Hello, This is Natasha, and I’m here with a story about Katie, who is a witch and can do magic spells. But Katie isn’t a flashy sort of witch who flies around waving her magic wand and doing tricks to amaze you. She likes to keep her magical powers as quiet, as possible, and to blend in with the other kids.
This story is about telling fibs, and it’s also about bullying. You hear quite a lot about this subject these days - but often life is more complicated than stories portray. Sometimes it is hard to say who the real bully is - because of course the smart bullies don’t go around with a badge saying “I am a bully.” Listen on, and you will see what I mean.
There was a girl in Katie's class called Cindy. She had brown hair and brown eyes. One day Katie heard her telling a group of girls:
"My dad calls me "his little lightbulb" because my real name is Lucinda, which means "illumination." He calls me that because I'm super bright. Also, because I've got blonde hair."
Katie thought, "No, you haven't. Your hair isn't blonde. It's brown."
She did not say anything at the time, but she told her mother about this strange conversation when she got home. Her mum said:
"Well, Katie, who is to say that when you see something that is yellow, you are seeing the same colour that I am seeing? Even though I am a witch and your mother, I can't see your thoughts and know what colours you perceive."
"Gosh, mum, that's so deep. Are you suggesting that when Cindy looks in the mirror, she sees a girl with blonde hair?"
"Perhaps," said her mum. "Who knows? All I can advise is not to let it bother you. People believe all sorts of things that aren't true, especially about themselves. And in any case, when she's older, she can dye her hair any colour that she wants."
Katie stopped worrying about whether Cindy was blonde or not. But she could not help noticing that many things other people said did not sound 100% true. For example, their teacher, Miss Vile, quite often told the class:
"Pay attention to everything I say, and I guarantee that you will pass your exams and achieve anything you want to in life. Whatever your ambition is, you can do it, but only if you pay careful attention to what I say in class."
When she repeated this advice, Katie put her hand up and asked, "Is that like, a 100% guarantee that I can do whatever I want to in life? I mean, if I come back here in 20 years, and I haven't become a Hollywood movie director, what will you say?"
"I will say that you can't have been paying enough attention in class, Katie," said Miss Vile.
And Katie had to agree that there was a certain logic to that reply, even though she thought Miss Vile was not telling the whole truth.
The following Wednesday, it was time for PE. That term, both Katie and Isis had opted to join the girls' football team - the game that some people call soccer. Katie was not much use at kicking a ball and quite often passed it by accident to the other side. But Isis, it seemed, was good at everything she tried. She played in goal and was brilliant at flying for the ball and saving it, even from the top corners of the goalposts.
Katie said that Isis was so good that she might play for England one day. Isis replied,
“Oh, no, I wouldn’t do that. I like to win.”
Now Cindy hated all outdoor games. Every week she had a written excuse like a head cold or a sprained ankle. But on this occasion, she had forgotten to bring a note from her mum, or perhaps she had just run out of plausible excuses. So Ms Rules, the PE teacher, told her that she had to choose between netball and football.
"But I can't do either," protested Cindy, "I have ball-opia."
"What does that mean?" Asked Ms Rules with a sigh, which indicated that she had heard many excuses in her career, but this was a first.
"It means," said Cindy, "that I suffer from a condition that makes balls invisible to me."
"What nonsense!" I've never heard of that, and I've been a PE teacher since before you were born."
"Well, it's true," insisted Cindy. "Doctors are discovering new things all the time. For instance, I've been to see a professor at the university who says that it is absolutely cruel and torture to make me play all sports types. It's against my human rights and makes me feel humiliated because I can't see the ball at all."
Ms Rules told Cindy to stop talking nonsense and to put her boots and shin pads on. When the football game started, Cindy hung around shivering and hardly moving at all. On one occasion, Katie kicked the ball in the air and accidentally hit Cindy on the head.
"Oy, you did that on purpose, you witch!" called Cindy.
Ms Rules blew her whistle and showed Cindy a red card for calling Katie a bad word. Cindy smirked at Katie. She was delighted because Ms Rules sent her off the field, and she did not have to play for the rest of the afternoon.
The next day, a rumour went around the school that Ms Rules was in trouble for forcing Cindy to play football. Friday assembly confirmed the rumour. Mrs Hepworth made a stern speech about being kind to people who were not good at games. In particular, it was wrong to single out those who suffered from "ball-opia".
Katie thought this speech was a little odd because previously, Miss Hepworth had given talks on how skipping games with a lame excuse was a sign of a weak character.
"I have also heard," the headteacher went on, "that somebody deliberately kicked a football at a girl's head. In future, behaviour like this will not be tolerated in school."
Katie felt her cheeks flush red. "But it was an accident!" she whispered to Isis, "Besides, Cindy's just making it up about having ball-opia. There's no such thing."
"Yes, but her mum is a presenter on the morning TV breakfast show, and Mrs Hepworth treats her like royalty. That's why she's so cross that the ball landed on Cindy's un-blonde head," whispered back Isis.
As they filed out of the assembly, Cindy shot Katie a look. Katie thought, "Hmm, I think she's got it in for me."
She did not realise that Cindy had been standing behind her in assembly. She had heard her say that there was no such thing as ball-opia.
So, out in the corridor, Cindy said, "Hey, Katie, I'm going to report you for denying ball-opia, and you're going to be in big trouble."
And Katie felt furious and a little afraid.
The first lesson was biology. In the activity part of the lesson, the kids had to look at dead bees under microscopes. While Katie and Cindy were waiting to take a turn at a microscope, Cindy said: "I know what you're thinking, Katie."
"How can you possibly know that?" asked Katie.
"I can read your mind. It's not hard. You've only got about three thoughts. I know that you're planning trouble, like always. You're thinking about setting the test papers on fire because you didn't know any of the answers in last week's test."
"What nonsense! How could you know a thing like that?"
"Oh, so you admit it?" said Cindy, loudly.
"I didn't admit to anything!" spluttered Katie, even more loudly.
Their raised voices attracted the attention of a nosy group of girls. Cindy told them, "Katie's boasting that she can set the test papers on fire because she's a witch and can do anything she wants."
"I said no such thing!" insisted Katie loudly.
"And you said I haven't got ball-opia!" Said Cindy.
"No, I didn't," replied Katie, wondering how it turned out that she was now telling a fib.
Mrs Testy, the Biology teacher, came over to see what all the fuss was about. Katie got ready to defend herself against Cindy's accusations, but to her surprise, it was another girl, Samantha, who piped up:
"We just heard Katie say that she's going to set the test papers on fire. And she does not think that ball-opia is a real thing, even though it has been scientifically proven."
"Hmm," said Miss Testy. "You'll never be a biologist unless you believe in science, Katie. It's magic that isn't real."
"But Samantha can't have heard me say that because she wasn't even nearby when we were talking."
"So you admit that you were talking then? Were you going to set light to the test papers on my desk?"
Katie shook her head, but the teacher went on"
"That's so dangerous, Katie. I can't ignore this. You'll have to report to Mrs Hepworth right now!"
Katie walked along the empty corridor to the head teacher’s office feeling confused and sorry for herself. How come she was in trouble for something she didn't say?
The head teacher's secretary made her wait until the bell rang for the end of lessons. Not long after, Mrs Testy joined them and explained that several girls had confirmed that Katie was planning to set fire to the school.
"What!" Exclaimed Katie. "That must be a bad joke."
"There's nothing funny about it, Katie," said Mrs Hepworth.
"I, I didn't say there was."
"Don't lie. You just claimed it was a joke."
"Not my joke. I didn't say anything like that."
"But there were witnesses,” said the head teacher. Several other girls heard you say it. Besides Katie, I've told you before, magic does not exist and is banned from the school."
"That makes perfect sense," said Katie sarcastically.
"Don't answer back. I'm sending you home. You're suspended for a week, and you are lucky that I'm not calling the police."
Katie was now so confused that she wasn’t even sure what she had said. And she wondered how her mum would react to her suspension from school. Fortunately, her mother took her side:
"Life isn't always fair, Katie; the sooner you learn that the better," she said. "Still, I'm surprised that Mrs Hepworth doesn't see the truth, or perhaps she doesn't want to."
"I think it's more that she doesn't want to," said Katie. "Cindy's mum is on TV, and all the teachers want to take selfies with her."
"Well, that explains it all," said Katie's mum. "You'd better make the most of your time at home. It gives you a chance to revise."
"Ok, mum," said Katie. "I'll do my best."
While Katie was at home, she had no idea that Cindy was working on an even more vicious plot against her. It was actually Samantha's idea. She said to Cindy:
"What if we made it look like Katie had done some bad magic against the school that nobody else could have done. She would be expelled - which is a fitting punishment for a witch. Ex-Spelled -geddit?"
"Brilliant," said Cindy. "I'll cook up something extra special."
On Saturday morning, she woke up with a plan. She knew that Katie's mum owned a Magic Shop - so she dropped by to buy something magical. After browsing for a while, she chose a witch's hat. It was black, red, and gold and embroidered with beautiful patterns. Katie's mum wrapped it up for her. She hadn't met Cindy and did not know who she was. Or did she? Because Katie's mum is a witch, and she has heaps of intuition. Sometimes she knows things that she doesn’t know - if you see what I mean.
The next part of the plan went into action on Monday night. Cindy's mum was launching her new book, "Make it Big!" and Mrs Hepworth had arranged a special book signing for all the teachers along with cheese, wine, and a little talk about how she had "made it big" on TV. Cindy said:
"Oh Mum, I forgot my homework book. Can I come with you to the school? I'll slip into my classroom and fetch it from my desk while you are talking."
Of course, her mum saw no harm in the plan. But what Cindy did was sneak into Mrs Hepworth's office and steal all the papers from the biology exam. She placed the witch's hat she had bought on Mrs Hepworth's chair. The whole point of the escapade was to point the finger of blame at Katie as the culprit - because who else would wear a witch's hat while committing a crime?
But as Cindy was about to leave the head teacher’s study, somebody said, "Hang on a moment."
She span round. "Who said that?"
But there was nobody there.
"Didn't you forget something?" said the voice. It seemed to be coming from the hat on the chair. She picked it up, expecting to find a phone or something with a speaker underneath it. Next, there was a noise like the key turning in the lock on the door. In fact, the key was turning in the lock. She was shut inside the head teacher's room and could not escape. "Help, let me out!" she shouted, but nobody heard because all the teachers were hobnobbing with her mum in the assembly Hall.
The book signing was a great success. Cindy's mum had succeeded in buttering up all the teachers, which was her whole aim for the evening. She wanted them to treat Cindy exceptionally well, and she was now certain that they would. But hang on, where was her darling daughter? She was supposed to be waiting for her by the school office. But she wasn't there. Cindy's mum went back to the assembly hall, but her daughter wasn't there either. Nor was she in her classroom. Fortunately, Mrs Hepworth went back to her office to collect her bag before leaving for home. So you can imagine her surprise when she found Cindy sitting on her chair wearing a witch's hat.
Cindy had no good explanation about how she came to be locked inside the head teacher's office. So instead, she tried to claim that a fellow student called Katie had put her spell on her. Her mother was highly embarrassed about the whole escapade, and baffled by her daughter's behaviour. And although Mrs Hepworth did not punish Cindy, after that, she did not try as hard to believe Cindy's tall tales as she had done before.
And that was the story of Katie and the Liar. And I do hope you enjoyed all the levels of intrigue! Life is complicated sometimes, especially when people start telling fibs, but we just have to stick to what we know is true and right.
And I’m delighted to dedicate this story to Mia and Elise whose family kindly supports Storynory on Patreon. Their dad, Oliver, wrote to Bertie saying
Your Royal Highness,
My daughters love your Katie stories.
If you could say hello to Mia and Elise, that would be wonderful.
Well Hi Mia and Elise and thank you so much for supporting Storynory.