Once upon a time there was a girl named Lucy. She was quiet and shy, and didn’t really say much to anyone. The only person she really spoke to was her pet tortoise, Wilhelm. She told him everything. Her hopes, her dreams, her crushes and her sadnesses. Lucy had a lot of sadnesses. She was lonely and unlovable. She didn’t know why, but she knew it as surely as the sky was grey and the grass was brown.Lucy’s town was in the middle of a long drought. The water restrictions gave Lucy’s mum one more thing to yell about.
“Don’t take so long in the shower!”
“Stop refilling that stupid tortoise tank!”
“Turn that tap off!”
“Don’t water those plants!”
“Leave that alone!”
“Don’t do that!”
Lucy tried to do as little as possible, as quickly as possible, but got in trouble for that too. She guessed she really was dumb, too. She’d been starting to think maybe she wasn’t – but then surely she wouldn’t get in trouble so often?
One day, Lucy was explaining to Wilhelm all the dumb things she’d done that day, and how annoyed her teacher had been, and what she’d said.
Wilhelm suddenly said, “Your teacher’s an ass!”
“Well, maybe,” said Lucy, doubtfully – knowing those sort of names were rude, but not wanting to be argumentative. Then she thought carefully.
“Ummmm…” ventured Lucy, after a few seconds. “Wilhelm, I didn’t know you could talk!”
Wilhelm giggled. Then a small human-shaped creature popped into existence with a farty sort of pop. He wore bright green tights, a dark green muscle top, and a bright orange beret. In other words, he looked completely ridiculous (and a little 80′s-ish).
“Sorry kiddo, couldn’t resist mucking around,” he explained gleefully. “I’ve been assigned to cheer you up!” And he disappeared.
Lucy was very thoughtful as she went to bed. She was fairly sure that people weren’t supposed to be that small, and that only magicians could make people appear and disappear. So why had she seen what she’d seen? What on earth had he been?
The next day, Lucy snuck into the school library at lunchtime and went looking for a book. She had a suspicion.
In the big, unfamiliar non-fiction section, she finally found what she’d been looking for. The Omnibus of Fairies, Brownies and Other Mythical Creatures. She flipped through it, hoping for a match. Sure enough, on the page labelled IMP was a drawing the exact spitting image of the creature who’d visited her last night. It winked at her, and she squeaked in surprise and dropped the book.
The librarian came bustling over. “SHHHHH!” she hissed loudly. “No talking in the library, girl!”
The imp farted into existence behind Lucy.
“WELL! I never,” said the librarian, looking shocked. “You ARE a rude little girl, aren’t you?”
The imp disappeared, then reappeared behind the librarian with an even louder farting noise. The librarian whirled around, scarlet with embarrassment. Lucy raised a finger to her mouth and hissed, “SHHHH! No talking in the library!” She giggled as she ran away.
That afternoon, the librarian was in charge of detention. She frowned at Lucy and gave her the most-hated job – cleaning the entire chalkboard with a damp cloth. The other children were assigned similar tasks – some with lines to write. Lucy wished, for once, that she’d been given lines. “I will not fart in the library” would be funny enough to make it worthwhile.
Her talk to Wilhelm that night was full of the fun she’d had and the silly thoughts she’d thought. She didn’t bother to mention the lecture she’d gotten from her mother for being given detention. That had been hard, but she could close her eyes and remember the look on the librarian’s face, and feel better.
She learned an important lesson that day. Life could be sad and rough sometimes. She’d make mistakes, and she’d get in trouble for things she didn’t do. But she could always cheer herself up with a joke, or finding something silly to laugh at. After all, there were lots of silly people all around her. And occasionally, even her mother could smile.