I hope you’ve all had a restful Easter break and that the Easter bunny was good to you. Now, if you’re feeling a little sluggish after indulging in too much chocolate and/or hot cross buns, why not get your mind working and enter one of my two short story competitions (with prizes!) One of them is for a short story of up to 1000 words on the theme of TREASURE. How you choose to interpret that theme is up to you. You could write about money or jewels. Or the treasure may not be physical, but the search for the meaning of life or the treasure of achieving something important in life.
Open your mind and see where it takes you.
Here’s my story – here the treasure in question is the treasure of home:
His head hurt like mad. He lay there awhile on the cold concrete, his eyes closed. How long had he been there? A day? Two? What had happened? Who was he? He didn’t even know his own name. He gulped back the tears.
He froze. He wasn’t alone. Someone had hurt him and now they had come back. They were getting closer. He braced himself for a fist to come flying or…a tongue to lick his face?
He forced his eyes open, fighting against the persistent pain. It was a cat. He smiled, despite himself. He liked cats, even mangy old cats like this one. There, that was something else he knew about himself. Any minute now, his name, address, date of birth and school would explode into his head.
He waited. Nothing.
“Who am I?” he shouted.
The cat stopped its ferocious licking and hopped off him huffily. Did cats get huffy and if they did, why was this one huffy?
The cat had to be a she. She was even worse than his mum. He grinned. He had remembered something about his mum! He couldn’t picture her though, but he knew she nagged him. A lot.
He looked around. He was in an alleyway – a shortcut to somewhere. Maybe a shortcut home.
His eyes came to rest on the cat, now with its nose stuck up in the air, too.
“Blimey, you are worse than my mum. I was only asking who I am. I wasn’t shouting at you,” he said.
The cat turned round and shrugged its shoulders. The boy’s mouth gaped open. Cats didn’t shrug their shoulders and cats didn’t understand human words either.
He shook his head, trying to clear the fog. The cat started meowing.
“Stop that. You’re making my head throb,” he said.
The meowing stopped.
“Okay, so you can understand more than most cats. Bet you can’t tell me my name can you?”
The cat started to nod its head.
“Great, my name’s Noddy,” the boy said, touching his head.
He took his hand away, disappointed not to find a very large lump there. Something had to explain what he was doing in an alleyway, battered and bruised and talking to a cat.
Then it came to him.
“You’re not nodding. You’re bobbing your head up and down. My name’s Bob,” he said.
The cat meowed and launched itself on him, rewarding him with a loud purr. Bob’s shoulders slumped. He looked down at his clothes. His trainers were trendy, his jeans were baggy and his top was the ‘in’ colour. He was certain of it. Bobs wore frumpy trousers, stiff shirts, silly shoes and khaki cardigans. Bobs were at least sixty years old and he was fifteen. What on earth had his mum and dad been playing at calling him Bob?
His hands flew to his jeans’ pocket. A wallet would be in there – an address, a phone – a way to get home. Nothing.
“I’m never going to get home,” he said.
A flurry of fur caught his eye.
“Don’t leave me,” Bob said.
The cat was almost round the corner now. Then it stopped, turned to him and waved its paw to beckon him forward.
“I’m coming. What are you, my Fairy Godmother?” Bob asked.
A hiss came from between barred teeth.
“Sorry, Fairy Godfather?”
The hiss fizzled out and the teeth were gone from view. Instead, a gigantic grin had taken their place.
“As long as it gets me home, I suppose I can sort out the ‘seeing a Fairy Godfather cat thing’ later. What are my mum and dad like?” Bob asked when his saviour stopped to scratch its ear.
The nose wrinkled and the ears flattened.
“A bit weird, then?”
The head went on one side.
“A lot weird? But are they kind? Am I happy at home?”
The head nodded vigorously. But would he ever get home?
Of course he wouldn’t. Not if he was talking to a cat who thought it understood humans. It probably hadn’t been fed for days and when it had seen Bob, it thought Christmas had come early. No wonder it was trying to get Bob moving. It wanted some food, shelter and a warm place to stay.
But they already had three dogs, five cats, a budgie, two rabbits, two guinea pigs, seven goldfish and a tortoise. Bob laughed. Another thing remembered.
Bob stared at the sullen face.
“You knew what I was thinking, didn’t you? I’m sorry, I didn’t mean it, but I just want to go home,” he said.
This time the tears fell. More images came – of a hand on his shoulder and a smiley face – Mum – of a pat on the back and a proud look in the eye – Dad.
Still more flashes came. Not so pleasant this time – of boys standing round him. Poking him, pulling him, punching him and taking his wallet and phone. Then came the pain, blinding him until he blacked out.
Sobs swept through his whole body and he rocked back and forth. He didn’t feel the paw at first. He thought it was just an itch. When he reached down to scratch it, the furry face was there. The green eyes gazed up, pushing past the thoughts and images. Bob’s cries weakened. Everything was going to be all right.
Bob jumped at the sound of a door opening. Cries and screams filled the air. Bob looked at his saviour. He smiled, sure the cat winked and certain a sparkle of shimmering dust had shot up into the sky.
Then arms grabbed him. Hands ruffled his hair. Lips kissed him. He allowed himself to become lost in their love. Tears came once more, but this time for a very different reason. He let the strong arms lead him inside. He glanced back, searching for the cat, but the cat, was nowhere to be seen.