Tag: jack

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.”

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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