Writing inspired by the SWC creative writing prompt: The perfect sick day. Everyone has one, that last day you can justify being off work or school but you are not too sick to enjoy it. Write about your perfect sick day.

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

By Brigid Whoriskey

‘Are you sure Mum?’

‘Yip’

‘Absolutely sure?’

‘Yes, I’ve written it in my diary.  It was in the last newsletter.  Now hurry up and get dressed.  You can wear anything you like – but not the joggers with the hole please’.

Ailis goes into her room with a slightly suspicious backward glance muttering 

‘I better not be the only one in casual clothes, that’s all I’m saying’.

 Seána skips past her, almost tripping over her too-long pyjama bottoms, holding her pink sparkly top.

‘Can I wear this?’  

‘Go for it.’

She immediately sits on the bottom stair, pulls off her pyjama top, drops it onto the hall floor and carefully pulls on her current favourite top, festooned with white and sliver sequence stars.  She stands up, twirls, and then twists her head, trying to see the large sliver 

SPARKLE!

glittering on her back.

‘Yay!’

She skips to her sister’s room, looking back and announcing in her sing-song voice

‘Skipping the way you like it’ (and I do, one of the happiest sights, a child skipping).

‘What are you wearing?’ She asks her sister, while pulling off her pyjama bottoms.  ‘I love casual clothes day.  I hate my uniform; this is so much better’.  Why do we have to wear uniforms anyway? They are so lame’.

Ailis takes her head out of the bottom drawer and produces her grey hoodie with LONDON 

in proud blue capitals on the front, above a union jack.  

‘I’m wearing this’ she declares.  ‘And I bet I’m not the only one.  It was the best school tip ever.  If they’re doing it when you are in P6 you definitely have to go’.

After a quick breakfast the girls pile into the car.

‘Belt up’ I turn my head and smile at them, ‘we’re offski.’

After 5 minutes Ailis pipes up

‘Hey where are we going?  We don’t usually go this way’.

‘What day is it today?’ 

‘Wednesday’ the girls answer in unison.

‘No, what day is it today?  What day could it be today?’

‘What do you mean Mum.  It’s Wednesday.  Hump- of-the-week day as Dad says’.  Ailis thinks for a moment.  ‘Wait. Is it someone’s birthday or something?’

‘Well, I’m sure its someone’s birthday, but that’s not what I mean.  Can neither of you guess?  What day might today be if it was the best day ever?’

‘It’s casual clothes day Mum, not Christmas.’

At this stage there may be some concern that Mum has finally lost it, so I decide to put them out of their misery.  

‘Today is ….

ta-dah … 

drum roll …

it’s …

FERRIS BUELLER’S DAY OFF’

There is a brief silence followed by a screech from Seána.

‘What? Really? We’re skipping school?  Taking a sickie? Actually skipping school?’ 

‘Yip.  We’re going to – ’

‘Wait’ interrupts Ailis.  ‘Are you skipping work too?’

‘Sure am!  I rang the school first thing and left a message on the answering machine to say neither of you would be in. I might have told a tiny little fib.  I said I thought you were coming down with that tummy bug that’s been going around.  Well, we wouldn’t want you spreading germs all around the school, would we?  

Step 1.  Calling in sick just like Ferris. 

Tick!’

With peals of laughter, and impressive retching noises from the girls, this pretty perfect day is off to a pretty perfect start.  

‘And it’s double maths today’ Ailis shrieks.  ‘Yessssss!  I know we often talked about doing this, but I never thought we actually would.’  

‘First stop – The Gallery of Modern Art’.  I announce as we climb out of the car. ‘Come on Ferris and Sloan.  

Step 2.  Chicago Art Institute

Tick!’

‘That would make you Cameron’ teased Ailis.

‘Well, when you get to my age, you’ll realise that Cameron is the most interesting character in the whole film’ I retort.  ‘Shall we?’ I hold out my hand to Ailis, and she holds hers out to Seána, and we parade into the gallery in a short line.  We intelligently discuss how some of the squiggles could be called art.  We guess how much some of the paintings cost.

‘Millions’ Seána confidently proclaims.  

We ponder whether people would marvel at the girls’ paintings if we framed them and hung them beside these masterpieces.  

We giggle shamelessly at the nudes.  

After drinks and cake in the café we pop into the gift shop and the girls pick notebooks and pencils, so they can take notes on our Ferris Buellers day off.  Then we wander outside and wait for the open top bus, pretending to be tourists. 

‘Step 3. Arrange an interesting means of transport.  

Tick!  

Not quite the Ferrari Ferris travels in, but its good enough for me’.  

The girls clamber upstairs when the bus arrives.  Nothing beats sitting at the front of the bus and seeing your city with new eyes.  

‘What else did Ferris do?’ I asked as the bus continues its journey.  The girls look up from their notebooks.

‘The posh restaurant for lunch!’

‘That really tall building where they lent their heads against the glass and Cameron felt sick!’

We hop off at Edinburgh castle.  

‘Step 4.   Somewhere really high.

‘TICK!’ they shriek.

 We imagine what life was like hundreds of years ago.  Who would have lived in the castle and the streets leading up to it?  What might they have done?  What food would they have eaten?  What would have done every night with no TV and no DVDs?   We look at the cannon and wonder how many baddies it might have killed.  

After a while we stroll down the Royal Mile and stop outside a restaurant.

‘Step 5.  A proper posh restaurant for lunch’.  

Tick!

I’m expecting nothing but best behaviour from you two’.

‘No way!’ Seána looks at the restaurant then looks at her sister who quips

‘Come lady Seána.  Let us dine in this fine place’.   

I almost, but not quite, claim to be the sausage queen of Edinburgh, as we are taken to our table.  The girls write and draw and argue over who gets to keep the receipt – but it is a good-hearted argument and there are lots of memorabilia from our day for them to stick into their notebooks later.  I enjoy my seabass while the kid’s menu delivers the ever-popular chicken nuggets and chips, followed by a selection of ice-creams.  

‘That’s lovely Seána, what is it?’

Seána lifts her head from her notebook and shows me her picture.

‘It’s a unicorn of course.’

‘Why does it have six legs?’

‘Coz she loves legs, and the extra ones makes running much faster.’

‘Of course they do’, I smile ‘and the colours are lovely.  ‘What are you writing Ailis?’  She looks at her page, covered in neat writing.

‘I’m writing about our day. I think I want to be a writer’.

‘Is that what you want to be when you grow up?’

‘As you know, I want to be a lion tamer.  But, if that doesn’t work out, it would be great to be a writer’.  She pauses and leans over the table looking at me intently. ‘Actually I’ve been thinking’.

‘About what?’

‘You know how I’m the class eco rep?  Well I think I’d like to be, like, an eco-rep for the whole country, if there’s jobs like that.  Or the planet.  And especially the oceans, to get rid of pollution and save the dolphins.  I don’t’ know how easy that will be though, but I’d definitely like to do something like that.’

‘Are you growing up on me?’ I ask my young lion tamer.  ‘What about you Seána?  What do you want to be when you grow up?’

‘I still want to be a bus driver’ she looks up briefly, then resumes her drawing.  ‘But I want to be a pop star too.  Hey, I know.  I can be a pop star and then drive the bus with my band in it’ and she happily spooned another mouthful of melted ice-cream into her mouth, with a problem solved look on her face.

After lunch and a stroll down the Royal Mile we eventually hop back on the open top bus which takes us to the art gallery, and we stroll to the car park.  

‘Are you ready for Step 6?’   

The CD is ready to play and as we drive off.  I open the windows and turn the volume to full blast, and we sing along to this family favourite at the tops of our voices 

Me: Well shake it up baby now

Girls: shake it up baby

Me: Twist and shout, 

Girls: twist and shout

Me: Come on, come on, come, come on, baby, now

Girls: Come on Baby

Me: Come on and work it on out

Girls: Work it on out 

For once we don’t care about the consternation of the people we drive past as we bellow out the song, high on life and this stolen day (the Ah … ah … ah … ahhhhh is deafening). 

‘Well girls’, I say when I pull the car into the drive at home.  ‘Ferris on his milk float would have been proud of us.  

Step 6 …’

‘TICK’, we all shout.

Our Ferris Buellers day off is something I promised the girls we’d do some day.  We often chatted about the things we’d get up to, the excuses we’d make at work and school and what fun it would be.  

But somehow, regretfully, my inner rebel wasn’t assertive enough and life got in the way.  The years passed and we never pulled that sickie but if we did, I hope it would have been something like the day on these pages.   If we were to access our inner Ferris, Sloan and Camerons now, it would be a question of skipping work and Uni for the girls.  

Maybe it’s not too late!

Title in homage to the rather brilliant and ageless 1986 film Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. 

Brigid Whoriskey

Brigid Whoriskey

Sunday Writers' Club Member

Brigid has always loved writing, but a career in financial services got in the way.  She now has a portfolio career as a coach and non-exec director – and makes time for writing.  She has almost finished a children’s book (full of elves and magical creatures) and is working on a young adult novel.  She loves the weekly inspiration and challenge of Sunday Writers Club.
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