Violet Mackerel’s Possible Friend
Violet Mackerel is exploring her new home. Her family has only just moved in, so she is discovering interesting things all the time.
Her first discovery in the new garden is an ants’ nest. Hundreds of ants crawl in
and out, sometimes carrying things that are bigger than they are. Her next good discovery is a ring of small brown mushrooms growing in a damp spot. They look like tiny umbrellas. But the most interesting discovery for the whole morning is something that actually looks very ordinary at first. It is a brown knot in the pale wooden fence.
The knot is a dark circle with a ring around it. Violet presses it like a button to see if something happens,
but she doesn’t really expect that anything will. It moves. She presses a little harder and it moves a bit more. She presses harder still, and suddenly it pops right through the fence and falls out the other side.
Violet’s heart does a worried little jump. She looks around to see if anyone has seen her accidentally making a hole in the fence, but everyone is much too busy to notice. Mama and Violet’s brother,
Dylan, are still moving furniture, trying to find the right places for it all to fit. Mama’s new husband, Vincent, is filling in cracks in the new bathroom’s ceiling. Violet’s sister, Nicola, is trying to find the channels on the television by reading some
instructions and pressing all different buttons on the remote. No one has seen Violet making the hole. Perhaps, Violet thinks, no one will guess it was her.
One cheering thought is that she now has a good way of peeking into the garden next door. Mama says she thinks a girl lives there who is about Violet’s age. Violet doesn’t have any friends near the new house, and she would quite like to make one. But making a new friend can be tricky, especially if the friend you would like to make is someone you have never met or even seen before.
Violet has been trying to think of some theories that might be helpful
for friend-making, and so far her best idea is called the Theory of Swapping Small Things. The theory is that if two people give each other a small thing, they might end up becoming very good friends. She had the idea because Mama and Vincent got married in their old garden and when they said “I do,” they gave each other small gold rings, which they both wear all the time. It was a good swap, Violet thinks, since now they are very special friends. They
laugh and smile almost all the time when they are together, and Vincent brings Mama a flower nearly every day. Violet doesn’t have a spare ring, but she does have a few special small things that she could try swapping with the girl next door. Perhaps one of them would be perfect.
She squats down and puts her eye close to the hole, spying through it like a telescope. The garden she sees is very different from her own, which is messy with lots of weeds
and long grass because no one has had time to do any proper gardening yet. In the neighbors’ garden there is no mess. There isn’t a single weed or a slightly overgrown patch. It is the neatest, tidiest garden Violet has ever seen. It has a soft, green lawn
trimmed very short, with hedges clipped into special squarish shapes. The owners must be very neat, tidy people, Violet thinks.
Then she has a slightly worrying thought. A family of tidy people might not be very pleased to discover a small hole in their fence.
Only a minute ago Violet had been trying to think of a good small thing to swap with the girl next door. But now she is not thinking at all about making a new friend
or testing her new theory. She is thinking about the tidy neighbors knocking crossly on the door and saying, “Why is there a hole in our fence, and who put it there?” That is a very worrying thought.
When it gets close to bedtime, Violet is still worrying. She would like to tell Mama and Vincent about the hole before the neighbors come over. Mama and Vincent might be cross too, but they might also have some useful ideas. Vincent might say
that they could fill the hole with the stuff he has been using to fix the bathroom cracks. Mama might say that they could make a special ginger cake with lemon icing that says, “Sorry about the hole in your fence.”
But everybody looks tired after a day of moving into the new house. They do not look as if they are in the mood to fill holes or make cakes. They are flopping on the
couch and chairs, which aren’t in quite the right spots yet, and watching the one channel Nicola has managed to find on the new television. So Violet does not tell anybody about her worrying thought.
Something she particularly likes about the new house is that now she has her own bunk bed. Violet slept in a bunk bed once at a beach house and has wanted one ever since. She sleeps in the bottom bunk with a sheet draped down so it
makes a small personal space. It is a good place for thinking, even if the thinking is mostly worrying, which it is tonight. But before she goes to sleep, Violet has an idea about the problem of the hole in the fence.