Every night, before bed, Mum and Lily hugged. And every night Mum said, ‘I’ll squeeze the mischief out of you.’
Then one night she did.
Where did the mischief go?
When Lily got up for breakfast, Mum was flipping pikelets onto the ceiling.
Later, Mum dropped mud pies on the dog, who was sleeping in the sun, dreaming of rabbits.
She poked fish fingers down the sink and painted on the walls with tomato sauce.
She chased the chooks through the vegie patch and threw eggs at the postie when he came whistling up the path.
By the end of the day the house was a mess and Mum fell asleep on the couch. Lily had cornflakes for dinner and a piece of salami she found in the back of the fridge.
The house was quiet and cold and felt very empty. Lily had missed her bedtime hug, so she put her arms around Mum.
‘I’ll squeeze the mischief out of you,’ she whispered.
And out it went, out of Mum and out the window to the cheeky wind. Then Lily got the blanket off her bed and went to sleep next to Mum on the couch.
The next day Lily and Mum were busy. They washed the dog, plunged the sink, wiped the walls and rounded up the chickens. That afternoon they were baking in the kitchen and when the postie came past, they invited him in for a piece of cake and a cup of tea.
Before bed, Lily said, ‘Are you going to squeeze the mischief out?’
Mum said, ‘No, I don’t think there’s any left.’
But they shared a hug anyway.