Me & Lou

Lou is very imaginative- and also kind, caring and helpful. And when she gets packed off to the countryside during the war, she finds that those qualities are important. But can she keep up the soft approach, even when panic, trouble and worry hits?


9. The Wizard of Farm

I woke up with a start. I had an amazing idea. I crept downstairs, and Ida and I had a 'secret word'. She found an old checked blue tablecloth, and she dug out her sewing machine. I got busy using some cardboard and some glitter. Gwyneth came around and dropped off some of her red shoes, which she'd had since she was younger. I dug out a very old, very big yellow duvet, and I lay it out across the floor. Perfect. 

"Wake up, everybody!" I called upstairs. "I have a surprise!" Jem, Rosie and Victoria appeared at the top of the stairs, sleepy. They came down half-heartedly, questioning. I through the blue dress over Victoria, and she slipped her feet into the shoes. Jem grabbed a brown lion mask that I'd made, and Rosie wore the mask of the Tin Man. I put on the Scarecrow hat that Ida had given me, and Gwyneth popped on a false nose that I'd coloured green, like the Wicked Witch of the West. Tedward transformed and became Toto for the day, which he enjoyed. Now we were ready to play. 

"It's The Wizard of Oz!" Victoria yelled happily, clapping her hands. I shook my head. 

"No," I corrected, "It's The Wizard of Farm!" We played for hours, linking arms and skipping along the Yellow Brick Duvet. Then Gwyneth jumped out, in an imaginary puff of smoke, using Ida's brush as a broomstick. Jem was a bit old for this game- just like me and Gwyneth- but he joined in, too, laughing and reciting quotes from the film. Rosie had a go, too, singing 'If I Only Had a Heart', We got right up to the part where Dorothy, or Victoria, had to clap her heels together in order to go home, when the door flung open. A tall, strange man walked in, with a huge, shaggy dog. Ida was cooking some soup, and she dropped her spatula with a clatter, and Grandpa looked up from The Afternoon Times. Gwyneth grabbed my hand. The dog ran in, knocking Victoria right off her ruby feet. She wept, and I scooped her up. Jem and Rosie ran over to Ida, confused. 

"You've got two days!" The man bellowed in Ida's face. "Then the farm is MINE!" Victoria winced, nuzzling into my shoulder. The man stormed away, his dog sprinting behind him. Ida gulped.

"I told you, love," Grandpa said. "You should have given him the money you owed!" 

"I COULDN'T!" Ida suddenly started sobbing, and I gave Victoria to Grandpa. "I had to sort Victoria's birthday! And then there was the food- extra, since Lou got here," I felt guilty all of a sudden. "And I've got no money for anything now! Rations, rations- they can't pay for a house! And then there's the animals; they cost a load to feed, but I can't afford to lose them, they give us food. Oh, help, Father!" Grandpa put his arm around her, whilst she shaked. 

"I think I'll go," Gwyneth said, putting an arm around me. "See you sometime, Lou." She left, but I didn't say anything. 


I lay awake that night. I'd done everything all afternoon- served up the supper, bathed Victoria, gotten them all ready for bed. Then, I'd made Ida some toast, and tucked her up in bed, like she was a little baby. It was very late before I'd finally been able to snuggle down for myself. 

Jem suddenly came and perched on my bed, when the others were asleep.

"I'm scared, Lou!" He panicked. "I'm terrified! Things aren't normal. First, the bombing last night, and now this. I should have helped Mother!"

"You couldn't!" I said. "You couldn't have helped her; you didn't even know!" Jem bit his lip. 

"I kind of did. She got it late one evening, about a month ago, before Grandpa came to live with us. We were really short on money. So she borrowed it from Peter- that man, I heard her say- and she told Grandpa she thought she'd get away with it, but no. Peter is a strong man- he'll bring the place DOWN if we don't leave! But I don't want to!" In the darkness, I could hear him sniffling. I reached out and gave him a hug, and at some point, we must have fallen asleep. 


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