I’m a Spring Onion

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Helena arrived home from school. She threw down her bag in the hallway.

“Why the long face, Helena?” asked Mum.  “You should be excited. We’re shopping for your party tonight.”

“Oh, Mum!” Helena replied. “It’s awful! I’m a spring onion in the Christmas play and …”

“Did you say a spring onion?” Mum hid a smile.

“Yes. I have to say, ‘I’m a special gift for the baby Jesus. I’ll put a spring in his step.’ ” Helena bit her lip. “It’s impossible to walk in this costume.” She picked up her bag and took out a long, green felt tube with a white bulb-shaped bottom. “Look at it!”

“It’s not that bad,” said Mum.

“Yes, it is. I can’t walk in it. It’s too tight.” Helena took a deep breath then sighed. “I can’t see anything,” she said. “I’m sure I’m going to fall off the stage and break my leg.”

Mum held up the costume. “I could put a panel in,” she offered, “to give you more room.”

Helena wailed, “But we won’t have time to shop. I need a new outfit.”

She looked at the spring onion dangling from Mum’s hand. She wanted to rip it into little pieces, but if she did, she would ruin the school play. She imagined everyone’s angry faces. Then she imagined herself at the party wearing the pink dress Mum had bought. She’d look silly. Everyone would laugh. What could she do? She had an idea.

“I can fix the costume, Mum. You’ll have to show me what to do, but I can use the sewing machine.”

She took some scraps of cotton from the bottom of her sewing box and showed Mum the rows of neat stitches. Some of them had gone wonky at first, but Helena had pulled them out and started again.

You could go and get the outfit,” Helena pleaded.

But Mum shook her head.

“You need to come with me. You’ve never worn the lovely pink dress I chose last time.”

Helena imagined herself in the pink dress and shuddered.  She tore a piece of paper from her drawing book and drew a picture of the top and jeans she wanted. Underneath she wrote the name of the shop where she’d seen them.”

Mum frowned. “Where’s that?”

Helena drew a map of the shopping centre, with a big red cross for the shop.

“Okay!” Mum laughed, “I’ll go for your outfit. Let’s have a look at that costume. You’ll need to cut a large v-shape into the tube like this.” Mum traced a V with her finger. Helena nodded. “Then make a felt triangle. Have you got felt?”

“No!” Helena thought for a moment, then smiled. “I could cut some from the bottom. It’s too long anyway.”

“Great idea,” said Mum.

“Shall I make the eyeholes bigger too?”

“Yes. You’ll be able to see better then.”

Mum left and Helena set to work. She pricked her fingers many times as she pinned in the triangle. It was hard to sew with the pins in, but Helena smoothed the material with one hand and guided it with the other.

Then she cut the eyeholes. The left eyehole was bigger than the right, so Helena made the right one bigger. Now that one was too big. She trimmed until both holes were the same. They looked like alien eyes, but they would have to do.

Helena tried the costume on. The tube slid easily over her head and down her body until it reached her feet. She climbed upstairs to Mum and Dad’s room without falling over and looked at herself in Mum’s mirror. The triangle could hardly be seen. Even the alien eyes looked okay.

She heard Mum’s car on the drive and raced downstairs.

“I’m really sorry, Helena. I couldn’t get the top you wanted,” Mum said. She handed over a paper bag. Helena pulled out a blue top. It sparkled with sequins, just like the jeans she’d asked for.

“This’ll look amazing at the disco!” she said. “Thanks Mum!”

“Wow! The costume looks great, Helena.”  Mum smiled.

“Yes,” Helena agreed. “I ran downstairs in it. And I didn’t fall at all! Tomorrow’s going to be wonderful.”

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