[Short Story]The New Neighbours

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Molly lives in a small house in a quiet street.  She bought her house 20 years when it was new. Jim and Iris Waterson bought the house next to Molly’s at the same time. They were good friends and good neighbours for 20 years, but now the Waterson’s townhouse was empty. Jim and Iris have moved to Florida to live near their daughter and grandchildren.

I hope my new neighbours are as nice as Jim and Iris, thought Molly. I will be very upset if some young people buy the house. They will be noisy. They might have children. They might have pets.

A few days later a moving truck parked outside the house next door. Molly stood at the window of her living room and watched.

She saw sofas, armchairs, tables, chairs and beds go into the house. She saw the moving men carry many boxes into the house.  Then she saw a little bicycle. It was pink. A man carried it to the garden behind the house.

Oh no! she thought. A child!

Next the man carried a red bicycle into the garden. It was bigger than the pink bicycle, but it was too small for an adult. Another child! Shouting! Screaming! I don’t want to live next door to children.

Molly looked at her watch. It was time to go to the community centre. Every Friday, there was a concert at the community centre. Gustav Baer played the piano. He played beautiful classical music. He was a very good pianist. When he was younger, he was very famous. He gave concerts all over the world. Now he was retired, but he still liked to play the piano. So he gave free concerts at hospitals and retirement homes and community centres.

Molly put on her coat. She took her bag and went out of her house. She locked the door and hurried down the street. The men were still taking boxes and furniture out of the truck.

I don’t know if I will enjoy the concert today, thought Molly. I am so unhappy. I love my house. I love my quiet street. But now there will be noisy children. Everything will change.

Molly was very surprised when she arrived at the community centre. Gustav Baer was not there. “Mr Baer cannot come today,” the manager of the community centre said to everyone. “He is too busy. He will come next week. Mr Baer’s friend has come. He plays the guitar and he sings. Please enjoy the concert.”

The concert was very nice but Molly thought Mr Baer’s piano playing was better. After the concert she went home. The trucks had gone and it was very quiet.

Before Molly went to bed, she went outside to put some garbage in the garbage bin. It was very dark. There were lights on in the house next door. Molly could hear a piano. The music sounded beautiful. She walked over the fence and looked at the house next door. The lights were on in the house and she could see inside. I guess they have not had time to hang curtains yet, she thought.

She could see many boxes on the floor of the living room. She could see a grand piano, but she could not see who was playing it.

The next day, someone rang the doorbell Molly went to answer it. She was very surprised. Gustav Baer was there.

“Good morning,” he said. “I am your new neighbour.”

“You!” said Molly. “I thought it was a family with children! I saw the bicycles. A pink one and a red one!”

“Oh,” said Mr Baer. “They are my grandchildren’s bicycles. Sometimes they come to visit on Sundays. It is nice for them to have something to do at my house. If they have nothing to do, they get bored and very noisy. Most of the time, there will only be me living there. I’m sorry. It will be very quiet. I think maybe you like to have children and pets next door.”

“Oh, no. No,” said Molly. “Please come in and have a cup of tea! I saw you have no curtains yet. Maybe I can help you. I want you to be happy in your new home.”

[Short Story] Grandparent’s Day

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After Walter Bergen’s wife died, he was very sad. He was lonely. He didn’t care about anything. He didn’t clean his house. He didn’t cook meals. He ate TV dinners and toast. He didn’t wash his clothes. He didn’t shave, or go to the hairdresser. His daughter, Melanie, was very worried about him. She drove to his house and said, “Dad! This is no good! You can’t stay here. Come and live in our house.”

“I don’t want to live in your house,” said Walter. “I am OK. Go away!”

Melanie was worried, but her father was very angry, so she went away.

One day, a few weeks later, Walter walked to the supermarket. He bought TV dinners and bread. He walked out of the supermarket. He walked across the road. He didn’t look to the left or the right. A car hit him. The ambulance came and took him to the hospital.  Melanie came to the hospital. “Dad!” she shouted. “You will not live alone. You will come to our house.”

Walter went to Melanie’s house. Melanie’s husband’s name was Roger. He was not happy. “Your father is dirty.  He is always angry. Why is he living in our house?”

“He is my father,” said Melanie. “He is old. He is unhappy. He must stay here.”

“I understand,” said Roger.

Melanie and Roger’s daughter was called Rosa. She was nine years old. One night while they are eating dinner, Melanie said, “Tomorrow, Rosa’s school has Grandparent’s Day.”

“What is Grandparent’s Day?” asked Walter.

“The children’s grandparents go to the school. They see what the children do at school. The children sing, and the grandparents play games with them. It is very nice,” said Melanie.

“I am Rosa’s grandfather,” said Walter. “I will go to Grandparent’s Day.

Rosa jumped up. She ran away from the table. She went to her bedroom.

Later, Walter was going to bed. He walked past Rosa’s bedroom. She was crying. Walter heard Roger’s voice. “Rosa,” he said. “Stop crying.”

“No!” shouted Rosa. “My grandfather is dirty. He smells bad. He doesn’t clean his clothes. He is always angry. I don’t want him to come to my school. The other children will laugh at me!”

“Rosa!” said Roger. “Many children have no grandparents. You are lucky. You have a grandfather. If Walter wants to come to your school, it is a good thing.”

Walter went to his bedroom.

The next morning, Rosa did not want to go to school. “My grandfather is not nice. I don’t want him to come to my school.”

“You will go to school,” said Melanie.

The grandparents came to Rosa’s school at 1:00 pm.

The students went to the school hall. All the children ran to find their grandparents. Rosa waited by the door. She looked all around the school hall, but she couldn’t see her grandfather. Where is he? she thought.  Maybe he didn’t come.

There was one man who was alone. He was wearing a suit and tie. His shoes were very shiny. He looked very smart. I wish that man was my grandfather, thought Rosa. He looks like a nice man.

The man turned towards Rosa. “Rosa!” he shouted.

Rosa could not believe it. It was her grandfather, but he looked like a new man. Rosa ran to Walter and hugged him.

I’m pleased I heard Rosa talking to her father last night, thought Walter. It made me feel bad when I heard what Rosa said. But I understand. I will be a better person in the future.

[Short Story] The Dinner Party

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Maggie and Dion got married a few months ago. They moved to a new town because Dion got a good job with a software company. Maggie and Dion live in a small apartment on the top floor of an apartment

Maggie hasn’t finished her degree yet. She is studying by distance learning. She doesn’t know anyone in the town. Dion is out at work every day, so Maggie often feels lonely.

One Friday morning, Dion is late for work. He eats some toast quickly and drinks half a cup of coffee. He kisses Maggie goodbye. He picks up his bag and hurries to the door. Then he stops.

“I forgot to tell you. I will be home at 6:30. Pam and Brian are coming with me. They are coming for dinner. Have a good day!”

Maggie runs to the open door. Dion is still talking as he runs down the stairs, but Maggie can’t hear what he is saying.

She closes the door and goes back inside.

A dinner party! This is exciting. Pam and Brian will be our first visitors. But I am a terrible cook! What can I make for dinner? I must think of a menu.

Dion is a very good cook. He makes the evening meal every night. Maggie usually buys something from the convenience store for her lunch, or makes herself a sandwich. But Dion will have no time tonight to cook for their visitors.

I will have to make something, thinks Maggie. I will text my mother and ask for advice.

She soon gets an answer from her mother. ‘Maggie! You can’t cook, so please make something simple. How about a roast chicken? You can cook some potatoes in the oven with the chicken and make a salad. Make an apple pie. Sorry I can’t help you any more. I am going to an all-day yoga retreat. Good luck.’

Maggie looks on the Internet. She finds many recipes for roasting a chicken. It doesn’t seem difficult. She reads how hot the oven must be and how long to cook the chicken. I can do this, she thinks. And maybe I can buy an apple pie from the bakery.

Maggie makes a list and goes to the supermarket. She makes a timetable, so she knows what time to start cooking the chicken.

She cleans the apartment. She prepares everything for the salad. She puts flowers from the supermarket in vases. She sets the table. I can use all the beautiful gifts we were as wedding presents. The table will look beautiful.

Maggie feels very pleased. The dinner party will be a great success. This is not so difficult.

It is late in the afternoon when Maggie reads her timetable. 4:30. Time to put the chicken in the oven. Then I will prepare the potatoes and put them in the oven with the chicken.

Maggie follows the recipe from the Internet carefully. She does everything the recipe says. She sets the temperature for the oven and puts the chicken in. She prepares the potatoes and puts them in the oven too.

Everything is done and Maggie can relax. I have an assignment due on Monday. I haven’t done any work all day. I must do some work now.

She sets the alarm on her phone for 6:00 pm and starts working.

When the alarm goes off, she goes to the kitchen. That’s strange, she thinks. I can’t smell anything. When Dion cooks chicken, there is always a delicious smell. It makes me feel hungry. Maybe I should check.

Maggie takes the chicken and potatoes out of the oven. The chicken is white and cold. The potatoes are raw. Oh, no! The oven is broken! I only have snacks, salad and apple pie!

Dion comes home. He is very cheerful. “We left work early. Pam and Brian are parking their cars. They’ll be here in a few minutes.”

He looks at Maggie. She has tears running down her face.

“Oh, Dion! The oven is broken. We have no food to give them!”

“You cooked dinner? But……”

He looks at the chicken and potatoes on the counter. He goes to the oven and opens the door. He puts his hand inside. The oven is cold. He looks at the oven controls.

He hugs Maggie. “Did you look at a recipe?”

“Yes. I wrote everything down. The time. The temperature, everything!”

Dion laughs. “Quickly. Put the chicken and potatoes in the refrigerator. We’ll eat them tomorrow. I told you this morning that we would buy pizzas on the way home. Brian is bringing them now.”

“Oh,” said Maggie. “I know you said something, but I didn’t hear.”

Brian and Pam are at the door. They have the pizzas. They have wine.

It is a great dinner party. Maggie’s salad is good. Everyone likes the apple pie.

When Pam and Brian leave, Maggie says to Dion. “We must call the repairman tomorrow. The oven is broken.”

Dion laughs and hugs Maggie. “Mmm. The oven is not broken. You set the temperature. You did everything right, but you didn’t turn the oven on!”

“Oh,” said Maggie. “The recipe didn’t say anything about turning the oven on!”

[Short Story] The Ghost Chair

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Matt and Paul are engineering students. They do not have a lot of money, but they need somewhere to live. They find an old house that is very cheap, but it has no furniture. They look in charity shops and secondhand shops for furniture. They buy beds, desk, a sofa, a table and chairs and other things but the house still looks very empty.

One day, Paul is riding home from university when he sees a chair outside a charity shop. It is a big, old armchair. He gets off his bike and goes to look at it. It looks very comfortable and it is free! He tells the man in the shop he wants the chair. The man says, “It’s strange. Many people have looked at that chair. They say they want to buy it.

They sit in it, and then they change their minds. They go away. It has been in this shop for a long time, so I thought I would put it outside and give it to anyone who will take it away.”

Paul calls Matt. Matt has an old van. He comes to the shop. They put the armchair in the van and take it back to the house.

The chair looks very good in their living room. Paul and Matt are very pleased but they don’t sit in it because they are busy. Their girlfriends are coming for a small party. After dinner, they sit in the living room. Matt’s girlfriend Cindy, sits in the new chair. After a while she moves to the sofa. “Don’t you like our new chair, Cindy?” asks Paul.

“No,” says Cindy. “It makes strange noises.”

Everyone laughs at Cindy.

A storm blows up and the weather is very bad so their girlfriends go home early. Just after they leave, there is a lot of thunder and lightning and the power goes off. Paul and Matt clean up the kitchen and go to the living room. It is very dark and quiet because they have no TV and no electric lights.

Paul sits in the new chair “Aah,” he says. “This is so comfortable! And it was free!”

Matt is sitting on the sofa. “What’s that?” he asks.

“What’s what?” asks Paul.

“That noise.”

“What noise?”

“Listen.”

There are strange sounds coming from the chair. There is a rattling noise, like something knocking. Paul stands up. The sound stops. He sits down hard and this time there is a different noise. It sounds like a child crying.

He jumps up, and the sound stops. “Someone, or something, doesn’t want you to sit in that chair!” laughs Matt.

Paul’s face is white. “Don’t joke. It’s not funny. There is something wrong with that chair!”

Paul and Matt go to bed. When they leave the living room, they shut the door very carefully.

The next morning the sun is shining. Matt is cheerful but Paul is worried. “I think we should take that chair back to the shop,” he says. “It is a very scary chair.”

“No!” laughs Matt. We were tired last night and it was dark, and cold. We imagined those noises. Let’s go and sit in it again.”

The living room is bright. The chair does not look scary, but Paul won’t sit in it. He stands by the door. “No way!” he says.

“OK. I will,” says Matt. He sits in the chair, and they both listen. They can hear the knocking sound.  Then Matt stands up and pushes the seat of the chair, very hard. ‘Mama!’ the sound comes from inside the chair!

He pulls the cushion of the chair seat. “Come and look!” he says. “I have found the ghost!”

Paul comes and looks. The chair is old and the material over the springs has holes in it. Matt puts his hand through one of the holes and pulls out a money box! He shakes it. It makes a rattling noise. Then he puts his hand in again and pulls out a doll. He pushes the doll’s stomach. ‘Mama’.

Paul is happy. “Mystery solved. No ghosts. Just a small child’s hiding place for her toys.

“But I wonder what happened to her?”

“Don’t think about. We have a very good chair and it was free!” answers Matt.

[Short Story]547 Westerfield Road

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Samuel drives a courier van. Every day he goes to the courier depot and picks up all the boxes to be delivered to houses in the area. He checks all the addresses and plans his route.

Most of the boxes are deliveries for online shopping. People buy many different things online – clothes, books, furniture, toys, wine and food.

Samuel likes his job. He likes driving his van and he thinks it is interesting to go to so many different houses. He often goes to the same houses, so he becomes friendly with the people who live there.

The week before Christmas is always very busy. Samuel starts work and 7:00am and sometimes doesn’t finish until 7:30pm. The 21st of December is a normal day. Samuel goes to the depot. The boxes for his area are waiting for him. There are different instructions for different boxes. Samuel must get someone at the house to sign for most boxes but there are a few small ones where the instructions say ‘leave in letter box’. Finally there are some that say ‘leave on the porch’, ‘leave outside the front door’, or ‘leave behind the house’. Samuel knows that usually these are boxes for people who work. They are not home to sign for their delivery.

There are five boxes for the same house. They have a label, ‘Leave on the front porch’. The address is a new one. Samuel has never delivered to this house before.

 Mmm, thinks Samuel. Violet Danford, 547 Westerfield Road. I often go to Westerfield Road. It is a long street. But where is house number 547? He has trouble finding the house. It is at the end of the road. The driveway is very narrow and there are many trees. He drives his van down the driveway and sees a little old house. He jumps out his van and opens the back door. He takes the boxes and walks towards the house. He leaves the boxes on the front porch, gets back into his van and drives away.

The next day is December 22nd. There are more boxes to deliver to 547 Westerfield Road. Someone has been doing a lot of shopping, thinks Samuel. The boxes have the same label, ‘Leave on the front porch’. When Samuel carries his deliveries up to the front of the little old house he is very surprised. Yesterday’s boxes are still there. That’s very strange, he thinks. But it is a very busy day and he has many deliveries to make. He jumps back in his van and drives away.

All day, Samuel thinks about 547 Westerfield Road. He thinks maybe something is wrong. When he had finished his work, he is very tired and hungry. He wants to go home. There is a big football match on the TV tonight, but he can’t. I don’t know why, but I am sure something is wrong. I have to go back to that house.

When Samuel gets to the house he goes up to the porch. All the boxes from today and yesterday are still there. He knocks on the door and waits. No one comes to the door. I’m crazy. The people who live here are probably away. Why do I feel worried?

He knocks again. There is no answer. He puts his head against the door and listens. He can hear a TV playing. It is very loud! He can hear a cat meowing. Then he hears a very soft voice, “Help. Help me!”

What shall I do? I can call the police but maybe they will take a long time to come here.

He tries the door handle. The door is not locked. He opens the door and shouts, “Hello! Are you OK?”

Again he hears the voice. “I’m in the bathroom. Help me!”

Samuel runs through the house looking for the bathroom. He finds it. The door is open. An old lady is lying on the floor. She looks very ill.

“Thank you!” she says. “I came to have a bath and I fell over. I have been here for two days. I can’t get up.”

Samuel pulls out his smart phone. He calls the ambulance. “Come to 547 Westerfield Road,” he says. “There is a very old lady here. She had a fall. She has been on the floor for two days. She is very ill.”

Samuel thinks it takes a long time for the ambulance to come. He goes to the kitchen and brings back some water. He tries to give it to the old lady. It is very difficult. She is very weak and Samuel is too frightened to lift her. Finally she drinks a little. She closes her eyes. Samuel is very worried.

Then Samuel hears the siren. The ambulance is coming!

Samuel goes into the living room and turns the TV off.

The paramedics come in. They are professionals. They know what to do. Very soon, they put the old lady on a stretcher and carry her out. Samuel stands and watches.

“My cat!” she says suddenly. “Who will look after my cat?”

“I will look after your cat,” says Samuel.

“Oh, thank you. My son will come from Australia on the 24th. He can look after the cat then.”

The ambulance men go away. Samuel takes the boxes from the porch and puts them in the living room. He finds some cat food and gives it to the cat. The cat is very hungry. He leaves more food and some water for the cat. He finds some keys and goes out. He locks the door and drives home. It is 9:00 pm and he is very, very tired.

For the next two days, Samuel goes to 547 Westerfield Road before he starts work and when he finishes work. On the morning of the 24th he feeds the cat, locks the house and leaves the house keys in the letterbox.

I hope the old lady is OK, he thinks. I hope her son comes today.

Samuel only has three days vacation for Christmas. When he goes back to work, the boss comes out of his office.

“You have a visitor,” he says. “Come into my office.” Samuel follows his boss into the office. There is a man waiting there. The man jumps up. “I am Oscar Danford,” he says. “Thank you for saving my mother’s life!”

Samuel says. “Oh. I didn’t do anything. I just called the ambulance.”

Oscar shakes his head. “No. You did more than that! If you hadn’t gone into the house, my mother would have died. But I have a question. Why did you go into the house?”

Samuel explains about the boxes. “I thought it was strange. I don’t know why I was worried, but I was. That’s why I went back after work. I listened at the door and I heard your mother crying out. But I have a question too.”

“What is your question?” asks Oscar.

“People often ask me to leave their boxes somewhere. But that is because they are out at work when I come. I guess your mother is usually at home. Why does she ask for her online shopping to be left on the porch? “

Oscar laughs. My mother loves TV. That is why she shops online. She likes watching TV more than shopping! She has the sound up very loud. Often she doesn’t hear when people knock. And even when she does hear someone knocking, she doesn’t want to miss any of her favourite programmes!”

Samuel laughs too. “Now I understand.”

“And thank you for looking after the cat.” Oscar puts his hand in his pocket. He gives Samuel and envelope. “Please take this. It is a small thank you from my mother and me.”

“On, no!” says Samuel. His face is red. “I don’t want anything!”

“Please take it,” says Oscar. Samuel doesn’t know what to do. He looks at his boss.

“I think you should take it,” says the boss. “You are my best courier driver, and you are a man who cares about people. It’s Christmas and Oscar is giving you an extra present.”

Oscar looks at his watch. “I must go back to the hospital. My mother is getting better and now she wants me to arrange a television in her hospital room!”

He hurries out. The boss is smiling at Samuel.

“You did a good thing,” he says. “Do you know who that was?”

“Uh. Oscar Danford,” says Samuel.

“Yes! And he has a big mail order company in Australia. He thinks our courier service must be good, so he is going to use us for all the companies deliveries! I want to do something for you too. I am going to buy you a bigger van, so you can make more deliveries!”

Oh, no! thinks Samuel. But he is not very unhappy. He has opened the envelope. Inside is a cheque for $3,000!

I can buy a big flatscreen TV to watch football on!

[Short Story] The Present

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Cora has been married for six months. She lives with her husband in a small town outside the city. Houses in the city are very expensive, so they bought a house with a big garden about an hour by train from the city. Brian, her husband, takes the train to work every day. He works in a bank. Cora doesn’t have a job. Sometimes she gets bored. Brian bought her a dog for Christmas. The dog is very naughty but he is good company during the day.

Today is Cora’s birthday. I wonder what Brian has bought me? she thinks. I hope it’s something very pretty.

Brian gets up very early in the morning. He has to take a train at 7:00am. He always brings Cora a cup of tea in bed before he leaves for work. Today he brings Cora’s tea and a parcel wrapped in beautiful paper with a big ribbon tied around it.

“Happy birthday!” he says. “I hope you like your present!”

Cora puts her teacup on the table next to the bed. She unwraps the present.

“Oh,” she says.

“Aren’t they great?” says Brian. He is very pleased. “They will be perfect for working in the garden!”

Cora looks at her present. It is a pair of black rubber boots. Cora is very unhappy, but she doesn’t say so. She knows that Brian thinks it is a very good present.

“Oh, thank you!” she says. “They look very useful!”

“I have to go,” says Brian. “I’ll see you tonight. I have made a reservation at the local hotel for dinner.” He kisses Cora and leaves the house.

Cora is very sad. Then after she gets out of bed, she starts to feel angry.

What a terrible present! I hate these boots. I wanted a romantic present!

She throws the boots into the garbage bin and goes into the living room to watch TV.

A little later she hears the mailman. The mailman rides a motor scooter. It stops outside their house.

Maybe my mother has sent me a present, thinks Cora. She knows I like pretty things.

Cora goes to the door. She wants to go to the mailbox, but it is raining heavily.

I didn’t hear the rain because I had the TV on very loud. Where are my outdoor shoes? Did the dog take my shoes? Where did he hide them?

Cora looks everywhere, but she can’t find her shoes.

The dog is out in the garden. Cora opens the kitchen door and shouts, “Bad dog!”

The dog runs to her. He is wagging his tail. He is a very friendly dog. Then Cora sees the garbage bin. I could wear those ugly black rubber boots, she thinks.

Cora goes to the garbage bin and takes the boots. She takes off her slippers and puts on the boots.

Oh no! They are ugly and they don’t fit! They are too small and very uncomfortable. Why did Brian buy these?

She feels very angry. She takes the boots off, and throws them into the garden. One of the boots lands upside down. Cora can see something on the ground. It is a small box. She runs into the garden in her bare feet. She picks up the box. She takes the other boot and shakes it. Another box falls on the ground.

Cora takes the small boxes back into the kitchen. She sits down at the table and opens them.

There is a beautiful pair of earrings in one box and a matching necklace in the other box.

 I am very lucky. The garbage man will come soon and he will empty the garbage bin. Brian is a wonderful husband but sometimes he has very crazy ideas!

 

 

 

[Short Story] Scare the Children

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Here is a short story for Halloween!

Wallace lives alone. He doesn’t like children.

He hates Halloween. He doesn’t want any children coming to his door for Trick or Treat. He doesn’t want to give them candy.

When the children ring his doorbell, Wallis gets very angry.  He doesn’t open the door. He stays inside and shouts “Go away!”

One Halloween, Wallace has an idea. I will scare the children. They will be too frightened to come to my door.

Wallace is very smart. He knows a lot about electronics. He goes to the electrical shop and buys everything he needs to scare the children. He buys a sensor, a mini sound player, speakers, batteries and switches.

He finds audio files of screams and groans on the Internet. He makes a recording.

Then he sets up his system in his mailbox.  He tests it. It works very well.

If anyone walks towards his gate, the recording will start playing. There will be very loud screams and groans. Walter thinks the sounds will frighten the children and they will run away.

This year, Wallace is looking forward to Halloween.

He waits until it is dark. Then he goes to his mailbox and turns the sensor on. He turns the volume on the recorder up to maximum. He goes back into his house and waits by the window.

I will see the children in their costumes, he thinks. I will see them come to my house. I will see them run away because they are so scared.

About 30 minutes later a group of children walks down the street. They are dressed as ghosts, princesses, and super heroes. Their parents are with them. The parents are dressed up too. They walk to Wallace’s gate. The sensor works. The sounds of moans and screams are very, very loud. Wallace can hear them easily inside his house.

The children shout. They jump up and down. Wallace cannot believe it. The children laugh. They do not run away. They run towards Wallace’s door. They ring the bell.

“Go away!” shouts Wallace. The children are still laughing and talking outside his door. He waits for a long time.  Finally, it is quiet. The children have gone.

Wallace does not understand. I thought my plan was very clever. Why didn’t my plan work?

The next morning, Wallace goes out to his mailbox. He takes everything out of the mailbox.

Lucy Parks, who lives next door, comes into the street. “Wallace!” she shouts. “Thank you so much! The children loved your surprise!”

Wallace shakes his head and walks back inside.

It’s not surprising I don’t like children, he thinks. I don’t understand them at all!