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The Sitter

by Jubbly 

Posted: 01 February 2005
Word Count: 539
Summary: Another HH flash.

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The Sitter

Heather Halliday had never really had much contact with children, so when she offered to baby-sit for her neighbours, she surprised herself as much as anyone else.

“We do appreaciate this Miss Halliday,” fawned the mother.

They’d been let down at the very last moment and it was their anniversary and they were so looking forward to an evening out, naturally a saviour was sought and Heather fitted the bill.

“No trouble at all dear, you go off and enjoy yourself, Freddie and I will be just fine.”

The child’s big blue eyes widened even more, until they resembled startled lollipops on sticks.

Freddie was unusually quiet that night, he made a point of picking up all his Lego just in case someone, not mentioning any names should step on a piece and howl with pain until her face turned purple. He ate up all his supper and brushed his teeth without being asked.

“No, I’m fine.” He shouted when she asked if he wanted tucking in.

But Heather couldn’t resist, just as little Freddie was dropping off to sleep with his snug Spiderman duvet enveloping him like a soft snails shell she opened his door and tip toed in.

“How about a bedtime story?” she asked.

Freddie shrugged too tired to decline.

Now Heather didn’t have any children of her own and her memories of fairytales from her youth were rather rusty, but she began all the same.

“Once upon a time there was an old lady and she lived in a cottage in the woods and she had very very long fingernails and she used to knit with them. She could knit jumpers and socks and scarves and she was very very good at it. So the man who owned the jumper shop got very very cross because no one was buying his scarves and socks and jumpers, so he broke into her house at midnight and chopped off all her fingers, chop chop chop- so then she had to knit with her toenails.

But when he found out she was still knitting he was so angry he came to house in the dead of night and cut off all her toes, slice, slice, slice. So then she started knitting with her teeth but when he found out he was furious, so he broke down her front door, sneaked into her room and pulled out all her teeth , yank, yank, yank so she gave up knitting and had a baby instead, the end.”

Freddie’s parents don’t go out of the evening and leave him with a sitter anymore, he simply won’t allow them to and throws the most dreadful tantrums if they even suggest it. Heather Halliday no longer baby-sits, it doesn’t really suit her character, and she finds relating to the very young a difficult task and one she’s not quite prepared for. Freddie sleeps with the light on now, in his parent’s room, right beside his mother, nestling in her arms, her breasts are his pillow. His father sleeps in his son's narrow bed, cold and angry and dreaming of his secretary. Soon he will move out and Freddie’s mother will become another statistic and Heather Halliday will be left wondering why?

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Comments by other Members

anisoara at 12:29 on 01 February 2005  Report this post
Jubbly -- Love it. That night-time story is the most wonderful invention!

My only niggle was with this final phrase "and all because Heather Halliday decided to help out when she really shouldn’t have bothered." Something needs to be there, but I think you can come up with something more effective. (IMO, of course!)

I love these HH flashes. I'm so glad that you're carrying on with them.


Beadle at 13:28 on 01 February 2005  Report this post
Hi Jubbly

The beginning described such a normal life that I just knew something macabre was waiting around the corner, and you didn't disappoint. Real fairy tales are usually quite unpleasant and brutal, but you excelled with the snip, snip, snip - I think I will have to sleep with the lights on in my mother's bedroom after this... and I'm 39.

I looked back at one of your other HHs - the return of the purse? Are they all as twisted as this? Like I say, I loved the seeming normality of it all and then... twisted!

I agree with Ani about the end and in fact other parts of the last par. Everything else seemed to tightly written - as if it just belonged - that I thought the last par tried to fit too much in.

Personally I think the last par does not need and one she’s not quite prepared for. I also think that ending before and all because Heather Halliday decided to help out when she really shouldn’t have bothered leaves it open for the reader to make up their own about Heather's motives.




sorry, I meant seemed so tightly written

Silverelli at 17:04 on 01 February 2005  Report this post
No Way-
Ha! The bedtime story created such a chain reaction.
Would never have guessed Heather Haliday, a homewrecker(in a very peculiar sense).
The oblivious Heather force feeds little Freddie a horror story and divorce ensues. Lovely.
Twisted. Only you, Jubbs, can think of preposterous scenarios such as this.


Jubbly at 17:35 on 01 February 2005  Report this post
Thanks Adam, I'll take preposterous scenario as the compliment it was meant to be. Thanks also for the feedback Beadle and Ani, much appreaciated. HH now appears in four tales, I fear she may be my altar ego.


Account Closed at 21:34 on 01 February 2005  Report this post
Great bedtime story, Julie! Poor wee Freddie.

I remembered Heather was an adult but I wasn't too sure of ages at the beginning between her and the mother/parents. ( eg use of dear) Now, Heather didn't have any children of her own (but it's not too late, is it in theory?) Also, how come Freddie knew about her (lego, teeth etc)


DerekH at 10:48 on 02 February 2005  Report this post
Jubbly, I love the ending of that fairy tale "so she gave up knitting and had a baby instead, the end." :).

Great story,


Anj at 12:15 on 02 February 2005  Report this post

That bedtime-story is inspired and "cold and angry and dreaming of his secretary" is fantastic.

I agree about the last line - your alter ego? Is this the older woman you will woman you will one day become?

Great stuff

Take care

bjlangley at 12:24 on 03 February 2005  Report this post
Julie, there's something sinister about this piece long before the bedtime story. Freddie's actions make me wonder what he knows. He picks up his toys, eats his supper, cleans his teeth, and takes himself to bed. The line, "just in case someone, not mentioning any names..." suggests that he knows and fears Heather, almost as if she's whispered about on playgrounds...

Absolutely loved the fairy tale - especially as my two girls are at the age where they're being read them for the first time, and I can see how sinister they can be (Rumpelstiltskin - the King says "Turn the straw into gold, or I'll have you killed" to the poor gilr - Rumps helps her out - in exchange for her first-born! How did that not seem disturbing when I was a kid!!!)

All the best,


Jubbly at 13:14 on 03 February 2005  Report this post
Thanks everyone for commenting on this. The actual bedtime story featured in my Edinburgh Lift play. It was hilariously performed by an actor who read it as though he was a child, I've altered it here to make it less conversational. Elspeth, Freddie is scared of Heather because she's weird, like a creepy witch character living all alone in her cottage. She's never done anything to him, but he senses she's not like anyone he's ever met, you were spot on Ben. What about Beatrix Potter and the rat who captures the kittens, trusses them up then covers them in pastry to cook? I'm reading installments of The Wizard of Oz to my almost 4 yr old son and parts of it including the illustrations are absolutely terrifying - which probably explain the nightly shouts of "Mummy, there's monsters in here help!!!"

crowspark at 19:07 on 03 February 2005  Report this post
Hi Julie, a great story containing my favourite fairy story - well it is now. The progression from knitting with fingernails, toenails and then teeth is just perfect. It makes me want to babysit for someone just so I can read it out loud ;)

A pleasure to read.


Jardinery at 12:58 on 06 February 2005  Report this post
this is a lovely read

love the startled lollipops image! really good.

and the fairytale - yes - great one. very convincing.

not nits - just very nice work.

Jubbly at 18:40 on 07 February 2005  Report this post
Thankyou very much Jai and Bill, I hope the ending works now.



scottwil at 02:32 on 21 February 2005  Report this post
I loved this, Jubbly. I think HH is a great creation, a bit like the Good soldier Schwek, you can't always tell whether she's actually aware of the chaos she's causing or not.

The bedtime story was a joy and I agree about Beatrix Potter, I always found her incredibly creepy; the Jeremy Fisher illustrations gave me nightmares for years.

Nice one.


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