Thursday, 17 April 2014

O is for The Oddbods

Today is a big day for me - I wrote this story a little while ago and only one person has seen it so far! I've had this idea bugging me for a long while though so one day in February, I just sat down and wrote it. It's a little raw and totally unedited but I'd like to get some honest opinions. I'm too close to it to tell if it's any good and I have no children around me to test it on either! It's probably a little long for a blog post but hey ho!

Once upon a time, in a land not so far away, lived a young girl called Lizzie. She had dark chestnut hair and big brown eyes and her nose was covered in freckles. By the end of most days, her hair looked like a birds nest and her fingernails were usually dirty and you could almost be sure that somewhere she would have a sticking plaster covering her latest cut or graze. Yup, Lizzie was a total tomboy and her favorite thing to do was to explore the fields and hedges behind her house at the edge of the village with her two best friends, Richard and Gareth.
Gareth was a year older than Lizzie and Richard, with bright new penny colored hair and almost as many freckles as Lizzie. He was quite tall for his age but chunky - good rugby player potential as Lizzie's Dad always said. Richard was the complete opposite of Gareth - a little short for his age and skinny as anything. With tight blonde curls and bright blue eyes, all the Mums said he looked like an angel but they didn't know him very well. If the happy trio ever got in big trouble, it was usually Richard's bright ideas that got them there!
On this particular day, the three had been out to the tiny piece of woodland about 2 fields away from home but for some reason, Richard and Gareth were in a mean mood and had run away from Lizzie, leaving her annoyed and alone in the woods. She wasn't scared though - these woods were one of her favorite places but she got bored on her own so she started to run home. It was nearly teatime anyway. 
Lizzie loved to run but today, she was a bit angry too so she was running hard and fast and not really watching where she was going when she slipped. She'd forgotten about the little stream at the edge of the woods and slid, bottom first, straight down the little riverbank into the icy cold water and landed with a thud and a huge splash! At first, she just sat there - kind of shocked by the fall & the icy cold splash, then she realised she'd caught her leg on a small branch and given herself a really bad scratch that was bleeding and staining her socks.
Crying a lot now, she got herself up the other side of the riverbank, looked around to check if there was anyone around and took her soaking wet shorts and socks off. She took her cardigan and did the buttons up and climbed into it so it was like a funny skirt then tied the arms around her waist to get them out of the way. Sitting down on a fallen tree, she tried to use a wet sock to clean the blood off her leg but it wouldn't stop. Totally fed up, she laid her head on her knees and cried. This day was supposed to be a fun day but the boys had spoilt everything, she thought to herself. 
Eventually her leg stopped bleeding and as it did, slowly her tears dried up too. She stayed there a bit longer, thinking what a horrible day it was and how nobody liked her, when she felt a little 'tap, tap, tap' on her arm. Startled, she looked up quickly but there was no-one there! She looked all around and just as she turned back, she caught a glimpse of movement near a big tree just ahead of her.
Now Lizzie had lived in the countryside all her life and she loved reading books about the birds and animals that lived there. What she was looking at was a bright green face with spiky green hair like grass and green eyes. She'd never seen any creatures like that in her book but she was certain it wasn't a human in fancy dress or anything, not by the speed at which it had disappeared after tapping her arm! 
Tired and fed up, she still started talking to it in the way that you would try to coax a strange cat to come and see you. Calmly and gently, she just kept talking, not really making much sense but she hoped the creature, whatever it was, would understand that she wouldn't hurt it.
After a few minutes, the creature came out from behind the tree and stood, just listening to Lizzie's voice, as if it was trying to understand. It cocked its head to one side, shrugged its big pointy shoulders and slowly crept forward. As it came nearer, Lizzie could see that it was holding something out to her. It was a big patch of fresh green moss. Puzzled, Lizzie asked the creature what that was for, shrugging and trying to act confused.
As she continued to talk to the creature, it moved more confidently toward her, still holding out the moss. Once it was close enough, this strange little being gently placed the moss on her scratched leg, took one of her hands and gestured for her to hold it there. As she did so, it took a giant leap and seemed to disappear away from her. Startled, she gave a little cry of 'oh!' but almost immediately, the creature was back, this time with some thin, supple reeds. Lizzie was a clever girl and realised the reeds were to tie the moss to her leg and gave the creature a big smile. Even though she was a total tomboy, her Mum had always told her she still had to be polite so she said thank you too.
The creature seemed to understand her gratitude and made a funny little head-bobbing movement - almost like a nod of 'yes'. She patted the tree trunk next to her, inviting the creature to come and sit down. It made that funny little movement again and jumped up onto the tree trunk. Even standing where she was sitting, it only just came up to her eye level. Now that it was closer, she could see that its skin was a bit shiny and its hair really did look like grass, all spiky and pointing in lots of different directions. 
It had weird shoulders, almost pointy as if the bones were protecting the sides of its head and she noticed that it only had two fingers and a thumb on each hand. As she was noticing these things, she realised the creature was looking at her in the same way. It seemed confused by how many fingers she had and where were her pointy shoulders?
She pointed to herself and said 'Lizzie' then pointed at the creature and then pointed at the creature and asked 'you?'. She repeated this a few times, not even sure the creature could talk but something made her think that it could. Maybe it was the way it was watching her so carefully as she spoke but it definitely seemed to understand some of her meaning. 
After a few minutes of asking, the creature finally opened its mouth and quietly but quite clearly said 'Benset'. Lizzie was overjoyed and clapped her hands excitedly! Benset did one of his amazing leaps and disappeared! Oops! She'd startled him away. She called his name and apologised, hoping that he did indeed understand her. Suddenly, there he was, right in front of her again. This time he startled her and as she jumped with surprise, she lost her balance and fell off the back of the tree trunk!
As she lay there, giggling to herself about how funny she must look wearing a cardigan as a skirt with her legs sticking up in the air and how weird this day was, Benset stood by her and reached out a hand to help her up. He was making a funny sound too and she realised that he was laughing as well. 
Once they were both sitting on the tree trunk again, Benset put his hand on hers and started talking. It was hard to understand him at first, he had such a quiet deep voice that she really had to listen hard. He explained that his people lived in these woods but hid whenever they heard human voices because humans were so loud and big. He'd been collecting fresh leaves for food for his family when he'd seen her fall and hurt herself so he'd gone to get moss to help her.
Lizzie asked why he wasn't afraid of her, she was human and very loud sometimes and Benset explained that he'd seen her and her friends here a lot and could see that they meant no harm. He'd always hidden though, just in case but he couldn't leave her hurt and alone, crying in the woods, so he'd decided to take a risk & approach her. 
Lizzie really was a nice young lady even under her tomboy shell and she knew that what he had done was way beyond risky for him. She was only 6 herself but she was already two times his size and could easily hurt him if she tried. She thanked him again and asked if he would come and say hello another time when she & her friends were in the woods.
Benset shook his head sadly - he couldn't take the risk - both boys were bigger than Lizzie and he had a family to protect. What if they did something silly and someone got hurt or even worse, what if human grown-ups found out and came to investigate? No, it was better that they keep this a secret and she not tell anyone. He explained that if grown ups came looking for him and his family, he would have to leave the woods and find a new home for them, away from humans and he liked it here. 
Slowly, Lizzie nodded and agreed - she was sure her father wouldn't hurt Benset or his family but it wasn't her place to decide to give away his secret. She also didn't think her Dad would believe her if she told him about the two foot tall, bright green creature with spiky grass hair that she had spent the afternoon talking to! 
Suddenly, Lizzie heard a noise in the distance - it was her Dad and when she heard barking, she realised how late in the day it was. Dad was walking their dog, Butch and was calling her name too. He must have been really worried when she hadn't come home with Richard and Gareth and it was just starting to get dark too! She turned to tell Benset that she had to go but he'd disappeared already. She called out quietly 'Benset, don't worry, I won't tell your secret and I'll come back to see you soon. Thank you again, my new friend'. 
She picked up her wet shorts and socks, slipped her cold feet into her wet shoes and started limping towards the sound of her Dad's voice. What an amazing afternoon, she thought to herself, smiling at the fresh memories of her new friend. When her Dad saw her at the edge of the woods, limping, carrying her clothes and wearing her cardigan like a funny skirt, he started to run toward her. She could tell he was worried, not angry as she called out that she was ok. His run slowed a little but not much. As he came close, he pulled her into his arms tightly and gave her such a big hug she thought her lungs would pop!
Butch was running around them like crazy, barking excitedly and tying them up in tangles in his leash. Laughing now that she was found, Dad leaned over to let Butch off his leash - Lizzie said sharply 'no, don't Dad' because she knew that the dog would be able to smell Benset & would chase him down like a rabbit. Dad looked at her quizzically but when she explained that she was tired, hurting and hungry & just wanted to go home, Dad nodded, swung her up onto his shoulders and turned away from the woods toward home. 
Just before they turned the corner, Lizzie twisted slightly to look back and wave, just in case Benset was watching. She promised herself that she would come back alone soon and maybe bring a little present for him. She hoped she would meet him again - it would be wonderful to find out more about this strange little creature with the odd body, she had so many questions to ask him! 
And that dear reader, is the story of how Lizzie met Benset and their adventures together began.

I hope you like it. I'd really, really like some opinions though - good or bad doesn't matter, I'd just like to hear what people think. Thank you in advance :)



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