Mary pulled a storybook out of her voluptuous bag and settled her skirts as the children sat around waiting for the story to be read. Mary Poppins ran a children’s home in London near Great Ormand street, it was 1947 and there had sadly been an increase in new arrivals due to the war. She’d left the Banks’ family nearly twenty years ago now and in that time she’d had a child of her own. She was hurrying back to her lodgings one foggy night and was assaulted by a sailor who ran the Mermaid Cove public house. Unfortunately, when Mary and her a Nanny agency found out she was pregnant, she was stripped of her Nanny privileges, forced to give the baby up for adoption and thrown out.
After Mary had been working in Mrs Potts cafe she discovered an old aunt had died leaving her some money. Hoping to redeem herself she opened a children’s home called Wish Upon a star, wanting to be a mother to the little ones who’d suffered.
She smiled at the loving faces in front of her and each time felt a warm glow, she was just opening the storybook when a boy of ten strode in. “Aw come on Mary! We don’t want to hear that story again do we?” The little ones always agreed with Peter. Peter had been the longest resident at Wish Upon a Star and was once adopted but brought back again. He was a trouble maker which Mary secretly had a soft spot for. Mary fixed Peter with a stern stare, “Now Peter if you don’t want to hear the story you can go to the other room, don’t spoil things for the others.” She admonished gently but firmly. She returned to reading Jack and The beanstalk aloud but was again was interrupted by Peter sighing. “Alright, but I guess you don’t want to hear more Captain Hook stories.” He said playfully, knowing that the children were more interested in what he had to say. Mary rolled her eyes. Of course Tink, Peters Surrogate sister was the first to clamour; ”Hook! Hook!” Then the rest followed suit. Tink was six years old but a bit slow so some years ago Peter had taken her under his wing and they came as a pair ever since. Peter smiled at Mary and proceeded to shrug his shoulders in a ‘What can you do?” Tink climbed on Peters lap and snuggled in close and a hush came over the room as Peter began to tell the tale. “Hoist the sails! There’s treasure afoot…”
Whilst Peter entertained the children Mary went and turned down each bed. There were ten children overall; the twins, Hannah and Celia, Tink, Peter, Adam, George, Katie, Holly, Ella and Jack. Each of them was either from bombed-out homes or found on the front steps of hospitals. Some had come from terrible homes of abuse but, with a lot of love and good food, they blossomed into happy content children just wanting to be loved.
It was at night time that she thought of her son; he would be eleven now, would he have a bed at night? A decent meal? Someone, to hug away his nightmares? It was her biggest regret signing the contract relinquishing all responsibility. But, what could she do? She had no job and little money. The only thing she did have was a snippet of hair which she kept inside a locked tucked by her heart. She wasn’t allowed to name him or feed him once though, in her head she had called him Archie after her own father. She would be ashamed to learn what she’d done, though it was not her fault. This was the only way she could make it up to him.
She went along the nursery and tucked a hot water bottle under each of their covers. Even though the home was generously funded with heat, the Lino floor and thin windows made it draughty.
Back in the living room, she informed them that it was indeed bedtime. Fearing tension in the ranks Peter jumped up with Tink on his back; “All lost boys and girls to bed!” The children ran merrily behind him as he deposited Tink in her bed with a kiss. Before climbing into bed the children lined up to the nightly ritual of each being lifted to the window and wishing upon the evening star. Mary thought these moments so precious.
As the children snuggled into their beds she said a prayer before lowering the oil lamp creating a safe cosy glow.
Little did she know that her own precious wish was right under her nose.
Her love for each gem was worth more than any pirate bounty.