories would stop. I had to meet you to thank you.”
“Well, it’s a bit of a shock for me,” Ethel admitted. “It’s not every day that your own creation comes to life!”
“No, it isn’t,” the toy confirmed. “I think it’s all the love that you poured into me that has allowed me to come to life.”
“I’ve made you with love,” Ethel confirmed. “I have made you for a very special little boy. I’m sure that he will love you, and I hope that you will take good care of him. I’m not going to be able to see him for a while and I wanted him to have something to remember me by until we’re together again.”
“I will take very good care of him,” the toy promised, giving Ethel a squeeze.
“I’ve had such a wonderful afternoon with you,” Ethel confessed. “But, I’m guessing that this is going to end?”
“Unfortunately it must,” the toy sighed, sadly. “You made me as a toy. You’ve even made me as a gift. I am supposed to be a toy. I want to be a toy. I just knew that I needed to meet you.”
“I’m glad that you did come to me,” Ethel replied, smiling fondly at the toy. “Do you have a name?”
“Not until I’m given one,” the toy answered, curiously.
“I’ll let the little boy name you,” Ethel decided. “But, I do wonder, how will you get back to being a toy?”
“It’s simple,” the toy announced, letting go of Ethel. “Close your eyes”.
Ethel closed her eyes. Warmth swept over her. The world sounded like a clearer place. She could hear the sea crashing against the shingle coast line and she could hear the seagulls chirping. She could smell the salty air. Just as she realised how alive her senses were, something told her to open her eyes.
She opened them. She was alone again.
Ethel strolled back towards her house, which sat on the beach. She raced inside her house and into her kitchen. There, on the table, just as she left him, was the toy. Beside him, though, was the ball of bright red yarn that she had dropped in the wool shop at lunchtime.