One of Stella’s mums shopping bags had split, and their newly-bought food was rolling all over the pavement. Luckily, a passer-by stopped to catch an iceberg lettuce just before it rolled into the road.
“Thank you so much.” Said Stella’s Mum.
“Happy to help,” said the man, “just pay it forward.” He smiled and went on his way.
Stella hadn’t much noticed all the hoo-ha, she was too busy adjusting the cape on her new superhero costume that she had just got for her 6th birthday. The cape was a lovely shiny red colour, with a large gold star on it.
When they got home, Stella asked her Mum again what her special superhero power could be. They had already discussed flying, invisibility and x-ray vision and also the less conventional being super-polite and super-tidy, but Stella wasn’t satisfied that any of these sounded like the right superpower for her.
“When I blew my candles out last Saturday I wished I was a real-life superhero. How is that going to happen, if I can’t think of a good superpower?”
“What was that man talking about when he told you to ‘pay it forward’ today?”
“That’s it! That could be your superpower!”
Stella looked excited.
That man stopped to help us pick up the shopping on the way home, so it’s our turn to do something nice for someone else. You carry the kindness on, forwards. But as a superhero, you would do it in secret. That would be a truly excellent superpower.”
“Yes!” said Stella.
She stood for a second, thinking.
“But what’s the point, if no-one knows it’s me doing the helping?” Stella asked.
“You’ll figure that out,” replied Mum, “all the best superheroes help people in secret.”
Stella looked out of their front room window, wondering who she was going to help first.
Stella peered at the house across the street from hers. Usually around now, she’d see him. Across the road, at number 91, Old Man Opposite slowly edged out of his front door. Stella and her older brother had called him that since she was small. He shuffled out into his front garden, sat on a tree stump and held out his newspaper to read. Stella’s brother said he was probably enjoying the last of the afternoon sun. But Stella thought it was odd, Old Man Opposite always came out in his socks, no slippers, no shoes and as a result his socks looked terribly dirty. And the stump he sat on looked very uncomfortable and he looked to Stella like he was squinting from the sun, not enjoying it.
Stella’s attention was drawn to the bus stop queue. Just up from their house on the left was a bus stop and Stella enjoyed watching everyone queuing up and getting on and off the number 5 bus. Boy Bus Stop was the name she had given to the boy who got the bus each day after school from that stop. He’d often be with a different grown-up on his journey home from school and he always looked a bit sad. Stella wondered why he looked sad, perhaps he had no brothers or sisters to play with?
Stella heard the singing before she heard the knock at the front door.
“I’ll get it!” Shouted Mum as Stella ran to join her at the door.
Stella could hear Singing Delivery Lady belting out her favourite Trolls song through the door. She loved it when Singing Delivery Lady brought a parcel and luckily Mum did a lot of online shopping, so they got a lot of packages.
“Morning,” said Mum to the delivery lady as she opened the door, “You should go on one of those singing audition programmes on the telly, you’ve got a great voice.”
Singing Delivery Lady laughed as she handed the parcel to Stella and held her electronic pad out towards Mum to sign.
“I know the littlun likes Trolls. I saw her in her Trolls pyjamas the other morning.”
Stella beamed at Singing Delivery Lady.
“She does indeed. Thanks again.” Said Mum as she shut the front door.
Stella listened to her singing drift off down the road.
She had decided. Stella was going to use her new ‘pay it forward’ superpowers to help all three – Old Man Opposite, Boy Bus Stop and Singing Delivery Lady.
Now she had to decide how.
Mum had been clearing out the wardrobes and handed Stella a large bag full of things to take downstairs for the charity shop.
Stella couldn’t resist having a quick look inside the bag. And she’s very glad she did.
Inside was a cushion, some of her brother’s old toys, old clothes, books, a pair of old sunglasses and a pair of old slippers. Stella took some of these items out of the bag and hid them behind the sofa. Then she placed the bag by the front door, like her Mum had asked her to.
Boy Bus Stop was still waiting when Stella looked back out of the window. She waved frantically at the little boy and eventually he turned to see what she wanted. Once he was looking, Stella picked up a large dinosaur and walked it along the windowsill towards her, pretending to look frightened of it. Boy Bus Stop smiled. The man he was with didn’t notice, he was busy staring at his phone. Next Stella picked up a robot and sat it on the back of the dinosaur who began jumping and trying to get the robot off. Boy Bus Stop laughed. Then Stella picked up a large cuddly teddy bear and squeezed it hard. The little boy held out his hands to the bear. His grown-up swiped his hand away and held it tight, the bus had arrived and they were getting on. Boy Bus Stop gave Stella a little wave with his other hand and stepped onto the bus. Stella stuffed the toys back down behind the sofa.
Now she knew which one was his favourite, she went off to find her glitter.
The next morning Stella was wrapping up the slippers from the charity bag in some old newspaper, as she didn’t know where Mum kept the wrapping paper. And she was still trying to keep her superpower super-secret.
She sprinkled some gold glitter onto the slippers and stuffed each slipper with a clean pair of socks. The glitter was her magic stardust, Stella was very pleased with the superhero name that she had come up with for herself late last night, Stella Stardust.
As she picked up one page of the newspaper, something written on it made Stella stop. She put the page to one side and finished taping up her parcel. She stuffed it inside a very large envelope that she had found on the side, Mum was always getting things delivered to the house. She also pushed in the cushion from the charity bag things and the sunglasses.
Stella looked out of the front window and watched the busy road. How was she going to get the parcel across to Old Man Opposite? She knew that she wasn’t allowed to cross the road without a grown-up, but she wanted to keep her superpower secret.
What would Mum tell me to do? Thought Stella.
Just then, she heard her brother call out from the back door.
“I’m off to school now Mum, see you later!” Mum called goodbye from upstairs as Stella ran through the house clutching the large parcel.
Her brother was just getting onto his bike, “See ya, squirt,” he said to Stella.
“Mum said can you drop this over the road to number 91 on your way. It was delivered to us yesterday by accident.” Asked Stella.
“Sure,” said her brother as he took the package and rode off.
Stella ran back to the front window. She watched as her brother carefully crossed the road and knocked on the door of number 91. There was no answer, so he left the parcel in the corner of the porch.
Stella knew that Mum wouldn’t be happy that she had lied to her brother about the parcel, but she was sure she would be happy with Stella for using her new superpower.
She heard Mum walking down the stairs.
“Come on little lady, time for school.” Mum called.
As soon as Stella Stardust got home from school, she put her cape back on and got down to business.
She found the page of newspaper that she had put to one side that morning and began cutting and sticking. Soon she had cut the advert out of the newspaper, stuck it to some yellow card and covered it with stardust.
“I’m just going out in the front garden to do some weeding.” Said Mum to Stella.
“Ok,” said Stella, “I’ll come out in a minute on my bike.”
“Ok.” Said Mum.
Stella Stardust ran to the sofa and pulled out the cuddly bear, sprinkled him with some stardust and went off to find some string.
Stella got her bike out of the garage and rode out of the back gate onto their driveway. Mum was busy weeding the front garden as she had said.
On the front of Stella’s bike was a basket. In the basket she had put the piece of yellow card, some string and the cuddly bear.
Their neighbour had just come home from work and Mum stopped weeding to have a chat with her. As they talked, Stella edged further down the pavement on her bike towards the bus stop. She was careful to stay on the pavement and not go into the road. Her Mum was busy talking, so Stella got off of her bike and ran a few houses down to the bus stop. She tied the glittery cuddly bear to the bus stop post and then quickly got back on her bike and rode back to their driveway. Her Mum turned around to her.
“Stay on the driveway please.” Said Mum.
“Ok.” Said Stella Stardust.
Four minutes later, Stella heard Singing Delivery Lady humming as she walked towards their house.
“Parcel for your Mum,” sang Singing Delivery Lady, as Stella rode up to her.
She popped it into Stella’s bike basket and held out the electronic pad for Stella to sign.
Stella enjoyed signing her name on the pad, she felt very grown-up.
“This one’s for you,” said Stella handing Singing Delivery Lady the piece of yellow card from her basket.
“For me?” She asked, “that makes a nice change.”
Singing Delivery Lady read the newspaper advert out loud, “Open Singing Auditions at the Town Hall this Saturday.”
“Well, that’s very sweet of you both to think of me,” said Singing Delivery Lady smiling at Stella, “I’ll consider it, thank you.”
Singing Delivery Lady waved the yellow card at Mum as she left, who waved back, looking slightly confused.
Stella looked down at the bus stop, she had missed Boy Bus Stop! Everyone was on board and the number 5 bus was about to pull away. Stella quickly rode to the end of the driveway and scanned the windows. On the top deck, right at the front was Boy Bus Stop waving a paw of his new cuddly bear out the window at Stella. He had found the bear that Stella had left him at the bus stop – hurrah!
A week later, Stella was watching Old Man Opposite sitting on his new cushion on the tree stump, wearing his new sunglasses, socks and slippers. He looked much happier.
Stella Stardust was beginning to understand that helping people made her feel good, even if no-one else knew about it. She was happy that she had decided that ‘paying it forward’ was to be her superpower.
Across the road, a young boy fell over as he walked along next to his Mummy. His packet of sweets split and fell all over the pavement just outside Old Man Opposite’s house. Old Man Opposite stood up to help, he rolled his newspaper up into a cone and handed it to the sobbing boy. The boy stopped crying and picked his sweets off the floor and placed them into the cone. Then he smiled up at the old man and his mother thanked him. Next, Old Man Opposite took the cardboard and ribbon medal from around his neck and placed it around the little boy’s neck.
“He’s wearing it!” Noticed Stella excited.
The mother looked at the three words written on the medal and nodded at Old Man Opposite.
“Pay it forward!” Screamed Stella at the window, “I’ve started a chain, I’ve done it!”
She looked down to her friend Boy Bus Stop who was waiting in his usual spot at the bus stop. He had been watching her. He pulled out his cardboard medal with red ribbon which had been tucked underneath his jumper and held it up for Stella to see. She saw her writing on the medal, that she had left around the bear’s neck. Boy Bus Stop gave her a thumbs-up.
Stella heard voices at the front door.
“You can tell her yourself,” said Stella’s Mum.
“Stella, can you come here please.” Stella walked to the front door slowly, wondering if she was in trouble.
Singing Delivery Lady was there.
“I was just telling your Mum that I went to the auditions on Saturday and I’m through to the next round, so thank you for that Stella Stardust.”
Stella beamed at Singing Delivery Lady, she knew her superhero name.
“And I promise that I will,” she said, holding up her medal that read ‘Pay It Forward’ on one side and ‘Stella Stardust’ on the other.
“Sounds like you’ve been busy, young lady.” Mum said to Stella as she closed the front door. Mum knelt down and gave Stella a very big cuddle.
“I’m very proud of you, my little superhero.”
Stella Stardust cuddled her Mum back, feeling very super indeed.
Have a look around, maybe you’re living with someone who’s paying good deeds forwards. Or maybe that superhero is or could be, you?