This is a short story, in 748 words.
It was prompted by the above photo of an image, sent to me by Jennie Fitzkee.
Oscar wasn’t a bad boy. Not one of those ‘deep down’ bad boys who nobody likes. But he was a boy, and everything that came with that. Boisterous, getting dirty, ripping his clothes, scuffing his shoes. Most of the time he did as he was told, but like most youngsters, he sometimes had his bad days.
Paula soon discovered that it was best not to tell him not to do something. “Don’t walk along the edge of that wall, you will fall” would guarantee that he would continue to walk along the edge of the wall. When Richard warned him not to climb the old Oak tree in the garden, it took them over an hour to get him back down from the branches.
He should never be dared, either. When his cousin Martin dared him to eat a worm, he ate twenty, just to show off. Paula had to get Richard to clear that up after he had been sick. She hated worms. Martin also dared him to climb out of his bedroom window, and hang on to the chimney stack, pretending to be Santa. That rescue had involved having to call the Fire Brigade.
After that, they never again left Oscar alone with Martin.
Visiting Richard’s Aunt Mary was always something of a chore. She was a nice old lady, but she lived such a long way, and the traffic was always bad. When Oscar had been small, Paula would ask Richard to make the trip on his own. But now Mary was getting very old, and had asked to see the boy. So they packed up the car, and told Oscar to behave himself when they got there. The small Tablet Paula had bought proved to be worth its weight in gold, as Oscar sat watching cartoons on it the whole way.
Mary was delighted to see them. She had prepared a lovely afternoon tea, and Oscar devoured the scones with cream and jam. As they chatted about nothing much, there was a squawking sound from another room. Oscar put down the last part of his third scone. “What’s that noise, Aunt Mary?” She leaned forward, whispering. “That’s Captain Beak. He’s my parrot, and he was once owned by the famous pirate, Blackbeard”. Paula smiled at her tall tale, but she could see that Oscar had believed the old lady as Mary continued. “It is said that the spirit of Blackbeard went to live inside the parrot after he died, and Captain Beak has lived for hundred of years, before I got him”.
Oscar’s eyes were wide. “Can I see him please, Aunt Mary?” They all went into the old-fashioned parlour, where the green parrot sat on a perch in a corner, next to an ornate Victorian cage. It squawked again as they entered. Oscar watched as it moved sideways on the big perch, its head bobbing up and down. “Does it talk?” Mary smiled. “Only to me, Oscar. He has just told me that you mustn’t touch him, just look. Pirates don’t care too much for little boys, and Captain Beak is well-named, for his powerful sharp beak”.
Back in the dining-room, with his parents chatting to Aunt Mary about grown-up stuff, Oscar was bored. “Can I use your toilet please, Aunt Mary?” She turned and nodded. “There is one by the front door, or the bathroom upstairs. Whichever you like”. Of course, Oscar had no intention of using the toilet. He went straight back into the parlour, and walked closer to the parrot. It didn’t squawk this time, but bobbed silently, watching as Oscar got close. The boy stood up on tiptoes to reach the perch, smiling as his hand stretched out to stroke the bird’s head.
Almost dropping her tea cup at the sound of the scream, Paula was on her feet in seconds. But there was no sign of Oscar in the toilet by the door. Then she heard a sound from the parlour. “Pieces of Eight, Pieces of Eight. Pieces of eight”. She opened the door to find her son clutching his right hand, his face white, and blood dripping from his fingers onto the carpet.
Richard got the car round, and they rushed him and his index finger to the nearest hospital. It was sewn back on, but it never worked properly.
The doctor said something about nerve damage.
Still, he is learning to write quite well with his left hand now.