by Camilla Kelly
It was the first day of half term, miserable and wet. Charlotte mooched about the house…
"I'm bored, I'M BORED, I'M BORED!" she griped.
She whinged and whined and moaned. She complained VERY LOUDLY.
"In my day," said Charlotte's grandmother, as she counted the buttons in her button jar, "we used to make our own entertainment."
"I'M BORED!" said Charlotte.
"Why don't you go and write to Cousin Sophie?" Charlotte's mum suggested, as she finished the washing-up from lunch.
"I HATE SOPHIE."
Her mum sighed and wiped her hands on a towel.
"Go and put your Wellies on and I'll take you to the park," she said.
Charlotte loved splashing about in her favourite shiny pink Wellington boots. She hopped along to the shoe cupboard and took them out. She wiggled her toes in her best pink socks and was just about to slip her foot into her boot when she noticed something inside.
"MUM! THERE'S SOMETHING IN MY BOOT!"
"Is it a spider?"
"Is it an old sock?"
"Is it Granny's hearing aid?"
"What?" said Granny.
"No," said Charlotte.
"What is it then?"
"It's a Gooligosh," said Charlotte.
"Don't step on me," said the Gooligosh, in a very small voice.
"You're in my boot," Charlotte said.
"It's my boot," the Gooligosh said. "I live here."
"You can't," Charlotte said. "It's my boot. IT'S MY FAVOURITE BOOT!"
"You haven't worn this boot for over a month. I have now taken possession of your boot. I have squatter's rights. Ask a lawyer."
"What is that?" Charlotte's mum said, looking over Charlotte's shoulder.
"It's a Gooligosh," Charlotte said again. "How do I get rid of it?"
"You can't," said the Gooligosh smugly. It was a very self-important little thing.
"You could empty it into the bin," Charlotte's mum said.
"No, no!" said the Gooligosh. Its voice became even smaller. "Please. Don't throw me out. I don't have anywhere to live. I'm only a baby and my parents live in a running shoe and don't have any room for me and I like pink so much and I'll only stay until I grow up..." And the Gooligosh began to cry, no longer smug.
"I'll throw it into the bin," Granny said, picking the boot up.
"No!" said Charlotte, snatching it back. "It's my boot, it's my Gooligosh."
"It's my boot," the Gooligosh said, but only to itself, because it didn't want to be thrown into the bin with the leftover broccoli and Granny's used cotton wool buds.
"If you're going to keep it," Charlotte's mum warned, "you have to feed it and clean it and look after it. I'm not going to do it for you."
"I promise," Charlotte said.
"It's a lot of work."
"I PROMISE," Charlotte said, and she carried the creature, in her pink boot, up to her bedroom.
She showed the Gooligosh her doll's house, with the pink wallpaper and the chest of drawers made carefully out of matchboxes.
"Look, wouldn't you rather live here?" she said.
"No," said the Gooligosh. "The ceilings are too low and it needs a lot of maintenance. Anyway, you just want me out of your boot."
Charlotte showed the Gooligosh her sock drawer, full of soft pink socks and smelly pink potpourri. "What about here?"
"No. There's not enough circulation of air and it's north facing."
The Gooligosh spoke so softly, Charlotte had to put her ear into her boot to hear.
"I'm not leaving my boot."
"MY BOOT. All right, you can stay," Charlotte said, giving up. "But you promise it's only till you get bigger." She looked hard at the Gooligosh. "You do get bigger, don't you?"
"Oh, yes," said the Gooligosh, "I'll get bigger."
So Charlotte looked after the Gooligosh. She fed it all its favourite foods: pink marshmallows and strawberries and raspberry yoghurt. She polished the boot until it squeaked. She took it for walks around the garden on sunny days and painted its nails Barbie pink.
And every day after school she took her ruler out of her schoolbag and measured the Gooligosh to see how much it had grown.
"Well?" said the Gooligosh. It pulled in its tummy and stretched itself and made itself as tall as it possibly could, holding its breath as Charlotte measured it. "Am I big yet?"
The Gooligosh couldn't even see over the top of the boot, but Charlotte didn't have the heart to tell it that it hadn't grown so much as a millimetre in all this time, even though it was winter now and she needed her boots.
"No," she said, "you're not big yet"
It was soon after this that Cousin Sophie came to stay. Charlotte didn't like her cousin. Sophie thought she was grown up because she was one and a half years older than Charlotte, and she was always taking Charlotte's things.
"MUM! SOPHIE'S TAKEN ALL MY COMICS AGAIN!"
"Auntie Pauline," Sophie said very sweetly to Charlotte's mum, "don't you think Charlotte should share with me like a big girl?"
"Grrrr..." said Charlotte.
Charlotte kept her pink boot and the Gooligosh in her wardrobe while Sophie visited so that she wouldn't find them.
"I don't like it in here," the Gooligosh complained. "Your fairy wings tickle me."
"It's for your own good," Charlotte told it. "Sophie's horrible." Sophie really was horrible. She pinched Charlotte's nail polish, she pilfered her books, and she pocketed all her sweets.
But the next afternoon Charlotte discovered the worst thing of all. Not only had Sophie been in Charlotte's room, not only had she used her extra special gold and silver pens which Charlotte kept for special occasions and didn't even let her best friend Annie use, and not only had Sophie forgotten to put the lids back on, so they were all dried up and scratchy, but she had been in Charlotte's wardrobe too.
She had found Charlotte's pink boots.
And worst of all, worst of all, she was wearing them when Charlotte came home from school.
Stamp stomp stamp went Sophie in Charlotte's pink boots, all around the garden. Crash clomp clod, into the flowerbeds, into the pond. Squelch squelch all over the lawn.
"Hello, Char," Sophie said. "Like my boots?"
"My GOOLIGOSH!" Charlotte wailed.
"What's a Gooligosh?"
"It lived in my boot and you killed it!"
"Rubbish," Sophie said. "There's no such thing." And she carried on stomp stomp stomping around the garden.
"RIGHT," said Charlotte. "THAT'S IT!"
She threw herself at Sophie and pushed her into the pond, right down onto her bum, and all the way in.
Later, when Charlotte wasn't so angry any more, she started to feel deeply, deeply sad. She missed the Gooligosh.
"Sophie's very upset," her mum told her. "She got pondweed in her hair. We've washed it twice but she says it still smells."
"GOOD," said Charlotte, crossing her arms.
"Oh, Charlotte," her mum said, giving her a cuddle. "Your poor Gooligosh. I am sorry."
"Do you know," Granny said, coming to sit beside Charlotte too (she'd found her hearing aid now, although she turned it off whenever Sophie was around), "I found a Monkeysquat once. It lived in the cupboard under the stairs."
"What happened to it?" Charlotte asked.
"It disappeared one day. I think my mother vacuumed it up."
Sophie was quiet for the rest of the evening. It was most unusual.
Charlotte's mum let Sophie use her perfume to try and get rid of the smell of pond water, but it didn't work.
At bedtime, Charlotte looked into her wardrobe one last time, hoping to find that the Gooligosh had escaped. But there was no sign of it. She climbed sadly into bed.
In the bedroom across the hall, Sophie started to scream.
"AUNTIE PAULINE! AUNTIE PAULINE!"
Charlotte jumped out of bed and ran into Sophie's room.
"What're you yelling for?"
Sophie was standing on top of her bed in her pyjamas, hugging her teddy bear.
"There's a Snappersnout under my bed," Sophie said, trembling.
"And I'll eat you all up!" came a terrifying voice from under the bed.
Charlotte got down on her hands and knees. She crawled slowly towards the bed and carefully lifted up the sheets to peek underneath.
There was an enormous creature under the bed. Its huge eyes blinked.
It was wearing a pair of Charlotte's pink socks.
"Gooligosh! I thought you were squashed! You got bigger."
"I did indeed. Do you like my new home?"
Charlotte smiled widely.
"What's all the fuss about?" Charlotte's mother wanted to know, arriving just then.
"IT'S UNDER MY BED!" Sophie squealed.
The creature pulled in its tummy and stretched itself and made itself as big as it possibly could...and said,
"It's my bed."
©2005 Camilla Kelly
Camilla would love to hear what you think of her writing - email her now