Sense or Sensibility?

There is a magical realm in a world that humans cannot see. In the realm live children that never age, each possessing a unique talent. The children were happy and content, able to do whatever they wished without harming anything. They were tended to and cared for by two Matrons, Sense and Order. Because the children did not know the harm their magical abilities would cause to the human world, they had to stay in their realm. Mostly, they were happy to do so. They did not have to behave in any manner, nor did they have to learn to control themselves. They were utterly wild and free.

But there were once were eight children who left the realm and ran away to try out the human world. They lived in the woods. They had a camp, which consisted of eight wooden boxes hanging from the trees. Each child had a box to herself or himself. The children were agile and slender. They enjoyed playing in the woods, among the trees and creeks. They had no parents, and were wild and free.

One day a woman passed through the forest on a path that ran through it. Her name was Mildred. Mildred was rich and stern, and she ran an orphanage with the strictest of rules governing it. As she walked on the path, she heard children laughing and playing. Mildred was curious about the children so she went to see what they were doing.

Mildred was horrified to discover a mess of half-naked, dirty children playing in a creek. They were laughing and screaming, and splashing each other. What was most horrifying was that there was no adult supervisor! Any of the children could drown!

Mildred rushed out to the creek. “Where are your parents?” she demanded.

The children all stopped playing to look at her blankly. “Parents? We have not got any. Who are you?”

“No parents!” Mildred gasped. “Do you mean you have been abandoned here to starve and be eaten by wild beasts?”

“Uh, no,” said one of the oldest boys. “Are you loony or something?” He splashed water on Mildred’s expensive black dress. “What are you doing in the woods anyway? You could get eaten by wild beasts, old lady.”

Mildred drew herself up with dignity. “I have come out to the countryside for the sake of my health. It has been in a bad state lately. But I can see that I have been sent here by the spirits for a reason! You are a rude young boy. What is more, living in the woods like this is no place for a child! You will all come with me at once to my orphanage, and I will give you a proper life. Don’t you dare argue with me!” She looked sternly around at all the children, waving her umbrella madly.

“I guess we could try it,” a little girl said sweetly. “My name is Wild Rose, but you can call me Briar.”

“That is a terrible name for a child. I shall call you Bella. What are the rest of you called? I am Mildred Farouche. You will address me as Mrs. Farouche.”

The rude boy rolled his eyes. He had jagged blonde hair and naughty blue eyes. He was about thirteen. “Whatever, Mrs. Frouchy! My name is Luke. This is my little bro’ Daniel, and my sister Briar, and my other sister Koi. Ivy and Patch are related. Pearl and Weed are not.”

“My name is Farouche. Fa-rouche. It is French.”

“I do not know what that is, and I do not care,” Luke said sassily.

Weed had black hair that half covered his face. Ivy was tall and slender, with green hair. Pearl was a beauty, and Patch was small, with blotchy skin. He grinned crookedly at Mildred. Two of his front teeth were missing.

“What has happened to your teeth?” Mildred demanded.

“Luke pushed me out of tree accidentally, and they fell out,” Patch replied proudly.

Mildred looked aghast. She herded the children out onto the road with her umbrella and out of the forest onto the road. The children followed her willingly, curious for a new adventure. Mildred followed the road back to where her driver was waiting in a shining lorry. “Climb in,” she ordered the children. “I am sure you can all fit.”

Squashed together, the children stuffed themselves into the lorry. The lorry started off. It arrived at a big stone house, and drove through iron gates up the drive. A sign read Mrs. Farouche’s Home for Respectable Children. Maids in white and blue frilly aprons and caps came out into the drive and herded the children into the house.

Luke, Daniel, Briar, Koi, Weed, Ivy, Pearl, and Patch were all taken up a long, winding staircase. They passed neatly dressed children who looked at them with interest. At the end of the staircase was a long hall with doors off it on either side. Each child was taken into a washroom accompanied by a stern maid and made to look presentable.

When Luke, Daniel, Briar, Koi, Weed, Ivy, Pearl, and Patch came out of the washrooms, they looked at each other and giggled. Their hair had been cut straight and oiled back, in the boys’ cases. The girls’ hair had been braided back tightly. The boys were dressed in neat, uncomfortable suits. The girls were wearing flowery dresses, stocking, and polished shoes.

“You look like idiots in ribbons and frills,” Luke teased.

“And you look stupid in button-ups and ties,” Pearl retorted.

The children were taken down into the big dining room. Mrs. Farouche gave a stern lecture to them. She said, “You are lucky to be in my orphanage. There are some rules that must be respected and obeyed at all times. The rules are: You must never be late for lessons or meals. You must never fight. You must always do as you are told. You must eat properly without spoiling your clothes. You must always speak politely. You must only speak when spoken to. Anyone who breaks the rules will be severely punished.”

“She means it,” whispered a boy standing next to Luke. “Nasty old creature!”

“There will be no talking in the dining hall while I am talking!” Mrs. Farouche snapped. “Brendon, you may go to your room! No dinner for you tonight!”

“Yes, Mrs. Farouche,” Brendon said meekly, and walked stiffly out of the dining room.

The children sat down to dinner after Mrs. Farouche was done speaking. Dinner consisted of beef stew and bread. Luke, who was not afraid of anything, immediately spilled his stew on the table. “Oops,” he said loudly. He wondered how far he could go without getting punished.

All the children except Luke’s friends, stopped eating and stared at Luke in horror. Daniel, Briar, Koi, Weed, Ivy, Pearl, and Patch went on eating calmly.

Mrs. Farouche said coldly, “You will clean that up at once, Luke. Maid Rigby will escort you to the woodshed.”

“What do I have to do? Chop wood or something? Anyway, I am not cleaning up the stew. Why should I?”

“Because I told you to!” Mrs. Farouche roared. The children at the dining table all cringed in their seats.

“The maids can do that!” Luke said firmly, unruffled by the fearsome roaring. “Maid Ribpie, are we going to the woodshed anytime soon?”

“Behave yourself, Luke,” Pearl said sharply. She reached over and cleaned up Luke’s spilt stew. “This is no time to get carried away!”

“All right,” Luke grumbled. He got up and followed Maid Rigby out of the room.

“I did not give you permission to speak, Pearl,” Mrs. Farouche said sternly. “You may go up to bed at once.”

With rapid succession, Daniel, Briar, Koi, Weed, Ivy, and Patch all misbehaved and were sent up to bed. Luke was already in his room, looking chipper. He grinned when he saw all his friends pour into his room when they should have been in their separate beds. “Hello, everyone! I hate this orphanage place. But they have got an absolutely smashing garden! Shall we climb out and have some fun?”

Ivy went to the bedroom window and leaned out. She whispered something and a tree grew up outside the window. The children all climbed down the tree and ran out into the garden. They had a fine time, playing in the garden fountain and picking flowers by the light of the moon. Until Mrs. Farouche came out into the garden in her nightgown, awakened by all the yelling and screaming, accompanied by an ugly gardener and several maids.

The maids and gardener chased the children all around the garden. The orphans all leaned out of their bedroom windows to watch the chase with interest.

One of the maids caught Briar and prepared to smack her hard. Koi ran up and snapped, “Get your hands off my sister!” A gust of cold water flew out of her hands and drenched the maid. The maid shrieked and ran out of the garden, yelling, “Witches! God save us!”

Mrs. Farouche was chased by Luke and Daniel. They chased her out into the road and locked the iron gates behind them. The maids and gardener were pursued by wild beasts that erupted out of Weed and Patch’s mouth. The eight children then proceeded to barge into the house and chase every adult out of it. The adults were locked outside in the road, and they could not climb over the high walls that surrounded the orphanage.

Mrs. Farouche called the police, having walked all the way to the local police station. She said evil monsters had attacked her and her staff, and she must have help getting rid of them. But when the police arrived at the orphanage, the entire orphanage was gone. A maid in hysterics reported that “the whole of Madame’s house had torn itself out of the ground and flown away!”

As for the orphanage, Daniel and Luke had flown it back to the magical realm they came from. They and all the orphans have been living there ever since. They share good jokes about general adult stupidity, and stay well within their special realm. For now they know that the world beyond theirs cannot cope with their special abilities.

The two Matrons, Sense and Order, train the few select children that want to leave the realm to control their special powers. But sometimes they lose their control out in the human world and unexplainable things happen.

As for poor Mrs. Farouche and her staff, they were reported as insane after they kept raving about demon children and flying houses. Sad to say, they were shut up in an asylum for the rest of their unfortunate lives.

~~A short story by Layla

Mindlovesmiserysmenagerie Photo Challenge #130, Art:Rob Woodcox
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