No Place Like Home – 1

I started writing this a couple months back, but put it to one side as it needed work. I had a bit of time over Christmas to polish it.

The entire thing is pretty large, so I’m splitting it into three bitesize chunks. I hope you enjoy my fairy story. I’ll publish the rest over the next few days.


“Hurry up. Quickly, get yourself in to registration, toute suite. We’re running late this morning, so no dawdling.”

Flora Nugent reached across to open the passenger door. “There’s a good boy. Have a nice day, and I’ll see you again at half-past-three.”

“But mama, it’s not half-three today. It’s Parents’ Assembly this afternoon. Remember, you said you’d come weeks ago.”

Crikey! The assembly had totally slipped Flora’s mind, but she recovered well.

“Of course I’ll be there, David. I was just teasing you.” A pause. “Actually, do you want to know a secret? I’m looking forward to hearing my boy sing!”

David blushed.

“Now go on. Get in with you, or we’ll be in trouble with Mrs. Naylor. I’ll see you at the assembly.”

*

Flora had planned to make the most of this crisp autumn day. Before her son returned, she wanted to bed the garden down for the winter; pruning the plants and sweeping the freshly fallen leaves from the back lawn. But this, er, hiccup meant that there would be little time to complete the chores. She must get started straight away!

Before she did anything outside, though, Hazel’s cage required attention. Long overdue for a clean, the young mother set about the task efficiently, expertly replacing the litter, bedding and water, her elegant fingers even placing a fresh toilet roll tube, in which the hamster sometimes liked to sleep, sometimes to chew.

Hazel’s cage complete, Flora instinctively coiffed her sumptuous chestnut hair as she walked past the hall mirror, before picking up some secateurs from the kitchen table. Donning her special gardening gloves she opened the door onto the sunny patio. With the rays streaming down, it felt pleasantly warm, and she left the door open a crack to allow fresh air into the house.

Inside the cage, all this disturbance had woken Hazel, the Nugent family’s beautiful syrup-brown hamster, who usually slept in until at least teatime! What’s that smell? She instinctively sniffed the surrounding air. Mrs Nugent had been in; Hazel recognised her subtle hand cream. She made out new bedding, new litter, but most of all… she smelled fresh food. As if to rumble its support, at that moment her tiny tummy let out a long gurgle. She carefully crawled through the new, warm straw, sniffing all the way, to her bowl, where she found a firm, juicy stick of fresh celery, still cool from the fridge. She carefully took a sample bite of this delicacy to try it out. But she felt a strange sensation when she accidentally leaned on the cage –movement! In her hurry to start outside, Flora had not fastened the door properly!

Hazel was not a large hamster. Among her brothers and sisters, she had always been the runt. But she could not resist the lure of the world outside and heaved with all her tiny might at the door. After one extra-hard push, it burst open, spilling Hazel right off the coffee table and onto the soft lounge carpet.

In the big, wide living room, she scurried under the table for cover, sniffing the air once again. This time, she caught the unmistakeable whiff of… stale cat! Ah, yes, she recalled, I’ve seen that brute around, often watching him prowl from the safety of her cage. If looks could kill, she’d have been swallowed whole! I must be extra-careful in case this meanie is about. But the scent was old, and she hadn’t seen the cat since breakfast. He’s probably fast asleep somewhere – that’s all the useless moggy seems to do, she reassured herself.

Still sniffing, Hazel started as a gust of wind hit her from the open door. Cool, fresh air swept the cobwebs from her lungs, and after a moment of pondering, she resolved to explore. Sprinting to the slightly-open door, she stopped still when she glimpsed the patio beyond, amazed at this whole new world spread out before her. Throwing caution to the wind – or to the gentle breeze – she clambered down.

But Hazel could not have timed her adventure more unfortunately, for at that moment Sampson, the Nugent family’s aging ginger tom, had just woken, and was taking his usual late-morning stroll to survey his territory. He, too, was struck by the refreshing breeze, as he strutted stealthily around the garden.

“Hi, there, Sampson, have you come out to help me?”, exclaimed Flora as she spotted the cat.

What on earth is this silly woman up to? What’s she cutting up that dead plant for? But since there was clearly no food involved, Sampson decided she was best ignored. Nose raised, he continued his patrol.

Turning the corner past the water butt, however, Sampson was instantly alert as he spotted a slight movement on the patio. And what’s that smell? Is that… rodent??? He searched hard. Surely, he was not wrong? There it was again! Unmistakeable! Crouching onto his haunches, Sampson readied himself to spring, scanning all the while for prey. There it is! On the patio! And, that annoying hamster! I’ll surely be given a huge treat if I present my mistress with this little vermin! Sampson prepared to pounce.

Part II

Part III

Entire Story

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