One term at school, Katie’s form teacher was especially moody and grumpy. When Valentine’s Day was coming up, Katie and her friend Isis hatched a plan to make her teacher fall in love so that she would be “dancing on air” and in a good mood.
But Katie discovers that True Love must come from the heart, not from a magic spell.
Katie went to a nice school where most of the teachers were kind, but some of them were quite strict, and all of them could be moody and grumpy at times, just like anyone else can be. Unfortunately, Katie’s form teacher was more grumpy and more moody than most, and more often. She was the only teacher in the whole school who the children hadn’t given a nick name to. For instance, Mr Philpots was known as Potty, which seemed to suit him quite well. Mrs Woodruff was called dandruff, and Miss Tidy was called Untidy because she was.
Katie’s teacher was called Miss Vile. That was her real name. So she didn’t have a nickname, because quite frankly, she didn’t need one.
“Katie!” she said one morning. “This homework looks like it was done in about five minutes. You know that you are meant to spend at least half an hour on it. You will stay in at playtime and do it again.”
“Katie!” she said another time. “Those tights are not regulation school uniform. I will call your mother, she must take you home, and you must change them.”
“And Katie!” she said yet another time. “Stop muttering to yourself. You know that magic spells are against the school rules.”
When anybody misbehaved Miss Vile wrote their names up on a board called “The Wall of Shame.” Everyone’s name was on it, except for Samantha’s and Matthew’s, because they were both goody-two-shoes who never did anything wrong. But Katie’s name was written on The Wall of Shame more than anybody else’s. In fact, it was written right at the top of the board in large red letters with ten exclamation marks after it.
Katie didn’t feel ashamed. But she did feel cross because it wasn’t fair.
It was the end of January. Katie’s form was learning about the Chinese New Year, and how each year is named after an animal. Miss Vile asked Katie what was her Chinese symbol, and she said that she was born in the Year of the Cat, and then Miss Vile told her that that was impossible, because there wasn’t a Year of the Cat, and Katie said:
“It’s possible for me because I’m a witch, and all witches are born in the Year of the Cat.”
And the whole class laughed, but Isis said: “That’s right Miss Vile. Katie’s different because she is a witch.”
“What utter clap-trap!” exclaimed Miss Vile. “I’ve told you before not to talk nonsense about magic and witches. You will go and see the head teacher right now! Both of YOU! And take this note with you to explain all about your naughtiness!”
And while Katie and Isis were waiting to see the head teacher, they both felt very sad and wondered what they could do about Miss Vile.
“Couldn’t you turn her into a toad or something?” asked Isis. But Katie shook her head. If Miss Vile suddenly turned up to school one day as a toad, everyone would know who was to blame, and I would be in a huge heap of trouble. I might even get expelled for turning a teacher into a toad.
And then the Head Teacher called Katie and Isis into her study. She read the note, and shook her head. But she wasn’t too cross, because she knew all about Katie.
“I know that you are a bit different,” she said to Katie, “and that you can do all sorts of magic spells, but it’s best not to mention it to anybody, ok? Some things are best kept a secret. Now go back to your lessons both of you.”
Katie and Isis didn’t see much point in hurrying back to the class, and so they both sat in the cloak room and talked over the problem of Miss Vile.
“Well if you can’t turn her into something horrid, maybe you can turn her into something nice,” said Isis.
And Katie thought about this. But she couldn’t imagine Miss Vile being anything nice, and she thought that the magic wouldn’t work.
“I’ve got it!” said Isis. “It will be Valentine’s Day soon. Why don’t you make her fall in love? Grown-ups are always in a happy mood when they are in love, and she’ll be nice and kind to us.”
Katie thought that was a brilliant idea, because witches know all sorts of magic spells for making people fall in love. But there was only one question. Who with?
“Why with Potty of course,” said Isis, “He hasn’t got a wife. Why don’t you make him send her flowers and chocolate, and then she’ll be dancing on air.”
Katie and Isis both had a fit of giggles, and when they got back to class everyone wondered why they were both looking so happy after a visit to the Head Teacher’s study.
At home that evening, Katie opened up her mother’s book of spells and turned the pages to “L” for Love. There were loads and loads of spells, but some of them were a bit impractical. For instance, if she followed one spell she would need to get hold of some big toe nail clippings from Mr Philpots and a lock of hair from Miss Vile. That didn’t sound very easy. For another spell, she needed some mandrake’s root from the magic grocery shop, and mandrake’s root was very expensive. And then she found a spell that just required pictures of the two people who were to fall in love, and that was easy because she had a photograph of the whole school from the end of summer term. It was a shame that she had to cut it up with a pair of scissors, but it was in a good cause.
On February the 14th, which as everyone knows is Valentine’s day, Miss Vile came into class looking quite different. Isis said afterward that she looked like she was lightly tripping on air.
When they saw her, Katie and Isis both felt sure that she had found a box of chocolates, a bunch of red roses and a card next to her locker in the staff room.
“Miss Vile. I’m really sorry, but I didn’t have time to do my home work last night.”
The whole class went silent and you could have heard a drawing pin drop. But Miss Vile said:
“Never mind Katie. It wasn’t very important anyway.”
And everyone gasped.
And then Katie said:
“Actually, I was just joking. I did do it really!”
And Miss Vile smiled and said. “Ah yes, that’s a funny joke. You got me there.”
And everyone was totally amazed. I mean like gobsmacked. And Katie smiled to herself. She knew that her spell had worked.
But what Katie didn’t know was that Miss Vile had not just received one box of chocolates, and one bunch of flowers that morning. No. She had received two of each! And two Valentine’s Day cards. No wonder she was in such a good mood.
That evening, Isis and her mum were out shopping in town, and Isis saw Potty and Miss Vile standing outside a restaurant window and looking at the menu. And Isis said to her mum:
“Look! How romantic! Our teachers are going out for a candle-lit dinner on St. Valentine’s day!”
And her mum thought that Isis was getting very grown up to make a remark like that.
But neither of them could hear what Mr Philpots was saying to Miss Vile. His words were:
“My oh my. Just look at the price of steak and chips at this place. Let’s find somewhere cheaper.”
But because Miss Vile was in love, she didn’t think that her dear Potty was stingy. No, she thought how clever he was to be careful with money, and what a good husband he would make.
For the rest of term, Miss Vile was as sweet as could be, but when the children came back for the summer term, they were in for a big disappointment.
Her first words were:
“The first person who so much as whispers will be picking up litter after school for the rest of term.”
And Katie and Isis both knew that she Miss Vile must have fallen out of love.
Katie was disappointed because it seemed that her spell had not worked entirely as it was supposed to. And so she asked her mother whether the love spell using pictures was any good. She was careful to explain that it wasn’t for her, but for somebody else. And her mother said:
“Love spells work, but only for a while. It’s only True Love that lasts for ever, not magic love. True Love must come from the heart.”
And when Katie heard that, she understood that it wasn’t her fault that the spell hadn’t lasted. And when she told Isis about this they both felt a bit down. But at least they only had one more term with Miss Vile – and after the summer holidays they would have a new form teacher.
And Miss Vile was her old grumpy moody self for the next five weeks. But then after the half term holiday, everyone had a pleasant surprise. She was back to being lovely and carefree.
“Katie, did you put another spell on her?” asked Isis. But Katie hadn’t. No what had happened was that Mr Cotton had worked up the courage to ask Miss Vile to go to the opera with him. Mr Cotton had two nicknames. One was “Socks” as in “cotton socks” and the other was “Mr Rotten.” But the second name was unfair, because Mr Cotton was the sweetest and kindest teacher in the whole school. And now Mr Cotton and Miss Vile had found their True Love.
Text Copyright Hugh Fraser 2009.
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