Poppy was just about to wipe away the drawing on her new mini whiteboard when her mum walked into the living room.
‘Time for bed,’ mum said.
Poppy looked up with a frown. She wasn’t feeling tried, even though the fire had made the living room really warm.
‘You’ll get wrinkles if you frown like that. Come on now,’ mum added.
Putting down the whiteboard and pens, Poppy got up and headed out of the room.
‘What was that you were drawing?’ her mum asked as they went upstairs.
‘It was a Christmas tree, but it turned out wrong. So I made it into a tree-man,’ Poppy explained.
‘Oh okay. Go brush you teeth then get your nightie on. I need to check on Oscar.’
Poppy nodded and went into the bathroom whilst mum crept into the baby’s room.
As she brushed her teeth, Poppy thought about the tree-man. He hadn’t turned out how she had wanted either. Maybe tomorrow she’d have another go at drawing a Christmas tree.
Teeth clean, she got changed and into bed. The last of the fire’s warmth left her and Poppy felt cold. Wrapping herself up, she had made a nest when her mum appeared at the door.
‘Would you like a story?’
‘No,’ Poppy said, ‘I’m tried.’
Nodding her mum went to close the door then added, ‘I’ll send your dad up to say goodnight when he gets back.’
‘Okay,’ Poppy muttered.
She settled down and shut her eyes. Poppy lay still for a good few minutes, letting thoughts come and go. Then she threw back the duvet and got out of bed. Slowly, she opened the door and looked out. The light from her parents’ room was on and the door was almost closed.
Poppy sneaked out and went downstairs as quietly as she could. Going into the living room, she found it dark and lit only by the last glow of the fire. Poppy made her away around and found the whiteboard and pens. Picking them up, she took them back to bed with her.
Wrapped up again and with the night light on, Poppy looked at the whiteboard. The tree-man was gone. Frowning, she turned it over, but found the other side empty too. Raising the board above her head, she looked down at the bed. There was a strange green, spiky looking stick figure on the fleece blanket.
Poppy dropped the board on to the floor.
The stick figure let out a small cry and turned around.
A scream escaped Poppy’s mouth and her bedroom door flew open.
‘What is it? What’s wrong?’ her mum said loudly.
‘There was a…thing…’ Poppy cried.
She scrambled from the bed and looked through all the blankets. There was no sign of the green spiky stick man.
‘It was just a dream,’ mum said.
Poppy went to argue with her, but thought better about it. She let her mum help her remake the bed, then Poppy got in and lay down again.
‘Goodnight,’ her mum said and left.
‘Night,’ Poppy called after her.
As soon as her mum had gone, Poppy lent out of bed and picked up the whiteboard. It was still empty on both sides.
‘Where are you?’ she whispered.
‘Here!’ a small voice cried.
Poppy grabbed the night light and shone it on the floor. Crawling out from underneath the bed was the tree-man she had drawn. His body was three thin green triangles on top of one another. His legs were long and his feet flat. His arms and hands were the same, but he had long fingers. His head was made of a smaller triangle with large black eyes in the middle and there was a fuzzy green outline all around him.
‘What are you?’ Poppy breathed.
‘Tree-man,’ he replied and he give her a wave.
‘How did you come off the whiteboard?’ Poppy asked.
‘No idea,’ Tree-man replied.
He wandered across the room and stopped at the large teddy bear which guarded the foot of Poppy’s bed. He reached out and poked the bear’s foot pad with a long spiky finger.
‘He’s not alive,’ Poppy said as she slipped out of the bed.
‘He is,’ Tree-man spoke, ‘you just can’t see it.’
With a nod to the bear, he moved on and began climbing the curtains.
‘What are you doing?’ Poppy asked.
‘I want to see the Christmas lights,’ he answered.
Reaching the window sill, he went behind the curtains.
Puzzled, Poppy pulled back the curtains to make a gap of her head. She looked out and saw the house across from her light up by white lights. There was a small deer in the garden and the two small bushes by the door were sparkling with flashing fairy lights.
‘It’s so pretty,’ Tree-man said.
‘Yes,’ Poppy replied.
‘We should go out and see more.’
‘No,’ we can’t! It’s night time and I’m not allow too,’ Poppy explained.
Tree-man looked at her reflection in the window, his expression unreadable because she hadn’t given him a detailed face.
‘I’m going back to bed. It’s cold,’ Poppy announced.
She closed the curtains and went back to bed. Settling down, she ignored the sounds coming from by her window. Then though, she felt a blast of freezing air. Tossing the bedding back, she got up once again and went to the window.
One of the top windows was open and Tree-man was nowhere to be seen…
To Be Continued…