General Fiction posted October 10, 2017


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Matilda & I

by Maria Jose Garcia


Last Saturday, I got up late. The night before I hadn't fallen asleep till three or so and I was exhausted.

I walked into the kitchen barefoot and made my usual cup of tea. My eldest son was sitting at the table eating cereal and watching something on his computer.

'What are you watching?' I asked.

He removed one headphone and looked at me, slightly annoyed by my interruption.

'Sorry?'

'I wanted to know what you're watching.'

'Thirteen Reasons Why.'

'Is it good?'

'Yeah.'

'I've read the book.'

'Is there a book?'

'Yes. I liked it.'

My son put his headphone on again and I took that as my cue to leave the room. Cradling the mug in my hands, I walked into the living room.

And that's when I got the biggest surprise ever. Sitting on my rocking chair, there was a little girl I had never seen in my entire life.

She had brown hair and big eyes and was reading a big book that she had rested on her lap.

'Who are you? And who let you in?' I said.

'I'm Matilda, of course.'

'I don't know any Matildas...'

'Yes, you do.'

'Excuse me?'

'I've seen you have a book about me on the shelf. I read the whole thing while you were sleeping. It was kind of weird reading about my life, but I have to say it's pretty accurate.'

'You want me to believe you are THAT Matilda?'

'I don't want you to believe anything, lady. I just want to go back to Miss Honey's. I bet she's worried about me.'

My boring, average life had suddenly got very strange. I closed my eyes in the hope that she would disappear, but when I opened them again she was still there, smiling to herself.

'What are you reading?' I asked.

'Great Expectations. It's the same book I was reading in my room last night. It was really late, but I was enjoying myself so much that I couldn't stop. I guess I must have fallen asleep and when I woke up... I was here.'

'And you've just been sitting in the living room? Did you talk to my son?'

'I did, but he told me to wait for you.'

'Typical. Listen, why don't you keep on reading while I get dressed and then we'll decide what to do?'

'Okay.'

I went to my room and put on some clothes hurriedly. Then, I shook my husband awake and told him what was going on.

'Do you want me to take you to the doctor's?' he said before turning around to sleep some more.

It seemed I would have to do this alone.

When I got back to the living room, Matilda was still sitting on my rocking chair absorbed in her book.

'Do you want some breakfast?' I asked her.

'Yes, please. Reading makes me hungry. Could I have a glass of milk and some cookies?'

I brought her a tray with cookies, milk and fruit on it and sat on the floor next to her.

'Why don't you tell me a bit about yourself?'

'What do you want to know?' she asked, her big eyes shining.

'I don't know. Are your parents as horrible as Roald Dahl paints them in the book?'

'Oh, they are much worse. Dad eats his toenails when nobody is looking and Mum wears a wig that she has never ever washed.'

'Disgusting. But that's not what I meant. Are they mean to you?'

'Well, I don't know what kind of mother you are, but my parents left me home alone when I was two to go to the theatre with their friends. When I was four, I cooked my own meals...'

'Appalling. I'm glad you don't have to live with them any more. By the way, do you know there's a film about you?'

'Is there? So I'm famous then?'

'Kind of, yes. Children love you.'

'Do you have the film? Can we see it?' she asked jumping from the rocking chair onto the floor.

I realized how small she was and asked, 'How old are you?'

'Six.'

I opened a cupboard and looked for the DVD. I eventually found it and showed it to her.

'Here it is.'

'Funny! This guy really looks like Dad. Who is he?'

'Danni De Vito. He's a famous actor. Come, sit with me on the sofa.'

I made some popcorn for myself and we watched the film in silence. Matilda laughed from time to time. Her laugh was loud and musical, like a small church bell.

'That was fun,' she said when it finished.

'Was Mrs Trunchbull really like that?'

'A bit uglier, I would say. She had a wart in the middle of her nose.'

'Can I ask you a question? Do you really have powers?'

Matilda blushed furiously.

'I don't like talking about that. Yes, I do, but I hardly ever use them.'

Neither of us spoke for a while, but eventually she said, 'I want to go back. You're very nice, but I miss my life.'

'I want to help you, but I don't know how to. Why don't we go out, have a nice day and then at night we'll try to take you home? You can start reading again and see what happens.'

Just then my husband walked into the living room.

'Who is this?' he asked.

'I'm Matilda, sir.'

He looked at her, shrugged his shoulders and left. We both burst out laughing.

'Men!' I said.

I took Matilda shopping and bought her a beautiful green dress. We had a great day together. I had never thought I would be able to meet the main character of one of my favorite books.

When it got dark, we went back home and ate a quick dinner.

Then, I told Matilda to sit on the rocking chair and put Great Expectations on her lap.

'I've really enjoyed today. I do hope our plan works though. You deserve to be happy.'

Matilda started reading and I watched her from the sofa. After an hour, her little head began to loll forwards. Eventually she fell asleep. And then, the most extraordinary thing happened. A golden glow came out of the pages of the book and it enveloped Matilda. When the light disappeared, Matilda was gone.

The next morning, I woke up rested and happy. My husband asked me, 'Where's the little girl?'

'She's gone back home,' I said.

'Good, good. So now, really, who was she?'

I looked at him and left the room. Why bother? He wouldn't believe me anyway. Or even worse, he would think I needed a shrink. I love my husband dearly, but there isn't a single speck of fantasy in his bones.




 



Matilda is a book by children's author Roald Dahl.

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© Copyright 2017. Maria Jose Garcia All rights reserved.
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