The Adventures of Betsy Longstocking
By: Betsy Granger
Writing Prompt: Yes
Date: 21st Nov 2021
“Well, guys… This is home!”
Lowering the crudely drawn map from her face, Betsy Longstocking looks happily at the heavily dilapidated home before her. By her side stood a gigantic white-gold horse called Mr. Reynolds; on her shoulder was her little monkey friend Watson. They didn’t seem to share her enthusiasm as they followed her gaze to the dreary house. Bought by her father as a place to set their roots, Betsy had searched far and wide around the world until she found it. Her father, a famous high-seas pirate, had bought it with the booty he and his crew had collected over the years. After her mother had died during childbirth, Betsy’s father had been determined to end his life of piracy and settle down himself and his young daughter. It’s what Mama would have wanted for them, after all.
“It’s going to need quite a bit of work.” Watson says
Tugging on a bright red pigtail, Betsy’s green eyes scan the rotted wood boards slapped across the entire house. The paint had peeled away long ago while windows sat thick with dust and dirt, some broken, watching out as people passed by every without another thought for the abandoned home. The large yard was overgrown and in desperate need of a green thumb, the white picket fence that boarded the front of the property in need of repair.
“It’s a fixer upper, but there’s a lot of potential here! I see why Papa chose it, there’s a certain… charm.” Betsy says with a wide smile.
Mr. Reynolds lets out a snort and stomps a hoof on the sidewalk. “It’s trash, mate. They didn’t even make the door horse sized!”
“An easily fixed inconvenience, my friend!” Betsy declares, giving his snout a pat. “Papa made sure we had what we needed to get the place taken care of.”
She gives the tattered, black bag a shake, her only piece of luggage. The fortune worth of gold coins inside let out a cheerful rattle; Betsy tosses the bag casually over the fence and saunters over to the gate. An attempt on the lock yields nothing, a quick study tells her that it was entirely too rusted to move. Shifting her eyes over towards Mr. Reynolds, a grin spreads across her face as she advances on him. His eyes widen as he realizes what she’s planning and begins to back up, but he’s already too late; Betsy takes a running leap and lands on his back, spurring him forward with a playful slap on his rear. Lifting himself up on his hind legs, he lets out an indignant whinny and rushes towards the fence. Several pedestrians stop and stare in wonder as the elegant looking steed lowers his head and crashes through the fence at full speed. He manages to skid to a halt, digging his hooves into the moist dirt, coming to a stop just before the broken porch steps.
“Well done, Mr. Reynolds!” Betsy declares, sliding gracefully from his back and onto the porch.
“If you pull that bullshit again, I’m kicking your head off your body.” Mr. Reynolds snarls, stamping his hooves into the ground.
“Oh, come off it, it’s not the worst thing we’ve done to you!” Watson chimes in, hopping from Betsy’s shoulder to climb a cylindrical post. “Remember the time we underestimated how deep that lake we had to cross was?”
Betsy gasps as Mr. Reynolds lets out a shudder. “I thought we swore never to speak of that again.”
Watson shrugs. “My bad, mate.” he offers before disappearing over the drainpipe.
Shaking her head, Betsy heads inside, eager to explore. The large foyer was bigger than any ship Betsy had ever sailed on; beneath her feet, a once-grand marble floor had become severely chipped. A large closet off to the left would provide wonderful accommodations for their jackets and shoes; with a smile, Betsy continues further into the house. Peeking into every room, she takes pleasure in the living room, kitchen, dining room, even the half-bathroom. Everything was moldy and covered in dirt, but she couldn’t care less; everything about this place felt like home to her.
Heading back out into the hallway, she makes her way back to the set of stairs that looked as though they’d collapse with the slightest bit of weight. On careful tiptoes, Betsy makes her way up, a hand running wondrously over the dusty rail. They creek under the sounds of her black boots, but manage to hold her weight. Reaching the second floor, Betsy looks up the hall at the four doors. To the left were two medium sized rooms, one of which she imagined was for her. Across the way was the massive master bedroom, where she knew she’d end up spending most of her nights, curled up safely with her Papa… Once he made it home from his last adventure. A wistful sigh escapes her as she aches with how much she missed him; but she knew in her heart that all those who would claim he was dead were wrong. He was alive, enjoying his last sail before he came home to her so they could be a normal family.
A noise from up the hall allows her to shake off the sudden wave of melancholy. Closing the door, she lets out a breath and heads towards the bathroom to see what the fuss was about. Inside was Watson, marveling at the large, marble sink and mirror that stood across from a dirty porcelain toilet. The massive bathtub that stood under the window was made of brass and could fit ten of Betsy. A little groan of delight escapes her as she imagines all the bubble baths she would enjoy in there. Turning back to Watson, she gives her hands a single, gleeful clap and smiles widely.
“No time like the present to get started… So, umm… Do you know how to do any of this adult stuff?” Betsy asks hopefully, but Watson only shrugs.
“I don’t know how you humans go about your business. Maybe we should find another human to help us figure this out.” Watson suggests.
Betsy’s face lights up as she nods. “A wonderful idea, Watson!”
“Hey, is there any way to get me up there or am I just stuck down here all alone?” Mr. Reynolds voice calls up, full of irritation.
With a giggle, Betsy beckons for Watson to come along and together they head carefully back down the stairs. Both of them were surprised to find Mr. Reynolds standing at the bottom.
“How did you get inside?” Betsy asks incredulously.
“Big bay window over on the other end was broke. It was just horse-sized enough to allow me in.” he replies with a grumble.
“We’ll have to figure out how to install a horse door for you, my friend.” Betsy says gently. “Watson and I were just going to find more people to help us figure out all the grown-up stuff. Did you want to come?”
“I’m not staying here by myself.” he huffs, turning away and trotting back to the bay window.
Following him out, the trio make their way up the road, taking note of the neighbors. A lovely brunette woman stood outside, she turned to them with a smile that quickly became confusion as she took in the scene before her. The neighbor to her right, who she had been chatting with by the fence, paused midsentence, open-mouthed at what she was seeing. Noticing their stares, Betsy turns to them with a smile and waves vigorously. They both lift their hands automatically, social graces dictating their actions even through their shock. Their eyes follow her until she’s out of a view; snapping out of it, they begin to whisper furiously to each other over whether what they had seen was real or not.
“They seem nice!” Betsy says to her friends, neither of which reply.
As they continue on through town, everyone began calling their friends and relatives to remark on the strange new girl. She couldn’t have been more than eight, maybe nine, riding in on a horse… A monkey? On her shoulder? Are you quite certain? Folks would watch her stroll by, fascinated by the parentless child with her animal companions. Who was she, where were her parents; she couldn’t possibly be staying be herself in that broken-down old home on High Street, could she?
Blissfully unaware of the attention she was attracting, Betsy continued to look through shop windows, curious at the treasures they beheld. As she reached the grocery, some shouts from across the street drew her attention from her rumbling stomach. The town elementary school stood across the street; and on the playground, a gaggle of children seemed to be circled around two girls who appeared to be in a fight. Betsy looks around, wondering if she should go watch with the other children or not; inching closer, she can hear some of them cheering on one of the girls. A blonde girl was sitting atop a brunette, keeping her pinned to the ground in a folded position that didn’t look very comfortable to Betsy. One of the boys watching helplessly was screaming at the blonde to get off his sister; every time he attempted to run in to help, several of the boys would grab him and drag him back.
Seeing this angered Betsy as she realized exactly what she was witnessing: a bully in action. Without another moment of hesitation, Betsy rushed over to the circle of kids and started pushing her way through. A group of bigger girls flanked her, blocking her path to the twisted-up brunette.
“Let me through or I’ll make you.” Betsy says in a dangerously low voice.
All four girls blocking her laugh as they take the measure of the tiny redhead. One of them steps forward and takes a swing, which Betsy ducks easily. Catching the arm before the girl can regain her momentum, she swings her into the closest girl, sending them both crashing into a group of bystanders. The remaining two guards rush forward and each grab an arm; with a loud laugh, Betsy lifts her arms high in the air and brings them down with a crash, slamming both girls into the cement. There is a gasp from the entire group of kids; even the blonde who had been torturing the brunette had been quite distracted by the spectacle. Forgetting the task at hand, she gets up and begins to walk slowly over to Betsy, who had turned to face her by now. The brunette crawls over to her brother, who reaches out to her and drags her away to hide. They peek around the corner of the building, as curious as the rest to see what was about to happen between Sahara and this strange new girl.
“And you are?” Sahara asks with a sneer, her eyes flicking over Betsy as they begin to circle one another.
“Betsy Longstocking.” our heroine replies fearlessly, her lip quirking upward.
Sahara burst into gales of taunting laughter which is parroted by her recovering friends. “What kind of name is THAT?”
“A name you won’t soon forget if you don’t step away from me and my friends this instant.” Betsy says in the same low voice as before.
This only causes Sahara to laugh harder. The sibling, James and Kasey, exchanged a worried glance.
“I’ve never seen you here in my life, so let me give you a little tip. The Settergren sibs? People aren’t friends with those little weirdos. Anyone who says they are? Well,” Sahara cracks her neck and knuckles threateningly. “They get the same treatment.”
“Huh… I’d like to see you try, poopie breath.” Betsy says, drawing an ooohhhh from the crowd.
“Why does YOUR face look so much like butt?” Sahara snaps back, advancing on Betsy.
“Woof, your breath smells so bad, even a dog wouldn’t lick you.” Betsy replies, stepping back and waving a hand in front of her nose. There are a few giggles from the crowd, causing Sahara to look around.
“I hope gummy bears pee in your hair!” Sahara fires back, looking a bit pouty now.
“It looks like your face caught on fire and someone tried to put it out with a hammer.” Betsy retorts quickly, earning her a healthy laugh from the crowd now. From their hiding place, the Settergren sibs giggle quietly, keeping out of sight.
“I hope Santa brings you a book of better insults!” Sahara screams, stamping her foot desperately.
“You wanna know my definition of a good joke? Your entire life.” Betsy says, smirking victoriously and crossing her arms over her chest.
The crowd begins cheering for Betsy; now Sahara looks desperately for help from her friends, but they have long since melted into the crowd. Turning back to Betsy with a hateful look, she lets out a scream and charges at the tiny redhead. There is a gasp as everyone expects the worst; a moment later, everyone is in shocked silence as Betsy smoothly steps aside, sticking out a leg to trip up her opponent. Sahara is sent crashing into the dirt of the playground; before she can get back to her feet, Betsy is on top of her, pulling her underpants far above her head and over her eyes. The crowd erupts into laughter as Betsy keeps the struggling Sahara pinned down with ease.
“Apologize to that girl you were being mean to.” Betsy demands.
“Never! She deserves it for being weird and dumb!” Sahara screams defiantly.
Shaking her head in disappointment, Betsy keeps a hand around the back of Sahara’s neck as she gets back to her feet. Lifting Sahara to hers by the ear, she drags the struggling blonde over to where she spotted Kasey and James hiding. They both gasp and back away with well-practiced fear, but Betsy shoves Sahara to her knees before them and holds her down by her shoulders.
“Apologize to them for being a big, stupid, meanie head bully.” Betsy demands again with a growl.
When Sahara continues to refuse, Betsy grabs a handful of hair and yanks on it. Sahara howls in pain as her head is jerked back, tears leaking from her eyes. “Fine.. Fine, I’m sorry! I’ll never do it again, I swear!”
“No, you really won’t.” Betsy says, dropping Sahara to the ground roughly. “Because I’m here to stay and those two, along with anyone else you’ve terrorized, is under my protection now. You’re done.”
Gesturing for the siblings to follow her, the crowd parts for them as Betsy marches in the lead, followed closely by James and Kasey. They stare at her in awe as she approaches the horse and monkey; now they are taken aback as they digest the company before them.
“Who are you?” James asks, his eyes never leaving her.
“Where did you come from?” Kasey follows up quickly.
“Where are you living now?” James inquires, giving Betsy no time to reply.
“How did you get a horse and a monkey as a pet?” Kasey follows as Watson jumps onto her shoulder. She giggles and gives his head a little rug.
“Uh… Well, I’m Betsy Longstocking, like I said. My mama died in childbirth, so it’s been me and my Papa on the high-seas. He’s a pirate you see, and he decided it was time to lower the sails and make a proper home for us… People try to tell me he’s dead, but I don’t think so.” Betsy looks into their surprised faces with a smile. “Don’t worry, I know he’s still out there, sailing his last great adventure to provide enough for us-“
“Sister Mine, I don’t really remember Pippi Longstocking going that way.” Shawn Warstein interrupts suddenly.
Annoyed, Betsy looks up at her audience, which consisted of her fellows in New Status Quo. “Are you kidding, this is exactly how Pippi Longstocking went.”
“He’s right, Bets.” Kasey pipes up, an amused smile on her face. “I love your spin and all, but I think you’re playing a little fast and loose with that plot.”
“Come on, I was just getting to the good bits.” Betsy replies enthusiastically, waving the book around.
The entire group groans loudly as Betsy clears her throat and picks up where she left off. Off to the side, the camera men had fallen asleep long ago… And, not long after Betsy carried on with her tale, they were joined by the rest of the clan…