Story by Anne Fine
Spider was a thin brown hairy dog with spidery long legs. He was a real scaredy baby. He was scared of people he didn’t know. He was scared of bright flashes. And he was scared of loud bangs. Most of all he was scared of fireworks.
On Bonfire Night, Mum straightened Spider's rug out for him in the warm corner behind the kitchen door, where Spider liked to lie. "He'll feel much safer staying at home, curled up on his rug," she said.
Jenna found Spider's toy bone and put it on the rug in front of Spider. "He'll be much happier if he has this to chew."
Gavin tucked Spider's favourite soft toy next to him on the rug. "He'll feel less lonely if he has Pink Elephant for company."
Dad tipped half a cup of leftover milky tea into Spider's treat bowl. "He'll be just fine with everything he needs."
Off they all went, to watch the fireworks in the park.
It was an amazing display. Some of the fireworks went Whoooosh! And some went Wheeeee! And some went BANG! Some spun round, and some went shooting up, and some exploded overhead.
Some of the fireworks shone silver, and some shone gold. Some flashed. Some sparkled. Some threw showers of sparks all over the sky.
Everyone in the family enjoyed the show. It went on for half an hour, and then, with one last enormous burst of noise that rippled round the sky, it was all over. The last wisps of leftover smoke blew away over the bushes, and everyone set off for home.
"Magic!" Jenna kept saying as they walked back through the dark streets. "Those giant bangers were so loud."
"I bet even Spider could hear them," said Gavin.
"Good thing we left him lying on his rug," said Mum. "Feeling all safe with his bone and Pink Elephant."
"And his cold weak tea," said Dad.
They reached the house. Mum unlocked the door, and all of them hurried into the warm hall to hang up their coats and hats and scarves. Then they went into the kitchen.
Spider was gone.
Each of them checked behind the door. But there was nothing there. Everything had vanished. There was no Spider. No Pink Elephant. No treat bowl. No bone. Even the rug was gone.
"Spider's been stolen," wailed Gavin. "While we were gone, someone has broken into our house and taken Spider!" And he burst into tears.
'Nonsense!" Mum said. "No one has broken into the house." She pointed to the floor. "Look!"
Everyone stared. Across the floor there was a line of tiny little drip stains.
Dad got down on his knees and peered. "Aha! Do I spy cold weak tea?" He grinned. "Shall we all follow the trail?"
Dad tracked the line of little drips across the kitchen, out into the hall. Everyone followed him and, one by one, they tiptoed up the stairs and along the landing until they were outside Dad and Mum's bedroom door.
Mum pushed the door open.
Everyone peered around. There, huddled in the corner on Mum's side of the bed, Spider lay staring back at them with huge brown eyes. His rug was crumpled in a great untidy mess under his tummy. Pink Elephant was crammed against the skirting board, her legs stuck in the air. The toy bone had been jammed deep into one of Mum's new bedroom slippers, and the treat bowl lay upside down on the carpet.
"Oh, Spider!" Mum said. "Did you really bring all these things up the stairs with you, just to feel safer?"
"He must have carried them all up one by one."
"He must have dragged the rug."
"It must have taken ages."
"Spider, you’re such a scaredy baby!"
"I bet you’re really, really glad that we’re all home."
And then, to show he really, really was, Spider began to wag his tail at last.
2011 © Anne Fine