Why is it that when reading a piece of my own writing after, say, a month away from it, two dozen previously unnoticed errors suddenly jump right off of the page?! Anyhoo ... I have not shared anything thus far because I am a big scaredy-cat. Here goes. An excerpt from Jezzly The Jittery Witch...
The freezing wind bit into her bare fingers as she hurried home. The parcel that she had concealed within her vest scratched her skin and rustled as she ran. She prayed that her aunt would not catch her. Being late would get her a tongue lashing. But a parcel, hidden in her vest? Jezzly would be accused of stealing and didn't dare imagine how angry Aunt would become!
Her hands were shaking as she neared the house. She stopped and glanced up at the windows. They were empty. She had not been seen. She walked quickly and quietly past the garden gate, squeezed through a gap in the fence and ran behind the bushes to the back of the house. She slipped off her boots and stepped through the back door. Ever so quietly, she made her way up the stairs to the attic.
Safely inside, she closed the door behind her. Quickly, she hid the parcel beneath her mattress and then slunk back downstairs. Her heart pounded in her chest as she listened for the sound of her aunt's boots crashing towards her, but she heard nothing. Relieved, she got on with her chores. She had to scrub the floors, clean the drains, wash the dishes and do one hundred other yucky jobs.
Jezzly only saw her aunt once that day when she served supper. Placing the plate of food onto the table, her hands shook, and a potato rolled onto the floor. Aunt looked at it, sighed and stared hard at Jezzly.
"Just as well, you have this place here with me. Nobody else would have you. You're far too stupid and clumsy. You'd be out on the street eating rubbish. The bad people would get you and turn you into a scarecrow. You must work harder if you want me to keep you here. I feel one of my migraines coming on. Take dessert to my room and leave me until breakfast. Do you understand, stupid child?"
"Yes, Aunt." Jezzly curtsied and walked back to the kitchen to heat her Aunt's dessert. It was a blueberry pie with vanilla ice cream. The pastry glistened with caramelised sugar. The warm gooey blueberries oozed from inside. The ice cream smelled of sweet vanilla, and Jezzly's tummy rumbled.
Placing the tray in Aunt's room, she went back downstairs to finish her chores. She was exhausted, but before she could go to bed had to check that all of the windows and doors were locked. There were seventy-three windows and five doors. It was midnight before Jezzly finally put herself to bed.
Climbing under her thin blanket, she lay down on top of the lumpy old mattress and heard a rustle. The parcel! She was so exhausted that she had almost forgotten about it! Excitedly, she pulled it from beneath the mattress. Holding it up to the only tiny window in the attic, she slowly unwrapped it. Sheets of brown paper fell away to reveal the most incredible looking biscuit she could ever imagine! It was as big as her hand and sparkled in the moonlight as though it had been baked with silver sugar. In the middle of the biscuit was a big heart shape. It smelled divine, like an orchard on a summer day. Jezzly closed her eyes and whispered. "Thank you, biscuit man." Then, she took a bite and chewed dreamily, her mouth exploding with an otherworldly sweetness that she had never before tasted. Remembering her promise, she mumbled through a mouth full of gooey crumbs. "I wish that I could escape from this place, to somewhere I can be happy, where I will be loved, somewhere ...' she tried to remember the word the biscuit man had used ... 'magical."
Before she could take another bite, it happened. There was an almighty crash downstairs! Smash! Bang! Crack! Jezzly's heart began thudding in her chest. She dropped the biscuit and pulled the blanket around her, wondering what she should do. There was shrieking, running, footsteps coming up the stairs. Jezzly panicked. She ran to the corner of the room and hid behind an old trunk. The footsteps sounded heavy and angry. The attic door flew open, torchlight swept across the room and landed on Jezzly's bed.
"Where are you, child?!" Roared her Aunt's voice. "Get out here where I can see you! Get out!"
The torchlight landed upon the dropped biscuit. Aunt walked towards it, picked it up, looked at it and then marched straight over to the chest. Hauling Jezzly up from the floor by her hair, she screamed at her.
"What is this? It's not one of mine! Stealing, eh? Disgracing my house, eh? Is that why you left all of the windows open? So that some other little thief friend you met at the market could come in here and rob me blind? Is it? Well, I hope you're happy. The wind has blown all of my windows right in, smashed! Smashed glass everywhere!"
Aunt held a blood-stained foot up to Jezzly's face.
"This is the last straw, you might be free, but you are less than useless. I could get a stuffed teddy to do a better job than you! Think yourself lucky I don't march you down to the police station myself!"
"But I did lock all of the windows!" whimpered Jezzly, who was afraid and confused.
Aunt dropped her on the floor and shone the torchlight in her face. "I see—a liar as well as a thief. Get out. Get out of this house and never come back. I tried to do my best with you. It's not my fault you're no good. GET OUT!"
Jezzly's legs were shaking, and tears rolled down her cheeks. The cruel words tore through her like thorns, and she felt that she might fall apart, like a broken little doll. She scrambled in the dark to pull on her smock, her boots and her coat, and as she did, fifty pennies fell to the ground and rolled, jangling, all across the floorboards.
"YOU!" Screamed her aunt.
"I found them!"
"Ungrateful little thief!" Aunt ran at Jezzly, who sprinted from the attic, down the stairs and to the front door - her eyes widened as she took in the piles of broken glass on the floor. The curtains were billowing in the wind, and a cold breeze swirled around the house.
'I didn't leave the windows open!' She thought.
Confused, she ran out of the front door, which slammed behind her.
Standing in the front garden, all was quiet. There was no wind here. Befuddled, she walked through the gate, not knowing where she was going. She just walked and walked until she came to the path over the old railway bridge.
It was unnervingly dark and terribly cold. All she could hear were the hoots of owls and the scurrying of little beasties in the undergrowth. Shivering, she sat down, put her head in her hands and began to sob. Then she heard something else, a kind of squeaking noise. It was getting closer. She looked down the path from where she had come but saw nothing.
"Eee, ee," it was getting closer. Jezzly pulled her coat around her and buried her head in her knees. The squeaking got louder - what could it possibly be? "SQUEEEEEAAAAK." The noise stopped beside her, and a familiar voice sounded.
Jezzly looked up and saw the bright blue eyes of the biscuit man shimmering in the darkness. He was pushing an old trolly with squeaky wheels.
"Oh, it's you." She said.
"Yes, it's me. What you doin' out 'ere?"
"She went mad!"
"Aunt! The wind came and the windows smashed and she said it was me but it wasn't me! I promise! I closed them! I told her but she screamed at me so loud I thought my ears would burst! And the biscuit! She saw it and she called me a thief and my pennies! All my pennies I lost them all and she was going to take me to the police. I didn't steal them. I didn't. Now I have nothing and no one."
"But did you make a wish?"
Jezzly looked up at the biscuit man and felt angry with him.
"I wished I could be happy and now look at me! Go away!" She yelled.
"Take this map and follow it. You'll find a place to stay." The biscuit man handed her a crumpled piece of paper. Jezzly opened it, but it was too dark to see. She looked up to tell the biscuit man, but she could not see him.
"Wait!" She shouted.
His voice came from somewhere far off in the darkness. "Oh, I almost forgot, this is for you! And remember, follow the map!"
"But I can't see the map!" Jezzly shouted, peering ahead, but she could see nothing, except ... something was moving in the shadows, getting closer. She instinctively began to back away, not knowing what it was. Then she heard a 'meow', and a tiny little furry body rubbed up against her legs. Two green eyes flashed up at her, and a pink nose sniffed her boots.
"Oh," she exclaimed and knelt. A tiny ginger cat began purring and climbed into Jezzly's arms.
"Oh hello, who are you?" She asked. The cat peered intently into Jezzly's eyes, licked her nose, jumped onto the ground and ran off up the path.
"Wait, where are you going? Come back!" Shouted Jezzly.
Two green eyes appeared in the distance and waited. Jezzly ran towards them, and then both she and the cat disappeared from view, deep into the trees.