Four-and-a-half-year-old Emma was staying at her nana and granddad’s caravan for the weekend while her mother and father were painting her bedroom at home.
Nana Sandra was finding it hard going to entertain little Emma and do her chores at the same time. As usual Granddad Arthur was sitting with his feet up reading the newspapers and watching the sports channel on TV. He felt, after standing at his work at the factory for five days, that he deserved to put his feet up and do nothing all weekend.
It didn’t seem to matter to him that Sandra worked five days a week also, serving in the baker’s shop, from seven in the morning until two o’clock in the afternoon. “Just part-time work, Love,” he would say, whenever Sandra reminded him that she worked, too.
“Can you keep an eye on Emma for a while Arthur? I need to hang the washing out on the line.”
“Why not take her with you? Arthur replied. You could give her the peg bag and get her to hand you the pegs.”
“You lazy old … Get up and come play with her.”
What does a man have to do around here to get some time to himself? Arthur thought.
“I’ll tell you what I’ll do,” he said. “I’ll get that old bubble-making machine I bought at the pawn shop out of the chest in the shed. She can amuse herself with that.”
“Okay … just as long as you play with her and keep her amused while I’m busy,” Sandra said with some hesitation.
After dusting off the bubble machine, Granddad Arthur put some washing liquid in it and wound the handle.
“Will it work? asked Sandra.
“Of course it will work. It’s like magic this thing––made to last! It’s not like the plastic throwaway rubbish you get nowadays,” he beamed.
Sure enough, when he set the machine down on the grass, from the little clown’s mouth painted on the front of the machine, bubbles appeared. “Hey, presto! See I told you it would work. That’s me done out here then, I’ll get back to my paper and telly now.”
“What do you mean your finished out here? Aren’t you going to play with your granddaughter?” said Sandra rather angrily.
“I’ve fixed it so she can play by herself. She’ll be quite happy to chase and pop bubbles all on her own. She doesn’t need me to stand and watch her. Now, as I was saying, I’m going back to the telly.”
“Go to your telly then! I’ll just have to keep an eye on her and hang the washing up at the same time.”
“It’s all right, Nana. I’ll be happy on my own chasing the bubbles,” Emma said.
Sandra watched Emma chasing and popping the bubbles for a while before she started pegging the clothes on the line. Nana Sandra was happy that Emma was happy. It was going to be fun watching her pop bubbles. All was going well when Sandra looked round and saw Emma chasing a GIANT bubble.
Its going to be fun watching her pop that giant bubble, she thought.
Then came a huge shock––instead of the bubble bursting as Emma poked it with her finger––it didn’t burst. Oh, no! Instead, Emma fell head first into the bubble, and it carried her high up, up, into the sky.
Sandra was in a panic and didn’t know what to do first. Do I phone the fire brigade? Do I phone the police? Will I need an ambulance? Do I chase after them? Should I do all of these? she thought. But Nana Sandra didn’t do any of these. She just stood rooted to the spot and screamed, “Heeeeeeeelp!!!!”
Arthur dropped his paper down by the side of his chair and ran to see what all the shouting was about. “What’s wrong?” he asked.
All Sandra could do was point up at the sky. She was in such shock she couldn’t speak.
Arthur looked up in the direction his wife was pointing. His chin nearly reached his feet as he realized Emma was floating away in a bubble, waving goodbye to her grandparents. Arthur was left speechless, too. He started to run after the bubble and its passenger.
Sandra, suddenly brought back to reality, followed her husband chasing the bubble and Emma. They ran for several hundred meters but soon realized they had no chance of keeping up with it.
“What are you going to do, Arthur?”
“What do you mean, what am I going to do. Don’t you mean what are we going to do?”
“Well, it’s your fault, Arthur––you and that ridiculous bubble machine! If you hadn’t been so lazy and looked after poor little Emma like I asked you to, this wouldn’t have happened.”
“What do you mean my fault? You were the one out in the garden with her! You should have kept a closer eye on her. Then this wouldn’t have happened. So don’t go blaming me. If it’s anybody’s fault it’s yours.”
“I knew you would turn it around so that I am to blame. You won’t take responsibility for anything, will you Arthur?”
“You should have caught her or something,” Arthur grumbled.
While the two of them were arguing, Emma and the bubble floated higher and higher up into the sky, where the winds were stronger, and she was blown further and further away from her grandparents’ caravan. Emma was both afraid and excited at the same time, as she flew over the village and church spire before being carried out to sea.
By the time they stopped blaming each other and stopped arguing, Emma and the bubble had disappeared from sight. This put them both in a panic. They headed back to the caravan as fast as they could.
“You’ll have to phone the police,” said Sandra.
“Why me? You know I get tongue-tied when I’m on the phone. You’ll have to do it.”
“Arthur, you’re impossible! I’ll do it myself then!”
Sandra dialed the emergency number, her hands shaking with fear and worry.
“You’re through to the emergency operator. Which service do you require?” an efficient voice prompted.
“Em, the er, police, please.”
“Hold the line, and I’ll connect you,” the operator said.
“Police here. How can I help you?”
“You’ll have to come quickly,” said Sandra. “My granddaughter fell into a bubble from her granddad’s bubble machine, and she’s been carried off into the sky with it.”
“Oh, I see,” the policeman replied, thinking he had someone trying to play a joke on him. The policeman decided to play along with the crank caller. “Can you tell me what the bubble looks like,” he asked, not realizing that Sandra was serious.
“Well, it’s big and round. See through, but it also has the colors of the rainbow running through it … it also has my granddaughter inside it!”
“Is it just the one bubble, or is it double bubble trouble?”
“Just the one bubble.”
“That’s good to know. Your granddaughter you say. How old is your granddaughter?”
“She’s four and a half years old.”
“Four and a half you say. She must be quite a size then, if she’s four and a half,” the policeman laughed to himself as he said it.
“She’s just over a meter tall actually––she’s quite small for her age.”
“Mmmm … just over a meter! It must be a very big bubble then,” he said, amused.
“Yes, it is. It’s the biggest bubble I’ve ever seen,” came the frantic reply.
“It must be, if it carried her away. Can you tell me which direction they flew away in,” the policeman asked, hardly able to contain his laughter.
“They flew over the church spire, which is due south of where we stay, so I suppose they are heading south out of Eyemouth.”
“In that case I’ll get all bubble cars … Sorry, I mean all police cars, and direct aeroplanes and helicopters south of Eyemouth to be on the lookout for a little girl in a clear, rainbow colored bubble. Just you leave it in our capable hands now missus, and we’ll have her blown back to you in no time at all.”
“Thank you. Thank you very much, officer. We really appreciate your help,” said Sandra who didn’t realize that the policeman was trying to be funny. He had not believed a word she had told him.
In the meantime, Emma had flown miles and miles over land and sea. She and the bubble were joined by a flock of birds, which scared Emma a little, since she feared the birds might peck the bubble and burst it. Emma needn’t have worried though, because the birds were only curious as to what was flying in their territory. They had never seen such a thing before. Once they were satisfied that they were in no danger from the strange looking object, they flew off in a different direction, much to her relief.
In the distance, Emma could see a huge rainbow in the sky. It stretched from the middle of the ocean, to a far off land. As the bubble traveled nearer to the rainbow, Emma was delighted to see how bright the different colors were. She had never been this close to a rainbow before. Emma was getting excited as they neared the rainbow. She felt as though she was going to burst with excitement, as they got to within a few feet of it.
Much to Emma’s surprise, the bubble set itself down to rest on top of the rainbow.
Wow, thought Emma, I’ll bet no one has ever done this before!
Emma wanted to put her hand through the bubble to touch the rainbow, but she was afraid she might burst it and then crash to the ground. She decided not to.
The bubble, with Emma in it, sat on top of the rainbow for a long, long time before it slowly started to slide down one side. Emma was excited to see where she would end up. Emma could see that there was ground beneath them, but was far too high in the sky to see exactly where.
I wonder if there will be a huge pot of gold where I land?
She had heard stories about a pot of gold at the end of rainbows.
Wouldn’t it be a nice surprise for Nana and Granddad if I were to return home with a pot of gold!
As the bubble and Emma neared the ground, she could see that she was going to land in a caravan park. Emma did not realize, from the air, that it was in fact the same caravan park where her nana and granddad lived. Amazingly, the end of the rainbow was in the middle of their garden!
Emma only recognized the place when she actually saw them both standing in the garden looking up at her in the huge bubble as she slowly floated down towards them.
It was her granddad who burst the bubble with his finger to release Emma.
“Emma! Oh, Emma, we are so relieved that you have returned to us safe and sound,” said her nana.
“It was so exciting!” said Emma, despite her disappointment that no pot of gold was to be found. “But, I’m sorry there is no pot of gold for you here at the end of the rainbow, only me.”
“Emma darling, you are our pot of gold! You mean more to us than all the gold in the world. We’re just so thankful to have you home with us again. We were so worried about you,” her nana said.
The three of them stood in the garden with their arms around each other, holding and hugging tightly.
“I know what I’m going to do with this bubble machine,” said granddad to Nana Sandra. “It’s going to the rubbish bin where it belongs. I’ve learned my lesson, Love.”
Placing the machine in the bin, Arthur noticed for the first time a message written on its side:
Manufactured by The Great Zoltan Master Magician Company.
Just say the words “Hey, Presto,” and Watch the Magic Begin …
Arthur quickly placed the top on the rubbish bin and hurried back to the garden to help Sandra with Emma.
“I think I’m going to take up gardening again, Love,” Arthur said looking flushed. “I just need a few tools.”
“Well, gardening is very therapeutic,” Sandra replied, surprised by Arthur’s red face. “Just don’t buy anything from the pawn shop! And you might consider taking that telly back, too!”