Ho-Ho’s Magic Button

 

Henry and Ho-Ho were sitting under the damson tree.

Henry was looking rather puzzled:

"How do you make yourself go so small, Ho-Ho?"

Ho-Ho smiled and looked very mysterious:

"I have a magic button on my forehead" he said.  Henry looked at Ho-Ho's forehead with great curiosity and sure enough there was a little button which he had somehow never noticed before.

“When I press it with my trunk, I become a small pink elephant that can float back up into my tree,” he added.

"Can I press it?" asked Henry.

Ho-Ho thought for a while: “Yes,” he said finally, "I think that will probably be all right."

Very, very nervously, Henry reached up and touched the button on Ho-Ho's forehead. At first nothing happened but then he pressed a bit more firmly and lo and behold the huge elephant shrank to the size of a tiny, tiny mouse.

Henry was mightily impressed.

"Please make yourself normal size again, Ho-Ho" Henry pleaded. After a few moments there sat the huge smiling elephant once again. Henry was thrilled with this discovery; to him it seemed like magic!

"Let's do it again: please let me do it again” he cried.

  Ho-Ho reluctantly agreed, but pointed out that it was very tiring to keep changing his size.  Henry made Ho-Ho go big and small several more times, and each time was totally delighted with the result.    Eventually Ho-Ho became quite exhausted and said:

“I am very tired with all this shrinking down and growing big….I can hardly stay awake…..I think I need to go for a sleep up in my tree. Bye Henry!”  And with that, Ho-Ho disappeared.

“Oh dear, I shouldn’t have tired out my friend” Henry murmured, realising that he would now have to wait until Ho-Ho had recovered his strength.

“I’ll go and get us some orange juice for when he wakes up” he decided finally. Henry wandered down to the kitchen feeling a little glum and guilty for exhausting his friend.

 

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As he opened the kitchen door his mother looked rather frightened and held a finger to her lips:

“Sh” she whispered to Henry and taking his hand, led him back outside and into the garden, “Trixie is asleep and mustn’t be disturbed” she said.

Henry had heard about this girl called “Trixie”, having accidentally listened in on some grown up conversations. He remembered them saying that she was a “spoilt only child” and a “troublesome teenager” and though he didn’t know quite what those were, he was happy that he himself probably wasn’t either of them.

“She will only be staying for a few days,” continued his mother, “just so that her poor family can have a break!”

His mother noticed the puzzled look on Henry’s face:

“She is a very difficult young lady” his mother continued, “Who has fallen into bad company and she really does need to be looked after until she recovers.”

“Recovers from what?” asked Henry, now more puzzled than ever.

“Henry, you are not old enough to understand, but Trixie made some very bad friends and she has been taking things called ‘drugs’ which affected her mind and we must all take turns in looking after her until she gets better.”

Henry didn’t think that would be too bad as a ‘young lady’, especially a ‘teenager’ wouldn’t want to bother with a young boy; she would hopefully just leave him in peace to have his adventures with his friend Ho-Ho.

Just then Trixie appeared. His mother froze and seemed very nervous:

“Are you all right?” she finally said. Trixie ignored the question and just looked from Henry to his mother.

“This is my son Henry” she finally said by way of introduction. Henry’s mouth hung open in amazement, but he finally held his hand out to shake Trixie’s hand.

“Why is your face all white?” he finally asked, “Are you a Martian?” Henry had heard of people from other planets who looked very different from us but didn’t know whether they really existed or not.

“I’m so sorry,” said his mother quickly, “Henry doesn’t know much about teenagers and make up!”

“I am a Trojan” Trixie finally announced, with a tone of disbelief, amazed that even a young boy would not know the significance her dress and make-up.

“What’s a Trojan?” asked Henry, wrinkling his nose.

Trixie looked up at the sky and shook her head despairingly, obviously feeling that she should not have to answer such silly questions:

 “Me and all my friends dress like this, because we are different. We dress in black and do our faces white because the world is black.”

“It’s a special club, you see, Henry – a sort of gang. They go to the same places together and do the same sorts of things” his mother added quickly.

Henry was very glad that he wasn’t old enough to join the ‘gang’ as Trixie seemed very grumpy and rude and he didn’t want to dress in black and paint his face white.

They made their way into the house and decided to have an early lunch. Henry was feeling a little peckish and the promise of some home-made soup was very attractive.

However, this soup was like none he had ever tasted before; it was horrible.

His mother noticed the expression on his face:

“I made this soup especially for Trixie,” she explained, “as there are a lot of foods which she cannot eat”.

 The story slowly emerged that Trixie suffered from all kinds of peculiar problems with strange things called ‘allergies’. For instance she was allergic to milk, eggs, meat and fruit and when she ate them became ill and sneezed a lot; she also started sneezing in the presence of dogs, cats, many flowers and even some grasses. The truth was that Trixie seemed to be allergic to almost everything!

Poor Henry had to share in her strange food choices and it soon became clear that a lot of his favourite foods would not be available while Trixie was around  - things like chocolate, fruit,  jelly and trifle and various other treats; life had certainly taken a turn for the worse! Then came the bombshell:

“I really like this food and living here; I think I’ll stay for a few weeks… maybe even longer!” Trixie said. (She was a very ill-mannered girl and didn’t even ask if it would be all right for her to stay longer!) Even though Henry was a very polite little boy, he had great difficulty in hiding his dismay.

 

Well, the days dragged on with no sign of Trixie wanting to leave.   What upsets Henry the most, however, was the fact that he had difficulty in getting outside and under the damson tree to be with Ho-Ho; Trixie always seemed to be around and wanting to talk to him.  After a few days, he had only visited his friend just the once, for Trixie would not leave Henry alone.  She talked all the time about her friends, who were all ‘Trojans’ like her and how they danced and had taken these ‘drugs’ which made them feel good but had muddled Trixie’s brain so that she couldn’t tell what was real and what was imaginary! It amazed Henry that she would have friends who would behave like that; real friends - like Ho-Ho - would always protect you and rescue you from such silliness.

While she was talking, Henry’s mind would wander, remembering good times with Ho-Ho and dreaming about adventures that lay in store in the future. Trixie hardly noticed; she was only interested in herself and her own little world.

“Then I started imagining things and I knew that I had to go home and settle myself down.”

“What kinds of things did you imagine?” asked Henry, yawning.

“All kinds of things, but especially animals. Now I know that I am better. I haven’t seen the animals for weeks now, and I am nearly ready to go back to my Trojan friends. But if the imaginings came back,” she added darkly, “I would have to go back home and get some help”

“But how would you know if they were real or just in your mind?” Henry asked, as an idea began to form at the back of his mind, adding: “Have you ever imagined elephants?”

“Well there aren’t any elephants around here, so if I saw one, it would most likely be imagined and if, for instance  I imagined an elephant in that big tree down there, I would know I must go back home at once!”

  “I need to go for a walk on my own” said Henry, “I am getting a headache from all this talking.”

 

Henry had a rather strange idea of how to make this lady leave, but he felt a bit guilty as, after all, she did have a lot of problems. On the other hand, this surely wasn’t an ideal place for her, with only Henry and his mother for company.

Then one morning while having breakfast, things became even more desperate:

"Although the food here is quite good,” Trixie said, "I do think my bedroom is full of allergies as I sneezed twice last night"  She  turned to Henry's mother:

"I think I need to change bedrooms” She added.

"Well there is only one other available bedroom in our house” said Henry's mother, "and that is Henry's bedroom.  However, I'm sure that Henry won’t mind swapping bedrooms with you"

She looked at Henry with a very stern expression on her face and Henry knew that he had no choice but to change bedrooms.

For Henry, that was the last straw; his life had changed from a series of happy adventures into something quite horrible, with horrible food and little chance of meeting with his friend Ho-Ho, and now he was to be ejected from his own bedroom! He would never hear that wonderful sound of Ho-Ho tapping on his window with his trunk so long as Trixie stayed at his house.

However, if Trixie could somehow see Ho-Ho up a tree, she had promised that she would leave and go back to her own home and that would solve all his problems! His feelings of guilt at the plan totally disappeared!

 

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The next day Henry's mother took Trixie into town on some kind of shopping trip.  Henry seized his chance to be with Ho-Ho and soon the two friends were talking under the damson tree.

"So all you have to do, Ho-Ho, is to climb up a tree" said Henry decisively summarising events.

"But I am afraid of being high up" said Ho-Ho, "and I can't climb anyway!"

“But you sleep up in the tree every night!” objected Henry.

“That is different,” said Ho-Ho, looking very wise,

“When I am a small, asleep, pink elephant I am very light and happy in the tree. But when I am the big, grey, awake elephant, I am very scared of them!”

The two friends sat in silence for a while.  The situation was certainly desperate.  Henry's face suddenly brightened:

"I've got it!"  Said Henry, "we'll use your magic button and shrink you down to a small size and I'll climb up the big old tree at the end of the garden with you in my pocket. Then you can peep out and you will see that there is nothing to be frightened about from being high up! Then I can teach you to climb!”

Ho-Ho looked doubtful and needed a lot of persuading from Henry.  Eventually, however, he agreed.  They made their way to the oak tree at the bottom of the garden.  This was an extremely big old tree which was very safe for climbing and Henry had climbed it many times in the past.

 

So, very soon, with Ho-Ho shrunk down to his small size, Henry was climbing the tree.  This time he climbed higher than he had ever done before.  The view was indeed wonderful and when he showed Ho-Ho, holding him tightly in his hand of course, Ho-Ho was also very amazed and delighted. They could see lots of fields with farm animals, the distant villages, woods teaming with birds and the faraway hills basking in the sun. It was all so green and peaceful that they lost all sense of time and several hours passed very quickly.

 

Meantime Trixie and Henry's mother had returned home from their shopping trip.  Trixie seemed rather worried about something and was even worrying about where Henry might be.

"Why don't you go and find Henry?"  Said Henry's mother, even she becoming a little irritated by Trixie’s continuing demands, "he can't be far away; he must be somewhere in the garden."

Trixie went out and looked around the garden calling out Henry's name.  Eventually she went down to the far end of the garden where the big old oak tree stood.  Henry had dozed off to sleep and was startled to hear Trixie calling his name.  At first he forgot where he was then it all came flooding back.  His first concern was for Ho-Ho and he reached into his pocket to feel him.  Unfortunately in his haste he must have accidentally touched the button on Ho-Ho's forehead and immediately the little elephant grew bigger and bigger and bigger.  The tree began to creak and groan under the enormous weight and very soon, a huge smiling elephant was stretched out across the mighty oak tree.  Trixie screamed when she saw the elephant in the branches of the tree and terrified ran straight into the house.

 

Henry was startled by the scream and for some reason felt very guilty as he was sure that his mother would blame him for Trixie’s fright.  He pressed on Ho-Ho's magic button and put the small elephant into his pocket.  He climbed down the tree and walked slowly to the damson tree; he pressed on the button again and the two friends discussed what had happened.

"I still don't think I can climb trees" said Ho-Ho, "but the view was so very, very wonderful and it was so nice of you to show it to me; perhaps we can do it again sometime?"

It had been a very special experience to have shared with his friend and overall Henry was pleased that they had had the climbing adventure together.  Soon the two friends said their farewells, Ho-Ho went back up his tree and Henry trudged down to the house, fearing the worst!

 

When he arrived Trixie was nowhere to be seen.

"Where is Trixie?"  Henry asked.  His mother said:

"Henry you must try to understand that Trixie is a very sensitive person with a lot of problems.  I'm just so sorry that I couldn't help her more.  However she will be happy now that she has gone back to her home where everything is familiar and safe.”

"But why did she leave?"  Asked Henry.

"I don't know if I should tell you this, Henry, but she thought that she had seen a full-grown elephant in the old oak tree at the bottom of the garden and she had promised herself that if her imagination  ever took control again, she would have to go back home.”

"And she isn't coming back?"  Asked Henry scarcely able to control his joy.  His mother shook her head sadly.

"And I can have my old room back?"  Asked Henry.

His mother could not suppress a little smile:

"Yes indeed Henry: you can have your own bedroom back.  In fact even if Trixie had stayed, she wouldn't have been able to sleep in your bedroom again!  This very morning she heard a tapping on the window and when she looked out she said that she saw a huge elephant looking up at her.  The poor girl was terrified.  I know she has made the right decision in leaving here"

Henry too felt that she had made the right decision in leaving his house, and although Ho-Ho had never met her, Ho-Ho thought so too (especially as it meant that he would not have to learn how to climb trees!)

 

©bernard shevlin©