This is my fifth short story of the year but also the first children’s story I’ve ever written. The subject is a bit heavy, but I do hope I managed to bring it in a way that a 10-year-old can understand. The five words I had to work with were bird, propose, vanity, believe and silly. I would love to know what you think.
“Do you believe in heaven?”
“Of course, I do. Where else would I be going?”
Granny looked at Ozzy with a mischievous smile as he sat on the side of her bed.
“So, can I come with you then?”
“Oh, I’m afraid not, sweetheart.”
“Because heaven is a very special place, meant for people who have done everything they wanted to do in life. Have you done everything yet?”
Ozzy thought about it for a minute. He still wanted to meet Harry Kane and become the best football player in the world. “No”, he answered at last, “I haven’t. But if I can’t come see you, I’m sure I will miss you terribly.”
“Oh, but there’s no need for that. You see, you might not be allowed to visit me, but I can visit you anytime I want.”
Ozzy’s face lit up again. “You can?!”
“Of course! The only thing is … You might not recognise me right away.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, I won’t look like this anymore.”
“But why not? I like the way you look.”
“Oh darling, that’s sweet. But if you had the chance to be anything you want, wouldn’t you like to try and be something else?”
“I guess …”, Ozzy replied hesitantly.
“Come here”, Granny said.
Ozzy came a little closer, so Granny could whisper in his ear.
“Let me tell you a little secret. I’m actually not allowed to, but I’m sure you’ll keep this between us, won’t you?”
Ozzy nodded ardently.
“I’ll tell you what I’ll be, so you can find me more quickly. When you come home from school, I will be that little bird in the cherry tree. And when you look out your window at night, I will be that star in the sky that shines just a little brighter.”
“Really?” Ozzy asked.
“Really”, Granny winked.
Ozzy turned around and looked at mum, to see if she was as happy with this new information as he was. But she looked sad. She stood at the foot of the bed, with tears in her eyes.
He turned back and whispered in Granny’s ear.
“I think mum would just like to see you when you visit.”
Granny looked at mum. Now, she had a little tear in her eye too.
“I know she does. But I’m afraid God won’t make an exception for me.”
“Well, because I’m not that special.”
“Yes, you are!” Ozzy protested. “You are the most special person in the world. You should be allowed to do more.”
“Now, now, Ozzy, don’t be silly. What have I taught you about being vain?”
Ozzy sighed. “Vanity equals insanity.”
“That’s right”, Granny said. “One of the many lessons I want you to remember.”
“Oh, but I will remember every lesson you ever taught me, Granny”, Ozzy promised.
“Well, then I have done everything I had to do”, Granny said with a warm smile.
She took Ozzy in her arms and held him tightly.
Over his shoulder, she looked at mum and reached out to her.
Mum came to the side of the bed, sat down next to Ozzy and took Granny’s hand.
“Now then”, said Granny, as she pinched mum’s hand, “it’s time for me to go.”
Ozzy came out of her arms and went into mum’s.
“I love you, Granny”, he said.
“We love you, Granny”, mum said.
“I love you too, my darlings”, Granny said.
She turned to the window and looked outside.
“Oh my, I hadn’t noticed what a beautiful day it was. And we can’t be sad on such a beautiful day, can we?”
Ozzy shook his head.
“So, here’s what I propose: will you sing me a song to help me fall asleep? Maybe the one I used to sing to you? Do you remember?”
“I do!” Ozzy replied excitedly.
“Well then, I will close my eyes and you can sing. Go on.”
Mum held Ozzy in her arms as he cleared his throat.
You are my sunshine, my only sunshine
You make me happy when skies are gray
You’ll never know dear, how much I love you
Please don’t take my sunshine away.
And just like that, the sunshine took Granny away.