Do You Believe In Magic?
A feel-good story by Annie Harris
Natasha heaved a sigh as heavy as her schoolbag as she went up the garden path to her grandparents’ house. Her grandmother opened the front door to greet her. “Hello, love.” She wrapped her in a warm hug. “Hi, Gran.” “My word, you look as though you’ve lost a pound and found tuppence. Come on in and tell me all about it.”
Natasha dumped her bag on the kitchen table and sat down.
“Thanks, Gran.” She managed a smile as a glass of home-made lemonade and a plate of chocolate biscuits were pushed across to her.
Gran sat opposite her and rested her chin on her hand, fixing her with eyes that always seemed to reflect wisdom.
“Now, then, what’s the matter? Tell me all about it.”
“Our class is doing a sponsored no-techno weekend in aid of a children’s charity. So I’m not allowed to use my mobile or my tablet, or even watch telly!” Her voice rose in a wail. “Not until Monday morning!”
“Oh, dear.” Her grandmother gave her a teasing smile. “What a terrible calamity. However will you survive? A whole weekend!”
Even enveloped in her grump, Natasha could pick up on the sarcasm. She shot her gran a sidelong look but said nothing.
“Anyway, it is for a good cause, isn’t it, love?” her gran went on.
“I know, Gran. But that’s not all. I saw Darren Hughes with that awful Rachel Forbes.” Her voice trembled. “Honestly, Gran, I don’t think he even knows I exist.”
“Well, now, you are having a bad time of it.” Gran replenished the biscuits which Natasha had been chomping through without even noticing. “But you know what they say – there’s plenty more fish out there in the sea.”
Natasha looked over the rim of her glass. Poor Gran. She just didn’t understand. How could she? And besides, she was married to Grandad. She could never have felt this awful hurting under her ribs.
In fact, it was so bad today, that ache, that Natasha had been wondering if it was appendicitis.
Maybe she would be really ill, and then people would be very sorry! She pushed back her chair. “I’d better go, Gran. Mum said she’d be home early from work and I promised to help her get supper.”
Gran gave her an approving nod, watching as she took her glass over to the sink.
“Good girl. She’ll be glad of your help, I’m sure.”
“Yes, well.” Natasha shrugged. “I’ve got nothing else to do this evening, have I?”
“I suppose you could always read a book,” Gran said casually. Natasha scowled. “I’ve read all my library books, and we’re not allowed to use a Kindle. Mrs Jackson said if we do read, it’s got to be a real book, one where we can actually turn the pages. No magazines, either.”
Her grandmother surveyed her thoughtfully.
“Tell you what, love, I’ve got a book you might like. It’s a real page-turner – it was my favourite when I was young. Hold on. I know exactly where it is.”
She went through to the lounge and came back with a battered paperback.
“Here you are. I hope you love it as much as I did.”
Natasha read the title – “The Little White Horse” by Elizabeth Goudge. It sounded lame to her but she would never want to offend Gran so she diligently stowed it in her schoolbag.
“Thanks for the lemonade and biscuits, Gran. See you later.”
And she blew her a kiss as she darted down the path.
Oh, Gran, that book was brilliant!” Natasha’s eyes were shining. “I sat up reading it in bed till Dad made me switch my light off, and I just finished it this morning. I was going to ring you but then I remembered I’m not allowed to use the phone, so I’ve come round. It’s really lovely – it’s the nicest book I’ve ever read.”
“I’m so glad you like it, lovey.” Gran patted her cheek. “I was hoping you would, because now I’ve got a story to tell you about that very book.”
“About the little white horse, you mean? Well, the unicorn – he is a unicorn, isn’t he?”
“Maria’s magic unicorn? Oh, yes. Well, now, it happened a long time ago, when I was, oh, younger than you are now. I was very poorly, and it took me a long time to get better. I spent a lot of time in bed, because I was so weak. In the end, I just didn’t seem to even want to get up.”
“Oh, no, Gran.” Natasha gazed at her, stricken. “That’s terrible! What was wrong with you?’
“It was one of those illnesses we used to get back then. Nothing you’ll ever have to worry about. Anyway, my mum and dad were really worried, but then one day my lovely auntie Joan – your great-aunt – gave me this book. I couldn’t even be bothered to open it but I was so bored that I did, and I fell in love with it.” “What was your favourite bit?” A smile crept over her gran’s face. “All of it, really. Maybe when Maria finds the Moon Maiden’s pearls in the well.”
Natasha nodded, remembering that bit she had read so recently.
“Yes, that was really good. But I think I like best the tea party at the end.”
“Anyway, I decided I wanted to see a unicorn. Of course, in my heart I knew that they didn’t exist. But I was a stubborn little madam, and I suspect I was spoiled rotten besides, on account of me being so poorly. I got it into my head that if only I could see a unicorn, I would get better.”