Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Chapter One, Revised

This is chapter one of Penelope Parker. All writing on this blog is copyright Sue McCaskill.

Penelope Parker sighed. It had turned out to be another one of those days at the school she went to. Things always seemed to happen around Penelope, especially when she was upset. There was the time Dexter Bigglesworth had called her ‘four-eyes’ because she wore glasses. Next thing you know, Dexter has four eyes in his face. Or the time her teacher, Miss Nettlethorpe scolded her for daydreaming, and then suddenly found herself floating near the ceiling. Then there was today. The biggest catastrophe of all. That horrible Cornelia Thistlethwaite had been bullying Penelope again, calling her all kinds of names. The last straw came as Cornelia danced around singing, “Penny Parker has no dad, B-A-S-T…” Penelope was stunned, then furious, and she felt her anger boiling over. Shaking, she pointed her finger at Cornelia and shouted, “Zip it up!”
There was a ‘snap’, a ‘fizzle’, a flash, then dead silence. Except for the gurgles coming from Cornelia’s throat. All she could do was gurgle, because where her mouth used to be was a large metal zip! Everyone gasped, and of course, it was at this very moment that Miss Nettlethorpe strode into the room. Taking one look, she turned, pointed at Penelope and said, “Headmistress. Now.” Choking back tears, Penelope bolted from the room, running down the hall and up the stairs to Miss Penlington’s office. Her heart was breaking, because she knew how upset her mum would be, but Cornelia had insulted her mum by saying Penelope didn’t have a father.
When the headmistress saw who it was, and heard what had happened from Miss Nettlethorpe, she picked up the phone and informed her mother that that kind of behaviour was absolutely frowned upon. She also suggested that perhaps Penelope would be better off going elsewhere for her education.
Miserably, Penelope waited for her mum to come and get her, feeling awful inside for what she had done. As her mum came up the stairs, she ran to her and buried her head in her mum’s side. “Oh, mum, I’m so sorry, but Cornelia said I was a bast…”
“Shush, Penelope; repeating a word like that does no good. I know you didn’t mean to do it, but we will have to do something about this.”
She turned as Miss Penlington stalked out of her office, nose in the air. “Mrs. Parker, this is absolutely the breaking point. We cannot have these kinds of incidents at Urban Road. As of now, Penelope is expelled.” With that, she turned, marched into her office, and slammed the door.
“Well,” said her mother. “I guess that is that.” Let’s go home and see what we can do. I must get in touch with your father at once.”
“But I thought you didn’t know where he was?”
“I don’t, but he left a way to contact him in an emergency, and I think this qualifies as one.”
Penelope didn’t know it yet, but she was very unusual, because her mum was mundane, no powers at all. But her dad? That was another matter altogether. He was a very powerful Wizard, and it seemed Penelope had inherited his powers. Because she was a girl, that made her a Witch, and a very powerful one at that. Problem was, she was completely untrained, so these odd things kept happening around her. Penelope’s mum was a good and loving mother, but had no idea what to do about Penelope’s ‘problem’. Penelope’s father was a Wizard of some renown, but had gone off to fight evil or some such thing when Penelope was five. That had left Penelope’s mother in quite a quandary now that Penelope was showing unmistakable signs of inheriting her father’s powers. Her mother had no idea if she could reach her husband, although he was diligent in sending her money and the wherewithal for her and Penelope to live comfortably.
As soon as they got home, she sent Penelope to get cleaned up, and have something to eat, while she tried to contact her husband. Going into his study, she closed and locked the door. She had never had to do this before, and she was very nervous, as it involved a kind of magic.
She unlocked a little chest that was sitting on the desk, and opened it to reveal a crystal. Carefully, she picked it up and held it close, thinking of Penelope’s dad, and the urgency with which she needed to contact him. Almost immediately, the crystal clouded and then cleared, revealing her husband.
“Whatever is wrong, Eleanor? Is Penelope all right?”
“No, and that’s why I’m contacting you. There was another unpleasant incident at her school today, and she was expelled. I don’t know what to do!”
“We knew this might happen sooner or later, and now it’s time for you to take her to Matilda; she is the only one who can help.”
“But, Gwyddion, it will mean I must leave her there. I don’t know if I’m strong enough to do that. She’s our only child!”
“I know it will be hard, but we must do what’s right for Penelope, hard as it may be. And you will get to see her during school breaks.”
“Very well, Gwyddion, I will call Matilda immediately. I do wish you could come home!’
“I know, darling, but it’s impossible right now; you know that. I love you.”
With that, the crystal went blank, and Eleanor was left with tears in her eyes staring at the blank crystal and wishing things were back to normal. Straightening her shoulders, she placed the crystal back in its box and picked up the phone.
Hanging up the phone, she went into the kitchen and found Penelope trying to make pancakes for dinner. Laughing in spite of herself, she hugged her daughter, and showed her the right way to make them.
After pancakes with raspberries and syrup, Eleanor said to Penelope, “How about a nice bubble bath and an early night? Things will look better in the morning after a good night’s sleep.”
“Maybe you’re right, mum. They couldn’t look much worse.”
“Chin up, sweetheart. We’ll get through this. Always remember, no matter what, your father and I will always love you!”
“I love you too, mum,” said Penelope, feeling a little better. “A bubble bath sounds nice. Can I use some of your lavender stuff?”
“Of course, darling. Come on. You get your pyjamas, and I’ll run the bath for you.”

Penelope soaked in the fragrant bath until her fingers and toes were wrinkled, then quickly dried off, got into her pyjamas, and jumped into bed. In spite of the turmoil in her mind, she felt her eyelids gradually closing, and fell fast asleep, burying her head under the covers.

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