Authors: Leonie Norrington
Now he’s done the dishwashing wrong.
‘Biddy,’ I say, ‘Dad did it wrong.’
But she ignores me.
I run out onto the end of her nose. ‘Dad didn’t put enough powder in!’ I yell, waving my arms. ‘The dishes will come out dirty.’
Still she ignores me.
I run to her ear. ‘We have to put in more powder!’ I scream as loud as I can.
Just then I hear …
What’s that? Biddy is opening the dishwasher. ‘Yes! Biddy,’ I yell. ‘Now put some more dishwashing powder in!’
She looks up at the POISON—DO NOT TOUCH cupboard and shakes her head, remembering that she is not allowed to go in that cupboard.
‘Biddy,’ I say, ‘this is an
. Sometimes you have to do “not-allowed” things in an emergency.’
But she doesn’t. She reaches across the kitchen bench. She picks up the dishwashing detergent off the sink. Good idea. If it can wash dishes in the sink it can wash dishes in the dishwasher.
‘Biddy, you are my goodest, bestest clever girlfriend ever,’ I say.
Biddy holds the dishwashing detergent with both hands, aims it into the open door of the dishwasher and squeezes.
An arc of detergent squirts into the dishwasher.
All over the plates and cups and knives and forks.
Then she puts the detergent back on the sink and closes the dishwasher. The light comes back on.
The dishwashing machine is happy. She starts washing straightaway.
‘See, Biddy,’ I say. ‘We are the best team. We don’t need other friends. We are going to the Botanic Gardens to play imagination.
‘Mum will be so happy with my helping,’ Biddy says and skips on the spot. ‘She will buy me a new purple sparkly frisbee,’ she says. ‘And me and my friend Princess Isolde will spin it through the air like a magical flying saucer. And everyone else at the Botanic Gardens will see us.’ Then remembering that she promised to be nice to Matilda, she says, ‘And I will give Matilda my old frisbee. It still works, even if it is
You know bubbles? Those all-round and see-through things, with rainbows glistening on their skin? There are hundreds of tiny ones collecting along the edge of the dishwasher like foam.
I know all about foam. When there is a big storm in the Great Bushland the rain makes humongous waterfalls. They rush bubbling and foaming over the cliffs. It is fun to watch.
But you can’t swim there. Slivigools like to wash their hair in this foamy waterfall water. It makes it
with light and smell like the sun. If you swim there, the slivigools will wrap their hair around your legs and pull you under and drown you dead.
But I’m not scared of this foam. This is dishwashing foam, not slivigool foam. I want to dive into it and kick the foamy bubbles up into the air.
Biddy does too. She picks up a handful of bubbles and throws them above her head. They float like sparkling droplets of water.
There’s a big bubble. Some of the little bubbles are staying on the dishwasher, growing bigger and bigger, until one by one they let go and float in sparkling colours through the air.
I wish I could go for a
on one of those big floating bubbles.
Biddy wants me to go for a ride, too. She reaches her arm up and catches a huge bubble on her hand.
‘Thank you! Thank you, Biddy!’ I yell and run along her arm to the bubble. It is beautiful. It’s got a whole
shimmering on its side.
I touch it.
It’s a bit sticky. And soft.
Hey, let go! My hand is stuck to the bubble.
I pull and pull. But I can’t get my hand back. I put my foot up to push. No way! Now my foot is stuck, too!
I’m getting sucked into a bubble.
‘Biddy!’ I shout. ‘Help me, please!’
I’m inside the bubble. Everything outside looks strange and huge. Biddy’s hand is like a giant’s hand. She lifts me up to her face. Her face is all warped. Her eyes are small and her mouth is so big it is like a fillikizard dragon’s. She’s opening her mouth.
‘No! Biddy, don’t eat me!’ I yell. I close my eyes and cover my head with my hands.
Suddenly the bubble
. I open my fingers. And my eyes.
Biddy is blowing. She wasn’t going to eat me! She was just blowing the bubble into the air.
I’m floating. In a bubble. I can see the top of the fridge where Dad puts his keys so Matilda can’t play with them and lose them.
And there’s the inside of the POISON— DO NOT TOUCH cupboard. I can see all the bottles full of magic and poison.
Biddy is far away down below. She looks like… well, just like Biddy, but smaller. I float up and
up and up
, until I’m nearly touching the ceiling. Then the bubble hangs in the air for a moment and starts to sink down again.
Biddy slides across the slippery floor, gets under the bubble and blows me up again. I float and stop and start floating down again. ‘Biddy, blow at me again!’ I yell as my bubble sinks toward her.
She skids across the bubbly floor and blows me up again.
‘Bubbles!’ Matilda yells, reaching her arms through the baby rail that keeps her and little Ellen out of the kitchen. Her eyes are wide with excitement. ‘Daddy, look. Bubbles in the kitchen.’
‘What?’ Dad says. ‘Where?’ He’s in the doorway, looking around the kitchen.
I look too. There are bubbles everywhere glistening all over the floor, sparkling on the bench top, floating in the air like tiny silver jewels. They look so
But Dad doesn’t think so. ‘Brigid Lucy! What have you done?’
Biddy opens her mouth to explain.
But Dad doesn’t listen. He just jumps over the baby rail, and slip! One foot goes left and the other one goes right. He waves his arms. He skips his feet. He skids. He slides and
He falls on the floor.
He hits his head.
He sprawls out on the floor.
‘Daddy!’ Matilda starts to cry really loud. ‘Mummy. Daddy.’
‘What’s going on?’ Mum looks through the doorway and sees Dad on the floor. ‘What’s happened?’ She is climbing over the baby rail telling Matilda, ‘It’s okay, darling.’
‘Don’t come in here,’ Dad yells, holding his head. ‘The floor is slippery.’
Mum looks around the bubbly kitchen. ‘How much powder did you put in that dishwasher?’ she yells at Dad, her voice very
‘The right amount!’ Dad yells back.
‘Well, how did this happen?’ Mum asks, carefully stepping toward him, one hand on the bench and one on her belly.
‘Careful!’ Dad says. And, ‘Stay there.’ He holds his hands up to catch her when she falls. ‘What about the baby?’
What’s he talking about? Oh, she means little Ellen! She is in her highchair. I can see her through the doorway crying, ‘Wahhh! Mummy,’ her face red and covered with food. She is strapped in safe. So she can’t climb out and fall on her head.
But what about me? I’m going to crash on the floor. ‘Biddy,’ I yell. ‘Quick! Blow me up again or I’ll hit the ground and
But Biddy has forgotten me. She is slip-sliding across the floor to Mum and Dad. ‘Is Dad alright?’ And, ‘Shall I ring the ambulance. I know how to do it––I have to ring
and say my name, Brigid Lucy. And tell them my address, 13 Haphazard Street…’
Mum puts her hand up. ‘No, Biddy, darling,’ she says, ‘but can you please go and comfort Matilda and little Ellen? And walk carefully.’ Then reaching up to the POISON—DO NOT TOUCH cupboard, she says, ‘I won’t be a minute. I’ll just get some of Granny’s special Rescue Remedy and arnica for Dad’s head.’
Biddy smiles and says with her best good girl voice, ‘I certainly can,’ and walks straight past me to the ‘Daddy! Mummy!’ crying Matilda.
‘What about me?’ I yell. ‘If I hit the floor I’ll be stuck in all that
bubbly foam and drown to death.’
But Biddy doesn’t care.
I start to run. The bubble spins. I’m running inside the bubble, like a mouse in a wheel, spinning it round and round. And the bubble stops sinking. It floats. I run and run trying to float the spinning bubble toward Biddy.
But it’s going crooked. Straight towards Matilda!
. It bursts on Matilda’s arm. I’m standing on Matilda’s arm!
Suddenly she stops crying. She stands absolutely still, looking at her arm as if she can feel me.
But then, ‘Good stopping crying, Matilda,’ Biddy says, putting her arm around her.
And I quickly run up Biddy’s arm and into her hair.
Me and Biddy are such a good girlfriend team.
‘It’s okay, darling. Daddy is fine,’ Biddy says in a mother kind of voice, and we get little Ellen out of her highchair and wipe her face and cuddle her and she stops crying.
Mum puts us all in the bath together. And me and Biddy ‘play-very-nicely’ with Matilda and little Ellen, even if they only want to play duckies and boring little kids’ games like
Now we’re finished our bath. Dad is drying and dressing Matilda and little Ellen. So me and Biddy go back to the kitchen. The bubbles are all gone. The floor is clean, the cupboards are all wiped, the dishwasher is silent.
The dishwasher washed the dishes and cleaned the whole kitchen.
What a good job done. Mum is going to say we are the best helpers and probably take us to the Botanic Gardens every day to play imaginary princesses.
Where is Mum?
Then we hear Mum talking on the phone. ‘Could you come tomorrow?’ she says. ‘He tries to help but ends up making a
‘He’ is Biddy’s dad. Mum always calls Dad ‘he’ when he has done something wrong. What has Dad done wrong? We fixed up the not-enough-powder so it can’t be that.
‘Tonight he put too much powder in the dishwasher.’ Mum’s voice is
with sadness. ‘There was foam all over the kitchen. I had a huge mess to clean up.’