Nobody’s Fool

Her mischievous husband and children were up to no good… but who was really tricking who here?

“Come on, you’ve got five seconds to get out of the door.”

I said the same thing every morning after hustling everybody along.

“Calm down,” my husband always told me. “We don’t always have to arrive half an hour before everybody else.”

I did take punctuality seriously. I wanted my kids to be the first though the school gates. I wanted myself and Luke at our offices, all set to impress ours boss by arriving well before them.

Our evenings were completely different.

No real schedule, dinner when it was cooked, washing-up whenever, no badgering, no hassle. We’d relax, sit and chat about our day or watch TV.

Only, one Thursday, it all changed. I woke to find Luke shaking me by the shoulder.

“Kate, you fell asleep on the sofa. You’ve been here all night. I wondered where you were when you didn’t boss us about this morning.”

With eyelids as heavy as two bags of sand, I blinked.


I pushed off the big woolly blanket I’d covered myself with when I’d nodded off in front of the TV.

Then I noticed my kids wearing their school uniforms, rucksacks on their backs, their adolescent faces grim.

“What time is it?” I barely dared ask.

“It’s 8.30,” Luke informed me.

We’d normally be out the door before then.

“No!” I yelled scrambling across the carpet. I charged into the hall then cantered up the stairs.

Having no time for a shower, in my bedroom I grabbed for my deodorant, spraying a cloud all over myself before I snatched up fresh clothes.

“How did this happen? I must be getting old!”

I wrestled my way into a blouse and black trousers. I pushed on a pair of flats then checked my make-up in the mirror.

“What a mess!”

Needing more light, I pulled back the curtains. That’s when I frowned.

Usually at 8.30 it wasn’t pitch black.

I turned for the bedside table where my trusty alarm always stood. Somebody had turned my little friend to face the wall.

I hurried over and turned it back again. It said 9.23pm in big red digital numbers.

It’s still night time and I’ve been pranked!

I plonked myself down on the side of the bed, staring at my shoes which I realised didn’t even match.

“Kate?” Luke called from below. “Are you ready to go?”

They’d be having a right old giggle, wouldn’t they? My kids at that age – thirteen and fifteen – when a bit of mischief would appeal.

Now what? Take it on the chin or take the joke a little bit further?

Mmmmm, good question.

In my mismatched shoes I went haring down the stairs.

I grabbed my bag in the hall and my keys.

“Come on then!” I ran out the door into the chill night air. I threw myself into the car and started the engine, revving it like a formula-one driver.

When Luke and my kids appeared in the porch I waved them over frantically.

“Come on,” I yelled as I rolled the passenger door window down. “Hurry up and get in.”

Muted by my fervour and unsure what to do, my kids glanced at each other then climbed in. So did Luke.

“Kate…” he began in a dour voice, clearly all set to reveal their ruse.

“Seatbelt!” I yelled back. “We don’t have time to waste.”

As they belted themselves in, I turned into the road then put my foot down as far as the speed-limit allowed.

“I hope neither of you needed your sports kit, kids, because I’m not turning round.”

I took a left by the busy chip shop, a venue never open for breakfast.

I finally came to screaming halt outside the locked school gates, the place dark and deserted.

“Right, out you get. See you tonight. Have a good day.”

My kids didn’t move of course. Luke sat shaking his head, he knew who was winding who up by then.

“I knew this was a bad idea.” He glanced over his shoulder. “I don’t know why I let you talk me into it.”

“It was your idea, Dad,” my daughter insisted. “I hate practical jokes.”

“I wanted to go to bed,” my son cut in.

I climbed out of the car and took a little stroll, giggling as I went.

They saw my shoulders jiggling and climbed out as well.

“OK, you got me,” I admitted. “I get it; I’m a big fan of timekeeping.

Still, this will make a fabulous family anecdote. We can tell it at parties.”

I paused for dramatic effect.

“Just one more thing, you lot – you have a few quirks of your own. I might point them out next week on Friday.”

Their frowns made me smirk. They’ve forgotten, haven’t they?

April Fool’s Day, here we come!

There’s more entertaining short fiction in every issue of My Weekly magazine. Plus recipes, puzzles, fun and great advice. Find us in newsagents and supermarkets, or subscribe to save pounds.