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The Catapult [D&R]

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posted on Dec, 22 2011 @ 06:08 PM
The Catapult

Vicky was walking along the rainy street in a state of high excitement. It was a pity it was raining on her big day, but the shop wasn't too far away and she was thinking more about what she would be doing after she'd made her purchase than worrying too much about the rain.

Vicky was ten, and sometimes didn't make 'connections' between events. The fact that she had done a successful rain dance several weeks ago didn't seem, to her, to have any bearing on the fact that she was getting rained on now.

She didn't often think back to that hot, dry day when she'd overheard two of her elderly neighbours complaining about the lack of rain and how their gardens were suffering because of it. Being a child, she focused more on the here and now and what adventures she could have in the future and on that particular day the adventure would be to contact the rain gods and ask for a downpour.

She'd thought carefully about how to do this and decided that her back garden was the best location for the appeal. She'd surveyed it carefully and her attention had been drawn to a large hole in the middle of the lawn, now covered with a long piece of corrugated iron.

The hole had been dug by Vicky when she had been playing at being an archaeologist. She'd been digging around in the garden and had found a few broken bits of pottery. Convinced that they were the remains of some ancient civilisation, she'd dug around for some more thus creating the hole.

Her mother wasn't too impressed with her find. She knew that it was just a few old bits of junk that had been buried by the previous occupier and discouraged Vicky from looking for any more. For some reason, maybe she had more pressing matters on her mind that day, she wasn't too bothered about the giant hole created by her industrious little daughter and the matter was laid to rest.

On the day of the rain dance, in Vicky's mind, the hole had acquired some significance as she realised that if she hopped up and down on the corrugated iron she could make a noise like thunder that was sure to attract the attention of the rain gods. Happy about this, she'd sought out her friend, Little Margaret, who was a few years younger and likely to go along with anything Vicky had planned.

Vicky armed herself with her cursing stick, a long wooden pole decorated with ribbons and plastic skulls and skeletons, and she and Little Margaret headed off to the hole in the garden.

With great enthusiasm they'd whooped and hollered and jumped about on the corrugated iron sheet, trying with all their might to achieve a successful outcome to their request for rain. Well, someone was listening because, eventually, it did actually start to drizzle. Just a bit, but enough for Vicky and Little Margaret to be satisfied that it was a job well done.

Of course, Vicky wasn't to know that she would now be 'tracked' by rain elementals and that anytime she had an important errand to perform they would most likely rain on her.

She plodded on towards the hardware shop, with her pocket money tucked tightly in her pocket. She'd saved up for this moment and jingled the coins, making sure they were all there. The proprietor of the hardware shop would certainly be in for a surprise when his new customer walked through the door and made her request for the heavy duty catapult he had in the window.

Vicky had spent many happy hours throughout her childhood engrossed in comics and it hadn't escaped her attention that all the naughtier characters, the ones who had the most fun, owned pea shooters and catapults. The pea shooters hadn't appealed to her too much, but the catapult became an object of great desire and, since no-one was likely to give her one as a gift, she'd had to save up for it.

This had caused some hardship to a little girl who was used to spending all her pocket money in the local sweet shop. Every Saturday morning she'd be over there, deliberating very carefully on how to spend her money. She'd discuss her finances with the very patient sweet shop owner and explain her choices to him. Then she'd rush home with her two bars of chocolates, or would it be one bar and a packets of wine gums? It was the highlight of her week to sit in the big armchair in the living room guzzling her 'haul' without a care in the world. Then she'd be off out to play, satisfied that she'd had her big treat for the week.

Now, here she was on another Saturday morning, getting wet on her way to purchase her catapult. The big, steel framed, heavy duty catapult with the thick rubber 'strings' that, she was sure, would make her a menace to all and sundry. Just like the kids in the comics.

She was rather bedraggled when she finally entered the shop, heaving on a door that wasn't really made for little girls to open. The hardware shop had a very distinctive smell to it, the sort of smell that Vicky was sure was familiar to middle-aged men, along with cigarettes and boot polish.

As the owner peered down at her from behind the counter she very politely asked for the catapult in the window. How delighted she was when he actually went to get it. She'd been a bit worried that he might have suspected her naughty intentions and refuse to give it to her. She tried not to be impatient as he wrapped it up in a brown paper bag. With an enormous grin, she handed over her pocket money and practically skipped out of the shop, clutching the bag which contained what was now her most prized possession.

She noticed that the rain was easing off as she headed home and she started to skip, then run, being careful not to slip on the wet pavements.

As she approached her front door, her elderly neighbour, Mrs Hutton from across the road, watched her arrival. The old girl was disappointed to see Vicky disappear indoors. She'd been hoping to watch one of her vast catalogue of silly games. How often she'd looked out to see Vicky dressed in some outrageous get-up, usually consisting of something she'd borrowed from her mother's linen cupboard, prancing around in a little world created by herself.

A few years earlier she'd seen a six year old Vicky balanced on the back of a tricycle with her leg stuck out behind her. A little boy from up the street was pedalling the trike furiously down the hill until they came to a sharp halt outside of Vicky's front door. Mrs Hutton had wondered what on Earth they could be up to but never found out that they'd been playing at being in the circus. The trike and little boy were a circus pony and Vicky was a ballerina performing the most amazing arabesque balanced firmly on its back.

Vicky and Kevin hadn't seen the street. All they'd seen was the circus ring as they careered around to the delight of their audience. Dazzling in the spotlight they'd performed their tricks and received tumultuous applause.

Mrs Hutton smiled at the memory and went away from her window. She wasn't aware that Vicky often noticed her curtains twitching and thought she was a nosey old bag. Vicky thought all old people were moany and cross and didn't like children. She'd had plenty of them telling her off for small things that she hadn't realised were misdemeanours. She couldn't imagine that one would actually like her and enjoy her antics.

The day when she'd dressed up as a high priestess and organised a procession around the block, she had no idea that Mrs Hutton had been laughing her head off as she watched.

Well, it must have been a bit of a sight. In one of the books given to her by her grandparents Vicky had been reading about ancient religions and high priests and priestesses. She'd found herself with new ambitions to contact the old gods and worship them. She'd already made her cursing stick after reading about Witch Doctors and felt that she was well equipped to take on the role of a high priestess. She'd taken the paisley print bedspread from off her bed, which wasn't easy for a child of her small size, and draped it around her shoulders, creating a long train. This train was far too cumbersome for Vicky to manage by herself so she'd called on the services of Little Margaret to help her. Solemnly their small procession had set off from Vicky's front garden.

Vicky was at the front, nose in the air, brandishing her cursing stick and majesterially leading her small group of followers. Little Margaret was careful in her duty of carrying the train and one of the local boys had been roped in as a bodyguard. He carried a bow and arrows, made from sticks and twigs found in the forest and would certainly have deterred anyone who had evil intentions towards High Priestess Vicky. A couple of other little kids completed her retinue and, with great pomp and ceremony, off they all went around the block.

Today, though, Vicky was going to confine her activities to her back garden. After she'd opened up her small parcel she'd headed out there, catapult in hand, with her heart racing so much it nearly choked her. Now she could be one of those kids depicted in her comics. She felt as if, with the acquisition of her catapult, she'd joined their little club.

She went to the bottom of her long garden, past the hole in the lawn, and found a small pebble which was half buried in a flower bed. Carefully she put it in her catapult and then, very deliberately, let it fire.

Being new to catapults, Vicky hadn't thought much about taking aim. She'd just thought to have a go and see how it worked out. She'd thought that the pebble would probably go a few feet and just drop to the ground.

How horrified she was as the pebble whizzed straight up the garden, over the lawn, past the apple tree and straight through the (closed) glass window of the shed.

Vicky was utterly mortified and couldn't think how she was going to tell her mother. A mother who hadn't had any idea that Vicky was going to buy a catapult and probably wouldn't have approved of it.

A mother who wouldn't be home until much later in the day and wouldn't be prepared for the bad news that Vicky had to tell her.

Vicky went indoors, put her catapult on the kitchen table and started to worry about her likely punishment. Depending on her mood, her mother might give her a good hefty smack. She would almost certainly shout and call Vicky names. She was the sort of woman for whom one would need a barometer to gauge her moods – an instrument that Vicky was sadly lacking.

Vicky looked sadly at her catapult and knew what she had to do. She spent the rest of the day in complete misery, finding no comfort from her toys or any of the dreams that she used to escape into.

Early in the evening she was shaking as she heard her mother coming home. She went into the kitchen to await her and the coming fury.

Her mother walked in on a contrite little Vicky who was holding something out to her. She took the proffered catapult and listened as Vicky carefully explained that she hadn't meant to break the shed window, she'd only been practising with her new catapult and hadn't known that it could shoot a pebble so far.

She tried very hard to conceal a smile as she looked down at Vicky's earnest little face as she asked for the catapult to be confiscated so she couldn't do any more damage with it.

Trying very hard to take the matter seriously, Vicky's mother agreed that she would hide the catapult away so that Vicky could, indeed, do no more damage with it. Not for the first time she wondered how she'd ever ended up with a child like this one.

Vicky slunk away, her dreams of being like the kids in the comics all broken. As shattered as the shed window.

edit on 22-12-2011 by berenike because: (no reason given)


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