“Frankie! Are you awake.”
“Awake? Wide awake sir!” Frankie blinked and looked about him wondering what he had missed.
“Right, perhaps you can explain the story to everyone here.”
Of course Frankie couldn’t. From that moment on Frankie discovered that each time he glanced out of the window, his teacher asked him a question. It was really most annoying he decided. After all he had no time to lose if he was to solve his great mystery, of what he was good at doing. His friends seemed to be able to do something really well. Being ordinary is boring to him. He wants to do something so amazing that he would be famous.
His Mum and Dad noticed he never listened to them. Lately they agreed that they wished that he wouldn’t dream so much.
His big sister, Alice, thinks that Frankie is a pest with a capital P. She wishes he would be very quiet, every now and again, for a bit of peace.
His teacher Mr. Woods if asked would have said that Frankie talks too much and never listens in class. He wishes that Frankie would simply listen when he should and answer when he should.
Frankie decided to make a list. This sounded easy but, he found it is never easy to list those things that you could do far far better than anyone else. After many false starts Frankie started writing his list. The first thing on the list sounded simple. To hold his breath longer than anyone else could. He practiced it as he walked to school but his best mate Jim thought that Frankie was day dreaming and stopped talking to him.
The next evening he tried it while he was eating dinner. Big mistake! Frankie had reached thirty when he began to feel strange. His face turned a very peculiar colour but he kept counting. His mum noticed the strange colour and she sprang into action.
Slapping him hard on the back, she said, “Frankie, Could you please remember to chew your food properly. Stop holding your breath, you are not good enough to break that record.” Just to make sure his mum watched him carefully for the remainder of the meal.
Frankie decided, adults were strange, he had explained he was attempting to set a World record, and now they were mucking it up.. More worrying for him was the certain truth, his Mum and Dad were especially good at putting a stop to things that they didn’t like.
He cheered up later when he found a giant earthworm in the garden . Chasing Alice around the garden made him laugh.
He sat on the fence and looked at his short list, the second suggestion was also the last.
It said, and Frankie had to turn the torn page upside down. ‘Stand on mi head.’
Standing on your head sounded easy. It was easy but for one small obstacle. A furry, purring, playful one called Scrappy. Each time Frankie stood on his head, Scrappy thought it was playtime. Being pounced on by a playful cat knocked that effort off his list. So now Frankie was right back at the beginning, thinking and dreaming up ideas.
It was while he was helping his Dad put up some shelves that Frankie had his next brain wave. Frankie always felt important when he helped his Dad. When he got a chance in-between fetching and carrying, he asked,
“Dad, is there a record for banging nails into timber?”
His Dad stopped hammering. He removed his cap and scratched his shiny bald head. “Well Frankie, I suppose there is, isn’t there a record for every single thing nowadays.”
That was enough for Frankie. He had a go. Frankie was doing exceptionally well. He was working on nail number ninety eight when his Mum came into the room. Unfortunately she was not impressed with the large piece of timber nailed firmly to one of her kitchen chairs.
Frankie had plenty of spare time to think after that, in his bedroom. To help him discover what was possible he had gone to the library and borrowed some reference books. They were sitting on the shelf waiting for him. Frankie glared at them. They simply sat and stared back. Frankie sighed there was nothing for it. He would have to open them.
They were no help what so ever. Frankie was not able to afford a super car so that meant that he couldn’t break the land speed record (even if he could drive). He didn’t have enough money to buy the ingredients to bake the world’s longest roll ( even if he could bake). He did not have the expertise yet, to find a cure for the common cold, but he was working on that in secret. The chocolate and cheese sandwich which he had mushed up in a jam jar had turned an interesting shade of bluey green. Now all he had to do was wait for someone to get a cold!
Closing the books with a loud bang, Frankie returned them to the shelf and sat on his bed to think . No matter how hard he tried Frankie could not think of one thing that was so unusual that it had never been done before. Eventually he gave up and just lay on his bed chewing bubble gum and blowing bubbles. After all it was the thing that helped him to think.
By tea time Frankie was out of his room but he was not happy. He had not solved his problem. He decided to ask Scrappy. Scrappy merely uttered a sad “Meow” and jumped up onto Frankie’s lap for a quick nap.
A loud noise from the television announced the start of his favourite program. Afterwards he dream t of spaceships and guns with dramatic blue rays flashing from them as he, Captain Frankie, and his trusty fighting cat traveled the universe sorting out stern looking green faced teachers and bossy sisters with two heads.
Next morning Frankie woke up feeling great. However that didn’t last for long when he remembered that it was “Test” day. Mr. Woods loved giving third class tests. He thought it was cool. Third class thought it pretty useless.
“After all his years and years of teaching,“ Frankie told Jim, “you’d think he’d know that I’m not going to be turned into a genius just like that.” Frankie popped his bubble gum.
“Deadly!” Jim said. “Wish I could blow really good bubbles just like you Frankie.”
“It’s only practice,” said Frankie modestly, “anyone could do it.”
“I’ve been practicing, watch.” Jim had a go. It was pitiful to watch. It was a tiny bubble which seemed to have a nasty looking hole in it. The bubblegum seemed to fall onto Jim’s face. Just then the bell rang and they walked slowly indoors for their test with Jim pulling bubblegum off his face.
Mr. Woods placed a sheet of paper in front of each pupil and explained. “This is an unusual one for you this week, boys and girls. It’s a true or false test. You should enjoy it”
Third class groaned long and loud, everyone except Frankie. He was deep in thought.
Jim’s right. I’m not just average at blowing bubbles. I’m great at it. After all, Captain Grant (space traveller) always said, “In today’s world it is better if you think big.”
Frankie yanked another whopper gum out of his pocket. He popped it into his mouth. At first it was tough to chew with one squishy gum and one crunchy one in his mouth. But Frankie continued to twist his face this way and that.
Mr. Woods noticed how Frankie’s cheeks bulged horribly and his mouth seemed to turn sideways. “Just do your best Frankie.” Mr. Woods hastily looked away because it was not a pretty sight. He hoped that Frankie wasn’t going to be sick.
I will have a go, and add one or two more, Frankie decided stuffing two more into his mouth. He began to chew with gusto all the time wondering, how big the bubble would be.
Jim nudged Frankie with his elbow and whispered , “Tick something off or you’ll be in trouble .”
Frankie did. He didn’t look at what he was ticking as he was too busy wrestling with the fifth whopper which he had popped into his mouth.
Everyone was much too preoccupied to notice. So Frankie took a deep breath and began to blow. At first it was tough going but once he got it started the bubble seemed to take over itself. It was as if it was happy to have escaped the warm clammy depth of Frankie’s mouth. Soon it was as big as a tennis ball and still growing.
Wow! Frankie glanced around but nobody else noticed this giant bubble. He stopped blowing and waited for it to cave in, he especially like this sticky messy part. But the bubble kept growing. Frankie didn’t begin to worry even though the bubble was as big as a football and still growing. He felt proud. He was actually doing something amazing . He tried to remove the gum but found that he couldn’t. The gum was stuck like cement to his teeth! Before he could do anything the bubble began to float upwards, tugging Frankie gently out of his chair.
Frankie tucked his knees up and bobbed over Jim who had scrunched his eyes shut and was muttering, “Ibble , Obble , Chocolate bobble,” to decide which box he should tick. Frankie flew over Peter who was busy tying Louise’s pigtails together. The rest of third class were preoccupied ticking or rubbing out their answers. Frankie was too surprised to consider if he should be happy or angry that his friends were much too busy to notice.
Frankie closed his eyes and waited for a shout followed by Mr Woods loud commanding voice. Luckily Mr. Woods was rummaging about in his desk for something and didn’t see Frankie float silently by.
As he sailed down the school corridor Frankie began to relax. It isn’t so bad he thought if I could just get it out of my mouth. He was trying to pry the gum from his teeth,. Eventually he succeeded but now it was stuck to his hand.
My own private plane, Frankie thought as he hovered over the lollipop lady. He smiled politely at her and waved, but she didn’t see him. She couldn’t for her attention was fixed on the giant bubble coming at her. Her eyes were huge as with a shriek of horror she stood staring at it, too terrified to move. Frankie saw the large sign fall slowly from her hand.
He wasn’t the only one to notice it.
The bubble swooped suddenly. “Squelch. ” In a flash the bubble had eaten her stop sign. The bubble and Frankie took off again only this time they were followed by a grumbling lollipop lady. The sign was floating happily in the middle of the bubble.
He recovered from this surprise to find a passing blackbird stopped for a rest on Frankie’s curly head. “Get off” Frankie shook his head and the bird, with a loud squawk flew on. Straight into the bubble! It landed on the lollipop stick where it promptly settled for a nap.
“Oh, my , oh my” Frankie groaned, “ this looks like trouble. Perhaps I should burst it”. But one glance down at the angry face of the lollipop lady who was running after him, made Frankie decide it was safer to be in the air.
In front of them Frankie spotted a man sitting on a wall with an open pizza box. Frankie licked his lips. He loved pizza’s, in particular pepperoni. The bubble seemed to agree for it began to descend and abruptly it dipped. But Frankie was ready for it this time. He reached out with his left hand and grasped the pizza just before the bubble could get it. You are not getting this, he thought. But the bubble had other ideas and it bent towards Frankie neatly enfolding most of the pizza. Frankie had no desire to be caught in the bubble so he took one quick bite and the remainder of the pizza was scooped into the bubble.
“That’s not fair,” Frankie said as he watched the pizza spin like a frisbee around the lollipop stick. The sleeping bird was still perched on top of the stick.
The man on the ground joined in the chase with the lollipop lady.
What next? Frankie thought. A loud whirring noise warned him that they were not the only ones going by air. A helicopter, great they will rescue me! Frankie closed his eyes noticing how cold it was becoming. He opened his eyes to discover he was sitting on a platform of cotton wool. “Clouds” said Frankie and dipped his hand into the fluffy looking cloud. “Ugh, it’s slimy and gooey. I thought clouds were made of candy floss.” he moaned as he shook off the slimy mess.
Frankie didn’t get time to complain again as he was whisked away on a warm current of air. As they left the cloud and dropped closer to the ground Frankie could see his mum hanging out washing. He called out to her. If anyone could stop this stupid bubble in its tracks, it was his mum.
But he was too far away and she did not hear him. She disappeared indoors. As they approached the flapping clothes line the bubble sank lower still. Frankie concentrated hard on his bedroom window while the bubble gave his Dad’s best shirt a fierce hug. Galoop! And in it went.
Once again they darted away. This time straight for Mr. Thrift and his lively dog, Penny. She was bringing Mr. Thrift on his daily walk. Penny was miles ahead of her owner sniffing the ground . Before Frankie could shout out a warning. Swish! In went Penny barking like mad. She landed on the spinning pizza and began to lick the topping from it.
“Hoi, “ shouted Mr. Thrift, as he dropped the lead in surprise. “Bring her back , you can’t dognap her like that.” And he joined in the chase after the lollipop lady and the angry pizza man.
Frankie decided that enough was enough he had to think of a way of stopping this hungry bubble. Obviously grown ups were not going to be much help so he shut his eyes tightly and began to think of different ways of bringing it down.
A lot of childish shouting made him open one eye. He shut it again quickly. School was finished and most of the boys from third class were in the park playing football. The bubble was fluttering along quite nicely towards them.
This calls for action , Frankie muttered and he began to wriggle with his body and feet. Nothing happened . So he tried using his free hand . Flapping it up and down very fast, Frankie began to get somewhere. The bubble was now spinning around . After twenty circles and with a very buzzy head Frankie stopped. The bubble didn’t. It just bounced along. Dipping and diving towards the ground.
“Great” Frankie said “We are going to land.”
He had just spoken when ‘ Snap’. It gobbled up the flying football.
“Hey” shouted all of the boys. “You, come back with our ball.” They began to run after Frankie.
Frankie didn’t notice them immediately as he was too busy staring at the amazing sight within the bubble. The lollipop stick was now wearing his Dad’s best shirt . The bird was happily hovering above it. Penny had eaten all of the pizza topping and had curled up on the base and fallen asleep. The football was doing non stop laps of the bubble.
Shouts from below reminded Frankie that all was not terrific. He glanced down to see that the Lollipop lady was showing signs of exhaustion, as she dropped back into third place behind the pizza man and Mr. Thrift. Third class however thundered on up into first place yelling, “Geronimo!”
Don’t worry we’ll catch it!” shouted Jim and Ronan the leaders as they looked back at the grownups. With that there was a enormous splash as they led the rest of the boys straight into the park pond.
Frankie tried not to laugh, but he couldn’t help it . It was too funny watching all of his friends splash around amongst the ducks and water. The three exhausted adults had collapsed into one messy heap on a tiny park bench.
It was then that Frankie realised that a most amazing thing was happening to the giant bubble. With each loud burst of laughter the bubble seemed to become dented and misshapen. As it lost its spectacular round shape it began to sway and zig zag downwards.
Frankie stopped laughing and the bubble regained its roundness and began to float upwards again. He glanced back at his friends. They were much too busy fooling about in the water to have noticed.
Frankie ‘s mind was racing along. He looked all about him and saw that they were going to float over the cluster of trees. He waited until they were almost over the trees before he took a huge gulp of air and slowly exhaled. He repeated this over and over. He blew for all he was worth and with each puff the bubble sank . Gradually they inched towards the green grass beyond the elm trees.
Frankie waited until the bubble came close to a large branch . Prising his right hand free he fell to the ground rolling over and over as he landed.
Frankie finally came to a soft stop by the laurel hedge. He pulled himself up and looked towards the bubble just as a terrific Pop! rang out. Bubble gum was flying everywhere. The Lollipop stick dropped like a stone. The bird flew away with a grateful cry. The pizza, Penny and the football landed on a great blob of bubble gum. Penny , he saw was OK just a little pink and sticky.
And Frankie? Well Frankie being Frankie just stayed where he was as his friends rushed up to him.
“Did you see it Frankie?, What was it?, Where did it come from ? How did it come down? Who was the fella who was holding it? Was it an alien, All I could see were his legs?”
They were all shouting at once. The adults were busy, trying to remove bubble gum from the sign and Penny.
“It was really exciting, “ began Frankie a dreamy look coming on his face. “ I did it. It was me! And I brought it down! Flying is great!”
But nobody believed him no matter how hard he tried to explain. Finally he gave up and went off to have a game of football instead
When they had finished playing and were on their way home Jim smiled at his friend who was trying to explain yet again about the bubble. “Frankie you are not only the greatest bubble blower in the universe but you are also the greatest dreamer.”
Frankie looked at Jim crossly. Would no one believe him? But as Jims words sunk home Frankie puffed his chest out proudly and agreed , “Yes I am.”
And splitting his last piece of gum with Jim he walked all the way home without blowing one single bubble!