Author: Summer Bird

Flashback Video: Insomniac Beauty

This story was originally posted on April 17, 2019. I think we all do great and terrible things now and then. And sometimes, the bad choices we make can cause us big problems down the road. In fairy tales, the effects are magnified, of course. I think that’s what makes them so much fun to read.

Charlie’s Room: The Queen of Hearts

One morning, Charlie and Marianne left early to go to the garden store. Isaac was left behind to do paperwork and possibly spend some time reading if he got done early. Knowing Charlie and Marianne as well as he did, Isaac was pretty sure they’d go straight from the garden store to the garden in the backyard. His chances of having extra reading time were pretty good.

In fact, there wasn’t much paperwork to do, and Isaac was on the couch with a favorite novel fairly quickly. There is something about rereading an old favorite that is comforting, like a warm blanket on a cold day. Isaac was quickly wrapped up in what he was reading.

He had no idea how much time had passed when he heard some noises in the kitchen. Had Marianne and Charlie already returned and were now coming in from the garden? He looked at his book. He was only two chapters in. That shouldn’t be enough time for a typical garden center trip.

Something clattered on the floor in the kitchen. Isaac looked around for a bookmark and called out, “Is everything okay in there? Do you need some help?”

There was no response. Odd. Isaac grabbed one of the playing cards spread out on the end table. It looked like someone was playing a game and had left the cards out. He looked at the card he picked up as he marked his place in his book. The card was blank.

It sounded like someone was hitting the refrigerator with a wooden spoon. Isaac dropped the book on the couch and hurried into the kitchen. Someone actually was hitting the refrigerator with a wooden spoon.

She was thin, paper thin, and unnaturally tall. She looked like the drawing of the queen of hearts from a deck of cards, given a lower half and brought to life. But she didn’t look like a normal, living, breathing person. She looked like a living drawing, still two dimensional and drawn with dark black lines and colored in.

The kitchen was a mess. Flour, broken eggs, and milk puddles surrounded the paper queen. A cookie sheet was laying on the open oven door, dotted with odd looking misshapen lumps of dough.

“Can I help you?” Isaac asked.

“The knave of hearts stole my tarts. They must be replaced.” She pointed at the counter.

The jack of hearts card was propped up against a vase of lilies. The jack was munching a red heart that looked a lot like the one in the corners of his card and smirking.

Isaac frowned. “How did that happen?”

“Our cards were left out on a summer’s day.” She turned to the kitchen. “I would like to bake more tarts, but your kitchen is nothing like the one I’m used to.”

“I don’t know about tarts, but how does heart-shaped cookies sound?” Isaac asked.

“That would do.”

“Right. Let me find the recipe.” Isaac stepped over the mess and flipped through the pages of the family cookbook. “Here we are. I’ll get things ready.”

Grabbing a towel, he wiped up the mess, put the cookie sheet in the sink, and closed and preheated the oven. He rinsed and dried the cookie sheet, and began to mix up the cookie batter.

He rolled out the dough, and dug through the cupboard for the cookie cutters. “Which size?” He held up three different heart shapes.

“That one.” She pointed to the largest, plainest cookie cutter.

Isaac cut out the cookies and put them on the cookie sheet and into the oven. “Would you like them frosted?”

“No need,” the queen said.

They waited in silence, watching the oven. The moment the cookies were out of the oven, the queen picked up two very hot cookies in each hand and vanished.

“But they were still hot,” Isaac said to the jack, who was still propped up against the vase. Jack shrugged and looked over at the cookies still on the pan.

“I think you’ve had enough sweets today,” Isaac said. He picked up the card and went back to the living room. He stacked up the cards on the end table adding the jack of hearts to the pile, and put the cards in their cardboard box.

Then he pulled the card out of his book. He’d read the book often enough that saving his place didn’t really matter. The queen of hearts smiled up at him. He smiled back, and put the card in the box with the others.

Isaac left the box of cards on the shelf in Charlie’s room and went back to the kitchen to finish making the rest of the cookie dough into cookies. He frosted them and added sprinkles.

Marianne came in from the backyard as he was washing the last of the dishes. “Cookies!” Charlie rushed to the counter and leaned over the plate. His hand hovered over one of the cookies. “Can I have one?”

“Yes, of course.”

Charlie grinned and grabbed the cookie.

Marianne picked up a cookie with a smile. “I love these! What’s the occasion?”

“The world needed more cookies,” Isaac said. “It was an emergency.”

Family Recipe: Japanese Mum’s Chicken

This recipe wasn’t passed down to us by a family member, but we’ve enjoyed it for so many years that it’s become a family recipe for our family just the same.

We found this recipe online when the kids were small, and we’ve been making it ever since. My husband changes the recipe a little each time, but it’s remained essentially the same. It’s definitely a family favorite.

Here’s a link to the original recipe post: https://www.food.com/recipe/japanese-mums-chicken-68955

The Very Lazy Cat

Once there was a supremely lazy cat who loved to eat fish. However, he loved fresh fish best, and he lived far from the ocean. He dreamed of living right next to the ocean, so that he could be closer to his favorite food.

Perhaps, he imagined, it might be even better to live inside the ocean. He had visions of just opening his mouth and having dinner swim inside. It sounded marvelous.

Of course, the problem was that the ocean is a bit wet, and he didn’t want to deal with that. Being all wet was uncomfortable. It meant that his fur felt odd and stuck up in the wrong direction for days and days afterwards.

The cat did some research by stepping on the remote until the magic box showed him what he needed to know. This took longer than expected. The magic box seemed much more interested in people than fish. Well, that left more fish for everyone else.

However, his patience finally paid off, and the cat managed to learn a number of different interesting things about the ocean. Using this information, he began to develop some plans. Each, of course, had their pros and cons.

His first idea was to find a submarine. Inside a submarine, he wouldn’t have to get wet, even at the bottom of the ocean. After some thought, he realized that there would be no way to actually touch the fish from inside a submarine.

Another possibility was becoming a mercat. This seemed to be a great way to effortlessly enter the water and approach fish. Unfortunately, then he’d always be wet all the time. Even worse, he’d be half-dinner. That sounded dangerous. He really loved to eat fish.

His final idea was to convince the fish to walk up on land and into his mouth. On second thought, he wanted them to walk into his supper dish. Then he could eat around the bones. It was much easier that way, and he really was a very lazy cat. He wouldn’t have to move, and he wouldn’t have to get wet. This idea didn’t seem to have any downsides.

First, the cat needed to learn hypnosis. He experimented with convincing his humans to feed him more often. Unfortunately, the magic box made it all look easier than it really was. He soon realized that he needed more information than the box could provide.

And so, the cat ran away to join a university. After a year of attending lectures of various levels of boredom, the cat had learned enough information to hypnotize passing students into sharing their lunches.

He was ready develop a plan. That may seem quick, but he was a smart cat. It takes a lot of brains to develop the ultimate lazy scheme.

With some effort he left plans in the homework folders of various engineering students, tricking them into building and fine-tuning a solar-powered megaphone. He used the skills gained from a year’s worth of graduate-level theater classes to record an appropriately hypnotic and enticing suggestion. It was easy to convince the computer science students to program the recording into the megaphone as an extra, ungraded assignment.

The cat tested his new fish-attracting device. It sounded like masses of fat, juicy worms and buzzing flies. Research on the magic box told him that fish liked worms and insects, but the reason why remained completely mysterious. How often did worms and bugs go swimming? Why would fish go seek them out?

With his new device in hand, the cat ran away to the beach. With a little searching, he found an abandoned home in an out-of-the-way place near a small stream. If the people who left it returned at some point, he was fairly sure he could charm them into letting him stay.

He set up his fish-attracting device facing the ocean, turned it on, and waited. It didn’t take long for the fish to come. It worked so well, that he turned it off after a few seconds. He didn’t want to empty the ocean, after all.

Now that he had water, and fresh fish, and shelter, the cat was perfectly happy. He had everything he’d ever dreamed of. He hardly had to move at all. He lived to a fat, happy, old age. He was a profoundly lazy cat. Probably the laziest cat of all.

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