Excerpt from Wendy Watchitt

Front cover Wendy Watchitt by Iris Carden, featuring picture of Wendy, a girl with a toad sitting in her curly red hair.

Excerpt from Wendy Watchitt

Novel by Iris Carden

Wendy Moves House

Wendy sat on her bed and looked at the empty boxes. She looked around the room at everything that still had to be packed – which was everything she owned. She sighed. Better get started.

Her bedroom door flew open and her mother swept purposefully in. Maria Watchitt-Normal never simply walked anywhere. She was far too busy and too organised to walk or amble or wander aimlessly. Maria always moved with a definite purpose.

“Wendy, you haven’t even started!” she said. “The removalists will be here soon. You need to pack.”

“I don’t see why we should bother packing, when you could just blink your eyes and all of our stuff would just go straight to the new house,” Wendy said.

“We live with normal people, so we act like normal people,” Maria said, and swept purposefully out of the room, the door closing decisively behind her.

“But I don’t want to live with normal people,” Wendy said to the closed door. “I don’t want a normal step- father and I really don’t want an annoying little step- brother.”

She blinked. All of her possessions packed themselves neatly in the boxes. The boxes closed themselves and the tape taped them shut. A marker pen wrote “Wendy’s Stuff” clearly on each of the boxes.

There was a shuffling noise in one box, and signs of struggling in it.

Oh no! Wendy quickly un-taped the box and opened it. A large toad climbed out of the box, up Wendy’s arm, and settled itself on her head among her wiry copper- coloured curls.

“Sorry,” said Wendy.

“So you should be,” replied Toad. “You know your mother wouldn’t approve.” In a perfect imitation of Maria’s voice, she said, “We live with normal people, so we act like normal people.”

“Normal people’s pets don’t talk,” Wendy said. “So shut it.”

“Well, really,” said Toad and she shut it. Wendy re-taped the box by hand.

The removalists arrived and everything seemed to be chaos for an hour or more.

Then it was time to leave.

Wendy realised at the last minute that she’d packed the book she meant to read in the car. She would have no excuse to ignore Bobby, the little stepbrother she’d recently acquired.

“Well, that’s just great,” she said quietly to herself.

Toad, still in her favourite spot, on Wendy’s head, replied, “Don’t be ill-mannered. Bobby’s quite a sweet little boy. You just have to get to know him.”

“Not going to happen,” Wendy replied sullenly. Wendy was last to get into the car.

“Woofles, you’re on my seatbelt. I can’t do it up,” Bobby was saying.

Woofles, an 80-kilogram dog of unknown and unknowable breed, said, “Oh, sorry,” and moved over – stepping on Wendy’s leg.

“Ouch! Woofles!” Wendy yelped.

“Sorry, sorry!” said Woofles, and stepped back, falling on to Bobby’s lap.

Bobby laughed. “It’s OK Woofles, I’m done up now. But sit down, you’re too big to stand up in the car.”

Woofles sat down, and Bobby put an arm around him. Bobby was very proud of being part of a family that had talking pets, and he really didn’t know why he had to keep them a secret.

“OK,” said David, “We’re off. Goodbye old house.”

“Goodbye old house,” Bobby said.

Wendy glared.

“Dad, how long till we get to the new house?” Bobby asked.

“About four hours,” David said. “We’ll stop for lunch part-way.”

“Isn’t it exciting, Wendy?” Bobby asked. “Just thrilling.” Wendy did not sound thrilled.

“I’ve got a new family, a new house, new pets and a new school,” Bobby said. “And do you know what the best part is, Wendy?”

“No what?”

“My new big sister!” Bobby said excitedly.

“Oh fantastic,” Wendy answered. She thought it was anything but fantastic.

“We can go to our new school together! I’m going to be in grade one and you’re going to be in grade five. I can tell all my new friends that my big sister’s in grade five.”

“And I can tell all my new friends I’m an only child.”

“What do you think our new school’s going to be like?”

“Probably horrible. Everything else is.”

“Wendy, you’re so funny. You pretend to hate everything.”

“Yes, I pretend.” Wendy was far from pretending.

About an hour after lunch, Maria called out, “Stop the car!”

Two cars had been in an accident on the road in front of them. “David, call an ambulance and the police. Wendy come with me,” Maria instructed.

Wendy followed Maria to the crashed cars.

Maria reached through the opened the driver’s door on one car and felt the side of the driver’s neck.

“No pulse, and no respiration. Wendy, put your hand here.”

Maria put Wendy’s hand in the middle of the woman’s chest. “Right now, concentrate on her heart and her breathing. That’s right, you’ve got it. Now just focus on keeping them even and regular, just like that. I’ll go and check on the other driver. Remember this person is depending on you. This is what we do. Humans know about angels who bring them important messages, but they don’t know about us. We live among them and keep watch, so we can help when they most need us. This woman needs you right now.”

Maria went to the other car, while Wendy, keeping her hand on the woman’s chest, focussed all her energy on keeping the woman breathing and her heart beating, slowly, but regularly. She was so focussed; she didn’t even hear the ambulance arriving.

She did hear her mother say, “I’m a doctor, Dr Maria Watchitt-Normal. This driver has several broken ribs from the air bag, and a severe laceration. I’ve managed to stop the bleeding, but he has lost a lot of blood. My daughter is with the other driver, who is unconscious, with a possible head and neck injuries. She had no pulse

or respiration when we got here, but we’ve done CPR and she’s breathing and has a pulse now.”

“You did CPR with her sitting up in the car like that?” an ambulance officer asked.

“It’s a new experimental technique I’ve been working on,” Maria replied. “I didn’t want to move her without some support for her neck.”

Maria walked over to Wendy and put a hand on her shoulder. “Well done,” she said quietly. “You’ve saved your first life. Now, we hand over to the ambulance officers.”

More loudly, Maria said, “It’s OK, there’ll be someone with her if she wakes up now. You did a very good job of keeping her company.”

To the ambulance officer, Maria said, “She wants to be a doctor like her Mum when she grows up.”

Wendy went back to the family’s car.
Suddenly she felt exhausted, and also extremely hungry.

“We’ll need to stop and eat in the next town,” Maria said to David. “Wendy and I have both burned up a lot of energy and need to replenish.”

“What did you do?” Bobby asked.
“I saved a woman’s life,” Wendy answered.

Suddenly she didn’t feel as miserable as she had for the past few weeks. Suddenly she felt very proud. Maybe this new life wasn’t going to be so bad after all. Maybe it was all going to be a new adventure, and maybe some of the most exciting lessons she was going to learn weren’t going to be at her new school.

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By Iris Carden

Iris Carden is an Australian indie author, mother, grandmother, and chronic illness patient. On good days, she writes. Because of the unpredictability of her health, she writes on an indie basis, not trying to meet deadlines. She lives on a disability support pension now, but her ultimate dream is to earn her own living from her writing.

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