f Polly Mae pulls my cat’s tail again, or so much as glances in his direction, I will report her to the SSPCA. What a naughty wee lassie she is,” Mrs Donkin whined. “She should be locked up in a cage with a big padlock on it and fed bread and water for a week.”
If she had her way, she would bring the stockades back, or even hanging!
Polly Mae could just see it now…hundreds of kids strung up along the lampposts, with her prodding them with her broom! She was the neighbourhood’s answer to the wicked witch of the west, and she lived up to her reputation. And here she is, at it again, thought Polly Mae.
Poor old Polly Mae. She was always getting into bother. She could not understand why. She’d only pulled that silly old cat’s tail because it would not come down from the tree. She hadn’t even pulled it hard, as that would have been cruel. It just so happened that the cat had been in the tree she wanted to climb, so the cat had to go—it was as simple as that. But Mrs Donkin, from next door, the real neighbour from hell, was always trying to get Polly Mae into trouble. Some of the kids thought she was a demon from outer space sent to Earth to destroy all the fun of eleven-year-olds around the world. And I bet she even has a university degree in complaining! Polly Mae thought. She was waving her arms in the air like a loony and looked like she would take off any minute.
Polly Mae sat on her bed, to which her mum had banished her until teatime, watching out of the window. She watched and smiled. Mrs Donkin was still waving her arms around like a lolloping giant octopus. Her grey hair gently blowing in the wind that was caused by the air coming from her mouth. That made Polly Mae smile to herself.
She wondered what she could do to keep herself busy. Being in her room was not the thing she wanted to do best in the world right now. She listened to her CDs and began to imitate Kylie, using her hairbrush as a microphone, but even that got boring after a while.
She walked over to the bedroom window and looked out. “What a waste of a beautiful, warm day,” she sighed. “If only I could get out.”
She sat down again on the bed and thought for a while. “Ah ha! I know…I can climb out of the window,” she said, suddenly excited and almost fell off her bed.
Polly Mae checked to see if her mum was still talking to Mrs Donkin by opening the door a smidgen. Yes, just as she suspected, they were still talking. Blimey, can they gab! Polly Mae thought.
She went over to her bedroom window and cleared the things from the windowsill. Taking great care when moving her porcelain doll, her nanna had bought her for Christmas 2 years ago and her blue piggy bank from Spain, a gift from her Uncle Hamish, was put in a safe place on her dressing table, she opened the window as quietly as she could so no one would hear. She cocked her leg over the windowsill and slid out of the bedroom. She gripped the window ledge, wound her legs around the drainpipe, and slid down very slowly. The window wasn’t very high at all, which made things a lot easier.
“Move, you daft moggy,” she said. “Can’t you see I am trying to slide down the drainpipe, and you are in my way again,” Polly Mae almost shouted through gritted teeth.
The cat scampered away when he saw Polly Mae and hissed at her when he was at a safe distance. Polly Mae jumped the last meter or so and ran off, in a crouched position, with her head as low as possible so as not to be seen.
She darted behind a bush when she saw Mrs Pottle come out of her gate and walk towards her mum’s house. Now she knew she was safe because Mrs Pottle was the town gossip, even worse than Mrs Donkin, and could talk for hours without breathing—or so all her school friends said.
After Mrs Pottle had disappeared into her mum’s house, Polly Mae ran towards the beach. It was really great living near the sea because you could always find super places to hide from your mum and dad, or whoever happened to be mad at you at the time.
Portsoy had a great beach, with lots of hiding places. Several streets led to the beach, so it made for many quick and easy escapes. Her mum and dad would sometimes take her to Banff or Cullen beaches, which was great fun, and they would get a fish supper on the way home.
Portsoy Harbour was full of holidaymakers that flocked to the fishing village every year, especially when the annual boat festival was on. There were loads of people there so she could blend in quite easily.
She sat on the sand for a bit, making patterns with the toes of her shoes. Then, just out of the corner of her eye, she spotted William, a friend from school. She ran over to greet him.
“Hey, William. What are you up to?”
“Oh, nothing much. Just been to Graham’s house. Fancy hunting for treasure?” he asked.
“You’re a barm pot. There is no treasure on this beach,” snorted Polly Mae.
“Yes, there is so, and if you don’t come, I’ll go alone, so there,” William said in a huff.
“All right, all right…don’t get your pants in a twist,” Polly Mae said.
At least it was better than sitting alone.
William Stewart was eleven years old, and that made Polly Mae four months and two days older than he was, which in her eyes made her grown up—the boss so to speak. William had lived three doors down from Polly Mae for as long as she could remember, and they were best friends. William’s parents were originally from Ordiquhill, just outside Cornhill, and Cornhill was only six miles from Portsoy, so they had not moved far.
Polly Mae was glad William lived nearby. He was not only a good friend but also his mum was the school dinner lady, so she always got extra helpings of chocolate pudding with white sauce, which was her absolute favourite—or was it haggis neeps and tatties…or maybe even both! William spent most of his time down on the beach, sometimes going onto the fairground, and if he had any pocket money left, he would go on the waltzer until he felt sick. Many a time Polly Mae would laugh her socks off at William’s green face as he staggered off the rides at the fair.
They set off for the sand dunes, which had lots of bushes and long, spiky grass that really hurt if you touched the ends. Some of the blades were nearly as tall as they were. They began to search for buried treasure.
The sun was still high in the sky, so Polly Mae knew that they had lots of time before she had to sneak back home again. She smiled to herself thinking of where she should have been at this time.
They made their way to the old ice cream cabin. Long ago, you could buy twelve different flavours of ice cream and large cones with chocolate flakes in them for only 20 pence. It was a very rickety old cabin, but it was great to play games in, such as hide and seek or shops. It had a big, old wooden bench that was once used as a counter and lots of empty ice-cream boxes. There were tonnes of cobwebs hanging from the low ceiling, and it smelt of seaweed. All the kids loved to play there. Polly Mae opened the big door with a loud creak and gave it a push; William followed close behind. He was not as brave as Polly Mae claimed to be. They went inside and waited awhile until their eyes had got used to the dimness of the cabin.
“Pooh, it smells rotten,” William said, nose scrunched up in disgust.
“Oh, don’t act like a baby,” Polly Mae said. She pushed poor old William further into the room. William could hear a faint scratching noise.
“P-Polly M-Mae,” William stuttered. “I-it’s a g-g-ghost.”
“You silly billy, it must be a mouse or something,” she replied, giggling.
Still, Polly Mae thought she had better investigate the matter, and fast.
She moved an old chair with a strong push forward, her arms straight out to give her more strength as its stuffing hung out each side of the arms, seemed to make it heavier. The dust flew everywhere. The chair groaned, the floorboards creaked underneath her feet, threatening to swallow her up with the chair on top of her too! Polly Mae kicked away a pile of musty old newspapers with her foot and then got down on her hands and knees on the damp and dusty floor and peered into a hole in the wall, which was about as big as a football. She thought this was either an enormous mouse or the entrance to a secret cave that held gold and silver and pirate doubloons in big oak caskets with skull and cross bones laid neatly on the top, by some old landlubber
By now, poor William was standing on top of the old chair as the mouse started at him for just 2 seconds before the little mouse had scampered out of the hole, raced across the room, and ran right out of the open door, falling PLOP into the sand dunes.
“I forgot to tell you I’m scared of mice,” said a very shaky William.