2011 Doris Gooderson – Second Place

Darren’s Day Out by Janet Gogerty

Darren’s face was pressed against the bus window as they came to a halt. Today they were visiting a new place and he hoped it would be more exciting than their usual visits to ‘the shops’. Darren trailed behind his mother and the double buggy down a busy street. He could hear her talking to him but he wasn’t listening, the familiar words washed over him. ‘Stay close blah blah don`t upset the blah blah or I’ll blah blah.’ His heart sank as they entered a shop and were soon engulfed by racks of clothes taller than Darren.

Now his mother’s mobile rang and deftly she answered while putting the baby’s dummy back in, wiping his sister’s nose and rummaging through the clothes. Darren looked back at the doorway, sunshine and fresh air beckoned. His only thought had been to step outside for a few seconds and jump back in before he was missed. Just one, two, three steps and look around, peer through the archway, perhaps go through…..

He wanted to run into the empty space in front of him. A long path, wide grass, a huge grey building. He ran and ran then jumped down steps, turned a corner then stopped, astonished. In front of him was the largest door he had ever seen, dark and old. He felt scared; only a giant would have a door that huge. He turned to run away, but was gently swept up by a little crowd of jolly looking grown ups and children. They had found a special small door cut in the big door. Perhaps the giant had been killed and it was now safe to go in.

Inside he gasped and blinked, a musty stillness wrapped around him and he gazed up and up. He knew this place had been here for ever. He stood motionless and watched the other people as they tiptoed around looking in awe. Everyone had come to see what the giant’s house looked like.

Now they were gathering around a bearded man wearing strange long robes. As Darren peered through legs and bags and coats at him, he realised he must be a Wizard; he had made them safe from the giant. The Wizard was telling everyone a story and Darren strained to hear and understand the grown-up words ‘built by Norman’… That didn’t seem a very scary name for a giant; maybe he was a friendly giant. Now the Wizard pointed to large black gates with a gold padlock. Perhaps the giant wasn’t dead, just captured. There was strange curly writing on the wall next to the gates and Darren couldn’t pick out any words he knew from his reading book. That must be the spell to keep Norman the giant safe.

The Wizard now pointed upwards and all eyes were raised to the most beautiful widow Darren had ever seen. Deep blue and red lights were shining from it and there were lovely pictures of other Wizards and strange people. The little crowd moved on, but Darren stood engrossed in the pictures until he felt his bones begin to rumble and heard a low noise getting louder. His heart was beating faster; was Norman the giant speaking? The other people didn’t seem surprised and smiled as the rumbling turned into music; Darren thought it was the best music he had ever heard and even louder than the stereo in his uncle’s car. The music filled all the great space of the Wizards Hall and he was carried along with it.

Now he saw a wooden door creak open and out filed boys in white robes. The smallest wasn’t much taller than Darren and had glasses and red hair. As he passed by he dropped his book; Darren saw the open pages had strange lines and dots among the words. They must be junior wizards carrying their Spell Books. As they arranged themselves on rows of wooden seats, another adult Wizard appeared and waved his wand! They began to sing their Spells and the ethereal sound sent pleasant shivers down Darren’s spine.

Now he had forgotten the world outside; the Great Hall of the Wizards was everything and he couldn’t bear to leave it. A plan half formed in his mind and he went to the wooden door which stood ajar. Inside he could see more robes hanging up. All he had to do was go inside and put a robe on and he would become a boy wizard too.

Amanda was not enjoying her first day as a police constable. Chaos reigned in the interview room as she tried to comfort the young mother; the baby was crying and the toddler was racing round the room.

‘I only turned my back for one second and there he was gone’ wailed the mother.

Amanda tried to pat her shoulder, in between leaping up to stop the toddler putting her sticky fingers on tape recorders, files and sheaves of important paperwork. Amanda’s colleagues were out searching the city centre, while here at the police station, urgent calls were being made to useful networks such as ‘Shopwatch’. As the clock ticked and the hands moved round relentlessly there was still no news; Darren’s granny and aunt were on their way.

Suddenly the door swung open to reveal a relieved looking inspector. ‘It looks like we have found him and he’s safe and well, in fact he has been thoroughly enjoying himself.’

The young mother’s face lit up with relief then darkened in annoyance, ‘Wait till I get hold of him, where is he anyway?’

‘At the cathedral, seems he wanted to join the choir; do you often go to the cathedral?’ asked the inspector.

‘Cathedral! Why would I go to the Cathedral?’ she replied.

‘How was he found?’ queried Amanda.

The inspector laughed, ‘The choir school only just rang, they didn’t realise they had an extra boy till they had nearly finished tea. He’s running around in the quad with the other boys now, but one of the masters is keeping a close eye on him; we have a car waiting so you can take Darren’s family there right now.’

At the choir school, while Mr Jenkins waited with Matron for Darren’s family to arrive, he told her his idea; ‘It could work, he seems a very bright boy and it would fit in well with our Inclusiveness Policy, it would certainly help get that government grant.’

A police car pulled up and Mr Jenkins was soon ushering Darren’s mother through the archway and the gate marked ‘private’. Reluctantly, Darren tore himself away from the other boys and raced over to his mother.

 ‘Mum, Mum I had a great time, we had a party, can I stay here, can I have a Nordition?’