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“Marly, have you tidied your room?”

It was a simple question, but Marly didn’t answer. She really had meant to tidy her room that day, but after only a few minutes she had been distracted by the discovery of a game she’d entirely forgotten she possessed; before she knew it, it was teatime.

Her silence wasn’t going to save her, though. Her father looked at her suspiciously, then got up from the table to go and look. She sat poking at the last few chips on her plate while she waited for him to return.

“She hasn’t,” he said with a sigh. “It’s almost worse than it was before.”

Marly’s mother shook her head and tutted. “No pudding for Marly, then.”

Marly protested, but arguing only made things worse. She was sent to her room; no TV, no computer games, just straight to bed.

Petulantly, she turned away from her cosy bed. They could sent her to her bedroom, she thought, but they couldn’t make her sleep. She stomped over to the window and looked out. It was dark already, and a full moon shone in the sky.

“I bet on the moon they don’t send you to bed without any pudding,” she muttered. “I bet on the moon, you get to watch all the TV you like, and play computer games, and they don’t make you tidy your room.”

She looked at the patterns of the moon. There was a shadow that looked a lot like a rabbit.

“And on the moon, you get to cuddle bunnies and everything.”

She turned from the window and looked around her room. Resolute, she grabbed her school bag and emptied her textbooks out onto the bed.

“On the moon, they don’t make you do homework.”

She packed her favourite clothes; her prettiest dresses and her favourite jumper.

“On the moon, they don’t tell you that jumper doesn’t go with that dress.”

She put a couple of dolls in the bag, and her favourite teddy bear, then closed it up and swung it on her back.

She tore a page out of one of her exercise books and wrote on it carefully.

“Dear Mum and Dad,” she wrote, sticking her tongue out of the corner of her mouth. “I have gone to live on the moon because you didn’t let me have pudding even though I meant to tidy my room and you are mean.”

She went to the window and carefully took down all the ornaments on the window sill. She clambered up onto the window sill, opened the window and reached up towards the moon.

She flew up with a rush; her hair flew over her eyes and she got very cold. She wished that she had put her jumper on instead of packing it, but just as she was wondering whether she could pull it out of her bag without dropping anything, she landed.

She looked around. It was odd to see the earth in the sky where the moon should be. The moon was warmer than she had expected, and the yellowy ground was springy underneath her feet. She bounced a couple of times, then leaped high into the air.

“Whee!”

It was a lot like jumping on a trampoline. She bounced, jumped, and somersaulted around, having the time of her life.

Something caught her eye in the distance. It looked like a little park; it had a bench next to a little pond with a few large yellow rocks at one side. There were delicate railings around parts of it, and a pretty carriage stood just to one side. She bounced her way over and sat down. She had expected to see ducks on the pond when she got there, or somebody belonging to the carriage to talk to, but there was no sign of life.

“Hullo,” something said. She looked around. She couldn’t see anything.

“Hello?”

“Hullo.”

A very large rabbit bounced out from behind one of the big rocks. She smiled.

“You’re a moon bunny,” she said. “And you talk!”

The bunny put its head to one side. “Of course I talk. You children are quite simple, aren’t you?”

“Simple? What do you mean?”

The bunny sighed, stood up on its back legs and folded its arms.

“Simple. Slow. Stupid.”

Marly was too shocked to speak.

“Why, you aren’t even in uniform,” the bunny said. “Lazy thing! Do you think we brought you here to bounce around and sit on benches? Get to work!”

She blinked. “Work?”

The bunny nodded. “Work. You can pull my carriage, for now.” It pointed towards the carriage. “Come on, chop chop, get moving.”

Marly stood still. The bunny gave her an angry glare. “I said, move, you lazy little child!”

It pulled a little whip out from behind its back and cracked it towards Marly. She squealed and jumped. The bunny cracked the whip again, and she jumped backwards again. Before she knew it, she had backed right up to the carriage. The bunny leaped forwards and slipped a harness around her.

“Let me go,” she shouted, “Let me go!”

The bunny grinned at her. “No chance,” it said. “I wanted a new servant, you wanted to go to the moon, and now here you are.”

It jumped up onto the driver’s seat and cracked the whip once more. Marly had no choice but to run forwards, tugging the heavy carriage behind her.

“I want to go home,” she moaned.

By cracking the whip beside her head, the bunny steered her towards a big yellow brick house. Just outside of it, it pulled on the reins and brought her staggering to a stop. She was exhausted; the sweat poured down her face and she felt thoroughly miserable.

“Well,” the bunny said, “You’ll do. I suppose you’re hungry – here, have some cheese.”

Marly started crying. She hated cheese. It made her feel sick. “I want to go home,” she cried.

The bunny looked angry. “Well you won’t get there like that,” it said. “There’s only one way to get back from here.”

Marly looked towards the Earth as it hung in the sky, like a big blue and green marble with clouds swirling across it.

“Mummy,” she cried, “Daddy! I’m sorry I called you mean! I’m sorry I didn’t tidy my room! I’m sorry and I want to go home!”

With a whoosh, the harness fell away from around her and she lifted up into the sky, falling back towards home.

“Bother,” the bunny said as she disappeared, “They don’t usually apologise that quickly!”

© Kari Fay

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