Tag: cocoa

Charlie’s Room: Space Cats

“Tell me a story,” Charlie said. He leaned on Isaac’s desk, and a pen rolled off onto his keyboard.

Isaac picked up the pen and set it in the jar of pencils. “I’m working right now. Maybe later?”

Charlie slumped further and some papers crumpled under his elbow. “But I want a story now. Please? I’m bored.”

Isaac turned to look at Charlie. He knew that Charlie had homework to do, and books to read, and a yard to play in. But, he also knew that since the quarantine started everything was different and strange, and Charlie wasn’t the only one feeling unsettled. “Okay. I’ll take a break and tell you a story. How about some cocoa, too?” He shut down his computer.

Charlie followed him into the kitchen and started handing him the ingredients he’d need. He leaned in and watched the small bubbles form on the surface as Isaac stirred. “Is it done yet?”

“Almost.” Soon enough, Isaac was pouring the cocoa into mugs. He left the pot in the sink to soak. Marianne was in the bedroom on a phone call, so Isaac set her mug aside for her. He and Charlie took their mugs to the living room, sat on the couch, and turned to face eachother.

“What do you want a story about?”

Charlie thought for a minute or two. “Space cats.”

That was different. Space cats? “Alright. Space cats. Are they cat astronauts from earth? Do they live on the space station?”

“No.” Charlie frowned. “They always lived in space. They’re space cats.”

“Okay.” Isaac sipped his cocoa while he thought for a moment. Still no ideas. He needed more information. “Do they look like regular cats? What do they eat?”

“They look like regular cats except they’re purple. And they eat shooting stars, if they catch them. They chase them really fast.” Charlie waved his hand back and forth. “Really fast, like that, see?” He waved his hand back and forth a few more times.

“Got it. I’ll see what I can do.” Isaac set his mug down.

“Once, there was a family of space cats. There was a mom space cat, and a dad space cat, and a brave and smart little boy space cat. They lived in space and took naps on asteroids, unless they were in a hurry. Then they napped on comets and got where they were going really quickly at the same time. They were very smart space cats. The mom space cat was the smartest one of all, of course, so it was probably her idea.”

“But what about the shooting stars?”

“I’m getting there.” Isaac took another sip of cocoa, very slowly.

“Daaaaaaad,” Charlie said. “Finish the story.”

“Oh, alright. Let’s see, the space cats liked to nap on asteroids best, because that’s what they ate, so it was nice to stay close to their food. The type of asteroids they liked best were the ones that were fiery hot. They tasted better that way. They heated up when they go too close to a planet and were pulled through the atmosphere really, really fast.”

“Shooting stars!”

“Yup. But they had to catch them before they burned up all the way, and they couldn’t fly as fast in atmospheres, because gravity made things difficult. The little boy space cat was the best at catching shooting stars because he was the fastest. And then, one day, he had a great idea. He thought that they needed to think of a way to heat up asteroids without going into the atmosphere. And then he looked at the bright, shiny, sun”

“The sun is too hot for space cats,” Charlie said. “They’d melt.”

“Yes, and it wasn’t the same thing at all. But it was on fire without any atmosphere at all. He told his parents that they needed to find a way to set asteroids on fire without chasing them into the atmosphere all the time. They needed to find a way to steal a piece of the sun and carry it around with them. The mom space cat had an idea. She said that she remembered seeing a crystal on the other side of the galaxy that was strong enough to hold a piece of the sun. They rode a comet over and found the crystal.”

Isaac took a long sip of cocoa.


“Sorry, sorry. Let’s see. They got they crystal. And then the dad cat thought that if they sent it through the atmosphere and it got hot like a shooting star, it would be like having a piece of sun to carry with them, but not too hot. But they would have to catch it at just the right time. And who was the best at catching shooting stars?”

“The little boy space cat?”

“That’s right. So they sent the crystal into the atmosphere, and he caught it at just the right time, when it was shining its brightest. Then they took it back to an asteroid and used the crystal to cook dinner. A long time later, when it stopped glowing as brightly, what do you think they did?”

Charlie bounced on the cushion in excitement. “They sent it into the atmosphere again and caught it when it was just right!”

“That’s right. And they lived happily ever after.”

Charlie grinned and drank the last of his cocoa in one big gulp. “That was a good story.”

“I think it turned out well. You had a great idea.”

“Like the little boy space cat!”

Isaac nodded. “Just like him. You should write down our story so you don’t forget it. We can make it into a book.”

Charlie jumped up. “I’ll draw pictures, too. It’ll be the best book! We can put it on the shelf with the dinosaur books, and you can read it to me at bedtime.”

Charlie raced away, and Isaac finished his cocoa. He stood to take his and Charlie’s mugs to the sink. Just then, Charlie peeked around the corner. “Dad?”


“Thank you for telling me a story.”

“Of course.”

And Charlie raced away again, apparently no longer feeling bored and unsettled. Isaac took the mugs to the sink, and smiled when he saw that Marianne’s mug was gone. He hoped her phone calls were going well. Then, feeling less unsettled himself, he went back to work.

Charlie’s Room: Voting

It was the middle of the night. A surprise rainstorm filled the room with the soothing sound of rain pitter-pattering on the window, like the sound of distant fairy drums. The light was dim, despite the streetlights.

Isaac snuggled back into the covers and closed his eyes. Unfortunately, somehow sleep seemed just out of reach. He couldn’t recapture the edges of his dreams. The more he tried, the less he could remember and the more awake he felt.

He sighed and slid his feet into his slippers. Maybe he could make himself a nice cup of cocoa and sit in the living room and watch the rain for a bit. He walked quietly down the hall, pausing at Charlie’s door to hear his even breathing.

At the kitchen doorway, he paused. Just above the quiet drumming of the rain, he could hear an odd murmuring. He peeked inside the kitchen, but couldn’t see anyone there. Maybe he was imagining the voices.

He stepped into the kitchen. The voices sounded louder. Another step, and he could understand some of the words. It was difficult, as the voices spoke at once, stacked on top of each other.

“I’m just saying that after the dish ran away with the spoon, they lived happily ever after. Who doesn’t want that?”

“Did you see the mug that lost his handle? It’s dangerous living here. Last week, a measuring spoon got caught in the garbage disposal for a second time. He’ll never be the same.”

“But it’s safer here. Dishes that wander around in the wild face dangers on every side. There’s no dishwasher in the deep woods, my friends.”

“Why can’t we get packed away like the good china? They spend their days chatting and meditating in their own top-of-the-shelf retreat. What makes them special? They should take their chances in the cupboards like the rest of us.”

“It’s fine for the silverware to go adventuring. They’re stainless steel – practically indestructible.”

And then there was a whistling sound that tore through the chatter. Was that the kettle? As the whistling died out, the kitchen was silent again, except for the sound of the rain hitting the kitchen window.

“I believe we should vote on it,” said a quiet voice that seemed to echo through the kitchen. “Do we stay here, where the challenges are known, and we are mostly treated with respect? Here we have places to live, friends nearby, and the joys of dish soap and running water.

However, if we leave, we are heading into the unknown. There is risk for uncertain rewards. Perhaps we’ll live happily ever after in some hidden hot spring dish-and-spoon utopia where no one is chipped or caught in the garbage disposal. Or we may be dashed to pieces as soon as we hit the sidewalk. There are no guarantees. Stay or go, we’ll decide together. Weigh the risks, and we’ll vote.”

There was silence for a time. Isaac was nervous. Would he have to buy all new dishes and silverware in the morning? How much would that cost? How would he explain it to Marianne and Charlie? Charlie hadn’t meant to drop the mug. How could it have led to this? Or would this have happened anyway? Were they doomed to a lifetime of paper plates and plastic forks after each new set of dishes left?

“It is time. Do we go? Ayes?”

A few voices called out “Aye!”.


Many voices yelled “Nay!” There was some grumbling, but the voices soon quieted.

“That is it then. We are decided, for now. We can revisit this in a year.”

The voices stopped. The rain sounded loud in the quiet kitchen. Isaac wasn’t sure whether it would be all right to go in. What if the dishes found out he’d listened in on their discussion? Would they be angry?

At last, he went in and carefully made himself a cup of cocoa, handling the dishes much more carefully than usual. He cleaned up after himself and went to the living room to watch the rain. Watching the rain and sipping cocoa was always soothing.

He looked at his mug as he set it on the side table. He was glad the dishes had decided to stay. From now on, he’d take better care of them. He wondered if the furniture ever voted on leaving. He looked around. It wasn’t good to take anything for granted.

Perhaps he should take better care of everything that was his. It seemed like a good plan. He’d tell Charlie and Marianne in the morning. For now, he’d watch the rain for just a little longer. He was already feeling sleepy again. It would be nice to get a little more sleep.

Charlie’s Room: Ice Cream

On Friday night, Marianne, Charlie, and Isaac drank cocoa and watched the snow drift slowly through the beam of the street lights. “It’s like living in a snow globe,” Marianne said.

“But who’s been shaking the world?” Charlie asked.

Isaac laughed. “I’ve been told that it’s always spinning in space. I guess that’s enough to shake things up.”

Charlie tipped up his mug and slurped the last of his cocoa. He set his mug on the table with a sigh. “Speaking of shaking things up, why do we always have cocoa in the winter? Why not ice cream?”

“It’s too cold for ice cream.” Marianne set her mug down and wrapped both hands around it with a smile. “A bowl of ice cream wouldn’t warm your hands like this.”

“But I like ice cream.” Charlie looked into his empty mug and sighed again. “Cocoa is always gone too fast.”

Isaac smiled. “I think we can try ice cream in winter and see what we think. I need to go to the grocery store tomorrow for more apples. I’ll go while you both go to the library.”

“That’s a great idea. There are a few other things we need, too. I’ll write a list.” Marianne finished her cocoa and picked up her mug and Charlie’s too, and took them to the sink and rinsed them.

The next morning, Charlie and Marianne left for the library as soon as it opened. Snow still fell gently, but the roads were salted and slushy. Isaac drove to the grocery store. Grimy slush filled the parking lot. Isaac was glad he wore his boots.

Most of the list was fairly easy to gather. However, the ice cream was a little more difficult. There were too many choices. Everything sounded nice. He decided to pick one of the mixed flavors, so that it was like buying more than one type. After eeny miney moe between Neapolitan and Rainbow Sherbet, he ended up with Neapolitan.

Back out in the parking lot, he set his groceries in the trunk and closed it with a thump. Right after, he heard a muffled thump and a yell. Isaac turned. An elderly woman was sprawled in the slush nearby, groceries spilling out of a shopping bag at her side.

Isaac hurried over to help her up. When she tried to stand, she yelped as she put weight on her right foot. Isaac caught her before she nearly fell again. “Lean on me,” he said. “I’ll walk you to that car, then come back for your groceries.” He balanced her weight and walked her to a nearby car. She leaned on it while he hurried back for her bag.

“What do I do? I can’t drive like this.” She tried to wipe the slush off her slacks.

Isaac held out his free arm, her grocery bag dangling from his other hand. “I can help you inside where it’s warm. There’s a bench inside the door. Do you have someone you can call?”

She frowned and patted her pockets. “I left my phone at home.”

“Let’s go inside, and you can use mine. My name is Isaac, by the way.”

“I’m Maude.”

Isaac waited with Maude until her daughter came. Then he helped her into her daughter’s car, and tucked the grocery bag at her feet. He waved them off, and drove home a little later than expected, through a world that still looked like the inside of a snow globe.

Marianne and Charlie were already there, reading their library books at the kitchen table. “I checked out a book for you.” Charlie held up a book. “It’s all about castles. I thought it looked interesting.”

“Thank you. That looks wonderful.” Isaac held up the grocery bag. “I got the ice cream. And the rest of the list, of course.”

“Let’s have some now!” Charlie bounced out of his seat and hurried to the cupboard for bowls and spoons.

Isaac set the bags on the counter and pulled out the ice cream container. It recently spent more than half an hour in the trunk of his car. However, when he opened the container, it was still perfectly frozen.

“I know a good reason to buy ice cream in the winter,” Isaac said happily as he scooped it into bowls.

“What’s that?” Marianne took the receipt from the bag and used it as a bookmark.

“It stays frozen, no matter how long it takes to get it home.” Isaac handed around the bowls and put the rest of the ice cream in the freezer.

For a moment, the kitchen was silent as they enjoyed the ice cream. Then, Marianne paused, spoon in the air. “I just thought of something,” she said. “Do you know what would make this the perfect winter treat? Hot fudge. I’m making some right now.”

“Finish your ice cream first,” Charlie said, pointing at her bowl with his spoon. “It’ll melt.”

“I thought winter kept it frozen.” Marianne smiled, and ate a big bite of ice cream.

Charlie rolled his eyes. “Not inside. It’s too warm inside.”

Isaac smiled. “I’m so glad it is. It’s nice to have a warm house to come home to when it’s cold outside.” Marianne and Charlie smiled. They ate their ice cream, and then Marianne made hot fudge. It became a new favorite winter treat.

Months later, Isaac and Maude saw each other again in a warm, non-slushy parking lot. They waved at each other like old friends. Maude had completely recovered from her fall and looked happy.

Isaac reflected for a moment on life and how a day could contain falls and slush and freezing weather, and also contain snow and library books and ice cream and hot fudge. The good and the bad combined together, bitter stirred into the sweet like flavors of ice cream all mixed together. Did that make hope, love and gratitude the hot fudge that made it all just right? Isaac had no idea. But he smiled as he put his groceries in the trunk of his car and drove home.