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Rated: E · Short Story · Children's · #913444
A story that ought not to have been told in the first place
Behind the scenes
... a story that ought not to have been told in the first place...

Before I start penning the story, I reminisce and the images come rushing fast to my mind. The memories are still vivid, bright and clear, as if it had all happened just last week. I chuckle, silently recollecting it all…


"Mmmm... yummy," Lucy finally declared after gulping down the remnants of the light, fluffy, reddish-brown pancake she had so delicately devoured over the past three minutes.

Wow. My tiny, eight-year old body seemed to have sprouted flossy wings and I felt as if I had taken off from the ground. Every cell in me tingled with joy. I was elated. Of course I’d be. Who wouldn’t?

Lucy, our unquestioned leader and boss, had liked… no, actually loved Mom’s pancakes. My mother was like the insuperable Brazilians who won the Soccer World Cup. She had got Lucy’s nod of approval in recognition of her culinary skills, something other mothers failed to do. A mother comparable to the mighty Brazilian Soccer team. Now, isn’t that gratifying?

Thank you, my Fuhrer! I could have uttered that and raised Lucy’s lanky fingers to my lips as a sign of gratitude, if it were not for the fact that, back then, I knew nothing about the Fuhrer or his clan.

After the leader’s final assent, a sway of her little head up and down, signaling the others to follow suit, the rest of the gang devoured whatever remained in the glistening ceramic bowl to the last bit.

After the day’s meeting had ended, I jauntily skipped down the street, clutching my prized possession, the empty vessel with not even a tiny morsel of the snack sticking anywhere, and reached home in fewer strides than usual.

“Yippee!” I gloated while looking around for Mom. She was behind her large writing desk in the bedroom, staring at the ceiling.

“Lucy loved your pancake, Mom,” I ecstatically declared, showing my mother the empty bowl. “And the rest of the group too. See, nothing is left.”

“Mmmm,” Mom mumbled, the tip of her black ballpoint pen firmly resting between her slightly parted lips.

To my disappointment, she didn’t seem to particularly revel at the bit of information I had just supplied. Her light, hazel eyes were narrowed in concentration and still glued to a vacant spot on the ceiling. Sheaves of papers lay scattered on her desk.

Uh oh! I discovered she was at it again. Writing, I mean. Mom was a children’s story writer. When she sat down to write, there weren’t many things that could get her off it easily. Not even Gina auntie’s gossip, with promising details like Becky’s affair with Sean or Sheila’s special recipes.

“Oh Mom, didn’t you hear?” I tugged her hand, “Lucy loved your Pancake. And Nina and Kate too.”

Mom looked away from the ceiling, finally. I had managed to find a stone that could cause ripples in her still pond of concentration.

“That’s fine, dear. Now off you go and don’t disturb me. I have to ‘create’ a story for the children’s weekly by Saturday, and if I don’t get an idea by today, I am afraid things will be bad.”

A story, did she say? Oh, how I wished ‘things’ that she mentioned could remain just as ‘bad’ as they were. The very mention of a story by Mom had actually set my head in a frenzied spin and I temporarily forgot all about Lucy and the pancakes.

Truth, they say, is sometimes stranger than fiction. Very much so in my case. I knew of children annoying elders for stories-at-the-drop-of-a-hat, but in my case there was an odd reversal. Every evening after a late dinner, Mom would forcibly tuck my sleepy form beneath the bed covers and compulsorily conduct a story session. Children’s stories that she had made up herself, she claimed.

Even as she doled out tales of a certain poor girl Windy winning the prince’s love with the help of a powerful fairy-cum-Godmother, I found an uncanny resemblance the story had to Cinderella’s. And one day, between cavernous yawns, I had finally expressed my doubts to her.

“Don’t be silly, Alice,” she had chided me mildly. “Cinderella’s is about a poor little Cindy and not a brave little Windy,” was her explanation. I, of course, had to be contented with that.

That day, I had to be careful. I decided it was too dangerous to be lurking anywhere around when Mom’s creative juices were spilling perilously. I darted from the room, but Mom actually took no notice. A few minutes later, I saw her sitting in the same room, still gazing intently at the ceiling. Little did I know that a story was fast on its way. A horror story, that is.


The next day, I spent my time in school narrating to the whole class how Lucy (she was also our class monitor) had loved Mom’s pancakes. As my classmates gaped in awe (and envy), I beamed at the thought of having gotten into the leader’s good books, a daunting task that I had accomplished fairly easily with the help of a nondescript pancake, forgetting of course that much of it I owed to Mom. I chuckled at the thought of my classmates goading their mothers into baking pancakes that evening.

I was never as happy as I was on that day, not even on my ‘happy birthday’. But I knew not, that all of it was to be gone soon, like camphor metamorphosed into a whiff of disappearing vapor.

The drama unfolded late afternoon. It was the games-hour. There was this mad jostle, as usual, to join Lucy’s group. Unfortunately due to policy restrictions, she could accommodate only ten of us at a time in her group and for the other twenty who were going to be left out, the ordeal would be unbearable. But I was lucky. Mom’s pancakes were still working and Lucy had been benevolent to me. Not only had she let me unconditionally join her group, but also had handpicked me to accompany her for fetching the sports paraphernalia. Delighted, I had accepted the offer, and soon both of us were sashaying towards the block.

We were almost close to the locker when I beheld the huge figure of Bridget, the 'Bully' from the sixth grade, striding towards us in an alarmingly frightening pace. Only when she came closer did I notice her seething form and glowering eyes more clearly. Frightened, I stood there trembling like a field mouse and for the first time thought Lucy looked like one too.

“So what do you think of yourself, girlie?” Bridget asked, her sharp eyes pointed at Lucy.

“No-nothing…” Lucy whispered. Her voice was soft and low, and barely audible.


The next sound I heard was the landing of Bridget’s thick palm on Lucy’s soft right cheek. I should admit that though Lucy received the slap, it was me who reeled under the impact.

“How dare you beat up my kid brother? Thought you could get away with that? Little miss, that will teach you the right lesson not to meddle with the affairs of your seniors.”

Bridget was gone, as quickly as she had come, but Lucy by now had turned totally crimson.

“No one saw Bridget slapping me, you understand? Even you didn’t. One word about this gets out and you’ll know who I am, alright Alice? Of course if you don’t tell anyone, I’ll take you as my best friend.”

I nodded meekly. Lucy had made an offer I couldn’t refuse.


Later that evening, I writhed in agony at home. The secret that had been successfully held for four long hours was far too big for an eight-year old body to contain. At a distance I found Bob, my little brother, merrily gurgling, babbling and playing with his toys. Instantly, I knew what to do to let my pain ease.

“You know Bob? Bridget slapped Lucy. I mean how on earth could Bridget slap Lucy?”

Little did I know I had grossly underestimated the susceptibility and retentivity of three-year olds. When he babbled an incomprehensible “Bichit chlap Luchy,” to Mom who entered the room with his milk a few minutes later, it didn’t take her long to decipher it.

“Did she really?” Mom asked, turning to me. Her pointed gaze penetrated hard almost extracting the truth shielded behind my sealed lips.

I nodded and in a rapid gush of words that followed, ended up telling her everything.

“Mom pleeeeease, pleeeeease,” I was begging her a moment later. “Promise that you will not tell this to anybody. Lucy has promised to make me her best friend if I kept this a secret. Please. I have got this wonderful chance. Please don’t tell anyone.”

Mom’s eyes softened. “Alright. I am not telling anyone,” she whispered. Then there appeared a sudden twinkle in her eyes. “Of course, I am not telling anyone…”

“You know Bob? Long ago there was a girl called Rosy …” I heard Mom tell Bob another story that night. “… Very proud and haughty, she was. Little girls feared her. And then one day, Rosy learned her lesson…” Mom’s voice trailed away as eyelids closed my eyes like blinds drawn over a window.


A week later, I was sitting on my bench bragging to Ron about being ‘Lucy’s best friend’, when I found a fuming ‘best friend’ next to me.

“You are not my best friend. You are from now my worst enemy. Don’t ever talk to me, okay?” She rattled off harshly and left. I was humiliated and at a complete loss to understand what must have concurred for her to suddenly strip me of the honor. Collecting pieces of my broken heart, I sprinted behind her screaming “Lucy,” all the way. A curious class followed us.

“Stop.” After motioning the class not to proceed any further, Lucy took me to an empty spot close to the balcony. Ensuring that no one was spying on us, she spoke, her eyes by now moistened with tiny beads of water that were threatening to spill.

“I told you not to tell anyone. But you cheated me,” she stuttered and paused as she spoke.

“B-but… I didn’t…” I started.

“You told your Mom, didn’t you?”

“Yes. I mean no…”

“Your mother’s story ‘How Rosy learned a lesson’ is in the latest edition of children’s weekly. Lucy is Rosy, Alice is Beatrice, Bridget is Midget and Red Roses School is Blue Roses School. My mother read the story and came to know of everything. She had my request for a new Barbie promptly cancelled.”

“You are not my best friend. You are mean,” she decisively concluded before wiping her tears and leaving in a huff.

I had never known that Mom’s stories were this dangerous. I had lost a best-friend. A hard-earned, feared and much respected one at that. I was angry and a silent cry burst forth from my compressed lips. As I stood helplessly with my misty eyes looking at the receding form of Lucy striding back to the class, I bitterly vowed never to speak to Mom again.


If you have already read the story of a certain haughty girl who got punished for her insolence, in a children’s weekly long ago then you would by now have realized that what you just read is the 'Behind the Scenes' version of the same.

And the genesis of all this – my Mom? Yes, she still writes. I don’t know what damages her other stories have caused to numerous other people, but it is long since I forgave and made up with her. After all, I am her daughter and a budding writer too now, am I not?

- Alice Baker
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