It is a strange connection we fiction writers develop with our characters. We create their relationships. Their conversations. Their worlds.
Some characters are created simply to move a story along. They make a good story and that is the extent of the writer/character relationship. But some characters are special. These are the characters that stay with us. Long after we’ve finished writing, we re-read their story, over and over, just so that we can be with them a little longer. And when we do, there’s always a smile.
You are about to read one of my biggest smiles to date; my short story, ‘One Day When I’m Bigger’. A lovely, quirky little fictional boy narrates this story. It originally came about when I was a 27-year-old university student. I was tasked to write a short story for a creative writing unit, and as I sat down to write, this little voice just took over. I had to write his story. To my delight, the story went on to be published in the university’s literary magazine. My first ever published work.
And now, it is my absolute pleasure to share it with you. I hope it makes you smile.
xx Miss Cookas
One day When I’m Bigger
I don’t know about some things. They make my brain hurt. Like today when Johnny pushed me outside the science room. I got really cross and wanted to yell my guts up at him.
Mummy says that sometimes in life my brain will hurt, and I won’t even know why. She says you just have to keep living, and I trust Mummy. She’s had a lot of stuff make her brain hurt.
Mummy said that Daddy made her brain hurt when he found another lady to love. She said that he didn’t love her anymore and now he only loves this new lady. When Mummy told me about Daddy’s new lady friend, her voice went really wobbly and her eyes pointed to the floor so I couldn’t see them anymore. It made me feel funny inside my belly and my skin felt like there were ants crawling on it. My eyes got a bit of crying in them too.
I love Mummy. I don’t like the new lady that Daddy loves. Her face has lots of wrinkles and her voice sounds loud and scary. Daddy says she is the apple of his eye. When I told Mummy that Daddy said his new girlfriend is an apple in his eye, she took a really big breath and got all quiet. She even got all these tiny bumps on her arms. Her eyes looked sad. Maybe it’s because she doesn’t like apples.
Mummy calls the new lady Bimbo but Daddy says her name is Brenda. Mummy must be wrong, ‘cause Daddy sees the new lady every day and Mummy has never seen her. But I don’t want to tell Mummy she is wrong because I don’t want to give her any more brain hurt. And plus, I’m only five and Mummy says you shouldn’t talk back to people that are old, and she is old.
The other day, I played at Johnny’s house. His house is really big. It is one house, on top of another house and I think that’s amazing. They must have been pretty strong to lift the top house all the way up there. I’m gonna ask Mummy how they did it ‘cause she knows everything. When I don’t know things, like how they put houses on top of houses my brain hurts. Mummy says that feeling is called ‘frustration’. I get frustrationed a lot.
Johnny says that his daddy still loves his mummy. He said that sometimes they wrestle on the couch but most of the time they are nice to each other. When Daddy lived with us, I reckon him and Mummy would have wrestled heaps. They yelled a lot but I guess they didn’t want to scare me, so they wrestled in private.
On Saturday morning when I was sitting at the kitchen table like a good boy, waiting for Mummy to cook my pancakes, I saw her crying. I think it was because Daddy used to make our pancakes every Saturday. It must be hard now that she has to make the pancakes and she doesn’t even get time to eat any. That must make her brain hurt. Poor Mummy.
I’m a growing boy, so I eat a lot. I am actually a guts. Pop says, ‘You’re gonna eat me out of house and home, you guts. You’ll explode if you keep eating that way.’
When I told Mummy what Pop said, she laughed. ‘Pop’s just being silly, sweetie. Little boys can’t explode.’ She said I could eat as much as I wanted because I am a growing boy.
Mummy says that Pop is her dad and Nanna is her mum. I like Nanna and Pop the same but I think Nanna likes me better than she likes Pop. She says to me, ‘Darling boy, you are the most beautiful angel in the world.’ When she says that to me, her eyes get crying in them and she gets all shiny in the face and smiles real big. Sometimes she smiles so big that I get scared her teeth are going to come right out of her face, like Pop’s.
Pop takes his teeth out when he eats. I tried it too when Daddy came to visit for dinner the other night. Mummy and Daddy must have bought my teeth from a different shop than Pop’s ‘cause mine didn’t even move. That made my brain fuzzy and annoyed and I cried. Then, all of a sudden, Mummy burst into crying too. I guess she can’t take her teeth out either. Daddy just sat at the table looking down at his hands. He walked out of the room really quickly after that. Then I heard the front door slam.
On my birthday, two weeks ago, Nanna and Pop brought me a dragon cake. I thought it was the best cake ever. Mummy loved it too; her eyes were all wide and sparkly and she was laughing at it. She said Bimbo probably looks just like that and Nanna must have thought so too because she put her arm around Mummy and laughed. Pop just had that cross look that he does sometimes and shook his head.
Daddy came over that day too. He said Brenda couldn’t come because she was at home looking after her cat.
‘What’s wrong with it?’
‘It got hit by a car mate.’
When Mummy came over to give me my chocolate milk Daddy said hello to her and reached to touch her shoulder. His eyes looked like Nanna’s do when she tells me she loves me. Mummy hit his hand away.
‘Don’t touch me,’ she said. Her eyes looked super cross and her mouth twisted into a funny tight shape. Then she turned away real quick and went to talk to Nanna. Daddy’s mouth was wide open.
Mummy and Nanna didn’t smile at Daddy at all that day. Nanna said hello to him at the door but I could tell that she hates him now because she did that thing where she sticks her nose up in the air and turns away. Pop talked to Daddy a lot and they even did a lot of smiling together. Mummy said that it’s because boys have to stick together and so do girls. I don’t stick together with Daddy or Pop. Nanna and Mummy cook way better, so I try to stick together with them. I said that to Nanna and she did that shiny smile thing again.
The day after I went to play at Johnny’s house, me and Mummy went into town. Mummy said she was going to get some flowers for Johnny’s mummy.
‘Why?’ I asked her.
‘Well, sweetheart.’ She smiled at me. ‘Sometimes, when bad things happen and you get sad, you find out who your real friends are. And I have found out that Johnny’s mummy is a real friend.’ She looked down but then she looked up and smiled at me again. The wind was blowing on her and her yellow hair flowed really big at the side of her face. She looked pretty, like an angel. I felt lucky that my mummy was so pretty because Johnny’s mummy looked a bit ugly sometimes. She has lots of wrinkles like Bimbo. We bought a big bunch of pink roses.
‘Every girl loves pink,’ Mummy said to the flower shop lady when she wrapped them for us. She just smiled at us. I reckon pink is yuck. Mummy always says that boys are very different from girls and I think she must be right. Johnny says that girls are from another planet, or at least, that’s what his daddy told him, and he is old, so that must mean he is right.
We were about to cross the road, being very careful not to drop our ugly pink flowers, when Mummy stopped quickly and took a deep breath in. I looked at her because I didn’t know what else to do. Her face was whiter than it was normally. Her forehead was all crinkled and her mouth was open too. It made me get all wobbly inside my belly.
I looked where she was looking and then I saw Daddy! He was walking towards us holding Brenda’s hand the way he used to with Mummy. I looked at Mummy. Her eyes had crying in them but the crying was just sitting inside, wobbling and not dripping down. I felt her hand go all shaky in mine and I could see the skin on her arm was getting bumps on it like it did before.
Daddy smiled at me and stepped towards us, but before he could say hello, Mummy picked me up, real quick and rough, and rushed me to the car. I didn’t get to talk to Daddy at all and so I cried all the way home. Mummy cried too. When we got home, she walked into the house and called Nanna straight away. Nanna came over pretty soon after that and gave Mummy lots of cuddles just like she does to me when I fall over.
They were sitting together on the couch and Mummy was leaning over with her face in her hands. Nanna saw me waiting by the door and smiled. Then she looked at Mummy with a serious face. She lifted Mummy’s face and pointed at me.
‘Let yourself cry, sweetheart,’ Nanna said to Mummy. ‘We’ll be here to make you smile again when you’re ready.’
When I saw Mummy’s wet cheeks, my legs went all wobbly and my throat felt gluggy and fat. Nanna held her arms open for me to get a cuddle as well. I sat on Nanna’s knee and looked at Mummy’s face. I reached over to her and wiped her tears away. Her crying felt warm and wet. I was happy that it was gone off her face but I felt frustrationed because the crying was wetting my hands. Then Mummy smiled at me and that made me feel better.
That night, Nanna had a sleepover at our house. I was really happy about that because Nanna makes me feel happy. When she tucked me into my fire engine bed, she read me a story.
‘The dog that got lost,’ she said as she looked down through her funny old glasses. I was sad that the dog couldn’t find his house but at the end he found it, so I got happy again. I wished that he could be my dog ‘cause he was really funny and scruffy and cute.
Nanna had a sleep over for five whole nights, but Pop picked Nanna up after that. When Pop got to our house he said to me, ‘I hope you looked after your mum and grandma, young man.’
I got a bit confused and looked at Nanna who was smiling at me. ‘No, Pop. They looked after me. They are the adulterers around here.’
Nanna sucked in a big bit of air and then looked at Mummy with shocked eyes. Mummy just stood there for a few seconds. Then, all of a sudden, she burst into laughing. Nanna looked at Pop and they began to laugh as well. Nanna was laughing so big her eyes had tears and Mummy was bending over holding her tummy. I don’t know what they were all laughing about but Mummy said that Daddy would tell me all about that. One day when I’m bigger.
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