Philippa is an award winning author and creator of short stories, poetry and creative non-fiction. She has also been published in anthologies and magazines such as Storytime, The School Magazine, The ... [+]

Image of Short Circuit - Short Circuit #13
It was Saturday morning. Toby was playing with his friends.
Toby wanted to fly the kite but Majid wouldn't let go of the string. "It's mine."
"Yeeha!" Peter shouted. Toby put his hands to his ears. Peter was too noisy and never listened to anyone. "Yeeha!"
Lala was looking at a toad she'd found under the stone by the park pond.
 "I wonder if there are any baby tadpoles in the water?" asked Toby.
"Toads don't have tadpoles," replied Lala. "It's frogs that have them."
"They do, too. And newts," said Toby. "I saw it in a nature programme."
"No way." Lala shook her head.
"Lala's right," said Peter. "She always comes top in class tests."
"But she might not get everything right!" Toby said, feeling fed up. "I've had enough. So much for the Friendly Four!"
 
For the rest of the weekend, Toby stayed alone in his garden.
"Where are the famous Friendly Four?" asked Mum.
"I don't like them anymore," replied Toby. "They are the Terrible Trio now. I wish I had better mates."
"Mmm," said Dad. "No one is perfect."
"I don't like them," Toby moaned.
 
On Tuesday, when Toby got in from school, Dad gave him a parcel. Toby opened it.
The Build-A-Friend
For anything you could ever want in a pal.
Choose your own qualities
"You said you wanted a better friend," said Dad. "So we've found the perfect gift for you."
Mum handed him the certificate. "I hope we chosen the things you like."
·    Extra Funny. Knows all the best jokes.
·    Smart. Knows all the right answers.
·    Quiet. Only speaks when asked too.
·    Generous. Will do anything that you want.
·     Strong. Can play any game.
 
"Let's put him together after tea," Dad said, getting out his tool box.

When they had finished eating, they went into the garage.
"Let's call him Fred," said Toby.
"Fred it is," Dad said. "Remember, he runs on batteries. They will only last so long before they need to be replaced."
 
The next Saturday, Toby took Fred to the park. They had a lovely time in the playground. Toby laughed as Fred pushed him on the swings.
Then he took Toby for a spin on the roundabout followed by the seesaw.

"Fred, you are strong." Toby grinned. "You don't get tired at all."

Next Toby wanted to play with the kite. Fred let him fly it whilst he stood watching and clapping. 
When they got home, it was time for tea.
"Fred, Mum's made her special chocolate cake," said Toby.
"Fred doesn't need meals like human beings," said Dad. "He's made of metal."
"That's great," said Toby, helping himself to seconds. "More for me."
 
On Sunday, Toby settled down to do his homework.
"What is 81 divided by 9," asked Toby.
"9," answered Fred.
"How do you spell dinosaur?" asked Toby.
"D I N O S A U R," replied Fred.
"Fred is so clever," said Toby. "He knows all the answers."
 
Every day after school, Toby rushed home to see Fred. They had become best mates.
Then one day, Toby's teacher, Mr Patel said. "Can you bring Fred in to show us?"
So Toby did. The children loved playing with him in the playground. Then the bell went. It was time for class.
"Can Fred do the test too?" asked Toby.
"Of course,' answered Mr Patel.
After everyone had finished, Mr Patel read out the results. Toby had come sixth but Fred had come first. He had gotten every answer right!
"Do bring Fred back again," some of the children said as they waved the pair goodbye. 
 
On the way home, it started raining.
"Let's cut across the field," said Toby. His mum always told him not to go that way, but as he was with Fred, he was sure it would be okay.
But something was wrong. Fred didn't answer. He stood frozen on the spot.
Toby tugged him, but he didn't move.
"Just stay there. I'll get Dad."
 
Toby was worried. What could be wrong with Fred. As he raced across the field, his foot crumpled underneath him and skidded thorough a muddy puddle. He landed on the ground with a crunch. 
"Ow!" he shouted. "I've hurt my ankle." He lay back, hoping the pain would go.
Peter, Majid, and Lala had been riding their bikes home from school when the rain started. They ducked into the newsagents to get some sweets and waited for the rain to stop.

"The sun is back out," said Lala. "Let's go."
They were cycling along the lane when they saw Fred.
"What's up," asked Majid.
"I . . . " Fred started but spluttered to a stop.
"Why is he on his own?" Lala asked, puzzled. "I thought he and Toby went everywhere together."
"Let's just leave Fred here." Peter said, getting back on his bike impatiently. "Maybe teach Toby a lesson, if he thinks that phony is better than us."
"He might be in trouble and need our help," replied Majid. "I sort of miss Toby, anyway."
"Toby! Toby!" shouted Peter. "Where are you?"
Toby heard a shout and looked across the field at the small figures of three children jumping up and down. He was sure he recognized Peter's voice. He waved his arm.
"I'm here!" called Toby. "Peter. Help!"
Peter pointed a finger. "Look, by the fence."
The three walked carefully across the grass.
"Fred just stopped moving," explained Toby when they found him. "I was trying to get home quickly because of the rain."
Lala and Peter waited with Toby whilst Majid went to get Toby's dad. Soon Toby was on his way to hospital.

The next day Toby was sitting up in bed with his foot in plaster when his mum and dad visited. "Where's Fred?" he asked.
"It was just his batteries," Dad said reassuringly. "You played with him so much, they ran down. Don't worry. We changed them, and he's good as new."
"See," said Mum. "There is no such thing as perfect. Even Fred had a fault."
"And speaking of which, you've got some more visitors," Dad said, motioning to the ward door. Peter, Lala, and Majid made their way to Toby's bed.
Peter looked sheepish. "We've missed you."
"I've missed you," said Toby.
"So are The Friendly Four back together again?" Majid asked, putting some magazines on Toby's lap.
"Four?" Dad laughed. "I think you need to change the name."

The door opened again. Fred strode in and said. "What's four plus one?"
Then answered his own question. "Five."

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8

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Image of Kymm Levy
 Kymm Levy · ago
A wonderful exploration of the human condition seen through the eyes of a child.
Image of Andrew Brown
 Andrew Brown · ago
A very interesting story ,expertly told, very imagative by a talented author.

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