By Vita Forest
By Vita Forest
Eric: There’s a banana and a cockroach in the funeral!
Me: I have no idea what you are talking about.
Eric: The funeral, you know – where you stand?
Me: Where you stand?
Eric: In the boys’ toilets…
Me: Ah the urinal.
Eric: Yeah, the funeral.
By Vita Forest
In which Christabel is alerted to a passing school of Parmesan cheese.
Christabel opened her eyes, suddenly alert. If she was not so suddenly distracted, she may have pondered that it was indeed strange that it was her eyes that reacted to the stimulus, when it was her sense of smell that had been awakened. Her nostrils prickled. Yes, there could be no doubt. The People Below were eating cheese. The sharp, tangy aroma drifted up to the galleon on the eddies from the deep, spiralling up past the domain of the whales, leaping up from the very surface of the water and through the open window of Christabel’s cabin.
She leapt from her slumber (an afternoon siesta – these late spring days could be so draining) and spun around in order to locate her Cheese Hunting Equipment. An operation of this sort demanded nerves of steel, the right tools (kept near at hand and in good working order) and a skill honed over years.
Luckily Christabel possessed all three. For though she verged on the jittery, there was nothing like the promise of Parmesan to sharpen her resolve. As luck would have it, Christabel had, that very morning, found a delicate length of black cotton floating by the good ship Possession. She had fished it out of the water with her butterfly net, attached it with a sturdy knot to her existing fishing line, and added a sharp hook made from a silver pin to its end. All this before the heat and humidity sent her scurrying below deck with a wet hankerchief draped over her face.
Now she tiptoed up the stairs carrying her periscope and fishing line. She peered down into the depths of The Tabletop. They were still eating, The Three. When there was three, there was more chance of mess, more chance of pebbles of Parmesan to fly from the pasta, from a travelling fork, from a moist morsel of bolognaise sauce. The conditions were perfect, she just had to bide her time and hope that the table was not cleared too quickly (or too thoroughly).
The meal progressed slowly, with the garbled sounds of speech rising upward, causing the ship to rock slightly and spin on its anchor in the ceiling. Christabel was forced to move from the port to the starboard side, but she quickly set up her watch again. She was not flustered, she would remain calm and patient. It would not do to fish too early or too late. Timing was everything.
As the minutes passed, she tuned her ears to the slightest flick!the slightest pat! which signalled a wayward crumb of cheese on The Tablecloth. She located three. Would there be time to get them all? Was it better to concentrate on one? Different scenarios and options scurried about her mind – but patience, patience! she reminded herself.
At last the opportunity came, one of the people left for The Kitchen carrying her plate, one left for The Bathroom and the other one left to answer a phone. There were two plates left abandoned, simply wallowing in cheese! Christabel swung the fishing line over the edge of the ship and watched the line unravel, watched the silver hook, spin lower and lower, until…
It hit the plate with a tiny Ping!
She stopped. Would the whales be alerted? She had to work quickly. She worked the hook around and around, drawing circles over and over again and catching up a bounty of cheese as she did so.
There were footsteps – she must hurry!
With all her might, Christabel heaved and heaved her catch up off the plate, up off the ocean floor, up through The Deep, through the currents, through the shallows, until it burst out into the air and over the side of the ship.
She sat on the deck of the boat for a moment to catch her breath.
There would be feasting tonight…
By Vita Forest
In which we first meet sailor Christabel La Mouse aboard The Good Ship Possession.
Christabel grasped the side of the ship in her soft green leather gloves, took a deep breath and peered over the edge. It always took a moment for her eyes to adjust to the distance. Through the gentle eddies that spun the bow softly this way and that, descending deep into the silence of the drop-off, before flattening and nudging out into the dark expanses of the
Tabletop and Tablecloth.
It was dark most days down there, with its rain-splatter circles, the sort you would see on the surface of a still lake if you were sheltering beside it, beneath a pagoda, with a cup of green tea and the time to stop and notice such things. The dark memories of those raindrops were sprinkled over with animals – horses, does, butterflies, and, Christabel’s particular favourite, the hummingbird. There it was! Right below her today. For the hummingbird had the unsettling habit of moving about. One day she would look down on the port-side to see the reassuring little creature, only to panic at its apparent disappearance. A quick scamper to the starboard side of the ship however, revealed that the bird was still in the depths of Tablecloth, merely having hovered over a little.
Or was it the ship itself that had moved? But no, the galleon did not change course, though it spun on the axis of its anchor which had curiously been flung from the top of the mast and lay wedged securely into the Ceiling above it.
Most disturbing of all was the morning Christabel had leaned over the side of the ship in her usual morning ritual and found that the Tablecloth had been completely erased. No raindrops, no animals, nothing but the bottomless void of white that seemed to have no beginning and no end. The Tabletop.
She had spent the remainder of that day resting in her cabin below deck, curtains drawn, with a cold compress resting on her forehead.
Luckily the Deep Darkness of Tablecloth returned the next day, complete with its cantering clouds of horses, butterflies and hummingbird.
Christabel straightened her back and pulled out the spyglass from the strap across her chest. She faced north now and turned the brass cylinder in front of her eye until the flying fish came into focus. They lived across the expanse, closer to the Distant Doorway and were sometimes battered most ferociously by the breeze that blew into the room on warm days. When the door was closed, they circled lazily, as they were doing now, always maintaining a respectful and steady distance between the members of the small school of four.
Christabel lowered her spyglass and smiled. It would be another calm day on the Ceiling.
By Vita Forest
Mahalia: My tooth fell out!
Me: Oh my goodness!
Mahalia: But I lost it…
Me: If you write a letter the tooth fairy usually understands.
Mahalia: I actually know how to write fairy (leans in and whispers) you just write tiny…
Class Term tooth tally so far: 7
Year tooth tally: 60