To read part one of Clara’s House, click here.
Over the following weeks Clara and Burger spent even more time in the woods behind Clara’s parents’ house. Slowly they worked away at the little house, cleaning, tidying and freshening it up.
Clara’s parents were so busy with their own renovations that they never seemed to notice the trickle of items leaving the house – some cushions here, a small tin of paint there and a fair amount of scrap wood all disappeared bit by bit.
Over at Clara’s house, things were progressing nicely. She couldn’t reach high enough even with the old wooden ladder she had found to paint the house itself, but she had brightened it up by painting the door and window frames a cheery yellow.
When she couldn’t find glass at home to fill the windows, Clara constructed some rough shutters to keep the wind out. Inside she cleaned the dirt off the wooden floors and polished them as much as she could. Burger helped, skidding around the floor with cloths tied to his tiny paws.
As autumn fell, Clara got to work in the garden, clearing out the garden beds and pulling weeds out from the cracks in the path. A few packets of seeds slipped out of her parents house and some water carried down in a big bottle and soon the garden was looking as pretty as a picture.
Clara was so proud to see all her hard work paying off.
“Oh Burger, it’s so pretty!” she said. “I can’t wait to finish it all so we can show mummy and daddy!”
But winter came too fast, and soon Clara found herself cut off from her little house by rain and snow.
As she played inside her parents house in the warmth she would stop, gaze out the window and sigh.
“I wish I could go and see how my little house is doing,” she told Burger wistfully. “I do hope it’s okay!”
Then one day the snow stopped and the sun came out. It was chilly but clear, and Clara begged her parents to let her and Burger go out.
“I don’t know…” said mummy.
“Won’t you be cold?” asked daddy.
“Oh no,” Clara said, “I promise we’ll keep warm and we won’t go too far.”
Finally mummy and daddy agreed to let the intrepid duo go out on their own, on strict instructions that they stay in the one area and come in at the first sign of snow.
Excited, Clara and Burger ran off into the woods to see their little house.
Apart from a light covering of snow the house didn’t look any different to when they had left it. Clara stroked the happy yellow door fondly.
“I missed you!” she whispered softly, so only the house could hear.
Although the sun was out, it was still a cold day, so Clara and Burger holed up inside and started arranging the few meagre possessions they had gathered.
Clara chattered away the whole time while Burger followed her around diligently, carrying tools and straightening cushions as he went.
“I think we could put a shelf here, and some curtains would really brighten it up. Maybe a small table, so we can sit on cushions and eat,” Clara said as she made her way around the house.
After some time there Burger looked up and frowned – as much as a chihuahua can frown. Clara looked up and noticed the same thing Burger had – it was growing darker inside the house, and it shouldn’t be anywhere near evening yet.
Stepping outside, both Burger and Clara’s jaws dropped. Big dark storm clouds were rolling in fast.
Burger barked in alarm.
“You’re right Burger, let’s get out of here!” Clara cried.
As they started the trek back to their parents house the rain started, light at first but growing stronger.
Clara was already running as fast as she dared on the slippery ground.
“Burger!” she cried, “we’re not going to make it!”
Suddenly, Burger sped up and changed direction, diving sideways through some trees and disappearing.
Clara stopped, dismayed. She couldn’t leave Burger out here on his own!
Calling out to him, she fought her way through the wet grass and trees, trying to find where he had gone.
“Burger!” she shouted, “Don’t be scared! We can get home and out of the storm, I promise we’ll be okay. Come back, Burger!”
He didn’t answer.
Clara fought on, but as the storm grew heavier she grew more scared.
‘Maybe I should go home,’ she thought. ‘I can’t find Burger on my own, but mummy and daddy will know what to do’.
Just at that moment she heard something come cracking, crashing and splashing through the trees towards her.
Clara backed up, afraid, until Burger came bounding up to her, his tail wagging and sending water spraying this way and that. Behind him were mummy and daddy, their hair soaked in spite of their rain coats.
“Clara, you’re alright!” mummy cried in delight, snatching her up in a big cuddle.
“Come on,” daddy said, “we have to get to shelter quickly”.
Burger barked commandingly, and they all fell into line behind him, Clara now riding on daddy’s back.
“I don’t think this is the way back to our house, Burger,” daddy called out.
“It’s okay daddy, our house is closer!” Clara shouted to him.
Mummy and daddy exchanged a quick glance, then shrugged and continued to follow the little dog.
After a short time they came upon the little house, but there was no time to admire it. The storm was almost overhead, so the four of them piled inside and shut the door behind them.
Daddy went around the inside of the house, fastening the shutters closed with anything he could find and checking for cracks while mummy grabbed the cushions from the pile in the corner and set them up as a bed. Then mummy, daddy, Clara and Burger all snuggled in together on their cushion bed to wait out the storm.
While the storm was big, the little house held strong, just as it had for many years prior, and despite the roaring thunder and bright flashes of lightning outside, one by one they all fell asleep.
When they woke up, the storm had passed and a new day had dawned, bright and cheerful.
Clara opened her eyes and wondered for a moment where she was. What happened to her big pink room with her pretty blue capiz chandelier? Then she remembered – she wasn’t in her room at all, she was in her house!
She bounced out of bed and ran outside to see how the little house had fared in the big storm. Outside though, her excitement gave way to dismay.
Small branches, leaves and twigs littered her once cleared garden and her fledgling plants had been left beaten and bedraggled by the wind and rain.
One pretty yellow shutter was hanging half off its hinge, while another had a board missing.
Yawning, mummy and daddy came outside to join her.
“It’s not fair,” Clara told them, her eyes downcast. “Burger and I worked so hard to make this house pretty and now it’s ruined.”
“Oh Clara!” said mummy, crouching down to give her a hug, “this is a beautiful house. Just look at that pretty yellow door!”
“Besides,” said daddy, crouching down beside them, “I bet with all four of us working here we can get ‘er done in no time!”.
“You mean, you’d help me? But aren’t you too busy with your own house?” Clara asked incredulously.
“Of course not!” mummy smiled.
“We’re never too busy to help you,” daddy said.
Clara beamed at them both.
“Well then, we’d better get to work!” she said brightly. “Daddy, you and Burger can start clearing all this mess in the yard, I want to talk to mummy about the decor!”
As Clara chatted away to mummy about colours and window treatments and all those other fun things that Burger seemed to find so dull, she realised that her little house was even better when it was shared with her whole family.