Holly Toogood was bored. How could a 10 year old be bored? With so much to explore and learn at that age, she wondered why she was feeling so fed up.
It was the first week of the summer holidays. Her younger brother Timothy had already shut himself away in his bedroom, glued to his microscope.
Holly wanted an adventure. She wanted to go exploring. She didn’t want to play in the garden any more and all her friends had gone on trips with their families. Her father was still at work so her family was staying put for the time being.
She looked out of her bedroom window and saw her mother’s car sitting on the driveway. She had an idea!
Holly ran downstairs and found her mother ironing in the kitchen.
“Mum! Mum! Can I go sit in the car?”
Her mother set the iron down on the board and folded a T-shirt neatly into the basket at her feet. She looked quizzically at Holly.
“Why on earth do you want to go and sit in the car, Holly? We’re not going out today.”
“Yes I know. But I can pretend that we’re going somewhere. Please?!”
Laughter filled the kitchen and her mother reached over to her daughter and pulled her into a big bear-hug.
“You are funny, Holly Toogood. Go get my handbag from the hall; I think the keys are inside.”
Holly skipped with excitement to retrieve the bag and her mother rummaged around to find the small bunch of keys. They walked to the front door and her mother pressed the remote. The car blipped and flashed; it was open!
Holly opened the drivers door and climbed inside. She sat proudly in her seat, placing her hands firmly on the big steering wheel. She was the driver!
She looked down at the pedals beneath her feet. Her legs were too short and her feet didn’t quite reach them. She tried to stretch down to touch one of them and ended up almost sliding off her seat.
Just drive, Holly! Let’s go!
Holly placed her left hand on the gear knob to her left and pretended to change gear. Her hands turned the wheel and she made little driving noises. She pressed the horn in the middle of the wheel, which annoyed her mother because she appeared at the front door shaking her head.
All of a sudden, as Holly looked out, the view in front of her started to change. The road beyond the end of their drive was shimmering, wobbling in and out of focus. Holly rubbed her eyes. Maybe she was tired. It made no difference. Everything was blurring and smudging into one another.
She stayed perfectly still whilst everything around her became one big ball of pinky-purple colour. The car started to vibrate, only very gently at first but soon quite violently. What was happening?
As quickly as it all started, Holly now watched as everything around her started to settle. The pinky-purple colours seemed to fade away and things looked fairly normal. She twisted in her seat to look back at the house; it was still there as before. The driveway and the road, the houses opposite; it all looked as it should.
Holly scratched her head. She didn’t understand. What had just happened? She got out of the car and went back inside the house to tell her mother. As she went into the kitchen she couldn’t quite believe what she saw.
There, standing next to the ironing board was a very tall, very thin, very strange looking woman. It wasn’t Holly’s mother; it looked like a witch. She was wearing a tall, pointy hat and a long black robe. Her hands were old and boney, and she definitely wasn’t very good at doing the ironing.
As Holly walked into the room, the witch turned slowly to face her. Holly noticed she had piercing blue eyes and horrible teeth, all broken and yellow. She was frightening looking and Holly thought she might scream but managed to stop herself.
“Well, well, if it isn’t little Holly Toogood. Nice to see you could spare some time to have a chat.”
“Who are you?”
“Oh, just a friend of your mums.”
Holly knew the witch was lying. Something was very wrong.
“Where is my mother?”
“Oh, don’t worry about her, Holly. You get to see her every day. I don’t get to visit very often now do I?”
Holly was very confused. She was talking to a witch who was doing the ironing.
“I don’t get it. Who are you? How did you get here?”
“It’s really very simple, Holly. You went and sat in the car. And then I appeared. For someone who was feeling bored, you’re not looking very excited at having someone to hang around with.”
Holly wasn’t excited. If she was going to hang around with anyone it certainly wouldn’t be some old smelly witch who was singeing all their clothes.
“Was that why everything went a funny colour and shimmered?”
The witch slammed the iron down hard onto the board making Holly jump. She wasn’t a very patient or calm individual.
“Oh, for goodness sake, Holly Toogood, yes! For every child that wants to go “drive” in their parents car there is always a visitor that appears – that’s me. Your visitor.”
Holly couldn’t put two and two together. “But I don’t understand why.”
“You’re not supposed to; you’re only ten. Look, I was chosen to visit your house. You got in the car; I appeared in your kitchen. Although why I was expected to do the laundry I’ll never know.”
This was completely weird. Holly wanted to see her mother.
“Please let me go find my mother.”
The witch took a step in front of Holly blocking her way.
“That’s not such a good idea, Holly. Your mother has gone.”
“What do you mean gone?”
The witch smiled, the crookedness of her mouth both comical and gross.
“I popped her into the iron. She’s currently all over your washing, keeping you on the straight and narrow!”
And with that, the witch broke into the most horrendous cackling ever heard. Molly covered her ears and held her breath, for the old woman had obviously not cleaned her teeth for some time and a wretched smell of mouldy cheese wafted about the place.
“Right, that’s it. I won’t stand for this any longer. You give me back my mother or I’m going to get back in that car and make you go away.”
The witch continued laughing at Holly, until Holly made a run for the hallway. The witch grabbed Holly’s arm and pressed her wrinkled, smelly face up against Holly’s.
“Don’t even think about it, Toogood. She’s gone!”
She wasn’t sure how she managed it but Holly managed to wriggle herself free of the witch’s grasp and out into the car. She jumped into the drivers seat, slammed the door behind her and pressed down on the central locking, making sure she couldn’t be followed. Good job; it wasn’t long before the old hag was banging on the window.
Holly did her best to ignore the witch and placed her hands on the steering wheel once more. She imagined driving along windy lanes, past little village greens and secluded coves by the sea. Her hands were gripping the wheel so hard that her knuckles turned white.
Nothing was happening. And then Holly remembered; things only went strange when she made the car noises, honked the horn, made it real. The second she did, everything started to swirl and shimmer once more. The pinky-purple shades wrapped themselves around the car and although she could still hear the witch on the window, Holly couldn’t see her.
After a few minutes of vibrating pinkness, Holly blinked hard a few times and realised that everything was back to normal again. She turned slowly to her right; no witch. Thank goodness.
She sat briefly, quietly, trying to take in what had just happened.
She jumped out of the car and raced indoors. As she reached the kitchen, she ran straight into her mum who was carrying the ironing basket full of clothes. Shirts and trousers, t-shirts and underwear went soaring up into the air, some of which landed on Holly’s head.
“Holly! Look what you’ve done! What’s with all the rush?!”
Holly smiled broadly and threw her little arms around her mother.
“Oh, I just missed you, that’s all.”
“But you’ve only been outside for a few minutes, love! Come on, help me pick all this lot up.”
And Holly did as did as she was told. She decided she wouldn’t tell her about the witch or the pinky-purple. After all, it was only her that had been on such a strange road trip.