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Authors: Tricia Bennett

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BOOK: The Trouble with Polly Brown
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Eventually Polly slowly and most reluctantly opened her eyes, and in doing so, she was instantly brought back to Earth with a bump, for all too quickly she realized she was once again lying on the thin and lumpy horsehair mattress of her old, rickety iron bed. Polly pulled the thin blanket up to her chin, for despite being in the middle of summer and so presumably less cold, she still found herself shivering from head to toe. “Oh why, oh why, did I ever allow myself to be talked into leaving Piadora to come back to this draughty hate-filled castle?” she sighed. “I must be stupidly crazy after all.”

Polly gave another shudder that went the full length of her spine. “Come on, Langdon, you're not doing your job properly. You, my young man, are meant to keep me warm as toast, for I am in most urgent need of some shut-eye, as I'll have you know I've got school tomorrow,” she said as she nuzzled her face into her confidante's very floppy blue ear. She then miraculously fell into the best and deepest sleep she had ever known, a gentle slumber where all nightmarish dreams and torment are swiftly banished, replaced only by the sweetest, fanciful dreams filled to bursting with endless possibilities as well as the purest contentment, dreams that should rightfully fill the hearts and minds of each and every sweet-smelling, tender child as they lie tucked up tight in their beds, feeling deliciously safe and loved.

Chapter Two

THE CHOCOLATE-SEALED LETTER

T
HE NEXT MORNING
found Polly up and out of bed much earlier than usual, as rather miraculously she found herself feeling surprisingly good on the inside and so extremely optimistic about her day to come. With so much time on her hands, she thought this might well be as good a time as any to pen Aazi his very first letter from her. She had absolutely no idea what to say in the letter except that she was already missing him. So after tearing a sheet of paper from an old, unwanted exercise book, she began to put pen to paper with the full intention of writing down some of her deepest innermost thoughts.

Dear Aazi,

I trust this letter finds you safe and well. I hope you don't mind me asking, but what is it like for you living with your uncle? I hope for your sake he is much kinder than Uncle Boritz. Are you able to attend school? If so, can you give me some details so that I can compare it with mine?

This coming Friday our school will be showing us the first of many films about life in Africa, and I have to tell you that as a result of meeting you, I'm truly looking forward to learning more about your wonderful country and your people.

Although we are well into the month of June, sadly to date we have not seen much sun. In England when it rains and rains for days on end, it seems to affect everybody I meet. The grown-ups in particular are noticeably far more miserable and moody. In fact, if truth be told, they most definitely become decidedly peevish!

Zimbabwe sounds such an awfully nice place to live, especially as I'm told that the sun shines gloriously all year round. How unfair this all seems! I mean, our weather is so miserably cold and blustery, and yours, well, it sounds so perfect that this surely must go a long way in explaining why you, my little friend, are constantly smiling.

I confess to missing you so very much; therefore, one of my latest dreams that I've now added to my ever growing wish list is to one day pay you a little visit. Until then I have little choice but to content myself with closing my eyes, and then I can clearly see your beautiful, smiling face with those big, white chompers, although I might add that even this has its pitfalls, as I now spend a large percentage of my days bumping into walls and doors in my ridiculously desperate endeavor to keep your impish features constantly fresh and alive in my memory. Yes, if the truth be known, I am indeed covered from head to toe in minor bluish bruises and bumps, but who cares?

I am therefore waiting with bated breath and the greatest anticipation to receive my first ever letter from you.

Take care. Sincerely yours. Oodles and poodles of love.

Polly, xxxx

PS: Stupid me. I forgot to ask, Do you miss Piadora as much as I do? What a ridiculous question. Of course you do! I know this might sound a bit peculiar, but I feel much more grown up as a result of all the trials that we both faced getting there. Yes, so much older and wiser, although to be honest I'm a little unsure as to whether the wiser bit is a good thing or not. What do you think, Aazi? Should we leave stuff like being wise well alone, as most grown-ups tend to suffer from far too much wisdom for their own good? Please write and tell me your truest thoughts on all such matters, as well as anything else you just might care to.

Polly then rummaged around in her locker drawer as she searched for an item she knew was there. Why? you might ask. Well, simply because she had hidden it there herself several weeks previously.

“Yes, thank goodness I've finally found it,” she delightedly whispered to herself as out from the drawer came a small, round, and very dubious-looking lump of chocolate. She used force to squash the slightly stale and therefore hardened chocolate outer shell between her thumb and index finger until the gooey caramel inside the chocolate began to ooze its way out. Then when she was fully satisfied that it was now suitably mushy, she took her chocolate-covered thumb and pressed down hard on the paper in a manner that suggested she might well be sealing an important legal document. She had seen this done before on a number of legal documents Uncle Boritz carelessly left lying around his study. The only difference was that his splodge was done with melted red wax and not chocolate. She then blew on the paper in her bid to encourage the thick but deliciously melted splodge of gooey chocolate to dry thoroughly.

“Terrific. An excellent job done, if I say so myself,” she pronounced, a little on the smug side. She then reached for her pen to add a further PS alongside the dried-out chocolate imprint that was now firmly attached and now weighing down the bottom of her letter.

PPS: Oops. Sorry about the second PS attachment, but surprise, surprise! Yet another afterthought haspopped into my crazy, runaway head. Aazi, I do hope you're as committed a fan of chocolate as I am. In England these popular caramel-filled chocolates are called Rolos, and not only are they exceedingly yummy, but it has become very British to selflessly give up your last one to someone that you truly care about. Sorry it's not the whole deal, for that would have proved very impractical to post, but might I suggest that you take out your penknife to scrape it off the paper. Or better still, throw all caution to the wind and hold the letter up to your face to just lick it off. That way you can get a pretty good idea of what it really tastes like, and I think you'll wholeheartedly agree with me that it tastes divinely scrumptious! So go on, Aazi, why wait? Do it now!

Finally, with her letter now finished off to her complete satisfaction, Polly rustled around in her drawer until she came across an old, yellowing miscellaneous envelope. After slipping the letter into the envelope, she then sealed it down with a quick lick of her tongue.

Afterward she applied a quick squirt of very cheap cologne that had been given to her by someone who no longer cared for its smell. She placed the envelope under her nose to give it a quick sniff. “Mmm, it now smells fabulously gorgeous,” she brightly declared. Turning it over, she proceeded to copy down the address he had written on a small scrap of paper, all the time wondering how on earth she would ever pay for the stamp that was now required if it was to have any hope of getting to its final destination.

Happily, that very necessary moment of inspiration was about to come forth. She had just written SWALK (“sealed with a loving kiss”) on the back of the envelope, which she followed up by giving the envelope an impromptu kiss, when out of the blue she had that most essential moment of enlightenment. “I know. I'll pay a visit to dear, sweet lavender-and-lace Mrs. April Strudel and ask to be allowed to take her dogs for a walk. She always says yes, as the dogs need the regular exercise, and she never fails to give me a few pennies as a thank-you. Yes, I do believe those precious but yappy little pups are about to get more exercise than they ever dreamed of, as I intend to write many insightful letters to Aazi in the coming months.”

Polly was now perfectly satisfied that she had hit on the best solution to her problem, so she tucked the precious envelope into her schoolbag for safety and then paid a quick visit to the bathroom to wash and brush her teeth. Polly spent double the time brushing them that morning, as she knew she had to make up for the previous evening when she had failed to give them the necessary brush that they deserved and required. As soon as she was dressed in her uniform, she sat on her bed and concentrated on filling her disgracefully tatty schoolbag with all necessary apparatus she would need for lessons that day.

She was in the process of doing a final meticulous check of her timetable when she drew in a deep breath, covering her mouth as she expressed great horror that she was missing some important and very essential items. She also knew without a shadow of a doubt that without these elusive items, there was not the teeniest chance of her day going even remotely well. She had completely forgotten that on the previous Friday her biology teacher, Mrs. Prunella McGillicuddy, had requested that every student bring to class a couple of sheep's eyes for the purpose of dissection.

Polly had at the time been horrified by what she considered to be a hideously gruesome request, and so she felt very relieved when other students wasted no time in voicing their objections. The girls in particular complained loudest. They were, after all, by far the fairer sex and therefore understandably squeamish when it came to complying with their teacher's latest and most unreasonable demand. The girls promptly gathered around to discuss ways of getting out of this extraordinarily unpleasant task, and Leander Robinson, a normally exemplary pupil, even had the temerity to stand up and blatantly challenge her teacher regarding the health implications associated with bringing such revolting items onto the school premises. Yes, if Polly remembered rightly, Leander had told Mrs. McGillicuddy in no uncertain terms that to be given such a sordid task was not only unhygienic but to her mind “very distasteful,” so there would be serious ramifications if she was to be punished for her failure to comply. In view of all this, she would be calling the health department ASAP as well as taking the day off school, and that was that!

Angelica Clodsworthy seized the occasion to add her full support to the ever-growing and now highly contentious debate by belligerently stating that to be forced to carry such downright disgusting items in her schoolbag was downright vulgar, and so like her best school chum Leander, she too would be taking the day off school—oh, as well as calling the health department to add her name to the list of complainants. Besides, heaven forbid, but what if the revolting items were to somehow leak into her lunch box? It didn't bear thinking about, so there was no way she would be cooperating with her teacher's plainly ghoulish request, and that was that!

BOOK: The Trouble with Polly Brown
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