by Laura Thomas
Deep in the hedges of the patchwork English countryside, Oscar Fieldmouse suddenly froze on his little straw bed. As another explosion filled his ears, he twisted his whiskers around and around.
“Oscar,” his mother whispered from the other side of the room. “Are you afraid, dear?”
“No, Mama,” He heard his voice wobble. “Not really.” He sniffed the night air. “I smell toffee apples. My favorite!” Oscar opened one beady eye and watched his mother place a blanket on Blossom, his sleeping baby sister.
“Come with me, Oscar. Papa should be home by now,” his mother said. They both scampered to the twig front door, and peeked outside. Another loud bang made Oscar twitch as it echoed around the field, and he watched the night sky light up with colored diamonds.
“Mama- the sky just exploded!” Oscar’s heart danced a jig in his chest. “Why are so many humans in the meadow? And where are the toffee apples?”
“It’s Bonfire Night, Oscar, so the humans are having a big party.”
“What’s Bonfire Night, Mama?”
She looked up at the inky sky. “People remember the day many years ago, when a man tried to blow up the important buildings in the city of London, to destroy the King.”
“Did he do it, Mama? Did he?”
“No, dear, he was caught. The King was saved, and now every fifth of November, the humans celebrate by having big bonfire parties with fireworks in the sky.”
Oscar twisted his whiskers around and around. Another explosion caused them both to shake in their slippers. “Oscar, I need to check on baby Blossom. I think we should go inside now.”
“No, Mama! We can’t leave Papa out there on Bonfire Night! I’ll wait for him.”
His mother frowned. “Are you sure you’ll be all right?”
Oscar nodded, even though he was twitching far more than usual. She hugged him tightly before bustling down the corridor of branches.
Oscar stood on a tree stump and stretched on tippy-toes to see the pathway Papa usually took. He breathed in the strong scent of toffee apples in the crisp air. “Mmm. Maybe I’ll go and check as far as the old wooden gate. I might find a morsel to eat!”
He stuck his paws in his furry ears to block out the booming, and scampered down the cobblestone path, illuminated by the fireworks in the sky. But as he approached the gate, he spotted a dark shape on the ground.
“Papa?” he cried, as he fell to his knees. “Papa, is that you?”
“Oscar!” His father’s eyes brimmed with tears.
Oscar looked down at his father and sniffed the air. “You smell like toffee apples, Papa.”
“Yes, Oscar, that keen nose of yours is working well tonight!”
Several fireworks went off close by. Oscar twisted his whiskers around and around. “Papa, we must go home!”
His father reached a paw to Oscar’s little face. “Son, I’m stuck. The humans must have dropped a batch of sticky toffee right here on our pathway. I’m absolutely glued to the ground! Do you know what you need to do?”
“Yes, Papa.” Oscar took a deep breath and tried not to twitch at the explosions firing above him. “I need to eat that toffee to set you free!”
For the next few minutes, Oscar nibbled at the golden, gooey sweetness.
“Papa, I think you can move this leg now,” he mumbled with a mouthful of toffee. Sure enough, one leg wriggled free.
“Don’t give up, Oscar!”
Oscar barely noticed the fireworks as he gobbled his way through mounds and mounds of toffee. Finally, he wiped his sticky mouth with the back of his paw. “You’re free, Papa! Let’s go home.”
Back at the hedge, his mother helped Oscar into bed. “You were so brave, Oscar. Tomorrow, we’ll scurry over to the meadow and feast on the leftovers- there’s sure to be toffee apples. How does that sound?”
Oscar patted his bulging stomach and groaned. “I don’t mind the fireworks on Bonfire Night, Mama, but I never want to see another toffee apple ever again!”