'Happy Birthday!' Lil gave Sam a hug.

'Thanks. Hey look what I got!' Sam produced a penknife from his pocket.

'Wow, that looks like a good one. How many knives has it got on it?'

The dark haired boy started pulling out blades, a screwdriver and a tin-opener, 'Here, have a look.' He passed it to his friend, 'Careful, it's sharper than yours.'

Lil scowled, she hated it when Sam talked about his things being better than hers. She tested how sharp it really was. 'No, mine's just as sharp as that.'

'Yours is older so it's been worn down more.'

They started walking back to Lil's house. When they got in, they ran up to Lil's bedroom and dumped their bags by the door. Sam picked up her penknife.

'Hey you're right! This one is quite sharp.' He looked up, 'Did you sharpen it?'

Lil shook her head, she hadn't really thought hers was sharper. 'Maybe Dad did.'

They spent the afternoon playing around the back of the church. There was a small patch of trees where the two friends often went. They took their penknives and sat awhile, whittling sticks.

Sam held out his piece of wood. 'Like my sword?'

'Yeah!' Lil held her own unfinished one. 'Let's see if it's any good.'

As they whacked the sticks together Lil's broke.

'Oh dear, you didn't have a very good one!'

Lil laughed and picked up the other half. She put the two together making the crack almost invisible. 'Look, it's not broken!'

'Yeah right! So what happens if I pull this end?' Sam pulled, but the stick would not separate.

The children looked uneasily at each other and pulled as hard as they could. But the stick remained in one piece.

'It did just break, I know it did.'

Lil nodded. 'Let's go home.'

The two walked back in silence. Sam's mother had made a birthday tea for them.

'Mmm... it smells yummy!' Sam said, as they walked in.

'It does, it smells like chocolate cake.'

'That will be my birthday cake; Mum said she'd make me a chocolate one.'

'If you two are back, then wash your hands and sit at the table; dinner's ready.' came a voice from the kitchen.

When they sat down, Sam saw all his favourite food on the table. 'Oh Mum, it looks delicious, thank you so much.'

His mother smiled. 'Well I hope you enjoy it, and happy birthday!'

Lil laughed as he started piling food onto his plate.

'You greedy pig! You'll never eat all that!'

'Yes I will! I bet you couldn't even eat half of this!

'Huh! After that you won't be able to have any of your birthday cake.'

After they finished Sam's mother brought in the cake. It was huge and covered with chocolate icing. On it she had written in blue: 'HAPPY 10TH SAM!'

'Ohh... it looks wonderful!'

'Is it all for me?' Sam grinned.

'No, you'll just get my leftovers, after I've had as much as I like,' Lil teased.

'Hey! I thought it was my birthday!'

On the way home Lil thought about all that had happened that day. First there was her penknife. It had been an old one she'd once found when she was playing with Sam. It had been slightly rusty and certainly blunt. But now its blade looked new and shiny, and was sharp. How had it happened? She did not think her father would have done it, she didn't even know wheather he knew she had it or not.

Second and far more worrying was the stick she broke that afternoon. Had they imagined it breaking? And it was definitely not broken now. It scared her. She thought it best not to tell her parents, as they wouldn't believe her anyway.

The following day Lil met Sam on the way to school. 'Hey Sam! Good morning. Did you sleep all right?'

'Not really, I lay awake for ages trying to work it all out but I still don't get it.'

'No, me neither.' She paused, 'Sam, did you tell anyone? Do you think we should?'

He shook his head. 'I don't know.'

They walked in to the school. Sam led the way to the classroom. 'Think of everything we did when it happened and if there's anything that might have had something to do the stick.'

'Um... ok. Well we both had one and it was mine that broke. I put it back together again and it stayed together.' Lil stopped, ' Does that help?'

But before Sam could answer, their teacher came in and they had to wait.

It wasn't until after they had finished school and were walking home again that they remembered what had happened the day before.

'Well, have you thought of anything?' Lil suddenly asked. 'About the broken stick, I mean.'

He sighed. 'I don't know. Did you see the crack disappear?'

'No, I didn't.'

They walked on in silence for a while. Then Sam suddenly said, 'Do you think it would work again?'


He grinned, 'Do you think we could mend another stick?'

'Sam!' Lil gasped. 'You think we could? I don't know. Well I suppose it wouldn't hurt.'

'Ok then.' He looked around and found a twig. 'We'll do exactly what we did before.' He broke it in half and passed the two parts to Lil. She took them, put them together and pulled them apart again.

'It's no good. It didn't work.'

'Wait! We're supposed to pull an end each. Put them back together.'

She did so and Sam pulled the other end but still nothing happened. She threw down her half and sighed. 'Did we forget anything else? Or does it just happen once?'

Holding out his stick Sam said, 'I've finished my sword. Do you like it?'


'We're doing what we did yesterday. You're supposed to say: ''We'll see if it's any good, then''.

'Oh, ok. I see.' Lil picked up her twig again. 'Let's see if it's any see if it's any good then.'

They hit them together but their sticks didn't break. Sam said,'Oops! Not hard enough.' They tried again and Sam's broke.

'So, what do we do now? It should be mine that breaks.'

'Well, I'm sorry, but it's not my fault. Here, you take them then.' He gave her his pieces.

'Are you sure that will work? Oh well, may as well try.' She joined them again. 'It's not broken.' Sam took an end and pulled. This time it did not come apart.

Even though it had already happened once before the children were surprised.

'Told you it might work.' Sam said, after a pause.

'So, clever clogs, can you tell me why it worked?'

'You're the clever one, you made it into one piece.'

'What? How do know it was me?'

'it was only when you said it wasn't broken that it worked.'

Lil wasn't sure. 'Not necessarily, it could just be every third time or something.'

'There's only one way to find out. Say something.'

'Like what?'

'Like... I know! Something like: I am wearing a blue and black hat.'

Lil frowned. 'Ok. You are wearing a bright pink hat with a sparkly butterfly on it.' Then she suddenly burst out laughing.

Sam's worried face turned into disgust as he felt his head and found a hat there. He threw it down and saw that it was indeed pink with a glittery butterfly attached.

Lil ran off, 'Come on! I'll race you home because on our kitchen table there is a big chocolate cake covered with chocolate icing and it has blue icing on it saying... LIL AND SAM!'

'Where are my keys?' Lil's mother called out.

Lil looked at Sam and smiled. 'I know where they are! They're in your coat pocket.'

Her mother smiled gratefully. 'Are they? Oh, so they are. Thanks love.'