By Margaret McGoverne
Meghan was five, and she was cross. Mummy and daddy wouldn’t play with her as much as they used to, and she was in her playroom alone for longer and longer. Mummy and daddy shouted a lot, and mummy often cried. She had crept downstairs yesterday to see them, but daddy saw the door move and pounced on Meghan, smacking her legs and sending her upstairs. “Only naughty girls spy on their parents!” he said.
Meghan’s playroom was in the attic; it was light and bright, but apart from her dolls and books it wasn’t really a playroom. There was a big brass bed for their occasional visitors but it was Meghan’s retreat now, her haven from her parents’ disputes.
She sat on the rug in front of the cold fireplace; her dolls were asleep, their long-lashed plastic eyes closed. The afternoon sun streamed through the windows, bathing Meghan in warmth. Her parents’ voices were a dull muffle that made her sleepy; she lay down on the rug and slept, thumb in mouth, although mummy said she shouldn’t.
Her nap was short, for the sun still warmed her when she awoke. She rubbed her eyes and pulled her thumb from her mouth – sitting on the bed were two figures Meghan had never seen before.
“Who are you?” she asked, and they smiled at her, although not at each other.
Their names were Tulpa and Enty, and they were here to make friends with Meghan. They were all three about the same size. They looked funny, but Meghan didn’t feel alone anymore. They chatted about her dolls and books, and they played games.
“Did mummy bring you here?” Meghan asked.
Enty smiled slyly, but Tulpa looked sad.
“No, you wanted us to come.”
“I did?” Meghan was mystified, but she was having fun. She had forgotten to be lonely.
Tulpa and Enty came to the playroom every day, and at first, they all played nicely. But one day they couldn’t agree which game to play, and they wouldn’t stop arguing, even when Meghan asked them politely.
“I’ll tell mummy!” she warned. But Enty just slapped at Tulpa and they rolled together, a mass of grabbing hands and pulled hair.
Meghan ran downstairs. Mummy was in the kitchen, Daddy smoked a cigarette at the table.
“Mummy, my friends won’t stop fighting!”
“What friends?” her mother asked, with a guilty start. Maybe she’d forgotten about Meghan.
“Tulpa and Enty, the friends that appeared in my room.”
Her mother’s frown changed into a slow smile.
“I’m sure they’ll stop soon Meghan.”
“But mummy, won’t you come and tell them off?”
An impatient tutting from her father made her mother stiffen. The warm smile died in her eyes.
“Not now Meghan. I’ll bring you some toast soon.”
She paced dejected back to the playroom. There was an ominous scuffling sound behind the closed door; Meghan was scared, but her mother had told her to go to her room. She peered gingerly round the door: Tulpa lay in the fireplace, her eyes closed just like Meghan’s dolls. Her legs were pointing up the chimney, and as Meghan watched she saw a tiny pair of hands reach down and grab Tulpa’s ankles. Slowly, slowly, Tulpa disappeared up the chimney. She never opened her eyes.
When Tulpa had completely disappeared, Enty’s voice came down the chimney, with a small fall of soot.
“I’ll be back soon Meghan. You had better play nicely…”
Meghan sucked on her thumb and waited on the rug.
Author Bio: Margaret McGoverne is currently writing her first full-length novel while being distracted by short stories, flash fiction and her blog about all things writing.