It was the middle of the night. Isaac woke up and couldn’t get back to sleep. He’d tried thinking of nothing and counting sheep and telling himself a story. So, he decided to get up and get a drink of water. Sometimes that helped.
On his way down the hall, he checked on Charlie. The nightlight seemed extra bright to his eyes now used to moonlight and shadows. He blinked and listened for the quiet breathing coming from the bundle of blankets on Charlie’s bed. He heard it and smiled and moved on.
By the time he reached the kitchen, his eyes were used to the dark again, and he crossed the kitchen with sleepy confidence. A full moon shone bright through the windows. The backyard looked frosted white and blue.
Isaac reached out to open the cupboard and get a water glass. The cupboard inched open on its own. Isaac pulled his hand back and stepped backwards. He watched the cupboard door open just a little more, and then something slipped out and dropped onto the counter.
It was small, whatever it was, and huddled in a dark shadow without moving. Was it a mouse? A brownie? A giant bug? Isaac really, really hoped it wasn’t a giant bug. The middle of the night was not the best time to meet a giant bug.
He leaned forward a little. The small thing scooted back. That was a good sign. It wasn’t planning on attacking. He leaned back and smiled. “Hello,” he said softly. “Who are you?”
Maybe it was because it was the middle of the night with the full moon shining brightly outside the window, but Isaac wasn’t surprised when the small thing answered back. “You can talk?”
“I can,” Isaac asked. “Why are you in my kitchen?”
The small thing straightened up and walked out of the shadows. It looked like a tiny person, as big as one of Isaac’s fingers. He leaned forward once again, but this time the small person stayed still and looked back without flinching. “I’m on a quest,” the small person said.
“Is your name Tom?” Isaac asked. “Or Jack? I hope it’s not Jack. You didn’t have a beanstalk after all.”
“No, it’s not either of those.”
“Then what is your name?”
“What’s yours?” the small person asked.
Isaac considered holding out a finger for Jason to shake, but decided that might be taken the wrong way. So he nodded and smiled instead. “It’s nice to meet you. What kind of quest are you on?”
“I’m on my way to fight the monster at the top of the farthest mountain,” Jason said. “Our wizard conjured a door, and said it would lead me to the supplies I need for my quest.” Jason looked around. “I wasn’t expecting a giant in a kitchen.”
“To be fair, I wasn’t expecting you either.” Isaac clapped his hands together. Gathering tiny supplies for a quest sounded like so much fun! Where should he begin? “To the craft cupboard! Would you like to ride on my shoulder?”
He held out his arm and the little man walked up to his shoulder. Together they supplied the little man with a yarn needle sword and little scraps of cloth for bandages and blankets. Isaac took the cap off a milk jug in the recycling bin and made it into a lightweight shield. He cut slices of bread and cheese into little squares and put them into a sandwich bag with some ripped pieces of lettuce.
“You’ll need to carry water too,” Isaac said. “Do I have a small bottle anywhere?” He rummaged through the drawers, but didn’t see anything small enough. But, tucked in behind the birthday candles, he found a small balloon. “Perfect,” he said. He filled it with some water and gave Jason a piece of thread to tie it closed.
“I think I have enough to start my journey now.” Jason managed to swing his bag over his shoulders. It looked overfull. “I don’t think I could carry much more.”
“Good luck,” Isaac said. “I hope the monster doesn’t eat you. If you can, please come back later and tell me how it goes.”
Isaac held out his arm so that his hand was just inside the cupboard where Jason arrived. Jason walked across his arm like a bridge. “Thank you,” Jason said. “I’m not sure I can come back.”
“That’s all right,” Isaac said. “Do I shut the cupboard to send you back?”
“I guess so.” Jason shrugged. “I’ve never done this before.”
“Me either.” Isaac slowly closed the cupboard, then waited a few minutes. He opened it again. It was empty.
He put away the few things that were still out and looked at the time. All that had only taken an hour. He was starting to feel sleepy. He checked on Charlie again and went back to bed. He fell asleep right away.