There was once a good like girl called Goody.
This wasn’t her real name, of course, but she was such a good girl that nobody called her anything but Goody.
She was very sweet and obedient, and did her homework on time, smiled and was polite to everyone, never made a mess, and ate whatever was put in front of her without a word of protest. When she played – after finishing her homework, of course – she played very quietly, and went to bed right on time without ever having to be told twice. Oh she was a very good girl.
She was such a good girl that she drove everyone who knew her up the wall with irrational anger. Wait, that wouldn’t be irrational anger – that would be quite rational and justifiable anger. Goody was so good that she was absolutely insufferable.
Soon enough so many people were furious at her that her parents decided something needed to be done. “If she doesn’t stop being so good,” her mother said, “someone’s going to murder her.”
“And she’ll probably forgive him on her deathbed,” her father added gloomily. “It’s enough to make you sick. She’s enough to make you sick.”
Goody’s mum couldn’t really disagree with that. “It’s not her fault,” she said defensively.
“I know,” her father said. “She doesn’t have any faults. None at all!”
“We’ll have to ask her not to be so good,” her mum decided. “That’ll save her.”
So they asked Goody to come and listen to them for a minute, and of course she came. “Now, Goody,” her father said, “we want you to do something for us.”
“Can you do this for us, Goody?” her mum asked anxiously.
Of course Goody was so good that she agreed immediately. “I’ll do whatever you want,” she said.
Goody’s mum heaved a sigh of relief. “We want you to stop being so good,” she said.
“All right,” Goody said equably. And then she went back to being just as good as ever.
Her parents called her back. “Didn’t you understand what we said?” they asked. “We told you not to be so good.”
“I know,” Goody replied. “So I’m not obeying you. That’s being not so good, isn’t it?” And she continued to be exactly as good as before.
Goody’s parents were in despair.
“There’s only one thing to do,” her mum said. “We must go to the Witch on the Hill and ask her to use her spells to make Goody not so good.”
“Are you sure?” Goody’s father said doubtfully. “These spells...nobody really knows how they might turn out.”
“Do you have any other suggestion?” his wife snapped. “Or do you want our daughter to have her head bashed in any day now?”
Put in those terms, there wasn’t much Goody’s dad could do but agree, so the next morning, after Goody had gone to school, her parents both called in sick (they weren’t good and didn’t care about lying and other things that weren’t good) and went to see the Witch on the Hill.
The Witch on the Hill was short and fat and cheerful, dressed in business power suits, and in general didn’t look like a witch at all. She listened to Goody’s parents and smiled.
“Oh, I’m sure I can get around that,” she said. “I’ll send a creature round this very evening to take care of the problem. It’ll frighten her into being not good.”
“I do hope she won’t be traumatised or something,” Goody’s mother said. “I don’t want her to be traumatised.”
“Of course not,” the Witch on the Hill assured her, and turned to her laptop. “Each of my creatures is very closely matched, by a computer programme I myself devised, to the subject, so that it can influence him or her without the slightest bit of trauma. You’re in safe hands. Now, I’ll need a few details about her. Her name and age to begin with.”
That evening, just as Goody had finished her homework, which she had of course done perfectly, as usual, there was a mighty rustling and rumbling and the Witch’s creature appeared in the room. It looked like a bear standing on its hind legs, but it had long fur the colour of straw, and teeth that stuck out at all angles.
“You,” it rumbled. “Little girl. Is your name Goody?”
“Yes, it is.” Goody looked at the bear. “Poor thing, do you have any problems with your fur all tangled up like that? Let me comb it for you.”
And, before the bear could respond, the good little girl had taken a comb and began brushing its fur, and brushed and brushed it until it lay thick and soft in rich waves on its body. “What about your teeth?” she said then. “I don’t know if you ever brush them. They’re in a quite shocking state. Wait a moment.”
So she fetched a toothbrush and paste and brushed the bear’s teeth until they sparkled. “Isn’t that better?” she asked. “Don’t you feel so much better now, bear dear?”
But apparently the bear didn’t. With a hollow groan of despair, it slunk off back to the Witch, utterly defeated.
“What can we do now?” Goody’s mum asked her father.
“There’s only one thing left,” her father said grimly. “I wish we could avoid it, but we can’t. We’re going to have to call in the Wild Warlock of the Waste.”
“Not the Wild Warlock of the Waste!” Goody’s mum gasped. “He’s horrible!”
“You were the one willing to subject her to the Witch,” her husband pointed out. “And we’ve seen how that turned out.” So he went off to telephone the Wild Warlock.
Scarcely had he put the phone to his ear that the Wild Warlock himself arrived in the room, and he was awful. His head almost touched the ceiling, his beard almost touched the floor, his eyes were pits of the deepest black, and his face...what could be seen of his face...was like jagged glass.
“Girl!” he shouted, and the ceiling and floor quivered. “How dare you...”
“Please,” Goody said, “excuse me for interrupting, but could you please not shout so loudly? The neighbours have a new baby. Please don’t disturb them.”
“Don’t you dare order me not to shout,” the Wild Warlock of the Waste screamed, drops of fire spilling from his lips. “I’ll shout if I want to. I’ll...”
“You’re not very nice,” Goody said. “I won’t listen to you if you’re going to be like that.” And she turned her back on him.
With a demented howl of fury, the Wild Warlock of the Waste turned himself into a dragon, which breathed a long plume of smoke and fire at Goody. But the flame was cut short by the fact that the Wild Warlock of the Waste had asthma, and after all the screaming he was a bit out of breath. Noticing the heat and flame, Goody went to the fire extinguisher on the wall, and, just as she’d been taught, used it on the Wild Warlock’s mouth. There was a glubbing sound, and the flame went out.
With a moan of anger, the Wild Warlock then turned himself into an immense bat, and flapped towards the girl. But his wings smacked into the furniture, and he toppled on to the floor, where he lay thrashing helplessly for a moment.
“Oh, poor bat,” Goody said compassionately, for of course she was kind to animals. “Have you hurt yourself?”
With a baffled hiss, the Wild Warlock turned himself into a snake which struck wildly at the girl with its fangs. But he’d forgotten, in his anger, to turn himself into a poisonous snake, and his fangs made only harmless little gashes in her skin.
“What’s wrong with you, snake?” Goody asked. “I haven’t done anything to hurt or frighten you, so there must be something wrong for you to try to bite me. Are you ill? Do you need me to take you to the vet?”
Then the Wild Warlock of the Waste, howling with hate, turned himself back into his own shape. “Listen here,” he thundered. “I will not be defied like this. Either you do as I tell you, or I shall reduce you to a lump of anthracite.”
“Oh, I wouldn’t like that,” Goody said. “What would you like me to do?”
“Stop being good,” the Wild Warlock bellowed. “Stop being such a little goody-two-shoes, at once!”
“All you had to do was ask,” Goody said. “Of course I won’t be good if you don’t want me to be. But I’d need some help.”
“Of course,” the Wild Warlock said in a much calmer tone. “What help do you need?”
“How much less than good do you want me to be?” Goody asked. “I could be very bad, or only half bad, or just a quarter bad, or even less than that. How much would be all right? I don’t want to be too bad, or too good, because that might upset you, and I don’t want to upset anybody.”
The Wild Warlock of the Waste scratched his head. “Um, well, let’s see...”
Goody waited patiently.
“This is going to require some thought,” the Wild Warlock said. “I shall have to do some research.”
“Of course,” Goody said politely. “In the meantime I shall stay just as I am, shall I? After all, I don’t want to throw off your research findings.”
“Yes, yes,” the Wild Warlock said hurriedly, with a hunted look around. “You stay as you are and I’ll be right back.” With a moan of wind, he disappeared, and of course he never came back again.
And so Goody’s parents gave up the attempt to make her less good, and somehow she escaped being beaten to death by anyone, and grew into a very good woman, who dripped sweetness all around her. She was so good that when there were wars where people hacked off each other’s heads, they sent her there to mediate, and her extreme goodness meant that the combatants threw down their knives and embraced each other.
And then she left, whereupon they took up their knives and began hacking each other’s heads off again.
Then one day Goody was travelling by ship to an island where she’d been asked to inaugurate a new school, because she was so good. But there was a storm, and the ship sank, with everyone drowned except Goody. Somehow she found herself afloat on the sea, clinging on to a piece of floating wood.
And then a shark came along and ate her, wood and all, without even asking her permission first. Because sharks have no manners. But, as the shark affirmed afterwards, she tasted really good. However, she was so sweet that the shark got diabetes, and had to take insulin for the rest of his life.
Somewhere far away, the Wild Warlock of the Waste married the Witch on the Hill, and there was one topic they never, ever spoke about.
And when they had a daughter, they made sure she wasn’t good at all.
Copyright B Purkayastha 2016