This is a story about Katie, who is is an ordinary schoolgirl apart from one thing, she is a witch and can do magic spells.
Nowadays, Katie and her best friend Isis travel from school on their own. They usually catch the 152 bus together. This particular evening, a girl from their class called Samantha was waiting at the bus stop. It was unusual to see her there, as she lived in another direction. Isis asked politely, “Have you moved house?”
And Katie thought, “I hope she hasn’t, because I could do without her snooty looks and snarky remarks on the way home.’
But Samantha replied, “No, I’m going babysitting this evening.”
“Is that fun?” asked Isis.
“Oh yes,” said Samantha, “It’s easy money. I give the kids ice cream for dinner and let them play with their iPads on condition that they don’t bother me or even make a sound. At 8 o’clock my boyfriend comes round and we sit on the sofa and watch ‘Millionaire’. The kids go to bed at half past ten, just before their mum and dad get back. Then I catch a taxi home with £50 for my troubles. Sick, eh?”
Isis smiled showing her pearly white teeth, but her true feelings were betrayed by just a tiny flash of green in her clear blue eyes. Katie, who knew her almost better than anyone, knew this sign. Isis was envious.
A few days later, Isis had something to show Katie. It was a card, the best quality sort, with a feel of parchment, and on it, printed in beautiful script letters was an advertisement
Perfect Babysitting Service
Our five pledges:
Bed by 8.30
For more information, please contact Isis at …. and it gave her phone number.
“Classy,” said Katie. Her friend looked pleased:
“Unlike some people,” she said, “I never cut corners.”
Isis soon found a family to be her first customer. They were so satisfied with her perfect service that they made a regular booking for Friday nights and gave her a £20 tip every time. When Samantha heard about this, she swore to put her prices up, but her customers weren’t happy with that suggestion, and she was left fuming. In fact, if Isis was not perfect, Katie might have said that she looked smug as she told everyone about her babysitting business.
But then disaster struck. One Friday, Isis was starting a cold, She could not possibly risk passing it on to the children, and she did not want to let her clients down.
“What shall I do?” she asked Katie on the phone.
“Don’t worry, I’ll fill in for you,” replied Katie. For a moment or two, it seemed like the connection on the phone had broken, but then Isis said:
“Well thank you Katie, but you must promise to stick to my five pledges.”
“And one more thing… it’s absolutely vital – completely, totally, cross your heart and hope to die, no magic – because if you do any of your tricks you’ll freak the kids out for life. ”
Katie did not like the way Isis said this, but she saw what she meant, and she agreed: no magic.
Katie went round to the address, which was in the most expensive part of town, climbed up the steps of the entrance, which was guarded by stone lions, and pressed the brass door bell. The door was opened by a girl of about eight or nine years old. She was holding a yappy little dog by its jewel encrusted collar. The girl called out,
“UUUGH ! Mummy, come quick, there’s a witch at the door.”
“Don’t be silly darling,” said a well refined voice, “It will only be someone wearing a Halloween costume.”
But Katie was not wearing any sort of costume: just jeans and her usual coat.
“Hello,” said Katie when the mother came to the door, “I’m from Perfect Babysitting. Isis isn’t well today.”
The girl was standing behind her mother pulling a face at Katie. “I don’t like her,” she said, “She looks weird. Get them to send someone else.”
The mother sighed: “She always gives new babysitters a hard time. It’s a sort of rite of passage. She’s a dear really… sometimes.”
Katie was soon introduced to the house and the family. The girl was called Sky and her little brother was Ringo. The dog’s name was Moptop. The house was huge – in fact the Kitchen had enough marble to make a Greek goddess feel envious. The bathroom was like a hotel spa. The furniture was so perfectly creamy and white that Katie was afraid to sit on it. The paintings on the wall were so abstract that they were little more than few pimples of paint. In fact the whole style was completely minimalist apart from one vase that sat on the coffee table. It was white with a blue pattern made up of flowers, swirls, and a Chinese dragon. Katie could feel that it was very old, ancient even.
“That’s the only thing that really matters,” said the mother. “It’s rather precious – but the kids and the dog aren’t allowed in here anyway.
In the back room, a huge jigsaw puzzled was spread out on the table. It was a map of the world, and must have been made up of thousands of tiny pieces.
“Isis has been helping them with this every week. It’s so much better than electronic screens, don’t you think? Perhaps you can get it finished with them?” said the mother.
Katie hated Jigsaws, but of course she did not say this.
When the grownups were gone, Katie clapped he hands and said:
“Alright you two, homework.”
“I don’t have any,” said Sky.
“Neither do I,” said Ringo.
“That’s not what your mother told me,” said Katie.
They spread the homework out on the Kitchen table. Katie helped Ringo with his reading book. Sky had to do a mock entrance exam for an expensive secondary school. She sat down and planted her buds in her ears to listen to music.
“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” said Katie, but Sky took no notice. She could not have looked more bored as she read through the text. She wrote one answer – about three words – and then said,”Time for a break.”
“But you’ve hardly begun,” protested Katie.
“I need the toilet. It’s my human right to go to the loo when I need to’ retorted Sky. And she went.
And of course she did not come back.
After a while, Katie found Sky playing with her iPad in her bedroom.
“Come on,” she said, “Back to work!”
“In a minute,” said Sky. The minute easily turned into fifteen or so. Katie had to grab her iPad off her.
“If it breaks, you’ll have to pay for it!” snapped the girl. She went back to do her homework, but not for long. Getting her to sit still for more than two minutes was a frantic struggle. Meanwhile Ringo was standing on the worktops, opening all the cupboards.
“Get down at once!” commanded Katie.
He lowered himself onto the floor and opened the fridge:
“I need chocolate eclairs,” he said. Soon his face was covered in chocolate and cream, and so was most of the Kitchen. He left the fridge door open and Moptop helped himself to some fillet steak. He dragged prime meat across the room to his basket where he lay nursing between his paws it like a toy. When Katie tried to pull it away, he growled at her.
“Well you might as well have it now,” sighed Katie, wondering how much it had cost.
She cooked Chicken and rice for dinner. The kids went upstairs, and before long Katie heard a loud scream. Ringo was pulling Sky’s hair and she was scratching his face. When Katie got there, she saw a red mark under the boy’s eye which was probably nothing, but did not reflect at all well on her as the ‘perfect’ person in charge.
`”Stop, Stop! Please don’t fight!” said Katie, pulling them apart. Ringo wailed “WAAAAAA!” and Sky said:
“If you so much as touch me, I’ll call the police.”
“Are you like this with Isis?” said Katie, baffled, and wondering if she had come to the right house, because her friend had never mentioned anything so dire.
“No, because Isis is pretty, and you’ve got a face like a witch,” replied the girl.
And Ringo chanted:
“We want Isis! We want Isis!”
Which did not make Katie feel any better at all.
The kids refused to eat the supper, and instead demanded ice cream which Katie refused. She felt a complete failure as she scraped the food she had cooked off their plates and into the dog’s bowl.
“Perhaps Samantha has got the right idea,” she thought. “I bet she does not have any of this trouble.”
“Let’s do the jigsaw,” she said.
“I hate jigsaws,” protested Ringo.
“Well that makes two of us,” said Katie.
“Isis is stella at them,” said Sky.
“That’s because she’s perfect,” replied Katie, who for the first time could see why some people found Isis’s perfection quite irritating.
When they tried to do the puzzle, none of them could find the southernmost tip of Chile, and after a while Ringo got fed up and tipped the whole thing upside down on the floor. Sky knelt down, as if to help recover the disaster, but instead she picked up Africa, which had so far survived in tact, and threw it across the room.
“You’re, you’re, just so horrible,” stuttered Katie.
“At least I’m not a witch like you,” retorted Sky.
“Why do you keep saying that?” asked Katie. She knew that Isis would never have told them her secret. Why did the girl keep on going on and on about it? Coincidence? Perhaps not.
“I know there’s something weird about you, I could feel it as soon as I saw you,” replied the girl. And Katie thought she was telling the truth. Perhaps she really was sensitive to her magical powers.
“What on earth do you mean?” she asked.
“Don’t pretend it’s not true,” insisted the girl. “I know, go on, admit it, it’s true isn’t it, you are a witch?”
Katie was stuck because good witches are not meant to lie. In fact, a lie can leason their magic powers. But she could not tell the truth either – so she just shook her head, which was only a little bit of a lie. It felt bad all the same.
The girl said,”When I was little, I got an attack of warts. They grew like little hard lumps on on my feet, my hands, and worst of all, on my nose. My mother tied everything to get rid of them: freeze drying, ointments, even surgery, but they kept on coming back. I was the ugliest child you ever saw. Mummy was desperate. In fact, I think she really wanted to give me up as an orphan. Eventually, she took me to see an old lady with magical powers. I remember how creepy she felt. She made up a potion which I had to drink every day for a week. It tasted disgusting, but at the end of the treatment, my nose was pretty, and all the warts were gone for ever. When I saw you, I had that same feeling as when I met the witch – like a tingling in my ear. It took me right back. And you look a bit like her too. You are a witch, I know you are, and I know how to prove it! “
She pushed past Katie: “ Hey where are you going? Why are you going to do? asked the hapless babysitter.
Sky darted down the corridor and into the living room which was off limits to the kids. Moptop ran after her yapping. Katie arrived just in time to see Sky holding the precious vase up above her head:
“No, don’t!” shouted Katie.
But Sky did. She flung the vase down onto the oak floorboards and it smashed into more pieces than the jigsaw.
“It’s a Ming, oe was, and you broke it,” said Sky .
“No I didn’t, you just did.” replied Katie.
“But who will believe that? Mummy knows I never come in here. I’ll say you did it, and she’ll believe me. It’s worth more than Daddy’s Aston Martin. You’ll be paying for it until you’re 100 years old ! Ha! “
Now Katie understood what the girl had done. She was daring her to fix the vase. And there was only one way that could be done….
“Go to bed,” said Katie.
“No,” said Sky. “Not, until I see what you do.”
And she stood with her hands on her hips, a defiant pout on her face.
“I promised Isis I wouldn’t do any magic,” said Katie.
“Don’t worry, I won’t tell her,” said Sky. “And I won’t tell mummy either. She’d think I’m cra-z-z-y. “ and she tapped her head .
“Alright,” said Katie, “You win.”
She snapped her fingers, and the pieces of the vase swirled around, fixed themselves together, and placed themselves back on the table. It was just as though nothing had happened.
“I knew it, I knew it,”. said Sky triumphantly.
They went into the back took, where it took Katie just five seconds to fix the jigsaw, find the tip of Chile, and complete the puzzle.
“While you are about it, finish my homework,” said Sky.
“Only if you and your brother go straight to bed,” said Isis.
And the deal was done. Katie read a story to Ringo, and switched off his light. She did not forget to do sky’s homework, and she made just one mistake so that it did not look too good to the teacher. When the house was finally at peace, she went into the kitchen, sat down at the table and read her book until the grownups came back.
As Katie sat in the taxi on the way back to her own home she texted Isis.”
“Job done. If anyone tells you that babysitting is easy money, tell them from me that it isn’t.”
And that was the Story of Katie and the Perfect Babysitter, written by Bertie, read by me, N, for Storynory.com.
And I thought you might like to know that Storynory has published a book. It’s called Waking Beauty and it’s based on the series here at Storynory. You can buy it from Amazon, or ask your local bookshop to order a copy for you. Just make sure you get the right one, as there are other books called Waking Beauty. It’s by Hugh Fraser, it’s published by Storyory and it’s a great read!