Maggie and the Dust Bunnies Chapter 1.

May 18, 2013

(This is only an unedited First Draft, I put in on here because I’m looking for feed back and ideas as to where to go next. I have written about 10 Dust Bunny stories, in all and have other ideas using them as teaching aids in Apps or interactive Ebooks but don’t have those skills. so any/all suggestions welcome.

Floater 3
Story 1. Maggie and a spider called Eric.

“G-r-a-n !” Little Andy’s shout was very loud, followed a few seconds later by, “G-R-A-N!”

This one was even louder and came from Andy’s bigger sister Carrie.
At last, together they achieved the desired effect of bringing their Grandmother charging into the bedroom at high speed. But if she was expecting to see her two grandchildren waiting for her in impatient anticipation then she was in for a surprise, or a shock. All she could see was a tangle of pyjama clad legs, with the rest of the bodies hanging invisibly over the far edge of Carrie’s bed.

Slightly out of breath Grandmother asked, “Whatever is the matter? You two are making enough noise to wake the dead, and besides what on earth are you doing?”
Carrie’s flushed little face was the first to appear, “That’s what we wanted to ask you.”

“Ask me what?” Said Grandmother, with a big sigh, she hated rainy days, especially rainy Saturdays.

In the excitement of the moment the rest of Andy seemed to disappear over the edge of the bed with a loud thump followed by a moment of silence and then by a loud, “OUCH!” His face, but only his face appeared from behind the bed, “dead things,” he said.

“What sort of dead things?” His Grandmother asked, very slowly and much calmer than she felt.

“You know… like the lady in Sunday school said. Something about dust….” said Carrie.

“And ashes.” Andy added, helpfully. Grandmother relaxed, but only a little, as he continued, “she said something about us starting as dust.”
“And… and that we will be dust again after we die,” Carrie finished the sentence for him.

Their Grandmother replied, “You mean ashes to ashes and dust to dust?”

Two little faces turned first to look at one another and then at their grandmother with a nod, “Yeah! Something like that,” Andy said.
Grandmother relaxed and asked, “so what’s the question?”

“W-e-l-l… It’s under here,” Carrie started slowly.

Now there were three bodies spread on the bed with their heads going off the edge and peering into the gloom underneath.

It really was like looking into a different world under there. Up above although the curtains were still closed Carrie’s bedroom was light and airy but under here was a different place altogether. There was an old tennis ball abandoned in the far corner, one of Carrie’s slippers lay upside down near what looked like a pile of old magazines and a scrapbook. There were also a few scattered sticky sweet wrappers, a dolls dress and an odd sock none of which should be there, and Grandmother was getting ready to say something on the subject when the question came.

“Over there… Look!” Andy pointed to a small pile of fluff.

“And there’s another one,” Carrie added; “and there!”

“If its dust,” said Andy getting a little excited, “Is someone coming…?”

“Or going?” Carrie added, with a little shudder.

Grandmother laughed, “Neither I should think. That’s just little Dust Bunnies.”

Three tussled heads reappeared, a little red in the face and as she sat up Grandmother felt a little dizzy. “You’d think I would know better at my age… rolling around on a bed hanging upside down.” But if she was looking for a little tender sympathy none was forthcoming just two eager bouncing children in need of more information.

“What are Dust Bunnies?” Two voices asked in unison.

“They don’t look like real bunnies.” Carrie added.

Grandmother smiled, “Well, they’re not real bunnies, not like rabbits I mean but they are real enough in lots of other ways.”

Two confused faces turned and looked quizzically at one another and made funny faces as if to silently say grandma’s finally losing the plot here. Andy was the first to respond, “Huh?”

Carrie added, “They are just dust…A-re-n’t they?”

Grandmother smiled knowingly, “Well…to most people they are but if you are very, very special you could see them quite differently. Usually they are like busy little bees, scurrying here there and everywhere, gathering little mites of dust so that we can see them.”

Suddenly Grandmother was bounced high as Carrie and Andy dived across the bed, faces disappearing once more to get a better look at these strange little creatures.
“Careful!” Grandmother scolded them; “You’ll frighten them.”

“Frighten who?” Asked Andy slightly disappointed, “there’s nothing there… they haven’t moved at all.” Then he sucked in his breath and blew as hard as he could kicking up a little mini dust storm that brought them both back to the surface coughing and sneezing.

Carrie was the first to recover and she scowled at her brother and was going to hit him when Grandmother stopped her. Carrie continued to stare at Andy with a dark sisterly look that said, ‘Well…I owe you one.’

“Now that wasn’t very clever was it; the poor dears will have to start all over again won’t they ?”

Both children looked at their Grandmother as if she really had lost it this time. Carrie reached out and took her hand and said quietly, “We were only joking Gran… we didn’t really think someone was being born under my bed.”

“Or dying;” Andy added, helpfully.

Grandmother patted Carrie’s hand reassuringly and stretched over to capture Andy’s hand as well. “Would you like me to tell you a story about the Dust Bunnies?”
The doubts of the previous moments were gone in a flash, with beaming smiles and a cry of, “Y-e-s!” came in complete unison. Their Grandmother’s stories were legend never told from soppy books but seemed to flow from inside her head.

As Carrie and Andy settled themselves on the bed Grandmother rose up and slowly wandered towards the window and gently opened the curtains to let more light into the room. The worst of the rain had stopped and in the weak watery sunshine tiny specs could be seen floating in the bright light. She bent down and picked up a loose piece of fluff, a recent arrival from Andy’s dust storm. She placed it on the palm of her hand and give a tiny little puff and the fluffy little ball rose high in the air and then started to float gently back towards the floor. “You see; they really are everywhere.”

A sort of misty look came into Grandmother’s eyes as if she was trying to focus on something only half remembered and then she started. “Well… like all good stories this one starts with, Once upon a time, a long, long time ago there was a young girl.”

“Was she like me, was she pretty?”

“Shut up Carrie; you’re not pretty… and why are all these stories about soppy girls anyway?”

Grandmother looked sternly at the pair of them, “I won’t tell you the story at all if you two are going to squabble.”

Andy scowled at his sister who stuck her tongue out at him in return. He was about to retaliate when a stern, “Uh Hum!” came from the direction of the chair in the corner. “As a matter of fact she was pretty, very pretty and very spoiled, as you will see, if you behave and listen.”

“Her name was Margaret, but everybody called her Maggie for short and she was spending her school summer holidays with her Grandfather who lived in a very large but very old house near a tiny village high in the Cotswold Hills.”

Now, while she was there she had everything that a little girl could possibly wish for, a great big house with more rooms than you could imagine.
As a very young girl one room in particular was Maggie’s favourite, it was the old nursery and it seemed full of every kind of toy in the world. There was a big old rocking horse that faced a large window where you could imagine you were riding across the fields to the wooded hills beyond. Over against one wall was a huge dolls house that was taller than Maggie herself and when you opened up the front it looked just like a real house with rooms all properly furnished and everything. The only thing that made Maggie sad about that doll’s house was that there weren’t any little people living inside… if there had been then that would have made it perfect.

Outside Grandfather’s house there was an enormous garden where she could chase around or ride her bike. She even had her own little pony called Sally. But the one thing she didn’t have was a single friend to play with… not one. Oh there were plenty of children in the nearby village but for many reasons no one seemed to like little Maggie or want to play with her.

Of course what Maggie didn’t realise was that to the children of the village she was very rich, and they were very poor. They thought she was a snob and I suppose in a small way she was…although she didn’t mean to be. Many of the village children were a little jealous of Maggie and what she had, of course they didn’t know that she would have happily shared everything with them if only…. but… they never did.

One warm sunny day Maggie was out riding Sally with her Grandfather’s old spaniel dog Patches bounding along behind them. Suddenly; out of the trees ahead a small group of boys appeared in front of her and started to taunt her and calling her names. This made Patches bark and Sally became a little nervous. One of the bigger boys picked up a stone and was going to throw it at Patches… ‘Don’t you dare!’ Maggie screamed at him.

But the boy, showing off to his friends, shouted back at her, ‘and what are you going to do to stop me?’
‘I’ll show you what I can do.’ and she turned Sally towards the group and urged her onwards.

At the first glance this may have seemed a very brave thing to do, a young girl standing up to the bullies in front of her but it was extremely foolhardy. With Patches barking his support Sally moved forward gathering speed and the boys scattered before them, all except one boy. The biggest one… and he stood his ground right up to the very last second and then with a large shout he waved his arms high in Sally’s face.

In that instant Sally suddenly shied away from the danger in front of her. As she stepped sideways, half rearing she caught Maggie off balance and her right foot came out of the stirrup. As Sally turned again Maggie slipped sideways in the saddle and fell to the ground. Sally continued to run away and poor Maggie was dragged along before her foot became free.

The last thing she remembered was Patches licking her face and a lot of voices shouting ‘Let’s Get Out of Here!’

When she awoke the room was spinning and too brightly lit. It smelled funny as well… sort of clean in a fussy sort of way. The first face she saw didn’t belong to anybody she knew and she started to panic a little but a cool soothing hand on her forehead felt reassuring. The face had a voice too, it was soft and kindly, ‘How are you feeling?’ But before Maggie could answer the face put a small glass thermometer in her mouth and under her tongue making any answer impossible.
The face turned out to belong to a nurse in the local hospital, her name was Alice and Maggie thought that she was very kind and gentle. Alice had nice soft hands, cool against Maggie’s hot forehead and soft when she took Maggie’s hand to check her pulse.

Gently Alice explained where Maggie was and why she was there. It seems that she fell off Sally and she had hit the ground hard…very hard and had broken her left leg. Maggie tried to move her hand under the tight blankets and sheets to feel her leg but when her hand got there instead of soft, warm skin all she could feel was the hard cold plaster covering her leg.”
‘C-o-o-l!’ said Andy, from the edge of the bed. Carrie prodded him into silence with a nod towards their Gran who was gazing off into the space above their heads in a little world of her own.
Their Grandmother continued as if she hadn’t heard the interruption. “Suddenly Maggie was near to panic again, all her memories came flooding back all at once and tears welled up in her eyes…. ‘what about Sally… and…And… Patches?’

‘They’re fine;’ Only this time it wasn’t Alice’s gentle voice but that of her Grandfather whose face she could now see smiling at her from the bottom of the bed. He came up beside her and took her hand, ‘Honestly, both of them are fine, in fact it was Sally who helped raise the alarm. She came racing back to the stables to fetch help while Patches stood guard over you. Some boys from the village found you and wanted to help but Patches wouldn’t let them.’

Maggie was going to explain that it was probably the same boys who caused the whole thing in the first place… but then thought better of it just in case it was different boys; but somehow she had her doubts. Instead she asked, ‘so when can I come home with you ?’

The old man looked down on her and smiled; how she loved that crinkled old face that to her looked as if it held all the knowledge of the world behind those soft blue eyes. ‘They want you to stay here for a few days just to keep an eye on you and then, well we’ll see.’

Maggie didn’t like the sound of that… she wanted to go now, get back to her own room. She asked another question to hide her disappointment. ‘Does Mummy and Daddy know about what happened… I mean about me falling off Sally?’

Grandfather held her hand in his and smiled again, ‘No; not just yet. Be a shame to spoil their holiday don’t you think, besides they’re onboard a ship somewhere far away, nothing they can do from there is there? Besides you mother will only shout at me when I tell them… Best you get better as quickly as possible and then; well…you know.’

Funny thing, up until that very moment Maggie had always thought her Grandfather was the bravest man in the whole wide world. He had a whole drawer full of medals and things like that; but right now he sounded as if he was scared of his own daughter…her Mum!

Five days later Maggie came back to her Grandfather’s house. He had sent his chauffeur in a big car to fetch her and a wheelchair from the hospital. While a man from the village dragged the wheelchair upstairs the chauffeur carried her up the stairs in his arms and took her to a room, but it wasn’t her normal room at all.
To her amazement all of her things had been moved to this room with its big windows and two doors. There was the one they had just come through from the hallway and another… Maggie’s face lit up into a great big smile, she knew that door led to that big beautiful nursery. Once she was placed in the wheelchair she was off heading for that other door and the wonders beyond, it was like a dream come true… only… it wasn’t!

It didn’t take Maggie long to discover that this wasn’t the heavenly world she expected it to be, it was more like a prison. Yes; that was it… a very nice comfortable prison, but a prison nevertheless.

A nice pretty young girl with a scrubbed face in a black maid’s uniform would come in and tidy up and bring her meals but she never stopped to talk. If Maggie tried to talk to her all that happened was the silly girl would blush… try to curtsey and stammer, ‘Yes Miss’… as she backed out of the room at high speed.
The district nurse came in every day a hatchet faced old biddy with hands like sandpaper who muttered to herself all the time. To Maggie the woman smelled of cheap disinfectant and peppermints. It seemed that like many people in the village the nurse disapproved of people better off than themselves. In amongst the mutterings Maggie caught a few words that gave her the impression that this awful woman felt she was wasting her time here when there was really sick people around.
The family doctor would call once in a while, take her temperature and pulse give her a sticky lollipop from his battered old case before disappearing. Funny thing, in all his visits Maggie couldn’t recall him ever once asking about her leg.

And of course, her Grandfather came to see her every day… sometimes even twice. But being up two floors in that big house it was difficult for her to get out and go anywhere. It needed two strong men to carry her and her chair out into the garden and the same to get her back again in the late afternoon.

Nothing was ever said, not within her hearing that is; but Maggie felt she was being a burden and stopped asking to go outside unless it was someone else’s idea first. And so she spent more and more time alone in her room and the adjoining nursery.

One day, after supper and her last visitor had departed she was lying on her bed trying to read a book but it was far too much effort. It was a boring story and was taking far too long to get going and Maggie was feeling drowsy and started to drift off to sleep.

In the woozy world she found herself she thought she heard movement and hoped it was someone coming to see her, but nothing happened. There was no knock on the door that announced the arrival of the maid, nurse or doctor, but still she was convinced she could hear something. How odd she thought, could it be a mouse? Although she wasn’t at all happy that it might be.

As she lay there in that half world in between being awake or asleep a gentle breeze wafted in thought the open window and this time she definitely heard something or someone… A tiny, tiny little voice shouted ‘WHEEEE!’ But as she half opened her eyes she saw nothing. There was nothing to see, the room was exactly as it should be. In fact the only thing she could see moving was a small ball of fluff floating from the top of the wardrobe and heading for the floor. She ignored it and tried going back to sleep.

But still she could hear little scuffling noises….and was it her imagination; but could she hear tiny little voices as well?
Maggie concentrated with all her might not daring to make the slightest noise…. little did she realise but she was even holding her breath.”
“Still here… Why is it still here…Can’t get on… Is it still asleep? Where’s that little mite Floater? I’ll give him Wheee! When he gets here…could have woke it up….he could.”
“It was no good, Maggie just had to let her breath out, but still she listened all was quiet again so she assumed it was just her imagination or a silly dream. But wait! What’s that? The scuffling noise had returned. What is it…where’s it coming from? It seems to be coming from… and with great speed she rolled onto her tummy grabbing the edge of the bedcover as she did so and thrust her head under the bed.”

‘Silly girl ! It was a spider, not spiders and it was only a very small one far more scared of you I’ll bet, still. it’s still a spider.’ But by now her curiosity had been aroused and so she ventured another look under the bed. As her eyes adjusted once more to the poor light under there she could see that the little spider wasn’t on the paper at all; it seemed to be pushing it away from her with its tiny little feet. Nothing else was moving.

Returning to the top of the bed once more; how odd, she thought. ‘Where on earth would a spider be taking that piece of paper?’ Then in a flash it dawned on her… ‘Oh my! The poor thing… It’s not pushing the paper…it’s stuck to it. That’s a wrapper from one of the lollipops the doctor gave me…They’re very sticky, Oh Dear!’

Spinning round on her bed she grabbed the bedcover from the other side and pulled it up as she dived once more underneath.”
“Eeeek! The Big Eyes Is Back….. Eeeek!”

“Maggie, summoning all her bravery at once stretched out her hand and caught hold of the sticky wrapper and pulled it towards her… and sure enough the little spider came as well. Not all that brave she thought, ‘I’m only touching the wrapper so far. I still have to think of a way of getting the spider off the wrapper… without actually touching it. Yuk!’

She didn’t want to hurt the little spider, so trying to pull it off the paper didn’t seem too good an idea. ‘Now, let me see what I’ve got here.’ She looked around the bedside table to see what was there. There was a glass of stale homemade lemonade that was far too bitter to drink, a small tin of talcum powder, a brush and comb and a recent postcard from her mother.

‘There’s not much to use there, unless… unless I use the postcard to push the spider off the wrapper. But if I do that then the wrapper will stick to my postcard and ruin it. But wait a minute, if I sprinkle a little powder on the wrapper first, then it won’t be so sticky… and then it won’t stick to my postcard.’
I don’t think that Maggie realised that all this time she had been speaking out loud and she was startled when this tiny little voice said.

“You might want to cover his eyes…..”

‘What? Who said that? Cover whose eyes?’

“Eric’s eyes… I mean he does have eight of them you know. Oh yeah! I nearly forgot that stuff makes him sneeze…”

This was getting silly now. Here she was desperately trying to save the life of a spider whose name was Eric; apparently… and he was allergic to talcum powder, and all this information was coming from…from where exactly?

Maggie though for a second and then said, ‘OK! Let’s deal with one problem at a time shall we?’ So first she made a little cover out of a piece of tissue paper to protect… Eric, as best she could and then she sprinkled the talcum powder all over the wrapper. Of course she got far more powder out of the tin than she needed or wanted and without thinking she blew away the surplus powder with a mighty blow.

Away went the powder and the piece of tissue protecting Eric and in the cloud that was left behind she could hear a series of tiny sneezes coming from Eric’s direction. However at the same time there was a couple of little sneezes from a different direction as well.

“Sorry! Forgot to say… It makes me sneeze as well.”

Maggie concentrated upon the job in hand. Taking the postcard in one hand she held the wrapper tightly under the fingers of her other hand she pushed ever-so gently against Eric’s little feet. For a moment it didn’t look as if it was going to work, and she was on the brink of thinking that poor Eric would have to spend the rest of his life pushing this silly wrapper all over the place. But then; first one leg and then the other came free and with the effort Eric fell over backwards and rolled into a tight little ball and stayed there quite still.

‘Oh Dear… Oh Dear! I’ve killed him he’s dead and it’s all my silly fault.’

“E’s alright…. big Wuzz! .Just winded that’s all, what with you pushin’ and him pullin’…. he fell over… Oh Yeah! He says thank you by the way.”

‘Tell him he’s very welcome, I’m sure. Now! If you be so kind as to tell me to whom I am speaking it would solve a little mystery for me.’

“Oh I say how posh… To whom, no less! Well it is to I… to whom you are speakin’”

‘Where are you, who are you, why can’t I see you?’ The questions came tumbling from her lips. In the mean time she noticed that Eric was no longer curled up in a ball and seemed to be examining his two front legs.

“Saw me clear enough when I jumped off the wardrobe just now. It’s me… Floater! Floater by name… Floater by nature, it’s a sort of job really. Not a very good one mind you but it is kinda fun; sometimes… unless you get sucked out of the window that is. Happened to me once had to wait for some of Eric’s outside pals to find me and bring me back inside.”

Maggie sighed, ‘this is all very interesting… but I still can’t see you! ’

“Down here! No! Over a bit…Nah! more this way. Careful with that peg leg of yours!”

‘It’s not a peg leg, it’s a plaster cast… my real leg is inside.’

“Why ?”

‘Why what?’

“Why is you leg inside a whatyamacallit, thingy?”

‘Because I broke it… falling off a horse’

“Oh! I see…. What’s a horse? And while you’re at it why did you want to fall off it; whatever… IT is?”

I didn’t want to fall off, some boys frightened my horse Sally and she reared up and; well I wasn’t ready for her to do that.. and I fell off.’

“Fair enough….so what’s a horse?”

‘Look! Whoever you are…I’m not carrying on with this very silly conversation until I can see you face to face. So come out from wherever you are and face me.’

“I done told you… I’m down here… by your foot!”

Maggie moved her good leg a couple of inches.

“No not that one, the other one…. with the thingy on it, and I told you…me name’s Floater.”

She looked and looked again at her foot but couldn’t see anyone. The only thing close to her was a tiny ball of fluff lying on the rug. But as she looked closer she was amazed to see it wink at her. ‘Well I’ll be…. Floater ?’

“Hat your service…. me Lady!”

And if asked Maggie would have sworn that the little ball of fluff actually bowed to her. ‘This is ridiculous…I’m speaking to a ball of fluff.’

“Nah you ain’t told you… me name’s Floater. I think I had an Aunty Fluff; once but Heather got her long time ago?”

Maggie was getting a little impatient now…. ‘be that as it may… what I’m trying to say is you are not at all like me and I’m not quite sure I should be talking to you at all… I mean after all!’

“Please yourself. But If it hadn’t been for me you’d have pulled Eric’s legs off by now and him with a web full of kids to look after. But, if you don’t want to talk to me then I’ll be off. Of course you’re quite right, we’re not supposed to talk to OOMINS anyway… so you’re doin’ me a favour really. Don’t suppose you give me a push could you? Or better still do what ya did just before you made Eric sneeze.”

‘What did I do? I can’t remember. I think all I did was blow the powder away.’

“That’s it… Blow! Just give us a blow, help me on me way…sort to speak.”

Maggie pursed her lips drew in her breath and pointing in Floater’s direction she blew with all her might.’

Floater full of excitement went ‘WHEE!’ All over again and when he landed he said… “Wow! That was great but actually I live under the bed, and now, well now I’m over here by the window, and I don’t know if I told you this but….. I’m not too fond of windows. So if you could see your way clear to givin’ me a blow in the right direction… I would be much obliged.”

Maggie hobbled over to the window and picked Floater up, ‘Why don’t I just carry you over and pop you under the bed will that do?’

“Fair enough, not so much fun….but it’ll do to be goin’ on with. Many thanks… I’m sure.”

Maggie lifted the covers on the bed and placed Floater down on the floor. ‘Tell me she said, are there any more…like you I mean? You called us OOMINS! I assumed you mean people like me?’

“Nah! There’s nobody like me, I’m a one off you might say,but if you mean are there more Dust Bunnies around then… yes hundreds of us. See Ya….!”

Maggie called after him, ‘See You later. Will you come back and talk to me tomorrow?’

Floater replied, “Well that all depends done it?”

‘Upon what….exactly?’

“Well for starters where I am at the time, what I’m doin’ and if I can get a lift.”

‘A lift…? Maggie asked.’

“Correct; I mean the spiders are pretty obliging most of the time especially if they’re goin’ that way in the first place but ya can’t rely on them. Then there’s the winds, under the doors, through the windows, a guy gets blown all over the place. Never know where I might end up, but leave it with me and I’ll see what I kin do. I mean well Eric owes you a favour doesn’t he? I mean to say I won’t tell him it was your sticky paper he got stuck on, if you don’t that is.”

And so he was gone. Maggie lay back on her bed thinking of Dust Bunnies and fell fast asleep.”

One Response to “Maggie and the Dust Bunnies Chapter 1.”

  1. merlinfraser Says:

    Thanks Laurie, any ideas what to do with the story now ? It has 6 chapters in all but given the age it is aimed at I thought it might need the help of illustration.

    A couple of suggestions was to offer the characters up for animation or interactive i pod educational books/games.

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