“Rain, rain, go away,” Jonathan muttered turning up the radio next to his work bench, “Come back another day.”
If he had his way there would never be another day of rain, it lowered everyone’s mood, and made them miserable. That statement would have made his Mother tut, roll her eyes, and ruffle his hair.
“Jonny,” She would have said, “If we didn’t have rain then there would be nothing to make the flowers grow and then people would be even more miserable, where would we be if we didn’t have a bit of colour in our lives.”
Jonathan sighed, well she would have said when he was small, but when he became an adult, she never seemed quiet as pleased to see him.
“You were such a sweet chubby little boy, my little cherub,” She’d complained, “Now look at you at the pub every afternoon, going out with those women with those skirts that should be belts, buying those magazines, don’t you think I don’t know what’s in those magazines mister, it’s disgraceful.”
“They’re just car magazines Mum,” Jonathan always reminded her, “And I only go to the pub after work, it helps me unwind.”
He didn’t know where the women with skirts that should be belts were, Jonathan was still chubby, but he didn’t look like a cherub anymore, more like Santa Claus after a shave and dodgy hair dye. Women didn’t really look at him, and when they did, they just saw someone to avoid because a thirty year old man who lived with his Mum and did wood work didn’t interest them.
Mrs Finks would always say “Some children should never grow up, they’d be happier for it, and so would their parents."
Jonathan would nod, she was right, he knew that, he was much happier when he was a little boy, he didn’t have to worry about paying bills, or pleasing that smug Mr Thomas who had been made a manager when he had only worked for the company for six months, whilst Jonathan had worked for sixteen years, and not even got a thank you for it. When he was a child, people would pat him on the head, and tell him what a nice polite young man he was, whilst now people would tell him to stop being a creep and go away.
One of Mrs Finks favourite hobbies was to,sit at the living room window and watch the children walk to and from school, sometimes a child would wave, and Mrs Finks would grin and wave back, from the outside looking in she looked like a sweet old plumb old lady, with white curly hair, rosy cheeks, and bright shiny eyes. It was a good job no one could hear what she was saying on the inside.
"Some people shouldn't be parents.Look at her,” she would say to Jonathan, “Just look at her, on her phone not paying any attention to her little one and he wants to show her his picture poor little might.” Or “Look at her cigarette hanging out of her mouth, tattoos, and dress leaving nothing to the imagination, bet she spends more on nights out instead of looking after that little princess.”
Again Jonathan would nod and wished he could do anything that would make her proud of him.
“Promise me Jonathan,” Mrs Finks said one day over tea, “Promise me, that you’ll find a way to help those poor little mites.”
Of course he promised he promised because whenever he did what his Mum asked him to it smile and gently pat his cheek and tell him what a good son he was, just as she had done when he was small, and it made a nice warm spot blossom in his chest. The only trouble was he could never think of a way to make that promise happen, and he knew that the day she died his Mum was disappointed in him.
It wasn’t until he walked past a stall at a craft fair that he got the idea. He often visited craft fairs, they were good places to get ideas for his wood carving hobby, he had past the usual stalls of handmade soaps, jewellery and dried flower display, and there in the corner was a display of little wooden dolls, that looks so life like, Jonathan had to do a double take. By the side of the stall was a sign HAVE A DOLL MADE TO LOOK LIKE YOUR CHILD. Jonathan stopped and thought. Those parents would have an image of their child forever, they wouldn’t grow up, they wouldn’t get old, and they wouldn’t suffer like the children his Mum would often point out from her chair by the window. It was that day Jonathan knew what he had to do.
He decided to save a child once a year, any more than that then people would start to notice a pattern. He’d watched a lot of detective programmes on television to know that. He choose the child carefully, he knew which ones he should pick, those whose parents obviously cared more about themselves then their children, the ones who shouted, or kept their eyes glued to their mobile phones instead of watching what their child was doing, oh yes, his Mum had taught him well on that subject. It was these parents who made it easy for him to save their children, who were quiet happy go with the happy fat man, who looked like his could be Father Christmas’s younger brother, who gave them sweets, cakes and drink, which would make them go into a deep, deep sleep, so they didn’t notice the nice warm bath he gently put them into to make sure that they would never wake up.
Jonathan knew what happened when something died, when he was eight, he thought he had made a terrible mistake when he buried his hamster in the garden, what if Cracker hadn’t been dead, when he had dug him up just to make sure he realised he had made an even worse mistake. His Mum had come running out and carried him back into the house, she had then returned to the garden with a pair of scissors and gently place a small bit of Cracker’s fur, what had been left of it, into Jonathan’s hand, and told him that even though a living thing’s body goes the hair always remains, because the hair was part of the soul, and that never dies.
So before he got rid of the empty shell that used to be the child, he would carefully cut off their hair.
That’s when he would use his woodwork skills he would carve the child’s face out of wood, and attach the hair to it, that way there would be a part of them here in the land of the living that would be forever young and innocent, and saved, and he had the perfect place to keep these happy little faces, his Mum had a mirror, a tall, long ancient thing, Jonathan stood in front of it, he could see all of himself. It had a bare wooden frame, perfect to put the little faces around, so when he looked into the mirror he would always be surrounded by the children he saved.
The music on the radio stopped and the news was announced. Police were still on the search for little Tammy Spears, who had gone missing whilst shopping with her Mum. As the reporter was giving her description Jonathan gently stroked the face he had just finished.He remembered little Tammy’s Mum, her jeans were too tight, and she had tattoos going all up her arms, she had been more interested in the shop window than little Tammy balancing on the wall close by.
“You’re better off where you are sweetheart,” he whispered, “bet your Mummy never tucked you in at night.”
Tammy had been different from the other children who had gone the small house he had found in the wood, he wasn’t going to take him back to his house, that would be silly, the neighbours would notice children coming and not going, and the woods was a good place to bury their shells, and it was miles, and miles away from where he had led them away. Jonathan sighed. He wished his Mum was alive to see how well he was doing. That he was keeping his promise.
Tammy had gone very quiet the further they got from town, and she didn’t sing along to the songs he sung like the other children did. When he had pulled up outside the house she said ever so quietly.“I think I’ve changed my mind, I don’t want to have a party, I want to go back to my Mummy.”
“But I’ve got cakes, buns and sweeties.” Jonathan had said cheerfully, “And we can play hide and seek in the woods after.”
The little girl nibbled her bottom lip, her big blue eyes filled with tears “Please, I need to get back to my Mummy she’d be ever so cross because I forgot to ask.”
“Would Mummy shout?”
“Only because she loves me,” was Tammy’s answer, “one time I hid and she couldn’t find me, and when I jumped out she shouted at me, then she said she was sorry she had shouted because she had been so worried because she had thought she had lost me.” She looked down at her feet, “I’d forgotten about that.”
“She was probably cross because she wasn’t good at finding you and was being a poor looser.” Jonathan had offered but Tammy hadn’t looked convinced.
Jonathan couldn’t take her back, she had seen what he looked like, and had seen the house, she would tell her Mum where she had been, and questions would be asked, and Jonathan knew what would happened when he did or didn’t answer them. He had told Tammy that he had a phone inside the house and she could phone her Mummy and invite her to the party. There wasn’t one of course, but Jonathan had been sure once she saw all the nice sweet things she could eat she would forget about being worried and enjoy herself. But when Tammy had gotten inside she asked about the phone, and Jonathan had offered her a cake, still she asked about the phone, he offered her some lemonade, and that’s when Tammy looked frightened, and tried to run.
She had run to the front door, which Jonathan had shut behind them, and even he had trouble opening sometimes, so it was impossible for Tammy to open, and that’s when she had to cried and scream, she turned and faced Jonathan because there had been nowhere else to go.
“Please, I want my Mummy!”
Jonathan grabbed her and covered her mouth, but she had bit and kicked him like frightened animal, and he there was only one thing he could have done.
“I got to you just in time.” Jonathan said as he fixed the little wooden face, complete with Tammy’s beautiful red hair onto the mirror’s frame, “You were growing up to be just like your Mummy weren’t you, biting and screaming like that.”
His ears pricked up when he heard the DJ on the radio announced that it was time for the news. The serious voice of the newsreader told listeners how the search for little Tammy Brown was still going on. Neighbours, friends and family were helping to look and if anyone knew where she was they were to tell the police.
“Tammy’s Mother Gillian made a heartfelt plea this afternoon.” said the reporter on the radio.
“Tammy is a kind and loving girl who is the light of my life.” came a hoarse, tearful voice, “I love her with all of my heart, please just bring her back to me, please.”
“If you had been paying attention to her she wouldn’t have come away with me.” Jonathan said stepping back and smiling at himself in the mirror.
“If you’ve done anything to harm her I curse you.” the tears were gone and Gillian’s voice was full of rage, “I curse you, you hear me? You’ll pay for what you have done.”
Jonathan frowned and switched off the radio, what an odd thing to say, what did she think she was a witch? It was a good thing he had gotten Tammy away from her; she would have probably ended up as some kind of sacrifice. He yawned and looked at each of the wooden happy faces he had created, and smiled back at them.
“Goodnight my little angels,” he whispered as he stepped out of the room and switched off the light.
Jonathan opened his eyes to find his bedroom bathed in pale moonlight, he wasn’t sure what it was that had woken him up.
“Girls and boys come out to play; the moon does shine as bright as day;”
Jonathan blinked and looked up, his workshop was in the attic room above him, it was where he had found the mirror, and it had been too big for him to move from there, and anyway there was no way he could have it on display anywhere else in the house for obvious reasons.
He had been sure he had switched the radio off when he left the room.
“Leave your supper and leave your sleep, and join your playfellows in the street.”
And what radio station plays children’s nursery rhymes at this time of night? One that would keep him awake for the rest of the night that’s what. Sighing he got up, put on his slippers and made his way to his workroom.
“Come with a whoop and come with a call.”
Jonathan put his hand on the door knob.
Jonathan froze, he wasn’t sure if it was his name that he had just heard being called or the wind. The sound of a clock chiming twelve could be heard making its way up the stairs which led to the room. Midnight the witching hour. The thought made him shudder.
The sound of children giggling from behind the door made him let go of the door knob as thought of it had just scared him.
“Up the ladder and down the wall, a halfpenny roll will serve us all.”
More childish laughter.
“Come play with us Jonathan.”
Jonathan swallowed. This couldn’t be happening could it? He was dreaming surely.
“You find the milk and I’ll find the flour and we’ll have pudding in half an hour.”
“Come play with us Jonathan.”
“There’s cakes and buns and sweet things to eat Jonathan.”
“Come on Jonathan we’re waiting for you.”
Jonathan blinked if this was happening why was he frightened? They were children calling him. And the only children that were there behind that door were the little wooden images of those he had saved. And they wanted to play.
Jonathan opened the door and stepped inside. The mirror was standing in patch of moonlight. The faces were just how he had carved them, hair framing their smiling faces.
“Hello?” he called stepping closer to the mirror, “Hello did you want to play? Hello?”
“Poor child sits a-weeping, a-weeping, a-weeping, poor child sits a-weeping on a fine summer's day, and why are they a-weeping, a-weeping, a-weeping, and why are they a-weeping on a fine summer's day?”
Jonathan stepped closer to the mirror, and saw that the faces were no longer smiling; in fact they were damp with tears.
“I’m a-weeping because I’d have grown up to be a doctor, a doctor, a doctor; I’m a-weeping because I’d have grown up to be a doctor on fine summer’s day.”
“I’m a-weeping because I’d have grown up to be a teacher, a teacher, a teacher; I’m a-weeping because I’d have grown up to be a teacher on a fine summer’s day.”
“I’m a-weeping because I’d have grown up to be a dancer, a dancer, a dancer; I’m a-weeping because I’d have grown up to be a dancer on a fine summer’s day.”
“I’m a-weeping because I’d have grown up to be a Mummy, a Mummy, a Mummy; I’m a-weeping because I’d have grown up to be a Mummy on a fine summer’s day.”
“No,” Jonathan said, “No, you’re wrong, I saved you, your parents didn’t love you, you would have grown up angry and sad, you wouldn’t have been able to become those things.”
He tried to move but his feet seemed to be held in place by something, he looked down and saw nothing, and then he caught sight of his reflection in the mirror, there seemed to be more shadows in there, shadows that looked like tiny hands holding his feet in place.
“You only saw a minute in our lives and saw what you wanted to see.” the children said, “You think you saved us? Look at what you really are.” Jonathan saw his reflection and his hands were covered in blood, “You’re a killer Jonathan, you took us away from people who loved us, you took us away from what we were going to be.”
“No.” Jonathan started to cry, “No, you don’t understand…Please.”
“We don’t want to play with you anymore Jonathan.” the wooden faces were no longer crying they were frowning, “You’re not a very nice person. And you hurt us.”
“Let me go.” Jonathan sobbed, “Please.”
“Here comes a candle to light you to bed, here comes a chopper to chop off your head.”
The mirror began to rock back and forth.
“Please I just wanted to keep my promise.” Jonathan cried struggling to get away.
“Chop! Chop! The last’s man’s dead!”
The only reason Jonathan Finks was found was because his neighbours had started to complain about the smell that was coming from the house. When they had broken down the door they searched and found him crushed to death under an antique mirror, his death was probably made quicker by the smashed glass that had pieced his flesh, driven in by the weight of the mirror. Seeing such a large object coming towards him and knowing he wouldn’t be quick enough to move it was little wonder why there was a look of horror on his face, frozen there by death. Of course what they possibly know that the reason for his fear was because the last thing he saw was the angry little face of Tammy Spears coming towards him as the mirror fell and saying.
“I’d have been a witch just like my mummy.”