A story for children and adults too

I found this story among my many bits of writing. Well, it was half a story and I thought it was about time I finished it. Apologies to children and adults alike that illustration is not a skill I possess though I am sure one of my lovely grand-children could help.

Strimbenork

Strimbenork was a monster. Not a bad monster. Not a scary monster. Not a hairy monster.
Strimbenork was a good monster.A kind monster. A fair monster and a happy monster.

He was also a very small monster, which may surprise you as monsters are usually very, very BIG.

Strimbenork was only 2 centemetres tall, which is very, very small.

The thing Strimbenork liked doing best of all was helping children who were sad to be happy again. He was very, very clever at this. In fact, in the last nine hundred and eighty five years, he had only once failed to turn a sad child into a happy child.

This was better than all the other Gambevinks in the world. A Gambevink is a small monster, not usually bigger than three centimetres tall. A Gambevink lives under sheds, or inside old plant pots, or even in little bird houses that people so kindly put in their gardens. Gambevinks are not fussy monsters and will live anywhere that is small and dry. Strimbenork was a Gambevink.

Although Strimbenork had only failed once in the last nine hundred and eighty five years to make a sad child happy, and this was a better record than any other Gambevink, he was still worried about it.

He wondered over and over if there was something else he could have done. He wondered over and over if that sad little girl he didn’t make happy was now a sad grown up.He wondered over and over why he couldn’t make her happy. Had he missed something important? Had he been too tired that day or too hot or too bothered or too not bothered? He just couldn’t rest until he knew.

What Strimbenork did know is where the sad girl who might now be a sad woman lived. How did he know that? Well, Strimbenork was very wise and Gambevinks have very special powers so he just knew.

Strimbenork decided he would visit her. He hadn’t visited before and you may wonder why he hadn’t visited before. Strimbenork hadn’t visited before because he was scared. Not scared like hiding behind the sofa or cuddling up with someone you feel safe with when there’s a scary bit in a film. Not scared like your teeth won’t stop chattering. Not scared like you daren’t move. Not scared like you need to take the biggest, puffiest breath you’ve ever taken but you can’t. Not scared like there was a bad monster behind you.

No, not like any of those sorts of scared. Strimbenork was scared right down to his tiny teeny little tummy and his tiny teeny little Gambevink toes. It made him shiver. Just a tiny teeny little shiver that no one could see, not even the wisest and cleverest Gambevink in the whole world.

Strimbenork had had that tiny teeny little shiver ever since he didn’t make the sad little girl happy. Strimbenork had been a tiny teeny little bit sad himself since that day.

And now it was time to do something about it.

So, off Strimbenork went, striding his Gambevink stride, which isn’t a very big stride at all but it is a stride nonetheless.

And as he strode, he thought. He thought and he wondered and he worried and he pondered.

And then he arrived at the house of the woman who had been the sad little girl. He hid – though he really didn’t need to because no one was likely to see him – under a small plant in her garden. And he watched.

The woman who had been a sad little girl came into her garden and, though she wasn’t crying or anything like that, Strimbenork knew, he just knew, she was still sad. Strimbenork’s tiny teeny little heart bumped a sad uneven bumpetty bump bump. A tiny teeny little Gambevink tear ran down his tiny teeny little nose. You may not know this but a Gambevink’s tear is bright green. It’s a little known fact but now you know.

“It’s no good,” said Strimbenork quietly to himself. “It’s no good at all.” He decided he must stop crying and do something. So, he came out from behind the plant and walked up to the woman who had been the sad little girl. He spoke to her softly and then louder. And then louder still. And then he nearly, but not quite, shouted.

“What’s happening,” said Strimbenork to himself, not noticing the little girl now standing next to the woman who was the sad girl he couldn’t make happy.

The little girl looked at him and smiled. Then she winked. “She can’t hear you,” she said.

“What? Why? How?” said Strimbenork.

“She’s a grown up, silly. They can’t, can they?”

“I am silly,” said Strimbenork. “Of course they can’t. It’s only children that can see and hear and talk to Gambevinks like me. What shall we do?”

“About what?” said the little girl who was wearing bright red jeans and a bright red T-shirt and a big bright smile.

“Her. The girl. The woman. Is she – yours?” said Strimbenork.

“Yes,” said the bright red girl. “She’s my auntie. I live with her.”

And so Strimbenork told the bright red happy girl about her auntie when she was a sad little girl. Strimbenork told her the whole story. How she had been so sad. How he couldn’t make her happy. How she was the only one out of his nine hundred and eighty five record of sad children that he couldn’t make happy. How even though he had the best record of all the Gambevinks, he had worried and worried about the bright red happy girl’s auntie.

Strimbenork and the bright red happy girl made a plan.

It was a clever plan.

It was a good plan.

It was a big plan.

But would it work?

Strimbenork and the bright red happy girl met the next day. And then the next. And then the next again. And again. Until they were ready. Ready as they could possibly be.

By the way, in case you were wondering, bright red happy girl is called Scarlet. And in case you don’t know, scarlet is a colour. It’s a red colour. And it was a name that suited bright red happy girl very well. Just like Strimbenork suited Strimbenork but that is another story altogether and we haven’t got time to tell that story now.

On the day after the next and the next and the next and all the next days of planning, Strimbenork and Scarlet met very early. It was lucky that it was the summer holidays so Scarlet didn’t have to go to school. It was lucky because they needed the whole day. It was lucky because they had planned so hard. It was lucky because they wanted it to be lucky and they wanted the plan to work.

They made all the preparations just the way they had planned. Auntie did come out a few times and ask Scarlet what she was doing or did she want a drink, or biscuits, or lunch, or all sorts of other things. Scarlet was polite and kind and said thank you very much to everything.

Strimbenork enjoyed the biscuits. They were, in fact, the best biscuits he had ever tasted. Don’t forget, though, he was only two centimetres tall so he couldn’t eat anything like a whole biscuit. The biscuit was bigger and heavier than him.

When everything was done, Scarlet called to her auntie to come into the garden. “Okay’” she said, sounding just a little bit cross, or sad, or something like that.

Auntie did not know about Strimbenork. She couldn’t see him or hear him, remember. But Strimbenork was there. He was smiling a nervous sort of smile. And he was hoping for the best, all his tiny teeny little fingers and toes crossed as he hoped with all his tiny teeny little heart.

What had they planned you might be wondering? And why was the little girl who was now a woman so sad all those years ago? It may seem like an odd reason to be sad for all those many years but sad she still was. And she was sad because of a teddy bear. A lost teddy bear. A teddy bear that the little girl who was now a woman had cuddled every night. A teddy bear that the little girl who was now a woman had loved. A teddy bear that the little girl who was now a woman had talked to every day. A teddy bear that the little girl who was now a woman had told all her worries and secrets to. A teddy bear that got lost in the woods and never came home.

“How could I have not known that?” said Strimbenork when Scarlet told him why she thought her auntie was so sad.

“You weren’t to know’” said Scarlet. “She moved away from the house where you met her. She moved away, far away from her lost teddy. She nearly forgot about him. But then, one day, she told me about him and I just knew. I knew that was why she was always just a little bit sad.”

Scarlet and Strimbenork had made a party. A teddy bears’ picnic party. And all Scarlet’s teddies were there. And even Strimbenork’s, although it was very hard to see his one and only teddy who was very, very teeny and tiny. They couldn’t find auntie’s lost teddy. They did try but they decided he had probably gone to live with another little girl or boy.

Scarlet described the teddy as best she could to Strimbenork and the Gambevink’s made a new one. Did I tell you Gambevink’s were good at making teddies? When Scarlet saw it she said it was just perfect. Just how auntie had described it to her. Blue fur, little white jacket, brown eyes and a funny half smile.

The teddy bears’ picnic went ahead. At first Scarlet and Strimbenork thought their plan hadn’t worked. Auntie was sort of smiling but sort of not smiling too. She even laughed once or twice but she didn’t quite sound happy.

Not, that is, until Scarlet brought out her present. All wrapped up in shiny paper and with a big blue bow that Scarlet had tied all by herself.

“What is this?” said auntie.

And then she said, “How? What? How did you? Scarlet …”

And then a tear rolled down her face. It wasn’t a sad tear. It was a happy tear. A tear of a sad little girl who had found her lost teddy. A tear that turned into a smile and then a laugh and then a happy day. And then lots more happy days.

Strimbenork and Scarlet were great friends after that. Strimbenork was very happy. His tiny teeny little heart had never been happier. Scarlet was happy too. Happy because she had met Strimbenork and had such an adventure. But, most of all, happy because auntie was now happy. The happiest she had ever been.

©Liz Mackenzie

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