The Changeling

Kylie looked at the baby and pulled out another handful of hair. Was this why new mothers complained about losing hair after giving birth? She was honestly at her wits’ end. He wasn’t sleepy. He wasn’t hungry. He’d burped 5 times – surely enough to bring up any wind. He had a clean nappy, no nappy rash. He wasn’t hot, he wasn’t cold. The baby screwed his face into an uglier grimace and turned up the scream volume another notch. The old lady in the flat next door banged on the wall, but Kylie could only hear the banging while the baby was taking a breath.

Justin wandered in, bleary-eyed and looking like death warmed up.

“What’s wrong with him?” he asked.

“I HAVE NO BLOODY IDEA!!!” screamed Kylie, snapping the cords that tied her to a semblance of sanity.

Justin took a few steps back and stared at her from the relative safety of the hallway.

“Ummmm…” he attempted, then gave up and went back to bed.

The baby stopped screaming, stuck his thumb in his mouth, and went to sleep. Ruth stretched out on the floor next to the cot and slept too – for a whole half hour.

“There there dear, it’ll get easier,” soothed Kylie’s fairy godmother, Ruth, on the phone the next morning. “They all go through this love, you can survive it!”

Kylie sighed, hung up the phone, and wondered.

Justin brought her a cup of coffee. “What’d she say?” he asked.

“Oh, the usual crap,” she said “It’ll get easier!” She kicked the fridge, then hopped around the kitchen squealing in pain.

“Hmmm… I think maybe we need a fairy godfather on the job, darling.” Justin pondered, “And I know just the fellow!”

“Ohhh, that’s terrible, pet!” the fairy godfather said swishily a few minutes later. “It sounds like a nasty-wasty curse. I’ll see what the word on the street is.”

“A curse?” Kylie queried. “To… what? Make the baby cry? Who’d do such a horrible thing?”

The next day, 2 hours of broken sleep later, they had their answer.

“It’s that hag who lives next door to you, dearies” explained the fairy godfather, “she’s hated you for years, apparently your kitchen tap drips far too loudly.”

Kylie and Justin looked at each other, confusion waxing and waning. “THAT’S why she kept banging on the wall in the middle of the night?” Justin asked, “Sheesh, we thought she thought we were having sex or something!”

“What do we do now?” asked Kylie.

“Wellll…” the fairy godfather drawled, examining a nail, “We could counter-curse her – it’s only fair. And she’d be so busy getting rid of it she’d take her energy away from keeping up her own curses”

“Ummm…” said Kylie. “Would that hurt her?”

“Ohhh, you’re no fun!” pouted the fairy godfather. “Alright, just something annoying, then. A leaky tap in her kitchen. And I’ll charge you mate’s rates, because your husband’s so darn cute! Rowwwwr!” And with a flick of his wrist, he vanished.

“That stupid woman!” yelled Kylie, then quieted her voice when a banging on the wall was heard. “She’s caused herself more annoyance just to upset us – what a twit! Do you think she’s incompetent? Mentally unstable?”

“Probably, darling,” Justin grinned, “after all, it takes a strange person to curse someone… or arrange for it!” He ducked and ran, with a skill born of long practice.

NEXT DAY

Kylie and Justin woke just after dawn to the sound of a blood-curdling, bubbling scream. They leapt out of bed as one, and headed out to the landing. Nothing. Justin called 000.

An hour later, a policeman knocked on the door.

“Sorry to interrupt,” he said, “are you the folk who called Emergency?”

“We are” said Justin, “is everything OK?”

“Ummm..” said the policeman, “we’re not sure. Do you know if your neighbour Mrs Gabbage was home last night?”

“Well, she was banging on the wall yesterday evening, and whenever the baby woke up,” stated Kylie, “or at least someone was – from her apartment, as usual.”

“Oh…” said the policeman, “You see, all we found was a pile of clothing and some gunge… ummm… do you know if she was a witch, at all?”

Justin and Kylie looked at each other, perturbed. “We think so?”

“Hmmmm… suicide, then,” pondered the policeman. “The door was locked, the windows were bolted… she had to have poured that water on herself. Unless of course she had a leak somewhere… hehehe… sorry, terrible taste to be making jokes, so sorry, I’ll leave now!”

“OH. MY. GOD.” squealed the fairy godfather, “She was THAT sort of witch? I never would have guessed. I can’t imagine how she did it though, she only should have melted a little! Oh darlings, the bill’s on me, I feel terrible!”

Half an hour later, the fairy godfather called them back. “You know how the old idiot died?” he demanded, “Eddy the brownie saw it all. She was preparing a ‘pee yourself every 5 minutes’ hex for your baby, the naughty wench! Then she tripped and got it on herself instead… and lo and behold, pee melts witches too! She was hoist with her own petard!”

The baby cooed and giggled contently.

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3 Comments

  1. Evening Naomi, I have had a stressful week and the weekend will be worse but your story made me laugh. I think also the Australian colloquialisms like ‘petard’ made me laugh. I promise to read more on your blog when I have more time. You have so much material on here, can i ask since when have you been writing?

  2. Kevin – ouch, stressful weekends SUCK. I can handle stressful weeks only when there’s a weekend coming up to relax in. I’m glad the story got you laughing, though 🙂

    I’ve been writing on and off my whole life, I guess. But I’ve been writing (dull, deadly boring stuff – software manuals) for a living for 4 years now, and I think that’s really honed my ability to concentrate, get my thoughts out and have them make some sense. These fairy fables have all been written in the last 3 months, I’ve had time while recovering from heart surgery.

  3. Serves her right.


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