Do You Be­lieve In Magic?

The People's Friend Special - - CONTENTS -

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.”

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