Our Echo
Title, story type, location, year, person or writer
 
Add a Post
View Posts
Popular Posts
Hall of Fame
Projects
Visitors
Contests
Search

Children's World stories Part 1

Story ID:11427
Written by:Richard Laurent. Provencher (bio, contact, other stories)
Organization:Retired
Story type:Story
Location:Truro Nova Scotia Canada
Year:17
Person:Esther & Richard Provencher
View Comments (0)   |   Add a Comment Add a Comment   |   Print Print   |     |   Visitors
“Hey dad?” was a question Travis had. It came with a quick answer.
"Play, make noise and live, young one."



Children's World
By
Esther and Richard Provencher

COPYRIGHT

(c) 2015 Esther and Richard Provencher
Dester Publications. All rights reserved.

DEDICATION

For all our great grand-children to come.
(From Grandma Esther and Grandpa Richard)

CONTENT
A Dog’s Tale
A Gift of Love
“B” is For Bravery
Bubble Gum Fun
Decision on a Sandy Shore
Do I Have To?
Footsteps in the Dark
For a Friend
Foster Cat
Friendships
Grandma’s Rose
Hello Me
I Wanna Be
It Must Be Santa
Legend
Making Faces
Merry-Go-Round Shopping
Mom Said, No
Multiplication Boy
One More Wish

A DOG’S TALE

ARRROOOUF! is a happy bark from Ace, a proud Black Labrador on his favorite corner of the street.

His thick-as-a-rope tail THUMP-THUMPED on the sidewalk. Close by an unseen sticky glob of gum waited for something to happen.

Ace’s tail pounded cheerfully as stores opened. It was fun watching humans shop downtown.

Several people came over and scratched his head.

Cars, trucks and bicycles crossed in front of him in a blur of rolling wheels.

Ace’s tail continued to smack, up and down. Up and down and oh…oh, right on top of that sticky chunk. It was double bubble gum with lots of gooey left.

The dog waited, knowing something strange happened. No more up and down, THUMP-THUMPS. Yes, something was definitely wrong.

There was no sound from his smacking tail.

He tried to lift it, but it was stuck to something. Ace stood up and gave a mighty pull. Muscles bulged from sturdy legs. Finally, he began to move, S-L-O-W-L-Y.

A squishing sound pulled his tail backwards. Something was a nuisance and he smacked his tail back down, hard. This was no joking matter for a proud pooch.

Ace had places to go, things to do. If he was a human he might even have a train to catch. But, he was just a dog. There were trees to sniff and four legged friends to visit.

Ace leaned forward using every ounce of bulging dog-muscles. S-L-O-W-L-Y, his tail began to stretch, and S-T-R-E-T-C-H.

He had to prove who was boss of this corner. A gathering crowd jostled each other for a good look.

“Come see a dog and gooey-gum show!” they shouted. This was embarrassing for Ace in the middle of what was once a quiet downtown, on a hot summer day.

But, it was no laughing matter for Ace. He decided to put an end to this foolishness. Ace was nervous since everyone in town seemed to be watching.

He had to prove who was boss of the block.

However, the glob of gum had other ideas. It had been left behind once before, but not this time. It wasn’t letting go of a new friend.

Ace tugged and pulled, and his tail stretched even more. By now it was at least one storefront long. It was a battle between gum and dog.

The crowd was excited about who would give up first, as Ace’s tail grew longer and LONGER.

Sparrows flew under the tail, as if it were a neat bridge. Children jumped over the tail in a game of follow-the-leader.

Hot air steamed from Ace's nostrils. The harder he pulled, the more the wad of gum held. Every time he used his FULL strength, fur flew in all directions.

People ducked from showers of loose dog hair. Some used umbrellas to get closer to this tug-of-war.

Several children set up a popcorn stand. “Get your snacks at the “Gummy Dog Show!” they shouted. “25 cents a bag!”

Esther and Vida decided to sell lemonade in front of Margolian’s store. Thirsty customers pushed to be first for a glass.

Sandy’s Men’s Wear had a shirt and tie sidewalk-sale. Ace was running out of fur. And his tongue scraped on the sidewalk.

The contest came to an end like an exploding firecracker. Was it because the gooey-gob was no longer sticky? Or, perhaps tired?

After all, Ace was a large dog with four powerful legs.

“POPPP!” was heard on Inglis Street, like an escaping cork from a bottle. Yes, it was true. The wad of gum finally let go.

Ace lost his balance and flew backwards across the sidewalk. He was like a rolling ball of fur, followed by his stretched tail.

Around and around both traveled, to the end of the block. Finally coming to a crashing halt against a wooden litter box, with a sign that read:

KEEP OUR STREETS CLEAN.

Finally Ace could sit up properly. THUMP-THUMP went his longer tail, like a pain on the sidewalk. He nervously moved to a new corner.

He sniffed the air with a satisfied sigh, his tug of war finally over. His tail gave a snappy SMACK on the sidewalk.

And landed on top of a new piece of gooey gum!

A GIFT OF LOVE

Paul left behind a series of footprints. They led from the picnic area, down waterfront steps then returned to the beach.

He tried to stop thinking about what mom had just said. The anger began in his toes and worked up to his kneecaps. A massive headache was beginning to build.

The boy threw himself on the sand, almost hitting a rock. Some of them were actually sharp and had pointy sides. Like spears.

Mean thoughts about his dad dashed back and forth. If only his father was here now, he’d really tell him off.

Paul's dark and cloudy mood seemed to attract a few nosey seagulls. Their shrieking and his thoughts seemed to mingle together.

Only mom knew what was going on. She was a short distance away chewing on her lip, and finding it hard to smile. She was proud of her son and loved him so much.

"Why couldn't his father be here?" she asked herself. Her son's sadness not so far away was building like layers of onionskin. Tears ran down her cheeks. She felt the same pain.

"In case he doesn't make it today, for the picnic," she had said. "He wants you to have something." And she showed Paul, the gift.

"I don't want it," Paul had said, flinging it away. Then shaking his head in frustration, he headed back to the Stewiacke River shore. The water was his escape. It was where he felt comfortable.

Now, he lay on the rough beach mixture of pebble and grass. He thought of his dad. Why couldn’t he be here like the other fathers? "It's always the same," he said aloud.

But no one was listening.

Sounds of excitement came rippling down the bank. It seemed everyone was having fun except him. Reluctantly Paul dragged himself back to where a crowd of children and adults were playing in a circle.

"Paul!" someone shouted. "Over here!"

It was James. What does the little twerp want? Sometimes though, Paul wished he were just like James. They had met at church last month. How come he's always so happy? Paul wondered.

Even though he didn't feel like it, Paul was coaxed to join in some of the games.

“Hey,” James said, “I need a partner.”

First there was badminton. Paul thought it was stupid hitting a 'bird' over a net. All he seemed to do was miss the other court area. Or shoot too high. Even the wind was against him.

Then they played horseshoes. "I can hardly lift them," James said. Paul was ten, a year older and didn't seem to mind the weight. He even got a 'ringer.' It must have been pure luck, he figured.

Everyone lined up for water toss. Adults and kids joined in. Of course Paul slipped on the wet grass. Why did he have to lose out so soon? Everyone seemed to be laughing at him flopped on the ground.

He noticed James wasn't joining their laughter.

Most people decided to go for a swim after working so hard at the games. Paul and James had permission to use Mr. Lawrence's two-man rubber dinghy.

After putting on life jackets, they waded through a foot of water and climbed in. "The water's too cold for swimming," James said.

"Don't be such a chicken," Paul answered back. Then he gave his friend a playful splash.

"Hey! Stop that! James shouted. Or, I'll go back to shore."

Paul stopped. He really wanted a little company. After paddling around awhile, he jumped out then lay in shallow water that barely covered his back. The coolness soothed his itchy mosquito bites.

"Hey, come on and join me," he called out. James did.

In a few minutes the boys were wrestling and chasing each other into the water. "Come on, stick your head under," Paul said.

James wouldn't.

"Are you scared or something?" Paul asked.

"Yes."

Paul couldn't believe his ears. You mean he was better than James at something? Usually James was good at everything. Even making friends. "You're saying you're actually afraid of the water. It's not even over your head here, you know."

"I said, I'm afraid. Okay?"

Then everyone was being called back from the shore. The 'Scavenger Hunt' was about to start.

"Which one is your dad?" Paul asked as they climbed the bank.

"What do you mean? James said.

"You know, where's your dad? Everyone's dad is here except mine.

"He's too busy to come. All he seems to do is buy me gifts, especially when he breaks a promise."

"At least he's alive," James said quietly.

"What did you say?" Paul stood back and looked at his friend. "You mean, your dad's dead?"

"It happened when I was just a little kid," James answered. "I don't want to talk about it now, okay?"

Paul was very thoughtful as he followed his friend back to the others. He didn't say much as teams were picked. But, he did try to end up on the same team as his friend, except he didn’t.

Captains led each group to a series of trails where they had to follow clues. And search for hidden red tape. Then one runner from each team had to bring in all the discovered items.

As luck would have it both friends were the last to run on each team.

Paul noticed his friend couldn't run as fast as himself as they both headed for the finish line. In fact, he was a bit of a 'klutz'. James tripped over his own feet, as if his legs wanted to travel in different directions.

After the game was over, James flung himself on the wet grass. He didn't mind if he got wet, he was still in his bathing suit. He was really tired and his right leg hurt.

Paul sat down beside him. He had candies to share from his team winning the 'scavenger hunt'. Both boys sat quietly. Paul knew this was not a good time to tease his friend.

Shouts of "time to eat" brought some life back into their tired bodies. Both boys raced to the barbecue site.

Before long, Paul and James had a hotdog in one hand and a can of pop in the other. Between mouthfuls James said, "You're a lot faster than me, you know."

"Yah, but I'm a year older, too." Paul answered. "Hey, I have an idea." He jumped to his feet, "Follow me," he said. James did, all the way to Paul's mom. She was sitting at a picnic table with James own mom.

"So what are you two up to?" they asked.

"Nothin’," came from both mouths at once.

"Mom? Where's that present from dad?" Paul asked. "Quick. Please, I need it."

Surprise registered on her face. Then a smile broke up the serious look his mom had. In a few moments, she was back from the car and handed over the new fishing rod and reel, the gift from dad.

"Let's go fishing!!" Paul said to his new friend.

And they did.

“B” IS FOR BRAVERY

Matthew poked his nose between the curtains. Somewhere out there the bullies waited.

A creepy crawling began between his shoulders, and raced up and down his spine. He wondered if they would call him silly names again.

Matthew still wanted to play outside. He would show them. He would be brave. Yes, very brave on such a nice marshmallow-sky day.

First, he put on his quick-as-a-cheetah sneakers.

They would help him run away, if he had to. "Better flight than fight," mom told him.

He was tired of getting tripped when he tried to escape. Or even getting 'bopped' on the head, and that’s why he had to be a speedy runner.

Matthew opened the front door then tiptoed past JC, his sleeping cat. He squirmed on his tummy across the lawn. Yikes, he almost screamed.

There's one of those bullies!

It looked like Josh, the one who never combs his hair. Peter, the leader of the bully bunch, is there, too.

“If I had a nose like that,” he once told his mom, “they would call me a Martian.” But, she didn’t think it was funny.

"Matthew!"

"SSH!” Matthew said to Travis who stood by the front door. “What do you want?"

"Mom says I have to take you for a haircut."

"Don't yell so loud, Travis," Matthew said. "They might hear you."

"Who might hear me?" he asked, walking towards him.

"Quick! Get down! His arms gave this simple message as they flapped up and down. “Those are the boys who bug me all the time," Matrt whispered impatiently.

Travis laid on his tummy beside his younger brother. "Why are you so afraid of those punks?" he asked.

Matthew didn’t answer. He looked as if he was in pain. “I hope they don’t see me,” he whimpered, as he covered his eyes.

Travis was sad to see his brother so unhappy. Then he noticed something strange. Black clouds began to circle Matthew’s head. Was he that upset about the bullies? Travis wondered.

Some clouds were darker than others, some larger.

How could he help?

Then Travis had a great idea and shut his eyes tightly. His thoughts were about ways to help his brother.

Suddenly, loud noises could be heard. Elephant steps boomed on the sidewalk. And a huge trunk lifted high in the air and swallowed up his brother’s dark clouds.

Then the elephant disappeared down the street.

More sad clouds appeared above Matthew. They floated around like huge night moths.

Travis closed his eyes once more.

This time a proud deer suddenly appeared. He moved his powerful neck back and forth. Sharp antlers plucked black clouds out of the air.

It was almost like catching fireflies.

Then the deer leaped past the house. His white tail waved goodbye.

Travis squeezed his eyes shut once more. Matthew could not see what was happening. His eyes had remained closed all the time.

A wolf came into view. His bushy tail batted away a few remaining clouds from Matthew’s pain. He bounded around the corner.

Finally, Matthew stood up. His eyes were red from rubbing. He still had a purpose to accomplish.

He must show some bravery.

Mom was counting on him. The barber was waiting. It was his duty to prove to mom and his Travis he was not a little baby.

He boldly took Travis’ hand. As they hurried down the sidewalk, Matthew hoped he could return home in one piece.

Suddenly there was the bully-gang coming towards him. It was Josh and Peter. And even Andrew who always called Matthew 'baby face'.

At first Matthew’ eyes got really huge. Then he scrunched Travis' hand. Matthew began to shiver with nervousness.

His sneakers wanted to jog somewhere else quickly. But he couldn’t move. His feet just became part of the sidewalk. Matthew tried to build up some steam. No use.

“Wait,” his brother said. “Everything is going to be okay.”

Matthew knew he had to find a way to be brave. Besides, if he simply ran away, what would Travis think?

Peter, one of the bullies just stared. He wasn’t even coming forward to give Matthew a mean push. Matthew kept waiting for name-calling from the others.

They were all silent.

Josh wasn't usually scared of anyone. But he began to shake like a windy sail. Andrew was the meanest boy in the neighborhood. And he too slowly turned and ran away.

It was shocking to Matthew. He couldn't understand. What was happening?

If only he had turned around. Matthew would see what the gang of bullies saw.

Behind him was the elephant Travis wished for. It sat back on his hind legs. And looked huge as a two-story house. His trunk was raised high in the sky, like a banner.

Next to the elephant was the deer. The large buck looked like a picture on a calendar. Points on his antlers gleamed as if waxed.

The wolf stood quietly. Bright eyes more like lightning flashes. Thick fur swelled from powerful strength. A gray and white tail pounded nervously.

Travis wore a smile on his face. It was wide as the sky. He knew what was taking place.

The bully gang was not able to say one word. Peter, Andrew and Josh had gone. And now the animal images faded away.

"Hurry!" Matthew yelled as he pulled Travis towards the Barbershop. Being brave was okay, but it was time to go.

BUBBLE GUM FUN

Children opened and slam-closed car doors. Everyone hurried to be first into the Church Activity Center.

"Colin? Did you bring your games?" one boy asked.

"Yes!" was the joyful answer.

"Hungry, Hungry Hippo too!" another joined in.

Saturday's Pizza and afternoon Fun had finally arrived!

Colin was the shortest boy in the group. He just had to win today’s bubble-making contest. It was time to show he was good at something.

He had practiced blowing bubbles all week. And today was his chance to win the special prize, a neat baseball glove.

Miss Silver was in charge of today’s activities. And two parents were helping.

“Let the games begin!” Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence shouted.

Children’s voices rose like a flock of scrambling geese. Stamping feet rushed for empty chairs, finally settling in at four tables.

Waiting for the contest to begin was the hardest part for Colin. Minutes passed slowly, like the tractor tilling a field nearby.

First, pizza was given out, followed by shuffling for drinks and other treats. Yes, snack time was definitely the best part of the afternoon.

Colin wished mom and dad would hurry. They should be here to see him win.

"Everyone in a straight line," Miss Silver finally said. Sixteen children charged across the floor. Each was given a piece of double bubble gum.

"Chew it well," she said. Her helpers, Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence were also the judges. "Begin!" Miss Silver yelled.

Mouths chewed up and down. White teeth gleamed. Soon, everyone needed a second piece of gum.

And another.

Growing bubbles peeked from inside little mouths. Some popped out of larger mouths.

Colin chewed, and chewed. You could tell he had practiced, especially when he asked for a fourth piece. Chew…Blow. Chew…Blow. The mouthful of gum began to feel just right.

Huffing and puffing came from all corners of the room.

So far, Colin’s bubble was the largest. And he wanted everyone to remember his success for a long time.

"Here comes Colin," they would say, forgetting he was the class ‘shrimp.’

Everyone stopped blowing and simply stared. Colin’s bubble was larger than anyone ever saw.

"Okay Colin," Mrs. Lawrence said. "You can stop now. You win."

"That's right," her husband agreed.

Everyone clapped for Colin. He finally won something.

"D…DOOR!" he managed to mumble, pointing crazily. Children scattered like bowling pins.

Outside, Colin’ bubble grew larger, and larger. Suddenly, one foot lifted off the ground, then the other. He was floating!

His very large bubble acted like a hot air balloon.

Someone tried to hold a kicking leg. Another pulled on Colin’s foot. But a sudden blast of wind pushed both children to the ground.

Each ended up with one of Colin’s sneakers.

He was airborne and wobbled around the church parking lot. Back and forth he went.

"Stop blowing your bubble gum!" Miss Silver shouted through foghorn hands.

But Colin didn’t dare stop. He was fearful of falling, perhaps landing on someone’s head. But, if his huge bubble shrank to a smaller size, he could return to earth. It was worth a try. All this attention wasn't fun anymore.

At first everything worked fine. The huge bubble did get smaller. And he was dropping lower. Colin saw his parents, wishing he could be with them right now.

Winning the bubble gum contest didn't seem so important.

Mouthfuls of air kept getting into Colin’s tummy. And he began to grow. At first it was neat looking like the largest boy in his class.

His arms bulged. And his once thin legs looked awesome. May he could join the school’s football team.

Suddenly the large bubble went “FLOOP!” And sent him flipping and flopping across the sky. For a few moments, he was like a meteorite.

Colin floated in the air like an out of control airship.

"Blow the air out of your mouth!” everyone screamed.

Colin did, at first little mouthfuls, then a lot. He kept blowing until his body began to shrink. He drifted slowly downward, as air left his stomach.

Dad followed him around until Colin thumped into his arms. It was good to be in the middle of cheers, this time with happy ‘Thumps’ against his back.

If only he could get home and have a long snooze.

Being a bigger boy, or having the largest bubble wasn’t such fun. It was time to be himself just Colin.

And mom and dad were really glad.

DECISION ON A SANDY SHORE

Mark squeezed a handful of sand. The wind tugged at his elbow. Sounds from other bathers drifted noisily across the beach.

He scrunched the sand ball until all the water drained away. Then he attached a new chunk to the wall. His sand fort resembled a small village. It was built to withstand the slap, slap of waves coming in from the ocean.

One great outer wall stood a foot tall, as it circled around Mark. Inside were shapes for buildings. A courthouse stood in the centre of the great fort.

Mark was a very imaginative boy.

The community arena became a favorite place where everyone gathered. A store and other businesses prospered in the protected village. People came in usual shapes and sizes. Retired folks. And middle aged. Children too.

Observation posts on the walls were manned. A watchful eye was kept on the weather for any possible danger from the waves.

Mr. and Mrs. Spears enjoyed it here in this village. On their way home, wild talk about the fierce coming storm frightened them. They hurried across the square to their children.

Mayor Bill Matheson had just left a Town Hall meeting to discuss the situation. And was now on his way home. He didn't like the remarks about the poor quality in the wall construction. He also felt his council was doing it's best in this emergency.

Why were the people so angry? "Construction crews were out three hours ago working on the walls," he had told the crowd. Council would make sure there was no danger.

The storm was coming across the sky in black swirls. It appeared to be gathering strength over open water. The wind was doing its best to encourage the white caps below to charge recklessly forward.

One of the observers on the western wall excitedly noticed the turmoil. He called Mr. Matheson at home and said the village should be warned. The coming storm might be worse than expected.

Eleven-year old John Spears was late getting home again. His dad had warned him about disobeying his evening curfew. Nine o'clock was too late to be out. He was really hurrying now.

A new warning was broadcast at 9:30 PM. Most people who heard the radio news felt disaster was rapidly approaching.

The first roll of waves thudded into the outer wall. A heavy pounding on the protective barrier around the village had begun. Lashing winds pushed millions of gallons testing the strength of the fort. The sea was whipped into frenzy, as it smashed forward, again and again.

Cries came from the lips of excited work crews. They frantically brought new sand to try and stop the first leaks.

After an anxious night the outer walls were severely strained. Rescue boats began to evacuate sightseers who were almost trapped after getting closer for a better look. Further warnings were announced and residents began to abandon their homes.

They retreated behind the secondary wall.

But, here too, water began to seep through the reinforced protective barrier. Volunteers were called in to try and stem the flow in a desperate bid to save the village.

Unknown to the villagers, all this was watched with anxious eyes. The castle builder felt the pain and saw the fear in the eyes of adults as well as children. He noticed how the large gap in the outer wall was slowly widening as the water level between the main wall and the secondary wall rose.

The mayor was in charge of operations. He used the school to house people displaced from their homes. This was a moment of crisis.

Mrs. Spears kept looking out her window watching for her husband's return. She did not know he was one of the first volunteers to be injured.

Young John was also in the hospital with a badly bruised arm. He kept calling out for his parents who didn't know where he was.

The castle builder watched carefully and marveled at the sacrifices and concerns each villager had for one another. He ran his finger from the outer wall to the ocean. This drained away most of the extra water, which had begun to threaten the lives of everyone in the village.

Two large scoops of dry sand soon filled the outer gap. In one quick motion the wall was strengthened and now held back all the water. This gave the villagers a welcome chance to repair damaged walls.

Suddenly the crisis was over.

"Mark! Mark!" The calling of his name drifted across the beach.

The boy asleep on the sand awoke. He wiped sand from his eyes and saw the repaired outer wall on his fort. Water flowed away from one side. He slowly rubbed his eyes. Was it a dream?

His parents called impatiently, "Mark!"

"Okay, Okay. I'm coming! He looked up at the sky, and the calm sea.

Mark smiled to himself.

DO I HAVE TO?

"Travis, I asked Matthew to get some bread for lunch. It would be nice to give your brother some company. Also you’ll have a rest from your computer."

"MOMMMM." Travis’ groaning bounced off four walls.

“’What if my friends see me?"

"They'll say, what a nice boy you are. Imagine, spending time with your younger brother," said his mother.

"You know they won't mom,” Travis answered. “Besides, what will we talk about? He’s just a little kid."

“He’s only two years younger than you. Now go. Go. I want you back before lunch," mother said. ”Remember your grandparents will be coming too.”

"Going with him will be so boring," Travis answered.

"Matthew!" he yelled rather rudely. “Let’s get going!”

Travis led the way as they rushed down busy Willow Street. He wanted to hurry up, get the bread and streak home again. Then he could do something more interesting with his friends.

They could go to Victoria Pool for a swim. Anything would be more exciting than simply getting some bread.

Just then an ambulance pulled over to the curb. "Matthew?" A man called through the open window. "Need a ride? I'm heading back to the depot."

“Ok,” Matthew answered. “Just to the next corner.”

Travis could hardly believe it. He was actually riding in an Ambulance. Usually everyone had to get out of the way from their flashing lights.

"Where do you know him from?" Travis asked later.

"His son is in my grade two class,” Matthew answered. “One day his dad took our cub pack for a neat ride. We just went around the block."

"Let's hurry up Matthew," his brother said. "We still have a long way to go."

Matthew tried to keep up with his brother. But seven-year-old legs were much shorter. They walked on.

A Hostess Chip truck honked, then pulled over to the sidewalk. "Hi Matthew," the driver yelled from the window. "Want a ride boys?"

"Yup," Matthew said. And they had another short ride. Then Mr. Williams needed to turn off in another direction. The bag of chips each received was a nice treat.

"You seem to know a lot of people," Travis said.

"He helped me fix my bike's flat tire once," Matthew said. "Besides, Mr. Williams is one of my best tippers, on my Daily News route."

"Hey, this is great," said Travis. “All these rides are making our trip kind of fun.”

A police car pulled over. And Officer Valerie Allen got out. Travis was a bit nervous at first. Then she said, "Matthew, I thought it was you."

She bent down and shook his hand. "How could I forget my buddy? You had the best marks in our bicycle safety program, last month.”

“Yup,” Matthew answered.

Need a ride?" she asked.

"Yup."

By now Travis was amazed at all the people his brother knew. They had another little ride on their journey. It was super neat riding in a police car. And they hadn’t even done anything wrong.

Wait till his friends hear about this, Travis thought.

As they walked past the Fire Station, Mr. Blois called out. "Matthew! Is that your brother? Bring him in. He can sit in the fire truck, if he wants."

A few years ago Travis sat in the town’s old fire engine. But it was now in a museum. He had never been in the new aerial truck. This was going to be a real treat.

He pretended to climb the ladder to save somebody. Maybe even put out a fire. This was cool. "Okay, don't tell me," Travis said later. "You probably came here lots of times, with your Cub pack.

"Yup," Matthew answered.

Finally they were at their destination. Right beside the bread store was a Dicky-Dee ice cream bicycle. Standing alongside was a boy about Matthew’ age.

"Hi Matthew," he said. "Wanna sell? I need a break, you know."

"You did this before?" Travis asked his brother.

“Yup,” Matthew answered.

So Travis waited patiently while his brother sold treats. The older boy was really amazed by all the people who liked Matthew.

On the way home another surprise was waiting.

The Mayor of Truro stopped beside them. Travis remembered his speech last month at the Jr. High auditorium. It was something about ‘Pride in your Community.’

“Good to see you, Matthew,” the Mayor said. “Are you still coming over to play Risk with my son?" he asked.

"As soon as we bring this bread home to mom," said Matthew.

"What if I take you boys home? Maybe you can come back and eat lunch with us."

"Sounds good to me Mr. Mayor," Matthew said.

“I…wish I could,” Travis stammered. “My friends and I already made plans.”

“That’s okay,” was the mayor’s short answer.

Travis rubbed his eyes. Here he was riding in the mayor's van! He looked around, hoping his friends could see him.

It was nice getting home but Travis was having so much fun. He thought the trip ended too soon.

After Matthew left, Travis sat quietly in the kitchen, staring out the window. Awesome, his brother was going to eat at the mayor's house.

"What’s on your mind son?" Travis’ mom inquired.

"Next time you need bread, may I go with Matthew?" he quickly asked.

FOOTSTEPS IN THE DARK

Finally, it’s Christmas Eve. Moonlight was like a flashlight beam across the sky.

Colin hopped with excitement, one foot tripping over the other. His eyes roamed the sky. Where is Santa’s sleigh?

He also wished to give a gift to Jason, his best friend. Colin didn’t have any money, so it was soon time to put his plan into action.

Colin worked hard to be good all year. As Christmas approached he was even more helpful.

“Yup, finished” he answered dad about his house chores today.

“Did you also check the cat’s food bowl?” mom asked.

“Yup,” he replied.

“Take the garbage out, sport?” dad asked.

“Yup.”

It was a challenge for his parents finding new things for him to do. Because of this Colin hoped Santa was going to be especially good to him this year.

As Colin lay anxiously in bed, the wall clock showed 2 AM. Were those hooves on the roof? Chilled feet slowly slid into a pair of rabbit shaped slippers.

Superman PJ’s kept him warm. Colin stepped into the hallway. Parent snores drifted from a bedroom nearby.

Curtains flapped in his sister’s room. Colin almost stepped on the cat following by his feet.

Shadows made creepy shapes as he rested at the top of the stairs. Shivers danced along his back.

His hands scraped against the walls. And the stairs creaked as he tried to move quietly downstairs. Sounds came from the chimney in the living room.

His heart began to pound. Could that be Santa?

Colin moved silently as a bat. He was sure he heard reindeer snorting on the roof.

Someone had turned on the Christmas tree lights. Decorated gifts in all sizes and color spilled from beneath branches. The scent of balsam needles filled the air.

Colin’s “OOH’s” and “AAH’s puffed like a gust of wind across the room.

His name was on so many gifts!

The little boy took a long time before selecting a special wrapped one. This was to be his gift for Jason. His friend would never know it was from a huge pile Santa brought.

Colin could get by with one less present.

The stairs creaked even more as scary shadows followed him upstairs. Dad’s ZZZ’s sounded quite noisy. This time the cat screeched as Colin stepped on its tail.

The boy dashed into his room, diving under the covers.

Sleep was interrupted when everyone joined in to wake him. They tried singing, yelling then finally shaking him.

“Sleeping in on Christmas morning?” his sister asked. Her open mouth looked like a question mark.

Colin thumped downstairs. He soon wiggled into a good spot and began opening parcels.

Blue and red pieces of wrapping paper flew in all directions. Other presents were covered in green with yellow ribbon. Some of the gifts had purple and red bows.

The pile of paper showed scenes of Santa and his reindeer, even mouse trains pulling parcels. A picture of snowmen, trees, and holly leaves joined the floor pile.

After all the presents were opened, there was a hush in the room. Was something else supposed to take place?

Colin wondered if it had to do with the missing present. No one else knew it was tucked safely under his bed.

He planned on bringing it to Jason later today.

Mom and dad kept making finger signals to each other. Shaking their heads, They searched around the room.

They knew something was missing. So did Colin. Hey, what happened to his super cool request from Santa? It was at the top of his Christmas list.

Colin wanted a yellow caboose for his N scale train set.

Oh…no. Could that be the gift he picked for Jason? Maybe he could give his friend two gifts instead of one.

Too late, all of them were already opened.

He received a red Fire Truck, a model jet plane, a puzzle of Disneyland, new crayons and a Canadian stamp book.

But, he had no yellow caboose.

He tried putting on a happy face. After all, it was Christmas morning. When Colin told his parents what happened, they too were sad.

Then mom and dad said, “We love you eight times!”

After breakfast Colin placed a new name on the wrapped ‘caboose’ gift. It said, “For Jason, from your friend, Colin.”

Later, mom and dad waited on the sidewalk as he pressed the buzzer. Jason answered the door and Colin said, “Merry Christmas!” then gave him his gift.

Colin’s parents walked proudly beside their son as they returned home.

Yes, thought Colin. This was still a great Christmas.

FOR A FRIEND

Like a flashlight beam, the moon shone across Colin’s face, reminding him Christmas Eve was almost over! Colin was so excited he did a couple of somersaults on his bed.

“Santa will be here soon,” Colin whispered to himself.

If only he bought a gift for his best friend, Jason. But, Colin didn’t have any money left from Christmas shopping. Now it was too late.

He worked hard to be good all year. “Yup,” he always answered when asked to do chores.

“Is the cat’s bowl of food full?” mom asked this morning.

“Yup,” Colin replied.

Later dad asked, “Is the garbage out, sport?”

“Yup, all by myself,” Colin said.

His family discovered other chores around the house. Maybe Santa might give him an extra present this year. Then Colin could give it to his pal.

The wall clock revealed it was now 2 AM. “Were those sounds on the roof?” Colin jumped out of bed.

“Could that be Santa?” He put on his favorite slippers, with friendly lion faces. Star Trek pajamas kept away the cold.

Colin crept down the hallway. Curtains flapped loudly from his sister’s room. Oh, Oh. Mom will be upset. Sis left the window open.

Colin almost stepped on Boots rubbing against his leg.

Were any monsters hiding in the darkness? Colin waited a few moments at the top of the stairs, just to make sure there were none.

Shivery shivers raced up and down his back.

Fingernails scraped against the wall! Oh good, they were only his stairs squeaking as each foot stepped down.

But, there were sounds coming from the living room.

His heart pounded. Is that…Santa? he dared to ask.

Colin moved silently as a bat. Maybe those were deer on the roof. And Santa was right here, in his house.

He reached up and turned on the living room lights.

Blackness disappeared from sudden brightness.

The odor of pine needles filled the air.

Colins’ eyes grew huge as he stared. Wrapped gifts in all sizes lay under spruce tree branches.

“OOHS“ and “AAAHS” were gasps of happiness. And Colin skidded on his knees like an out of control kitten, heading for the gifts.

His name was on so many! He must have been really good to get all this stuff.

Colin lifted each present carefully, especially the one with tiny silver bells on the outside. “I think I’ll give this gift to Jason,” he said, feeling satisfied.

It was not very large. But, Colin was a good friend. Hopefully he would like it, whatever it was. Colin didn’t mind having one less present. There were so many.

Surely his parents wouldn’t notice.

Drooping eyelids meant time to head back to bed. The stairs didn’t squeak so loudly. And mysterious shadows didn’t bother Colin either. He was too excited thinking about all his presents.

Even dad’s ZZZ’S sounded quieter. Except, the cat screeched when Colin stepped on his tail.

The boy hurried into his room and leaped under the covers. It turned out to be a very short sleep.

Soon, everyone was singing, “WAKEY…WAKEY.” “Sleeping in on Christmas morning?” his sister asked.

Colin jumped out of bed and ran downstairs. He was first in line to open boxes.

Presents were covered in green, with yellow ribbon. Others had white and purple bows.

Some gifts were wrapped with scenes of Santa and his reindeer. Others had mouse trains pulling different sizes of boxes. Snowmen and tree pictures soon joined the pile.

Then everything became quiet.

Did someone notice Colin’s missing present, safely tucked under his bed?

He planned to give it to Jason later today.

Mom and dad made hand signals to each other. Oh, Oh. They did know one was missing. Suddenly, so did Colin.

Now he remembered his special request from Santa at the Mall. In fact, it was at the very top of his Christmas list.

Colin asked for an “N” scale yellow Caboose. It was to add to his birthday gift train set.

“Oh no,” he whispered, looking up at his parents. The gift he picked for Jason must be that Caboose.

Maybe Colin could give Jason two other presents instead. Too late, he had opened them all. There was a red Fire Truck and a model jet plane.

Also he received a Disneyland puzzle, new crayons and a Canadian stamp book.

There were even gifts from grandma and grandpa, that came all the way from Nova Scotia.

But, no yellow Caboose was here for Colin.

He was sad after explaining what he did.

Then mom and dad gave Colin a special hug. It meant, “We love you twenty-five times!”

At breakfast he was slow eating his cereal. Colin knew what had to be done. He placed a new sticker on the nicely wrapped ‘caboose’ gift.

It now read, “For Jason, from Colin.”

Later, Colin’s mom and dad watched from the sidewalk as Jason answered his front door.

“Merry Christmas!” Colin said, as he gave his gift.

“Th…thanks,” Jason said. “Merry Christmas to you, too!”

Colin’s parents were proud to walk home with their son.
Together they ate their best Christmas dinner ever!

FOSTER CAT

"I wish I could have a rest," Wish whispered.

The boy’s curly hair danced in the wind. And young muscles ached from carrying moving boxes.

Mom’s hearing was like an eagle’s. "You're a big boy now,” she said. “So help your dad as much as possible, okay?"

His father called him “Wish” because he was always wishing for something. Like having his very own family.

The suitcase was heavy against his eight- year old leg. Now why did he decide to wear short pants today? Wish looked down the driveway.

A month ago they came to look at this house. And then bought it.

Wish liked the blue vinyl siding.

It was neat Mom and dad adopted him six months ago. "Buzz off mosquito. I'm so hot," He added loudly.

"Wish. Hurry up please," said dad.

"Ma, how about a glass of lemonade? The boy asked.
“Whoops, forgot.”

“The fridge is still in the moving van,” mom said quickly.

Wish dragged himself and his load upstairs, one groan at a time. He finally made it to his new room, looked around then lifted the window.

Something black and bushy rushed across the yard below.

"A monster squirrel!" he shouted.

Wish discovered a bag full of energy and thumped downstairs. It didn’t take long to check their small yard.

"Ma? Ma?" he called out.

"What dear?" she answered, as she wrestled with another box.

"Did you see that black shadow?"

"Oh honey, we don't have time right now. Come and give me a hand."

At that moment a pair of eyes looked like green headlights. The cat hurried away like a shaggy buffalo, fur dragging on the ground.

"Ma!"

She did, but... "Sorry dear. Missed it."

The “shadow” was gone. What a neat name. “Shadow," Wish said to himself.

The rest of the afternoon was filled with more grunting from carrying boxes. His shirt stuck to his back. He was growing up.

Maybe dad would notice his muscles, too.

"Wish! Did you see a black furry thing in the backyard? Looked like a walking rug. Ha, ha, ha."

"Very funny," Wish said, trying not to be upset. "Dad...it was a cat. It was a huge, hairy cat. I'm calling him Shadow."

"Oh, a new friend already?"

"Sure." Wish loved cats. “Dad…I’ve got a great idea!"

"For goodness sake. Are you going to help us move or not?" the boy’s dad asked impatiently.

"Yes dad, but..."

"Wish, later...please."

As Wish turned to go, "Darn" slipped out.

"Watch the mouth, no whining."

"Okay dad."

That night, the wind whispered through Wish’s window screen as he lay in his sleeping bag.

He listened to "Meows" drifting up from the backyard. Was 'Shadow' lonely? He wondered.

If only the cat were right beside him.

"I can pretend he's mine," he said in the stillness. But, what if the cat belongs to some other little boy?

Wish turned and twisted on his mattress. The bed frame was still stacked in the corner. Dad was right. It’s not easy sleeping in a new place the first night.

The boy promised to work harder tomorrow to get everything set up.

"Wish?" Mom rapped at the door. "Talking in your sleep?"

"I was trying to help Shadow feel better. I don’t think she has a home.”

"May I come in?" mom asked.

"Sure," the boy answered.

"I was so busy unpacking dishes, I forgot to tuck you in, dear."

"Is dad coming up to tuck me in too?" Wish hoped.

"Yes."

"Ma, okay if I ask you somethin'? Do you think dad would...?"

"Go on, dear."

"I wish I could keep that cat. I even gave him a new name... Shadow."

“That’s a nice name,” said mom. “You really want a pet, don’t you?”

“Shadow needs a good home. I could be his foster parent. Or, even adopt him…just like I was,” Wish said excitedly.

He repeated his idea when dad joined them.

"We already know how much you want a cat," mom said.

"Lots of room here," dad smiled.

But first, everyone agreed an ad should be placed on the radio about a stray cat. Wish went to sleep wondering what kind of food Shadow liked.

The next day, before anyone could say "Shadow" a hundred times, a man phoned. "I'm so glad you found my cat," was all Wish remembered.

The owner heard the radio announcement and came right over. In the backyard he called out "Frisky."

And the bushy black cat came like a rocket. Not "Shadow" but "Frisky."

That night, over a delicious meal of chicken, Wish was sad and happy. Frisky was home, where he really should be. He knew his master was happy to have him back.

He saw how mom and dad watched their new son. They understood how much he wanted to keep Shadow.

A bright smile stretched his face.

"It's okay, mom. Dad." It was not easy to say the words out loud. But he had to.

“This is where I belong,” Wish said to the parents he loved so much.

“And Shadow is where he belongs.”

FRIENDSHIPS

"When is he coming?" Edward mumbled, looking down the trail for the third time. It was difficult being patient, especially when his legs itched to move forward.

The boy always seemed to be waiting for someone. Like dad who left last year, whose letters were rare as gold on the kitchen table. Finally, a familiar red cap and jacket came into view. Wire-rimmed glasses framed a smile.

"Getting impatient?" his neighbor, Mr. Bolton asked.

"Yeah, well...no," Edward stammered. They had become good friends this past summer, even going fishing a few times. Today they were hunting partridge, something he never did before.

"OK, time for a rest."

We just began, the boy thought. "I'm not tired. Let's go..."

"Edward, sit. Hunting isn’t just rushing around. It’s observing things."

Today’s trip might not be so cool after all. He listened to poplar leaves jiggling in the wind. Gold, orange and reddish-tinged leafy trees surrounded them. It was indeed a beautiful autumn sight. Maybe there was something in sitting and enjoying the view.

Back in Truro Edward was so busy with activities he barely had time to do his homework. "What kind of tree has such beautiful colors?" he asked.

The man answered. "They’re sugar maples. Lots of them, eh?"

"What about that one?"

"I think it’s a red pine."

"Is that a scotch pine to the right?" the boy asked.

"Yes. How did you know that?"

"My father used to work for Lands and Forests. He taught me a lot."

"Trying to test me, eh?" Mr. Bolton asked, jumping to his feet. "Ready? Or do you need some more rest?”

"One more question?" Edward asked.

"Yes?”

“You stopped so we could look around. Right?”

“And take time to smell the roses!” they piped in together.

"Now I’m ready," the boy said, feeling more relaxed. They walked quietly for the next hour, listening for the unmistakable sound of a partridge.

Mr. Bolton cradled his .410 shotgun in the crook of his arm.

"A rabbit!" Edward shouted. “Look!” At the sound of his voice, the small animal disappeared into the underbrush. "How come you didn't try and shoot it?" the boy asked.

"It's not rabbit season."

"Yeah, but who would know?"

"We would."

Edward mumbled under his breath. "I thought we came here to shoot something," he said.

"Did you notice the colors on the rabbit?"

"Yeah, brown with splashes of white all over."

"Good observation," Mr. Bolton said. "White will be his camouflage when winter comes."

"Cool."

"Very observant, Edward. The rabbit was really charging away. I didn't think you'd see the white on his feet."

This made Edward feel special. He wasn't used to an adult saying nice things to him. Mom did, but moms have to, he thought. Since dad took off it was left for mom to be his cheerleader.

"When are we going to see some partridge? Besides, I'm getting hungry," Edward, asked.

"Which do you want to do first?"

"Eat!"

"Spoken like a true hunter," said Mr. Bolton.

They ate delicious Cream of Broccoli soup from their thermos container. Mr. Bolton brought the dessert, cookies and granola bars.

"Mom makes great soup," Edward boasted.

"You really love your mom, don't you?

Edward's answer was a radiant smile.

Do you want to try some target shots later?"

"May I?" the boy exclaimed almost spilling his soup. "Wow. Really?"

After eating both tidied up, then Mr. Bolton set up a wood target around ten inches square. The background was a sandy hill.

"No danger this way from shotgun pellets flying across the trail," Mr. Bolton advised. “Always practice safety in the woods, young man.”

Under the watchful guidance of Mr. Bolton, the boy prepared himself. As the shotgun boomed, pellets slammed into the target.

"Nice shot!"

"I did it!"

"Does your shoulder hurt?"

"No. I did just as you told me. Hold the gun stock tightly against my muscle."

"Good thing you have those muscles," Mr. Bolton teased.

Handing the empty shotgun back, the boy said, "Thanks for trusting me." Not far down the trail, a young doe stood watching.

"OHHH!" Edward gasped.

The noise startled the wild animal. It turned quickly and leaped into the woods. Its white tail bobbed like a flag, as it headed for new adventures.

"Did I scare it?” Edward asked.

"No."

"How come?"

"Nature teaches it to be careful around humans."

"Why?"

"Because we might be hunting her."

"But it's not deer season," Edward said.

“Except the deer isn’t quite sure,” the man said. "How come you wanted me to shoot the rabbit?"

"Well, I’m learning each animal has a special season." The boy thought for a moment. "Mr. Bolton, how come we kill things?"

"I hunt to eat the game. And I also follow all the rules. Besides its a chance for me to get some exercise."

The boy nodded.

"I also get to spend some time with you," Mr. Bolton added. And poked the boy on the shoulder.

Edward remembered when it used to be like this with dad. The two of them doing things together. It felt good to have someone caring about him again. The rest of the day was a challenge. It rained tiny pellets of hail and drove the man and boy into shelter under the trees.

Their return to the trail was without conversation. Each had much to think about. They had shared the trail; conversation, food and Edward even fired a shotgun for the first time.

When they finally reached their car, the boy paused then stretched as he looked around. He watched billowy clouds pile like pillows over the trees. The sun’s warmth covered his face.

The man was pleased. It had been a good day. His legs had additional energy for walking but it was the right time to go home.

"Mr. Bolton, I had an awesome time. I don't care if we didn't shoot anything."

Yes, the man thought, it was a good hunting trip.

"How about taking me again?" Edward asked.

GRANDMA’S ROSE

Steps sounded like thunder as Dennis rushed into grandma Irene’s room. It was still unpleasant seeing her in a wheelchair. Not long ago she used to have fun chasing him around her back yard in the country.

"I wish Grandma didn’t have to be in this ole Nursing Home,” Dennis said to his parents.

“Well,” answered mom, “she needs help for washing and cooking.”

“Climbing stairs is also difficult for her,” his father added.

Dennis liked the floor in the Nursing Home with its brightly colored patterns. But it bothered him how many residents sat like soldiers at attention along each wall, just staring. He was sure once they had strong legs and quick steps. Even sat on swings or played in the ocean and made castles on the shore.

The last time he visited grandma she held tightly to his arm. She couldn’t speak but Dennis knew she didn’t want him to leave.

As he entered her room he noticed the way she stared out the window. Was she remembering the way it used to be? The boy explored Grandma Irene’s room, with pictures of the two of them in her rose garden. This little space was nothing like her country home.

"Mom?” he asked later. “How come grandma Irene hardly speaks? Or walks anymore?"

"Son, your grandmother has to have a wheelchair now, since her legs aren’t very strong. And her memory is beginning to slip because of Alzheimer’s disease."

Each question Dennis asked was like the slapping of ocean waves against the shore. More questions kept piling up in his head. Dennis knew it was very hard on mom and dad. Especially when they first coaxed grandma to move to the nursing home.

"I wish grandma was like before," Dennis said. He loved her so much. He sat in silence on the way home.

At bedtime, Dennis's bedroom was full of creaks and groans caused by his pacing on the floor. He tried to imagine how hard it must be for grandma. No more working in her garden, nor feeding sparrows and goldfinch. Not even being able to fish with Dennis in her backyard pond, stocked with neat rainbow trout.

Stars winked each time Dennis blinked back tears. He squeezed his hands wishing grandma was here. Visiting the Nursing Home today was another sad time for him.
Her wheelchair looked so cramped. Dennis knew grandma was sorry he had to see her like that.

She used to enjoy showing Dennis around her farm. When he caught his first fish, grandma was right beside him. It was a fourteen-inch Rainbow. And he remembered jumping up and down like a jack-in-the-box.

Dennis missed her warm hugs, and being called, "my little chickadee," her favorite bird. She had such a neat way of making him feel safe and comfortable. Now in the stillness of his room, he wrapped both arms around his shoulders. "Was she thinking of him right now?" he wondered.

Mom and dad said grandma also couldn't see very well because of “Glaucoma." They explained it was a word dressed up, like a robber, taking away her window to the world.

“But, your grandma still has feelings,” said dad, “even though she may not say the words. On our next visit, watch her face when she’s sitting beside the lounge window. Don't say anything, just watch."

Dennis nodded his head. Sometimes he didn’t listen. This time he did.

During their next visit he did watch as grandma Irene sat in her wheelchair. Her usual smile almost made her wrinkled skin disappear. A raspy sound came from her throat. Humming soon floated throughout the room. There weren’t any words, just a soft melody. Grandma seemed content, sitting and staring out the window, lips moving.

“What is she looking at?” Dennis whispered to himself. He looked over at mom and dad. Would they be the same, someday? The question often lingered, like a pesky mosquito.

Then Dennis noticed a chickadee on the outside window ledge staring directly at his grandmother. Its half-opened beak and tilted head seemed to be listening to the vibrations of song working its way through the glass.

The boy hardly breathed, eyes wide with interest. Grandma Irene was smiling as she continued to hum. Yes, she was singing to the bird. The boy was sure the bird could hear since the feathered creature soon answered with his own song.

In the car on the way home, Dennis poked his dad's shoulder. "Do you think the chickadee was really singing to grandma?" His parents didn't answer right away. Maybe they figured Dennis had to work it out for himself.

Before climbing into bed this evening, he felt grandma's warmth in his room. She was such fun. He remembered she always had a song on her lips. And her smiling face could cheer up anyone needing a friend.

He leaned his head to the side, like the chickadee did this afternoon. It was a comfortable feeling. The same as when he was a little boy needing an answer to a question. Grandma used to pull him into her lap and hum quietly as he fell asleep.

He told her of his dreams. At first, he wanted to be a Forest Ranger, then a Jet Pilot. She told him, “Be anything you want, like a flower that glows with beautiful colors.”

Dennis looked through his window into the night sky. It sparkled as a garden full of diamonds. It was alive with excitement, almost like grandma's garden. As he lay in bed, understanding swept over him like an extra blanket.

"Goodnight Grandma Irene. I love you," Dennis said out loud. He began to hum his own made-up tune. It was filled with a wagonload of good thoughts.

"Your grandma is like a rose," his father said earlier at the supper table. "She's a special flower in a garden surrounded by her loving family. That's why her face is full of smiles."
Dennis had listened to every word.

"She has accomplished many of her dreams," dad also said. "And you play a special part in her memories."

Before closing his eyes this evening, the boy decided to plant a rose bush this summer. Like grandma’s garden, his would grow many smiles. And Dennis promised to have the brightest one of all.

HELLO ME

The only way Brandon stood tall was to get on top of a chair. Or get on the highest step when getting his school picture.

"Hey...shorty," was his nickname at school. As he scrambled away words followed him down the hallway. "Climb a ladder so we can see you," shamed his ears.

Laughing friends was the worst part. Friends?

Each night when the moon shone brightly, he made a wish. "Somebody out there, make me tall. Please."

Brandon wondered if anyone heard him, or even cared.

Tonight, the stars did.

Their winking was for a reason. As he slept, they threw radiant light. Like tears. Their diamonds of bright arrived on earth, and gently covered the sleeping boy.

Brandon began to dream...of another place, where everyone was tall. From the side of the gravel road he could see heads coming. Jiggling ears made him laugh. Arms hung from shoulders higher than he could reach.

It was too hard to yell up to these tall people. Their legs might even break if they leaned too low. So it was much easier to reach down and place Brandon on their shoulders.

They did this, whenever he wanted to chat. Did Brandon think this was great? Well it wasn't. Because he found out no one in this village could do anything themselves. They needed Brandon, the "little one," to live in their Great Village.

Tall ones couldn't eat unless someone turned on their stoves. Or bath unless someone turned on the tub taps. Or even start their cars unless Brandon helped.

It was nice having the tiniest feet and arms and legs. His tiny hands could fit the controls of anything all over town. Their own were so huge and awkward. They could easily break all the machinery.

When someone needed to get groceries, booming voices called. "Brandon!!" And he would come running. After placing the car gears on Drive he would sit on the steering wheel.

"Brandon, I want to bake a cake." And he would come and turn the stove on. He stayed longer when the tall people needed him for other duties. Like, "Turn on the TV. Please."

It was nice to be needed. It made him feel very important to keep hearing his name. "Brandon! Brandon!" It was as if he was the mayor or something.

But, the little helper did get tired after doing so much. In fact, it was now becoming a bother.

He decided to make up a schedule. Now he only ran down short streets to turn on taps. Then returned quickly, turning them off before tubs ran over. Once in awhile one would overflow.

For the longer streets Brandon used his 18-speed bicycle. He was a very busy little boy, from block to block, upstairs and downstairs, over the hill and across the pond.

He also became a very tired little boy.

He traveled from tubs to cars, then stoves and back again. He felt like a hamster running from tubs, to cars and stoves. Soon, the tall village people had to drive tired Brandon around. They provided him with a helicopter to travel to areas outside of town. His reputation was growing. Even if he was "little."

A busy Brandon barely found time to play with other children. When he finally did, his little hand seemed to disappear in the fielder’s baseball glove.

And when the ball was batted, Brandon had to run for his life. It was as if a cannonball came flying in his direction. When everyone went swimming, Brandon had to be careful. Tidal waves sent his little surfboard scooting across the lake. His eyes grew weary watching out for huge feet chasing each other in the sand.

He had good times, though. Tall friends placed him on their shoulders as they walked through the forest trails. He simply had to reach out and touch the tallest limbs.

Brandon pretended he was as tall as they were.

From his perch he could see hills far away. And being closer to the sun made his skin burn with heat.

And clouds were close enough to trail his fingers through their wispy movements. He began to realize tall ones didn't have much fun. He could do things tall ones couldn't. Brandon enjoyed running through their huge garden like a little rabbit. His favorite time was sitting in the middle of a pizza and eating as much as he wanted.

And he used their bathtub like a private swimming pool.

No matter how much he helped around the village, he was still lonesome. There was no one small enough to play with. He always had to worry about being stepped on or squished when the boys wrestled.

No matter where Brandon walked, feet kept coming from all directions. He was tired of always having to be careful.

Brandon was also afraid of having a cat for a pet. They could easily eat him if he stood too close to their food.

One day he convinced a tall boy to lift him over his head. He wanted to see what it was like to be a tall one.

The boy picked him up by his waist. Then placed Brandon in the palm of a huge hand. The arm moved upwards until he was higher than the tall one.

Brandon now knew he was the tallest of them all.

Then Brandon asked to be placed on top of the tall boy’s head. It was not easy to stand still on the slippery hair. Especially when the tall boy began to shuffle along. Brandon slipped and began to fall.

His pipsqueak voice could not be heard over the sounds of heavy feet striking the road.

Down, down and down Brandon fell. He tried to grab onto hair, then an ear, next the tall boy’s shirttail. He missed the silver belt buckle.

It was a long way down from being the tallest boy in the village...

Brandon opened his eyes and looked around. He lay on the floor of his bedroom. Everything looked normal except for what looked like little diamonds circling his head.

He thought a bumped head was supposed to bring stars or birds tweeting. But it was just beams of sunlight reflecting from the wall.

Jumping to his feet he looked out. It was daylight and the land was alive with movement. He could actually see normal cars moving on the road. He heard water running into a tub.

Suddenly he realized something. There was no need for a little boy to do everything anymore. Others could turn on their own TV's and start their own cars. And get tap water.

He felt good. He felt tall, even if he was still little. Brandon pinched himself just to make sure he was really awake.

"Good morning, me!" he shouted.

PART 2 OF THIS STORY COLLECTION IS ON OURECHO.COM