“It smells funny in here,” I told Winston and buried my nose in his neck as I hugged him close. We were sitting on my bed in the dark and I should have been sleeping but the smell wouldn’t let me. “It makes my tummy rumble, but not like when I’m hungry. More like when I’m not feeling good. You’re lucky you don’t have a nose anymore.”
I don’t know what happened to his black button nose but I don’t think he’s any less of a bear without it. He still keeps me safe and warm when Mommy turns the lights out for bedtime and we can still tell each other stories since he still has a mouth and ears. Well, one of them is a little torn, but I’m sure that doesn’t affect his hearing.
“Do you think we should go exploring and find out what it is?” Winston shrugged his shoulders and I frowned at him. “That’s not very helpful. I know it’s late but what if the smell didn’t wake Mommy up? She has a cold, you know. Her nose is all plugged up and she keeps making funny honking sounds, like a goose. I’m sure you’ve heard them.” He nodded and we both giggled for a moment before getting back to the question. “So what should we do?”
Winston pointed one furry arm at my door and it was decided. Holding him close, I escaped from my thick covers and slid down to the floor. The hardwood was really cold so I let out a little sigh of relief when my toes found my Princess Clementine slippers. They’re pink and fluffy and have a silver tiara that runs around the top where my foot goes in and I always feel more powerful and important when I’m wearing them. We shuffled to my door and I opened it just enough to peek out into the hallway.
“Yuck!” I whispered. The smell was much worse there. But Winston gave me a hug and told me to be strong so I opened the door more and left my room behind. The hallway was only lit by a small blue nightlight at the top of the stairs but after the pitch black of my room it was more than enough to see by. The bathroom was to my right and the door was open and I could see that Mommy wasn’t in there. Winston and I checked inside Mommy’s bedroom on our way to the stairs but she wasn’t in there either.
“This is very strange, Winston.” I was starting to get a little scared but he reminded me I was wearing my royal slippers and that princesses have to be brave for their subjects and families and maybe Mommy needed my help. So we began to make our way down the stairs, listening as hard as we could for a noise that would let us know that everything was okay. I don’t know why I didn’t call out for Mommy. I guess I didn’t want to make her mad that I was out of bed for no good reason and maybe if there was nothing wrong I could sneak back without her knowing.
The smell kept getting worse and worse as we went down and I finally had to take one of my hands away from Winston so that I could plug my nose. It was really dark down there – the only light that was on was in the kitchen, and its sliding door was closed so the yellow light only squeezed under the bottom and around the sides a little bit. We felt our way past the couch and the coffee table in the living room and went towards the kitchen. Even with my fingers pinching my nose shut I could still tell that the smell was getting stronger.
“It must be coming from in there,” I whispered and Winston nodded. We knew that the kitchen was the only room on the other side of the door – beyond that was just the screen door that led to our backyard and Mommy’s flower garden. The daisies were my favourite.
I had to put Winston down to reach for the door handle. It was either that or unplug my nose, so I’m sure he understood. I hesitated once my fingers curled around the lever and chewed on my bottom lip. Mommy keeps telling me not to do that but I can’t help it. I don’t even think about it and most of the time I don’t even know I’m doing it until she tells me to stop. This time I was doing it because I was worried Mommy was doing something important in the kitchen and didn’t want to be bothered. I hate bothering Mommy when she’s busy. Her eyes go funny and I feel bad and not even Winston or my slippers can help make me better.
But the smell was really bad and I just wanted to make it go away so I pulled open the door.
Mommy was sleeping on the floor on her side, facing me. She looked like she had just been sick and her face was really pale and I wondered if the smell had caused that. I looked around the kitchen and saw black smoke coming from one of the pots on the stove but it was too high for me to reach it. I picked up Winston and we went over to Mommy and I patted her head and told her to rest and that I would take care of it. Winston helped me drag one of the chairs over to the stove and then we climbed up on it. Standing there we could just reach the edge of the pot handle so I pushed it to the side until it slid off the heater and landed on the counter with a loud hiss.
“It’s okay Mommy,” I called out, “I took the bad smell away from the heat. It’ll be better soon.”
We scrambled back down and went to sit by Mommy but she was still sleeping. That was when I noticed the little white and red pills scattered like marbles around the room. They looked like the pills I saw Mommy take earlier in the day and I thought maybe she might have taken too many and that made her sick.
“Do you need a doctor, Mommy?”
When she didn’t answer Winston and I dragged the chair over to the wall where the phone was and we climbed up again. I had to get up on my tippy toes to reach the phone but I got it. I dialled the three numbers Mommy told me to call if there was an emergency and I asked the nice lady that answered to please send a doctor because my Mommy wasn’t feeling very good.
She must have misheard me because two doctors showed up instead of just one but that was okay I guess. They took all three of us for a ride in their van, which was really noisy and fast, and then we were in the hospital. I don’t remember too much after that until I was sitting with Mommy in her hospital bed and she was hugging me and Winston and telling me that I had been a very brave and good girl.
I just told her that I did what any good princess would have done.
And that I couldn’t have done it without Winston, of course.