|Pen and ink drawing. Digital.|
Mr and Mrs Sugar were sat huddled together on the sofa, warming themselves in front of the fireplace. Thick, woollen blankets were draped like shawls across their shoulders and they were shivering uncontrollably. The snow globe had been destroyed and Abigail’s parents had just been released from its eternal winter. The magic spell had been broken at last and the faceless replica in Abigail’s bedroom had crumbled into a fine, powdery dust.
“Abigail, we’re so sorry,” Mrs Sugar was saying. “So very, very sorry.”
Abigail was standing by the window. The temperature outside was rising rapidly and the snow was already beginning to thaw. She frowned and placed her hands on her hips.
“You tried to replace me,” she said crossly. “You tried to swap me for something else.”
“No, no, you don’t understand,” Abigail’s father replied, awkwardly. “We just wanted to change your behaviour, that’s all.”
“Your father bought the snow globe from a door-to-door salesman,” Mrs Sugar explained.
“Odd-looking fellow,” Mr Sugar remarked. “He was wearing some very strange clothes, I seem to recall. And he had wild frizzy silver hair that stuck out in all directions. I think his name was Arthur.”
Abigail gasped. “It must have been Martha’s Pitt’s uncle,” she said. “Uncle Arthur.”
“Yes, I did notice a family resemblance,” Mr Sugar replied. “He had the same wild eyes as Martha. He told me that the magic snow globe would change you. I thought he meant it would change your behaviour. Make you less troublesome and more good mannered.” He shook his head sadly. “I honestly didn’t know it was going to replace you with a waxwork.”
“We love you, Abigail,” Mrs Sugar added and there were teardrops sliding down her cheeks. “You’re our daughter, our lovely, darling daughter, and we never want to lose you. Ever.”
Abigail felt a strange emotion pressing against her heart. ‘But you’re always disappointed with me,” she said. “You’re always angry with me.”
“Naturally, we get upset when you perform badly at school,” Abigail’s father replied. “What parent wouldn’t be upset? We want to see you do well at your exams, Abigail. If we get angry with you for not doing your best, it doesn’t mean to say we don’t love you.”
“We love you, Abigail,” Mrs Sugar was saying as fresh teardrops dribbled down her face. “We love you with all our hearts.”
Abigail felt a knot of emotion in her stomach and then rushed across the room towards the sofa. There were sobs of happiness and tears of joy as she hugged and squeezed her parents tightly. They held her in their arms, stroking her hair and dabbing the teardrops from her cheeks.
Then Abigail remembered something. “I ought to check on Henry,” she said. “I want to make sure he’s been returned to his house.”
“I’ll bake you a special birthday cake while you’re away,” Mrs Sugar said, standing up.
“That sounds wonderful,” Abigail replied, then quickly left the house and made her way to Number Four Clover Leaf Road.
Much to her horror and surprise, it was Henry Shadow’s replica that answered the door.
“Hello,” it said in its flat, emotionless voice. “How are you, Abigail Sugar? How can I help you?”
Abigail stepped back fearfully. “Where’s Henry?” she demanded to know. “The real Henry Shadow. What have you done with him?”
“He’s watching television,” the replica replied, matter-of-factly. “Would you like to step inside? I’m sure he will be very pleased to see you.”
Puzzled and still feeling afraid, Abigail followed the replica down the hallway and into the sitting room. Henry was lounging on the sofa, lazily watching television and popping expensive chocolates into his mouth. Empty cartons of junk food and wrinkly sweet wrappers had been scattered everywhere. Then Abigail noticed a snow globe on the mantelpiece. Models of Henry’s mother and father were still standing motionless inside.
“Hi, Abigail,” Henry said, waving a hand nonchalantly from the chair. “Make yourself at home. I’m just about to watch a movie.” He turned to look at the replica in the doorway and frowned. “Fetch our guest a glass of freshly-squeezed lemonade at once,” he demanded as if barking orders to a lowly butler. “And don’t forget to bring some ice cubes too.”
“Yes, master,” the replica replied and then bowed its head and quietly shuffled out of the room.
Abigail stood and stared in astonishment. “Henry,” she eventually asked, scratching the top of her head. “What’s going on? Why haven’t you broken the snow globe?” She pointed at the ornament on the mantelpiece. “Your parents are still trapped inside!”
Henry grinned mischievously and winked an eye. “I know,” he replied. “I’m planning to release them later. But not until I’ve finished this movie. It’s one my parents won’t let me watch.”
He popped another chocolate into his mouth and then leaned back and made himself more comfortable on the sofa.
Abigail made a tut-tutting noise to express her disapproval. “As long as you promise to release them after you’ve watched the movie,” she said, sitting down on the sofa next to her new friend.
“Oh, I will, I promise,” Henry replied and handed her an expensive-looking chocolate. “By the way, Abigail, Happy Birthday.”