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Shulamith Levey Oppenheim

Unpublished Stories


Sophie's Nanawatch

This story actually happened. But what Sophie *did* until she bumped my door is anyone's guess. This is mine!

Sophie is visiting her Nana and Poppy. She is sitting on the
edge of her bed in her Superman costume.

"I'm listening," she tells Whisper, her stuffed deer. "Nana says
when the clock on her desk in the livingroom dings seven times I can
tiptoe into her bedroom and tell her *very* quietly so I don't wake Poppy,
`It's time to play, Nana."'

Sophie waits. The clock dings one, two, three, four, five. "This
clock is very slow." Sophie jumps up and looks out of the window.
The sky is full of stars. "I wish I could play outside with Nana and
Poppy when the stars are out."

Sophie waits. No more dings. "This clock is very *very* slow."
Sophie tucks Whisper into her pocket.

Opening her door slowly, slowly, she tiptoes past her
grandparents' room and into the livingroom.

Doodle and Rosebud are playing with a tennis ball. They hold it
between their paws and roll it on their tummies.

Sophie sits down beside them. "You're lucky. You can play
together anytime you like." She kisses each cat on the ear. "May I
play with the ball?" She tries to curl up and hold the tennis ball against
her tummy with her knees but it doesn't work. She gives the ball back
to Doodle.

The clock dings one. That means five o'clock and almost six.
She tells the cats, "I'm hungry."

Sophie tiptoes into the kitchen. Just as she's climbing onto a
chair to reach the cookie jar a tiny gray mouse with moon-round ears
scampers past and under a corner of the rug by the table.

Sophie takes three cookies from the jar. She kneels down beside
the rug and crumbles one cookie under the edge.

"The cats are playing in the livingroom." She lays her head
sideways on the floor and peers under the rug. The mouse is at the far
end. "You'd better eat your cookie while I'm here. I won't hurt you.
I'm Superman. Actually, Mama says I'm Superwoman. Superwoman
helps everyone, too. I'm waiting till I can tell my Nana it's time to

Sophie eats her cookies. Then she goes back to the livingroom.
The cats are asleep. From the bathroom she pours herself a glass of
water. "I think I'll climb into the tub." She pats Whisper. "Don't
worry. I won't let you drown." Sophie sticks her alphabet letters on
one side of the tub and her numbers on the other. She takes Whisper
from her pocket and sets her gently into a small yellow boat.

"We'll pretend you're floating on the water and I'm a friendly
dolphin pushing you along."

Sophie yawns. She takes Whisper from the boat and tiptoes
back towards her bedroom. Just then the clock dings one, two, three,
four, five, six.

"I don't think this clock will ever ding seven times." And just as
she passes her grandparents' room she loses her balance and catches
herself against the door. Boom!

"Sophie, is that you?" Nana calls out in a whisper.
Sophie opens the door. The room is chilly and dark.

"Nana, I didn't mean to wake you." Sophie's eyes are bright
with tears. "I was trying ......

Nana throws back the puff and motions Sophie onto the bed.

"Let's have a morning cuddle. Poppy is sound asleep."

"Whisper, too?"

"Both of you," Nana answers. "Of course, she can."

Sophie snuggles deep under the covers next to Nana.

"And then, when the clock dings seven we can play. All right?"
Sophie rubs her eyes dry with the sheet. It smells of lavender and
Nana's orange night cream.

"And then we can play." Nana kisses the top of Sophie's head.
Sophie wriggles closer to Nana.

"So I get a cuddle and then we play. I think," Sophie isn't sure
if she should tell Nana, "I think I'm glad you woke up, Nana."

Nana takes a deep breath. "I'm glad you're glad, Sophie, but. .

Sophie turns to look at Nana. She gives a very wide grin. "But
try not to do it again. Right, Nana?"

"Right, Sophie."

The clock dings once. But Sophie and Nana don't hear it. Not
even when it dings seven times. Not even then.

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