CONNIE, THE LITTLE MATCH GIRL - An alternative ending to the story, by Hermoine Ford
Snow covered the ground on New Year’s Eve and it was bitterly cold. Connie’s bare feet were turning blue as she lay in the alleyway. She tried to burn one match at a time to feel a little warmth and, as each match glowed with a small flame, she thought she could see beautiful houses with food, drink and warmth. Then in her hallucination she could see her dead grandmother smiling down on her.
Connie’s grandmother was, indeed, looking down on her. She had come to help….Suddenly the door to the house next door opened. While the owner fetched a parcel from one of the rooms, their dog ran out of the house. Dash was part sheepdog and very much one of the family. Lively and inquisitive, living up to his name, he went to investigate the world outside their front door.
Dash darted outside but when he came to the alley he could see a little light. Going towards it, he came across the tiny girl for whom life was ebbing away. Instinctively he threw himself across her feet and his warm, furry body covered her. She was too numb to be afraid of the animal as it nuzzled her. Dash was doing what most people would yearn to do, showing pity and help to a little scrap of humanity.
Very slowly the heat from Dash warmed Connie’s feet and body and, enveloped in warmth and peace, she fell asleep. Dash was not missed in the house for well over an hour but, as soon as he could not be found, the family came rushing out to look for him, calling his name. Dash, too, was fast asleep, doing his wonderful deed.
Looking down the alley, the family spied him and wondered why he was lying so still. Walking up to him their father, John, caught sight of the little girl under Dash’s body and, moving Dash, John gathered the small child into his arms and took her into the house. His wife, Emma, wrapped Connie in soft blankets and lay her on a sofa, ignoring the fact that the child was so dirty. Connie continued to sleep with dreams of food and warmth and love.
The little girl of the household, Lucy, was about Connie’s age and kept going to look at Connie as she slept peacefully. Lucy took Connie’s little hands in hers and tried to warm them. She then went to her mother and said ‘Please Mama, please, please let this girl live with us. We could take her when we move to our new house in the country next week.’
When Connie woke she could actually smell the cooking of the New Year’s celebration food. Never could she have imagined the wonders of the goose roasting and signs of the joyous celebrations all around her. She was warm and safe and a little rested. The family came to her with smiles of welcome and she hoped she would not wake from this wondrous dream. She had not eaten that day and was almost beyond hunger.
Emma arranged for Connie to have a lovely bath – a new experience for her. Then Lucy gave her some of her own clothes and shoes to wear. After that there was beautiful food to eat, although Connie was only able to eat tiny portions.
New’s Year’s Day and Connie woke in a real bed to a new dawn, a new day, a new year and a new life. The Worthington family had decided to look after her as they realized she had no one who could do this. For Connie, heaven came down to earth.
Her grandmother looked down with joy and gladness and Connie was able to live very happily ever after.
THE GINGERBREAD MAN - An alternative story by Lesley Finnie
Inside the oven the Gingerbread Man could feel the, now familiar, sensation of heat conferring life to his newly made body.
“Here I go again,” he thought excitedly as he stretched his spongy muscles in preparation. So, Mother Goose had decreed once more that the time had come for the cross-country run that constituted his hour or so of life.
He always enjoyed the challenge of the chase and, being eaten by the fox at the end, was not that painful, as long as it was swift. Such a death was certainly preferable to disintegrating slowly as a soggy mess in the river.
As the Little Old Woman pulled the baking tray from the oven, the Gingerbread Man was fully prepared to rise from it, leap to the floor and shout, “Run, run as fast as you can, you can’t catch me, I’m the Gingerbread Man”.
But, before he could begin, there came a commanding shout from the garden. The Little Old Man was calling to the Little Old Woman, “Come and help me pull up this enormous turnip”.
“Oh no!” said the Little Old Woman with a puzzled frown, as she hastened to obey the summons. “How could Mother Goose have made such a mistake? Both on the same day!”
It took the Gingerbread Man just seconds to assess his new situation and appreciate its possibilities. So, by the time the Little Old Woman was calling for the Little Girl to help with the Enormous Turnip, the Gingerbread Man was hard at work assembling the ingredients necessary for a little more baking.
He quickly formed an attractive Gingerbread Woman on the warm baking tray and then, using all his strength and ingenuity, he managed to place her in the oven. Waiting for baking to be complete felt interminable. He knew he had only whatever time it took the people and animals outside to succeed in their task so he did not simply pace the floor like an expectant father. Instead, he employed himself in gathering a bundle of useful items, researching temporary hiding places, then establishing possible escape routes into the extended life that now lay before him.
All this time he was aware of Little Boy being called to help with the Enormous Turnip, then the dog and then the cat. When at last, the mouse left its hole in the skirting board, called to be the final character in the horticultural tug of war outside, the Gingerbread Man was ready.
Taking no heed of his burned fingers, he released the bewildered, and still steaming, Gingerbread Woman from the oven and bundled her into the vacated mouse hole just as the shouting and laughter from the garden heralded success there too.
And so it happened that while the turnip was cooking and preparations were being made in the kitchen for a turnip party, down in the mouse hole, two very happy Gingerbread people were planning their lives together.
SOMEDAY MY PRINCE WILL COME - But Not Today and Definitely Not HIM b Liz Eastham
I knew I shouldn't have bought those bloody shoes. Not only have I maxed my credit card but I lost one of them in the taxi getting away from that nerd Jeremy.
It all began when Daddy went and married that bitch Suzy with her two spoilt horsey-looking daughters Camilla and Antonia-known as Cam and Toni. He was so busy all loved-up with Suzy that he was blind to what was going on. I'd swear Suzy was only after Daddy's money as she had an account at Harvey Nicks and kept coming home with carrier bags full of clobber that was far too young for her, whilst I had a meagre allowance that meant I had to make do with M&S and Primark.
It was totally shocking when Cam and Toni announced they were going to the Smithson-Blyth's Christmas bash all decked out in 1920's garb and Daddy was taking Suzy to the Ivy, leaving me to babysit the bloody DOG-Suzy's pet Peke Bobo who's fed smoked salmon and jellied chicken whilst I make do with beans on toast. Well I was having none of it. I snuck out, saying goodbye to a disappointed Bobo, before the shops shut and bought a gorgeous outfit and matching Jimmy Choos before catching the bus to South Ken.
By the time I reached the S-B's pile my feet were killing me.I hobbled into their vast hall and spotted Cam and Toni being chatted up by Vile Hugo and his pals. I gratefully accepted a glass of champagne from the waitress and turned to find a rather fit- looking chap at my side.
“Hi, I'm Jeremy.” I took his cool thin hand and smiled. “Cinderella-call me Cinders.”
Jeremy was quite witty and not up himself like Vile Hugo, so I spent the evening in his company managing to avoid Cam and Toni whom I noticed were eyeing up Jeremy. I admit I got a bit squiffy and and agreed at the stroke of midnight to go back with Jeremy to his flat in Belgravia. He seemed seriously wasted.
We waited no time for a taxi and, as I poured myself into it, one of my shoes came off. Jeremy mistook this as a precursor to other items and sprung himself on me-yes in the Back Of A Cab- and began to fumble clumsily at the buttons of my dress. I tapped on the glass at the driver, telling Jeremy I was about to be sick, leapt out and legged it home minus one Jimmy Choo. Never mind. At least Bobo will be pleased to see me.