Every now and then, a story almost writes itself. This week at work in my "day job," some of the children asked me to make up a story on the spot, using the toys they were playing with as props. The result was very similar to what you see here...
Three Wishes For William
William couldn't sleep. He wasn't tired enough. He stared at the ceiling and sighed, loudly. He was bored.
He'd tried getting up to play with his toys, but he knew his mum and dad would hear him and tell him to go to sleep. He'd tried reading a book, but he'd read them all so many times, they weren't exciting anymore.
"Why can't I have an adventure?" William groaned. "Why can't something amazing happen?"
He climbed out of bed and stared out of the window. Outside in the garden, there was a very large rock that William liked to sit on, climb on or play games on. But something about it didn't look right, tonight. The rock was glowing.
William waited until he heard his mum and dad go to bed, then he crept down the stairs and outside into the night. Tip-toeing through the cool grass, he hurried to the rock and bent down for a closer look. The rock was nearly as big as he was, when he bent down and William knew he could use it to hide behind, in case anyone looked out of their windows and saw him out of bed. The thought made him smile.
William placed his hands on the rock and gasped. It wasn't cold, like rocks normally were. It was hot.
Suddenly, the rock began to shake and to William's surprise, a tiny door opened in the side of it and a funny looking little man came out.
"What are you doing with my house?" The little man cried. He had a beard and a pointy hat and he looked very strange indeed.
William's eyes were so wide, they looked as though they might pop out of his head. "I didn't know this was your house," he protested. "I thought it was just an ordinary rock!"
The little man stroked his beard. "Well, it was," he confessed. "I only moved in, today. A little sprinkling of magic and it's turned into a cosy home." He shook his head. "But I won't be staying long. Not if you're going to come out here in the middle of the night, waking me up!"
William gasped. "Oh, please don't leave," he begged. "Nothing exciting ever happens to me and I really am sorry for waking you."
The little man sat down in the grass and crossed his legs. "Hmm. Well, I'm supposed to grant a wish to the first person who finds me," he said. "But I'm very sleepy and you've made me grumpy, too. So I don't think I will!"
William blinked back at him. "A wish?!" He exclaimed. "Oh, please let me have one! Please!"
The little man frowned up at William. "What's your name, anyway?"
"I'm William," William replied.
"I'm Tobias," the little man said. "And I suppose I ought to let you have your wish, really. But then I'm moving house first thing in the morning!"
William sighed. He didn't want Tobias to go; he wanted to get to know him and learn what other magic he could do! But at least he was going to get a wish. He started wracking his brains. What should he wish for? To fly to the moon? To gain super-powers?! William's mind whirred with all the possibilities. But just as he was thinking, a terrible howling noise startled him and he scrambled to his feet.
"Is... Is that a...?" William stammered.
Tobias stood up, tutting crossly. "Oh, honestly," he grumbled. "I told you to find somewhere to hide!" He shook his fist at the creature.
"But... It's a..." William's face was pale.
"Oh, really," Tobias sighed. "It's as if you've never seen a dinosaur before! Don't look so scared, he's only a baby. And he doesn't eat meat, so you're quite safe!"
William gaped at the dinosaur. "But... What's he doing here? Dinosaurs are extinct!"
The dinosaur came through the garden hedge and flopped onto the grass, sobbing to itself. With a shaky hand, William stroked its trembling body. "There, there..."
Tobias folded his arms again. "He's followed me here," he told William. "He's part of the reason I moved house in the first place." He sat back down in the grass. "You see, I was living in a tree, when a little girl discovered me. I had to grant her a wish and she wished to go back in time and visit the dinosaurs. But then, when it was time to come home, she stole this baby dinosaur and brought it back with her!" He shook his head. "Well, as you can imagine, I was furious. I told her I was leaving right away and I told the dinosaur to find somewhere safe to hide." He rubbed the baby dinosaur's head. "But you followed me, didn't you?"
William frowned. "Why can't you just send him home?"
Tobias shrugged, sadly. "I can't undo wishes," he said. "I can only grant them in the first place. If someone changes their mind, or something goes wrong, I can't do anything to fix it. That's why we say 'be careful what you wish for.'"
The baby dinosaur cried even more and his tears began to form a puddle in the grass.
"He can't stay here," William said. "What will my mum and dad say if they wake up in the morning and there's a dinosaur in the back garden?!"
Tobias scratched his head. "The only way to send him home is for someone to wish for it." He glanced at the poor, crying dinosaur. "He misses his family," Tobias sighed. "He doesn't want to be here."
William swallowed. He knew he could wish for the dinosaur to go home to be with his family, but... He only had one wish and he really wanted to use it for himself! Nothing exciting ever happened to him and Tobias was already determined not to stick around... He hung his head, unable to look at the poor dinosaur. "I ought to go to bed," he whispered. "Can I tell you my wish in the morning?"
Tobias nodded. "I suppose so," he said. "But don't get up late. I'm leaving, remember!"
William trudged back through the garden, not daring to glance behind him. He could still hear the dinosaur crying and the sound made him want to cry, too. Once he was inside, William dashed upstairs and jumped into his bed, with his covers over his head. But he couldn't sleep. Every time he closed his eyes, he saw the dinosaur and he felt more and more guilty. The minutes ticked past and turned into hours. The sky started to get a little lighter. William tossed and turned. He felt horrible.
Finally, as the sun began to rise, William could stand it no longer. He ran back into the garden. The baby dinosaur had fallen asleep beside the rock and was snoring, gently. He watched it for a moment and knew he'd made the right decision. William banged his hand against the rock. "Tobias! Wake up!"
The tiny door opened and Tobias came out looking grumpier than ever. "Twice, you've woken me up!" He cried. "When I said don't be late, I didn't mean come whilst I was still asleep!"
William ignored him. "I know what I want to wish for," he said, breathlessly. "I want you to send the dinosaur home."
The dinosaur's eyes popped open and William thought he saw it smile.
Tobias stroked his beard. "Really? You know you only get one wish, don't you?"
William nodded. "I can't let this poor baby stay here all alone."
Tobias smiled. "Then I forgive you for waking me up." He waved a hand and spoke some words that William didn't understand and, in a flash of light, the dinosaur disappeared.
William felt glad, yet a little sad at the same time. He nodded his head at Tobias. "It was good to meet you," he said. "I'm sorry I woke you up." He turned and began walking back to the house.
"Hang on a minute!" Tobias called. "Come back!"
William glanced over his shoulder.
Tobias looked him up and down. "Maybe I misjudged you," he said. "You did a very kind thing, letting that baby go home to his family, even though it meant giving up your wish." He grinned. "Perhaps I'll stick around after all. If that's okay with you?"
William's eyes widened and a huge smile spread across his face. "I would love that!"
Tobias nodded. "Good," he said. "Then go to bed and get some sleep. I've got all kinds of magic to show you when you wake up." He yawned and stretched. "I think you and I are going to be good friends, William. And I think we're going to have a lot of fun!"
"Me too," William beamed. "Thank you!"
He hurried back into the house and climbed back into bed. He still couldn't sleep - he was too excited! Something told him that he was about to have all kinds of amazing adventures. And he would never be bored again.