I don’t read my stories to the children as often as I should. This one I shared with Sophie tonight as her bed time story. She enjoyed the tale, amazed by how,’ it sounds like a real story’. I thought I would share it here too, in case you were interested in finding out….
How bubbles were invented.
Once upon a time in a time not so long ago, in a place not so far from here lived a little girl called Alaska Pretty. She lived with her mum and dad in a little house just big enough for all of them. Around her in their homes lived her neighbours and with them their children After school each day all the children would come together to go out and play in the woody park that lay to the back of their houses. The leader of the children was a girl called Sarah Wolf. She was the one who decided who played and who didn’t. Who got to hide and who had to seek. Every day Alaska Pretty would meet up with the other children to play. But it was different for her. Sarah didn’t like Alaska so she and all the other children would run off, giggling, to hide leaving Alaska all alone. When it was Alaska’s turn to hide none of the children would come to find her. She would be left in her hiding place as the trees shadows got longer and longer. Eventually she would emerge to find the other children gone, leaving her to walk home alone.
Every day Alaska would meet up with the other children and every day the same thing would happen. There came a time when Alaska stopped going to play. She would walk off alone into the forest, leaving the laughter of the other children far behind. She would walk along the forest paths listening to the chirping melodies of the birds. She would hear the scampering of the animals around her and the chattering of the squirrels in the branches far above her. She would hear the hobbling of the stream and skim stones across its clear surface. Sometimes she would follow the path, sometimes the stream. She got to know the ways of the forest and they in turn came to recognise her. The birds seemed to whistle a special call as she passed and no longer would the animals run away when they saw her. Alaska respected the forest, always pocketing her litter and never trying to catch or harm the animals.
One day, when she was walking by the stream, she noticed a path as yet unexplored. It took her through dappled light along a bluebell path deeper and deeper into the forest. As she walked she could hear a distant rumbling like far away thunder. The further she walked the louder it got. Suddenly the forest cleared and in front of Alaska was a waterfall. The water tumbled down over the rocks sending rainbows where the light caught the falling droplets. At the bottom was a pool filled with clear water. Alaska could see the fish swimming and darting about in its cool depths. It wasn’t the pool or the flood of water that made Alaska gasp with amazement. Indeed, it was the shimmering bubbles the water created as it hit the pool. Alaska laughed with pleasure as she tried to scoop the bubbles up in her hands. Each time she brought her hands out of the water the bubbles burst leaving her hands empty.
“Oh, how I wish I could make bubbles!” she cried, as again her hands surfaced empty.
Now, it just so happens that the water faeries were nearby and heard Alaska’s wish. They knew her from her walks by the stream and had heard from the forest faeries and animals how none of the other children would play with her and how she was a good girl who always took care of the forest and its inhabitants. In that instant they decided to grant her wish.
With a sparkle and a shower of faerie dust the water faeries appeared before Alaska. Trembling in fear she shrunk back from them.
‘’Do not be afraid,’’ the faeries said to her ‘’you are a good girl. We have heard how the others treat you and how you walk in the forest day after day alone. We have decided to grant you your wish. You shall be able to make bubbles.”
Then the faeries whispered to Alaska the secret only the water faeries knew of how to make bubbles. Alaska’s eyes widened as she listened to what the faeries whispered.
‘’You try,’’ they said.
Alaska did as she was told and there in her cupped hand appeared a bubble. It didn’t burst but rested there, its iridescent surface moving gently. Alaska did the magic again and again and more and more bubbles appeared. They rested in her hands like a wobbly rainbow tower then they floated up, up and away. Higher than the waterfall and the tops of the trees, twinkling and sparkling in the sunlight till they could be seen no more.
‘’Thank you!” said Alaska.
“You are welcome.” replied the faeries, their voices like the gurgling of a stream. “But there is one condition.” What is it?” asked Alaska, again afraid.
‘’You must never reveal this secret or who told you to anyone, as it would surly mean the end of all the faeries in the forest.”
Alaska promised and as twilight closed in and the lunar moths began their evening sweep of the skies she headed home, her new secret safe and warm inside her.
The next day went just the same as any day. Again she met up with the other children after school and again Sarah wouldn’t let her play. But Alaska didn’t mind. She could wander off to the waterfall and make bubbles, far away from where anyone might see. As they floated up into the air it felt like all her troubles went with them and for the first time in a very long time Alaska felt happy.
Every day continues the same. But one day Sarah didn’t come to school and when the other children met up afterwards she still wasn’t there. Since Sarah wasn’t there to tell the children what to do, Alaska was allowed to join in the games and fun. The next day Sarah still wasn’t there and the word went round that she was ill, very ill. So ill that all the doctors from the nearby villages had been asked to help. As the children came to play together they were quieter. They didn’t know if Sarah would get better. All around them they could smell the bitter scent of the doctors’ fires burning herbs to make medicines to make her better.
Then, when everyone had lost hope that she would ever get well, it was heard that Sarah was better, the doctors had saved her. But when the people came to visit they noticed that although her body was getting better there was no spark of life in her eyes. They stared dull and glazed at the wall and nothing anyone tried to do could lighten them. All her friends tried to cheer her up. They would come round and bring toys and play games with her but Sarah never joined in or laughed at their fun.
Alaska, alone as usual, sat with a bubble in her hand laughing as her breath made it spin around and around. She stopped and thought of Sarah, dull and in bed. She thought of all the times that Sarah had been mean to her not letting her play and how it was Sarah now who was unable to play. The thought didn’t make her glad, it made her sad.
‘I wish I could help’’ and she giggled as another bubble left her hand and floated away. Suddenly she had an idea. If bubbles could make her happy, then why not Sarah? It didn’t matter that Sarah had been so mean to her, all that mattered now was making Sarah better.
She ran all the way home, arriving breathless and panting at where Sarah lived. The house was full of people all crowding around the silent girl’s bedside.
‘’Please,’’ shouted Sarah above the noise, ‘’please let me through.” But the people just moved closer together.
“What are you here for?” snapped one person.
“You can’t do anything. Go away,” muttered another.
“But I can!” shouted Alaska, loud enough for Sarah’s parents to hear.
“Let her through!” they ordered.
The crowd parted to allow Alaska through. Sarah was propped up in bed pale and unmoving. Her parent’s eyes were red with crying.
“Please, if you can do anything,..” they pleaded.
Alaska said her magic and a bubble appeared. The crowd shouted in amazement and wonder. Alaska made more and more, freeing them to float around the room, catching the light and sending rainbows glancing and dancing off the walls. Sarah who had been laid still, her eyes unseeing, suddenly focused on one of the bubbles. Her head turned to follow their ascent. Then, with no warning, she leapt out of bed giggling and trying to catch them. All the life had come back to her eyes and limbs and the crowd and her parents watched in amazement as she laughed and tumbled after the bubbles.
“Thank you” said her parents. Sarah turned to Alaska.
“Thank you,” she said. “I am sorry I was so mean to you and I promise I will never be again. Please come and play with us and be friends”.
Alaska smiled and together, hands clasped, firm friends she and Sarah ran outside to find the other children and play. From that moment on Alaska was never lonely. There were always people to play with and her new best friend Sarah Wolf. She never broke her promise to the faeries by telling anyone her secret, but they knew her happiness because as the bubbles floated above the trees and the children’s laughter filtered through. There was always one laugh that was sweeter and more free then the rest. They knew that it belonged to a little girl called Alaska Pretty.