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I have decided to conduct another experiment for 2014. This time it’s by starting of a children’s story that I will continue over the course of the year (posts once a month). The aim of this is to see what I come up with, but also to focus on writing for children and have a lot of fun along the way. So here’s a monster, a child, her family, Houdini and a fireplace. What couldn’t be fun about that?!

Harry Houdini poster

My Monster’s Name is Harry

I

There’s a monster in my fireplace. He has a red and blue stripey horn in the middle of his head and teeth that are curved like gravestones. His fingers and toes are witch bony, and his black fur gets caught on the splinters in my wooden floor that wave when the window is open, which is a lot because he likes to go outside. I think the space in the chimney is too small and it makes him claus-tro-phobic. My mum taught me that word; by breaking it into bits and smushing them back together. I call him Harry, after Harry Houdini, the magician that escaped from big tanks of water while handcuffed.

When I first met Harry I screamed. So loud my dad came running in, blobs of sweat where his hair and his forehead met. My dad doesn’t run, doesn’t even believe in walking. Even when he goes to the corner shop he takes the car, which mum always tuts at him about. He doesn’t listen to her tuts. I guess he doesn’t have to.

“What the hell Emily?” Dad told me he didn’t believe in hell, which is why we don’t go to church like most of our neighbours. But he seems to go around talking about it a lot.

“There something in the fireplace. Something big and furry.”

“Could this be one of your stuffed things again Em?”

I love stuffed things. I have rows and piles of teddy bears and animals that keep me company when I sleep. Well, I used to, before Harry (the monster, not Mr. Houdini).

“It’s not stuffed. It moved.”

Dad gave me that look, the one that made his eyeballs bigger and body shrink. “Fine.” He got on his knees and looked up the chimney. He barely poked his head in and told me it was fine. “It’s all clear and correct up there. Are you okay now?” I wasn’t, but I nodded anyway.

*

Harry’s favourite food is beetroot and goats cheese. This means that his mouth is always pink with flecks of white; tongue, lips, teeth, everything. Harry is not a tidy eater. I have to pretend that I love beetroot now, just to make sure mum puts it on the shopping list.

“You want what?”

“Goats cheese and beetroot.” Mum looked at dad and back again. It was their ‘is this another phase’ look that they thought I didn’t get. Just like when they used to spell things they didn’t want me to understand like B-A-T-H and D-E-A-D. Thankfully that stopped when I gained a digit, or ‘entered doubles’ as my dad called it. According to him I am now a decade old, which feels older than it should.

“Okay… and why do you want those foods exactly?”

I was prepared for the question. “It’s good for you. That Jamie chef you like uses them all the time.”

Mum flushed. She seemed to like that Jamie guy. “Right, fine then. I’ll get them if I remember.”

Now when I pretend to eat them she tells me that I’ll be a big strong girl if I keep eating like that. What girl wants to be big and strong though? My mum is weirder than most.

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