Author: Summer Bird

Charlie’s Room: Away and Back Again

It was winter, when the daylight was pinched at both ends. Isaac left home in the dark, feeling like he was going to work in the middle of the night. He arrived home just before dinner, and there wasn’t much daylight left afterwards for the long walks he enjoyed in the summer.

He started eating his lunch while wandering up and down the sidewalks, peering into the windows of the different businesses near his work just to get a little more time in the sunlight. One day, he was looking into the windows of the antique shop, and he saw a little cloth doll. It was either a floppy eared cat or a long-tailed bunny. It could have been a kangaroo without a pouch, but the shape was all wrong.

Curious, he wrapped up his sandwich, shoved it in his pocket and stepped inside the store. The man behind the counter looked up when he entered. “Can I help you find something?”

Isaac pointed back towards the shop window. “I’d like to see the cat bunny doll.”

The man looked confused, but stepped around the counter towards the window. “Cat bunny?”

“I don’t know what it is.” Isaac followed him to the window. “That’s why I’d like to look at it more closely.”

The man looked into the window. “Oh. That. Go ahead and look at it if you’d like. I’ll be back by the register if you need anything.” He left Isaac standing by the window.

Isaac reached in and picked up the cat bunny with both hands. Its eyes glowed blue, and the next thing he knew, he was hanging in the air upside down in the dark. Something nearby hissed, and then there was a rustling sound.

Trying to listen and remain still and calm, Isaac waited. After a moment, there was a spark of light, and then the glow of a candle. He could see two small figures crouched over it. Then they abandoned the candle to come closer.

He heard the hissing sound again, and realized they were whispering to each other. Up close, it was easy to see that they were children. He tried to understand what they were whispering, but it was in a language he’d never heard before.

Hanging upside down was beginning to get uncomfortable. “Could you let me down please?” he asked hopefully.

The children whispered a little louder to each other, and then suddenly he could understand the end of a phrase. “…translation spell.”

The children both looked at him and held up their hands. Isaac slid to the floor and sat up.

“Was that a spell? Isaac asked. “Was it a spell that brought me here?” He looked around for the cat bunny, and saw it lying on the floor close by him. He pointed at it. “Did you send that?”

One of the children picked it up. “It was supposed to bring us Caasi. But you’re not Caasi.”

The other child shrugged. “I told you it wouldn’t work. Mom said that spells can’t wake the dead.”

“But I asked for her to come back from another world. It should have worked.”

The child looked over at Isaac. “Are you from another world?”

“Maybe.” Isaac frowned. “I don’t think spells work in my world, but I could be wrong.”

“Is your name Caasi?”

Isaac thought for a moment. “How do you write that?”

The children scrawled alien characters that strongly resembled “C-A-A-S-I.”

“I’m Isaac. That’s caasi backwards.”

The other child nodded. “Maybe bringing you from another world put everything backwards. Maybe that’s why you were upside down.” The child hurried to a shelf, pulled down a book and started turning pages rapidly.

Isaac turned to the child who remained. “Who’s Caasi?”

“Our best friend. She’s so smart. She could purr and jump so high, and she always knew where we hid her treats.”

That didn’t sound much like a person. “Was Caasi a cat bunny?” Isaac asked.

The child frowned. “She’s a felare. I don’t know cat bunny.”

He pointed down at the doll again. “Like that?”

“Yes,” the child said. “But alive.”

Isaac nodded. “That’s important.”

“We miss her.” The child looked away.

The other child snapped the book closed. “It says the dead are in the underworld, and normal spells can’t reach there.”

“Oh.” Both children looked sad.

Isaac held out his hand for the doll. The child handed it to him and he looked down at it with a smile. “It sounds like Caasi was a good friend. It’s okay to feel sad when a friend dies. Is there something you can do to say goodbye?”

Both children turned to look at him. “Like what?” one said.

“You could draw a picture of her, or write down what you remember about her, or put flowers on her grave.”

“I guess so.” The child took the doll back.

“You should talk to your mom about it. She might have ideas,” Isaac said.

The children looked at each other and began talking rapidly. “Talking to mom is a good idea.” “We should send him home first.” “I’m not sure how.” “Look at the book again. It must say somewhere.”

They consulted the book, and after some arguments, managed to charge up the doll for a return trip. The doll’s eyes glowed blue when they handed it to him. Moments later, he was back in the antique shop. The doll was gone.

He looked around. What was he going to tell the shop owner? He decided that the truth was always best. He walked over nervously. “The doll took me to another world, but it disappeared when I came back.”

The store owner shrugged. “That happens sometimes. Don’t worry about it.”

“Really?” The man didn’t appear to be joking. Isaac nodded. “All right. Thank you. I’d better hurry back to work.”

He rushed back through the sunlit streets, eating big bites of his sandwich as he jogged. He arrived at his desk just in time. He glanced back out the window and wondered if it was time to get a pet for Charlie. Something he could keep in his room. Maybe a fish or two?

Holiday Planning

The holidays are nearly here. Are you ready?

Me either.

…But, don’t worry, I have a PLAN.

Who do I need to talk to to get a few extra days before Christmas?

My Guide to Last-Minute Holiday Planning: 🎄

Prioritize: Write down what you most want to do. Can you leave anything out? Write out the steps. Can you skip any? For example, presents under a poinsettia instead of a decorated tree or only sending a few Christmas cards. 🎁

Lists: Group tasks by location–phone, computer, outside errands, etc. Schedule them into your week. 📱

Ask for help: Invite friends and family to join you in you holiday activities. You’ll get more done and have more fun!

Never again: Resolve to plan ahead next year so that the holidays are less overwhelming. 🌞

Jack, After the Giant

Jack had gone from being the part-owner of one old cow to owning a magic harp, a magic chicken, and a big bag of gold. All it took was a few days and a few magic beans. His mother was happy, he was happy, and it looked like they would live happily ever after.

Of course the giant wasn’t happy, but that didn’t really matter to Jack. The giant had stolen the treasures anyway, so they didn’t belong to him in the first place. Besides, he’d threatened to eat Jack, so Jack didn’t really feel all that sympathetic.

He went to bed feeling like he was on top of the world. He left the bag of gold on the table by his bed, so that it would be the first thing he saw when he woke up. It was a nice idea, but it didn’t work.

The first thing Jack saw when he woke up was a tiny person waving a tiny sword an inch from his eye. Without even thinking about it, Jack tried to swat the tiny person with his hand. He hit the tiny sword instead. Or maybe it hit him. Either way, the tiny sword was as sharp as a needle.

Jack screeched in pain and sat up. The little man tumbled off Jack’s pillow. With a mocking laugh, he slid down the bedding and ran across the floor. Jack jumped up and chased him.

Just as the tiny man ran into a mouse hole in the wall, Jack realized that the little man had a gold coin strapped to his back. Jack peered into the mouse hole. He couldn’t see anything.

He raced back to the table by his bed. The bag of gold was suspiciously flat. Jack snatched it up and opened it. It was empty.

It took just a few minutes to discover that his magic chicken and magic harp were gone also. That terrible tiny man had stolen all his wealth, and he didn’t even have a cow left to trade for more magic beans. What would he do?

Trudging into the kitchen, he slumped into his chair at the table. “Mother, I have bad news.”

She looked up from the steaming pot she was stirring. “What happened? Is the terrible giant back?”

“Even worse,” Jack said. “A tiny man came and stole everything that I got from the giant.”

“A tiny man? Are you sure?”

“As sure as I am that I saw a giant.”

His mother sighed. “I knew it was too good to be true. Well, easy come, easy go.”

Jack frowned. “Mother, I assure you that it was not easy to take things from a giant.”

“It was probably as easy for you to steal from the giant as it was for the tiny man to steal from you.”

Jack wasn’t really sure how to respond to that. So he changed the subject. “But what will we do now? We don’t even have a cow to sell.”

“Luckily, you did get those magic beans.”

Jack sighed. “But they’re gone now. Besides, I took all of the giant’s treasure. They wouldn’t do me any good.”

“Who needs the giant’s treasure? We still have the beanstalk.” She pointed out the window dramatically.

Jack looked out the window at the remains of the beanstalk, now a tangled mess in the backyard. “What good is a beanstalk? It will dry out and be too brittle to build with. No one wants a beanstalk.”

“Foolish child, have you forgotten what grows on a beanstalk?”

“Beans?” Jack sat up in surprise. “Are they magic beans?”

“Not as far as I can tell. But they are giant beans.” She pointed to a neatly stacked pile next to the stove.

Jack had initially mistaken it for a pile of wood for the fire. But, they were too green to be logs. “They’re giant beans,” he yelled.

His mother sighed. “I just said that. We have enough to sell at all the major markets in the country and have some leftover to save for seeds.”

That sounded promising. “So we aren’t going to starve to death, even though a tiny person came and robbed me of everything I rightfully stole? We’re going to be fine?”

“That’s right. We’ll be better than fine. With a little effort, we’re going to be able to earn a respectable living for the rest of our lives.”

“Oh. Well, that’s okay then.” Jack thought for a moment. “Maybe I should send an apology letter to the giant. It wasn’t very nice of me to steal from him, was it? I didn’t like it when someone stole from me.”

“You do that,” his mother said. “We’ll give it to him next time we see him. I’ll call you in when breakfast is ready. I hope you like beans.”

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