Author’s Note: This was going somewhere, I only managed about 5,000 words because November 2011 was a very busy month for me. I think I’d like to come back to this and rewrite the whole thing from the point of view of Sophie, the first main character. I really enjoyed getting into her head.
It was raining but Sophie loved the rain, the way that rain drops on glass looked like little windows to tiny worlds, the way the sky turned to a deep gray like living in a dream and puddles, Sophie especially loved puddles. There was nothing Sophie loved more than putting on her wellington boots and jumping in puddles. It made her feel happy in a way that nothing else could, nothing but maybe chocolate cake.
It was raining just now, Sophie was in the car with her parents and her big sister Rachel. They were on their way to stay with Sophie’s Aunt Audrey and Uncle George, well, Sophie and Rachel were going to visit Aunt Audrey and Uncle George, her mum and her dad weren’t going to be staying they were leaving the country for work, going to somewhere called Con-France, Sophie had never been to France let alone Con-France, she wasn’t even sure where that was but she knew that the trip involved work and apparently wasn’t going to be very fun. Also she had met a french boy in school a year ago and if he was any indication of France she didn’t want anything to do with the place let alone con-France.
Besides, Aunt Audry and Uncle George lived on a farm, and what could be more fun than a farm, apart from maybe a farm in the rain. Sophie and her family lived in the city, apart from pigeons and the odd cat you didn’t get many animals in the city. Sophie’s mum had told her that there were Cows and chickens and Sheep at the farm, more animals than she had ever seen, she could hardly contain her excitement.
“How much longer till we get there?” Sophie asked her mum.
“Not long now dear, we should be there in another hour or so” Her mum replied.
Sophie hated hours, they seemed to take a stupidly long tome to come to an end, that was except when she didn’t want them to. She really didn’t understand why adults used them to tell the time, just last week they had gone to the swimming pool for an hour long swim and they’d had to leave almost as soon as they got there, but whenever Sophie was waiting for something an hour took so long Sophie didn’t know what to do with herself.
Why did adults use hours to tell the time and not something that was always the same amount of time, but when she’d asked her mum her mum had just chuckled at her and said she was adorable. Sophie knew she was adorable but she didn’t think that answered her question, it must be some kind of adult conspiracy to fool children into leaving just when they were having the most fun. Why Adults would want to do that she didn’t know, adults did a lot of things Sophie didn’t understand.
Sophie had actually suggested to her parents once that they use something other than adult hours to measure time, but no matter how hard she tried she couldn’t seem to convince them.
“Besides”, they had said “So many people use hours it would be impossible to change the way we do things”
Adults were so stuck in their ways, Sophie decided that when she had grown up a little more she was going to go to Greenwich, which is where her father had told her that they kept the time and suggest her alternative time to them. The people in Greenwich would listen to her, after all they most people only thought about the time every now and again when they needed to, but the people in Greenwich must spend all of their time thinking of time, If they had a way to keep time more accurately it would make their lives so much easier.
Sophie had wondered why the people in Greenwich hadn’t thought of a more sensible way to keep time, but she presumed that they were so busy keeping track of the length of an hour at any given time that they didn’t get a chance to think about the nature of time. Sophie on the other hand hat lots of free time on her hands, and a lot of her hours seemed to be long ones so she had loads of time to think about time and other things.
Sophie thought she must have spend at least an hour thinking about time, it seemed like it had been ages they must be getting close to Aunt Audrey and Uncle Georges farm.
“How long till we get there now?” She asked again.
Sophie’s mum looked at her watch and said to Sophie “Well it’s been five minutes since you last asked so we should be there in about fifty five minutes”
Sophie’s hated minutes more than she hated hours, why break up something that took a variable length of time into little bits of time, her mum had told her once that there were sixty minutes in an hour, but if the length of an hour was never the same then the length of a minute must differ, Sophie wondered if all the minutes in an hour were the same length but the length of a minute changed from hour to hour or if each minute was of a different length.
Apparently minutes were made up of things called seconds, and there were also sixty seconds in each and every minute, if the length of an hour changed then the length of minute must change because there was always the same number of minutes in every hour, it was simple maths. By the same maths the length of a second must change because there was always sixty seconds in a minute.
Sophie was fairly sure that some seconds were longer than other seconds, because when she played hide and seek with her friends at school each of her friends counted to a hundred seconds at a different speed, seconds seemed really fast when her friend Amy was counting them, but they were always much slower when Henry counted them.
Sophie thought it very strange that no one else seemed to think is was weird that everyone used hours, minutes and seconds to tell time despite them being so useless. Whenever she asked any of her friends about it they just told her she was being silly. Of course Sophie knew they were the ones being silly, it was silly to just accept everything you were told, especially when the person telling you something is an adult.
Adults you see are too busy to sit down and think things out, so they just accept whatever they are told, Sophie on the other hand had lots of time to sit and think about things and that time spent thinking allowed her to see how silly the adults were for just believing everything they were told and not questioning any of it.
Sophie looked out the car window staring at the world outside through each drop of rain in turn, after what must have been at least three if not four hours they still hadn’t arrived at Aunt Audry and Uncle George’s Farm.
“Mum are we lost? It’s been at least 3 hours since you said it was an hour” Sophie asked.
Sophie’s mum looked at her watch and looked back to Sophie.
“No Sophie, we aren’t lost. It’s only been ten minutes since you last asked how long it would be till we got there”.
Sophie wasn’t sure she believed her mum, it couldn’t possibly have been ten minutes, unless maybe her mum’s watch was broken? Sophie knew how much her mum loved her watch though, she had gotten it as a present from Granny a long time before Sophie was born. Sophie didn’t have the heart to tell her Mum that her watch might be broken.
Rachel hated the rain, she hated how gray and depressing it made the world look, she hated how it always ruined her hair, she hated how cold it was. Nothing about rain was good, she wished it would stop raining and never rain again.
Rachel also hated travelling especially in her dads car, an ancient Ford Prefect that he’d inherited from her granddad. The car was at least 50 years old, and it was falling apart, but no matter how much she complained about it her dad wouldn’t get rid of it. All of her friends parents had nice new cars, her dad’s car was a pile of junk.
It was so old it didn’t even have a cassette player let alone a CD player, all they could listen to in the car was Radio 4 which Rachel hated as well. Luckily Rachel had her iPod so she didn’t have to listen to the Archers and Gardeners world and all the other rubbish her parents listened to on the radio.
Rachel loved her music, she never wanted she was always listening to it, and when she wasn’t listening to music she was practicing her guitar. She’d gotten a guitar for Christmas a year ago and ever since she was determined she was going to be a rock star.
There was no doubt about it, Rachel had even put together a band along with her friends Sarah and Marcus. Marcus had been given a Bass guitar for Christmas and Sarah was using a drum kit her older brother had left at home when he left home to go to university.
Rachel was of course in charge if the band, she was after all the guitar player and singer, she even wrote her own songs.
Rachel had had to leave the band and all her friends to go an stay with her Aunt Audry while her parents went away to a conference, Rachel’s parents went away once or twice a year, they said to go to conferences, but Rachel was convinced that they were secretly going on holiday and didn’t want to take her and her sister.
Or at least they didn’t want to take her sister… Sophie was so annoying she kept on asking the stupidest of questions, like she just didn’t understand. If it wasn’t for the fact that Rachel remembered her mother being pregnant she would have been convinced that Sophie was adopted. As it was Rachel was half thought that there had been a mix up at the hospital and that Sophie wasn’t her real sister, how could she be. Somewhere someone had a cool younger sister, but she was stuck with Sophie.
Normally when her parents went away on a conference they would stay with Mrs. Patterson across the road. Rachel had found that every house had a distinctive smell, her friend Janice’s house smelt like cake, her other friend Nisha’s house always smelt like her mothers cooking, for some reason Mrs. Patterson’s house smelt like lemons. It was a small house and she had to share a room with Sophie but at least she could still see her friends.
This time Mrs. Patterson couldn’t look after them because was away visiting her sister in Southern Africa, why her sister would ever want to live there Rachel didn’t know, but she thought it was very inconsiderate of her, if she lived closer Mrs. Patterson wouldn’t have had to have been away for so long and Rachel wouldn’t have had to stay with her Aunt Audrey.
Rachel had begged and pleaded with her Mum and dad to let them stay at home, she was 13 old enough to look after herself. She’d even offered to look after Sophie for a modest baby sitting fee, she’d come up with the plan with her friends, her parents would go away and she’d be able to have a sleep over every night, she’d practice with the band it would have been amazing. But for some reason her parents said no.
Rachel didn’t understand it, she’d tried to convince them that she could stay with her friends while she her parents were away, they hadn’t agreed to that either, it wasn’t fair. Rachel even considered running away and just staying with a friend, but she knew that she would be found out, none of her friends could keep a secret, one of them would blab to their parents and that would be it, she’d still probably end up having to stay with Aunt Audrey, and then be grounded when she got back home.
There was no two ways about it, she had to stay with Aunt Audrey for a week, she would hate it but she had to do it. Maybe she could use the time to write some songs for her band…
William thought the rain was a bit of a mixed blessing, it meant that he couldn’t play outside but it also meant that he wasn’t outside working. His parents had moved on the farm when William was very young, the farm was all he’d ever known, and his dad liked to get him to help around the farm. But there wasn’t very much to do when it was raining. The cows were out in the fields, he could never tell if they enjoyed the rain or hated it, maybe they didn’t really care whether it rained or not. The chickens had been fed and were all couped up to keep them dry, they definitely didn’t like the rain.
William liked living on a farm, the land his parents owned was huge, and there even a little forest in it, William loved to explore the forest, he’d play robin hood and he had built a little fort that even his parents didn’t know about using fallen tree branches he’d found lying about, he would spend hours in the forest pretending he was a bandit king stealing from the rich to feed the poor. Now it was raining though his mum wouldn’t let him go out an play.
William was all couped up in his room, a bit like the chickens really, except he wasn’t about to lay any eggs, at least not that he was aware off. William’s mum didn’t want him out in the rain, she said he’s catch his death of cold, Williams mum didn’t like him to doing the farm work, she didn’t mind him doing the odd task like sweeping the chicken coups, or feeding the chickens, but she always said he was too young to be doing most of the farm work, his dad had argued with her about it once but she’d won the argument and it hadn’t really cropped up very much since. Now his dad had James to help about with the farm work William wasn’t even needed to do the simple things he used to do, which made his mum happy.
His mum was downstairs putting together a big dinner as they had company coming over to stay, two of William’s cousins were going to be staying with him for a week, William had apparently met Rachel once a long time ago but he didn’t remember as he was very young at the time.
William wasn’t sure if he liked the idea of girls staying at the farm house, girls were strange creatures with their make up and their giggles, William’s friend Tomas from school had even told him that you could catch a disease called cooties from them. It couldn’t be true him mum was technically a girl and William hadn’t caught any diseases from her, at least not that he knew of, maybe she’d been cured of her cooties when she married his father? William was fairly sure his mum was safe but he didn’t know about other girls, so he tried to keep away from them when he could. That was going to be hard when he was going to have two of them living in the same house as him though.
Maybe there was some way William could get an injection to protect himself from the cooties, William would have to ask his dad when he got back from his rounds. William knew better than to ask his mum, she may not have cooties any more, at least he hoped not, but she was still technically a girl and he didn’t want to offend her.
There was at least another couple of hours to go before anyone arrived, William picked up the book he’d been reading found his bookmark and started to read, the rain might stop him from having any adventures outside, but he could still have adventures in his book.
James didn’t mind the rain it was refreshing, he’d spent the day looking after helping Mr. Smith with a calving cow, so he’d been in a barn most of the day.
Mr. Smith was a Farmer and James was doing work experience on his farm, James wanted to go to university to study to be a vet, he was a few years away but as soon as his mother found out that that was what he eventually wanted to do she’d gone out and arranged a work placement for him on a farm, she’d said that the more experience he got the better he’d look when he was applying to go to university. So here he was spending his summer living on a farm in the middle of nowhere far away from all his friends, he didn’t really care though most of his friends had left the country to go on holiday, James’ parents couldn’t really afford to go on holiday, his dad had just lost his job so him mum was having to support the family.
James liked it at the farm the fresh air the animals and the work, it wasn’t easy there always seemed to be something to do, shearing sheep, gathering the eggs from the chickens, and it seemed to James that every other day there was another cow giving birth. That was the messiest thing he had to do, and so far the only thing James thought would help him in when he applied to go to university. The sheep were vicious they wouldn’t stand still when he tried to shear them, and they had more than once given him a nasty bite.
For some reason the sheep seemed to act completely differently when Mr. Smith sheared them, He’d asked Mr. Smith why that was and he’d said that you just had to treat them right, talk to them, whisper to them, sing them a song, it’s not so much to calm them down as it was to calm yourself down. Apparently animals can sense when you are nervous or afraid and it made them nervous, if you made sure that you were calm they would be calm too.
James wasn’t too sure about this, and him not being sure made him nervous which in turn made the sheep nervous so they tried to bite him. James of course was afraid they’d bite him which made the sheep afraid, it was like they were going round in circles winding each other up, and although James knew this there was very little he could do about it, he really didn’t want to be bitten, it really hurt.
He was just finishing up for the day, and was really looking forward to a shower, and a big dinner, Mrs. Smith was a great cook and this evening she was cooking an especially big meal as she has family visiting. Her sister and her sisters husband were driving in from the city and they were bringing in their two daughters, the daughters were going to be staying over for a week while their parents were away, it would be good to have someone else about to talk to, Mr. and Mrs. Smith’s son William was a lot younger than James, and all he seemed to do was read his books, his mother thought he was too young to be doing farm work, despite what Mr. Smith said, Mr. Smith always did whatever Mrs. Smith said, he’d told James that the secret to happiness as a married man was to keep your wife happy, everything else was easy, but when your wife was unhappy your life could be miserable.
Apparently one of the girls who was coming to stay was a only a year younger than James, it would be good to have someone to talk to about something that wasn’t farm related…
Sophie must have fallen asleep during the drive because she woke up as they were pulling into the Farm, Sophie had been looking forward to seeing all the animals on the way into the farm she was a little upset that she’d missed them.
“Dad can we drive back out and come back in I want to see the animals and I was asleep so I missed them” Sophie asked
“I’m sorry little bean we don’t have time, we’re already running late for dinner, you wouldn’t want to keep Aunty Audry waiting would you?” Sophie supposed her was right.
“Besides Sophie” her mum said “You’ll be here all week you’ll have lots of chances to see the animals, you’ll be sick of the sight of them by the time you leave”
Sophie wasn’t sure she agreed with her mum, she could never be sick of the sight of animals, Sophie loved animals, except for bugs that is. Sophie really didn’t like bugs, it’s not that she was afraid of them, not like Rachel was. Rachel would run screaming from the room if there was so much as the smallest of spiders in the room, and she wouldn’t even go into a room in which a daddy long legs had been in in the past week. Sophie wasn’t afraid of bugs she just didn’t like them, with their stickly legs, it was like they were aliens from another planet, they were just strange.
Sophie wondered what it would be like to meet Aliens from another planet, she wondered what they would look like, would they look just like people, or would they look completely different? There was a TV show about space that Sophie’s parents watched, it was about the captain of a space ship that went around meeting aliens, all the aliens in that seemed to look just like people with funny marks on their faces, or strangely coloured skin, Sophie supposed that aliens could look like that but she didn’t think it was likely.
Then again how was she to know, maybe there were aliens living on earth just now, aliens who looked so much like people that people couldn’t tell the difference, except every now and then one of them would do something silly that would let a keen alien investigator know that they were an alien.
Sophie wondered how one went about becoming an alien investigator, maybe she could be an alien investigator when she grew up? It sounded a lot more interesting than working in a shop, or an office, or even being a police man or woman. Being an alien investigator was a bit like being a police man or woman though Sophie supposed. Except instead of trying to find bad people you were trying to find aliens.
If Sophie wanted to be an alien investigator maybe she would have to become a police woman first, she was fairly sure she couldn’t become a police man as well she was a girl and as far as she knew girls grew up to be women and not men. Sophie wasn’t silly afterall…
Sophie’s sister Rachel often acted quite strange maybe she was an alien in disguise, Rachel had been about for longer than Sophie had so Sophie didn’t know where she came from, she’d once asked her dad if Rachel was an alien he’d just laughed at her, but what did he know?
A few weeks ago Sophie had been watching a nature program on the TV and she’d found out that cuckoo birds, like the ones that lived in clocks, laid their eggs in the nests of other birds and the baby cuckoos were raised by whatever the bird that owned the nest the mother cuckoo happened to have laid it’s egg in. Mother Cuckoos were very clever they chose nests that already had eggs in them to trick the mother birds into looking after their babies, only when the baby cuckoo hatched it pushed all the other baby birds out of the nest and ate all the food that the mother bird brought for them.
Maybe Rachel was like an alien cuckoo baby? She didn’t seem to like Sophie very much and Sophie was sure that Rachel was trying to push her out of the nest, she’d have to keep an eye on her, those cuckoo birds were very tricksy.
Sophie wondered if she’d get a reward for handing in her sister to the government for being an alien. The government were the right people to handle these things after all, Sophie would need lots of proof that her sister was an alien though, otherwise they wouldn’t believe her, adults never believed children, being a child was rubbish sometimes.
This thought occured to Sophie just as their car pulled to a stop outside Aund Audrey’s house, it was a nice big house, bigger than any house that Sophie had seen in the city, well any house except the Queens palace, Sophie had never been to the queen’s palace though.
She’s asked to go once, she’d love to meet the queen, she seemed like such a nice person; but her father had said that only royalty and very important people were allowed to go to the palace to visit the queen. Sophie didn’t see the problem as her dad had always called her a princess, but apparently Sophie was the wrong kind of princess to visit the queen, she hadn’t knows that there were different types of princesses, as far as all the fairy tales went you either were of you weren’t a princess. Some people seemed to become princesses by marrying a prince, like Cinderella did, but Sophie wasn’t married to a prince she must have been a real princess from the start, why else would her father call her a princess if she wasn’t?
Maybe she was a secret princess? Maybe the queen only pretended to be a good queen and was actually an evil sorceress? The more Sophie thought about it the more it made sense, her mum was the real queen which made her dad the king, only they were too scared of the evil sorceress to try and take back their kingdom.
Sophie would have to go on a quest to take her kingdom back and vanquish the fake evil sorceress queen when she became and adult. All the stories said that a hansom prince would have to save her and help her take back her kingdom, but Sophie knew that they were just stories, Sophie didn’t need a boy to save her kingdom, she’d quite happily save it herself.
Sophie wondered why it was that princesses were always so rubbish in fairy tales, they always seemed to be doing silly things that got them into trouble just to that a handsome prince could come along and rescue them so they could live happily ever after. Why was it never the other way round, why didn’t the handsome prince not get into trouble and then be rescued by a beautiful princess? Sophie reckoned it was probably because most fairy tales were written by boys, and boys always wanted to be the hero of the story, Sophie had learned this from playing with the boys in her neighborhood, whenever they played pirates they all wanted to be captain of the ship, and none of them would let her be captain because she was a girl, what made a girl less of a captain than a boy anyway? If Sophie was a pirate captain she’d make all the boys walk the plank.
That would teach them…
Sophie was snapped out of her thoughts of evil sorcerer queens princesses and pirates by her mum asking her if she was planning on getting out of the car. Rachel was looking at her funnily as if she was being stupid, Rachel always seemed to look at Sophie funnily, especially when Sophie tried to explain what she was thinking about, Sophie wondered if it was because Rachel was an alien and she just didn’t understand the way that humans thought.
Sophie was being weird again, Rachel really didn’t understand Sophie, she would just sit staring into space for hours and then ask really stupid questions about the stupidest of things. The other day Sophie had asked her dad if they could go visit the queen for afternoon tea!
As if people could just walk up to Buckingham palace and invite themselves in for tea with the queen, how stupid could you get? The thing was her parents encouraged her stupid behaviour, telling her that she was a princess just not the right type of princess to be able to visit the queen, what kind of idiot believed that? Rachel really didn’t understand how someone so stupid could be her sister.
Everyone was getting out of the car and getting their bags together, Aunt Audrey had come out to meet them, she was wearing a big apron, which was covered in stains old and new.
“Oh look at you Rachel it’s been so long since I last so you, it feels like forever it’s so good to see you” Aunt Audrey gave Rachel a big hug, all the time Rachel was worried about those stains on her Aunts apron coming off onto her nice new jeans. “How old are you now then Rachel?” She asked after she’d let go.
“I’m fourteen” Rachel replied smiling at her Aunt, she knew better than to check her jeans for stains just now, she’d have to go to the bathroom to make sure they were okay before dinner maybe sneak away and change into a clean pair if they were dirty. Rachel wondered if they had a washing machine out here on the farm, or if they used those weird scrubbing board things you saw washer women using in old films.