Tag: lost

The Little Read Story

Once upon a time, there was a short story that bravely set out to change the world. It was certain that it had something important to say. The story knew there was a reader waiting for it, all it needed to do was find its way there.

Its lines were carefully packed with goodies sure to delight. There were silly puns and thoughtful metaphors and underneath it all there was an enduring message of hope. It was not too sweet and not too sour. It was just right.

Unfortunately, the story had to cross the dark forest of the editorial process in order to reach the reader. The author sent the story on its way with a word of caution. “Be careful who you listen to in the woods. Not everyone has your best interests at heart.”

“I’ll be fine,” the story said. “The woods don’t scare me.”

But the woods were scarier than the story thought. It was dark in the woods, and very confusing. Sometimes the story wasn’t sure which way to go. The story remembered hearing rumors that stories could be lost in the editorial process forever, never reaching any readers at all. Suddenly, the short story was terrified.

Just then, a friendly amateur editor greeted the story. “Little story, what are you doing in the woods?”

“I’ve come to deliver goodies to my reader. She’s waiting for me at the other end of the woods.”

The editor smiled a wide smile, “That’s wonderful. But did you know that you have a comma out of place right there? And are you sure that’s the right word choice? It implies entirely the wrong thing for the context. In fact, I think you are headed in entirely the wrong direction. Let me give you a few pointers, or you’ll never make it out of here.”

The little story took notes. Then, just as it looked down to check the comma, the amateur editor slipped away, and changed all the road signs as he went. The short story quickly lost its way.

It got stuck in unexpected swamps of indecision, and second guessed all its metaphors. Thorny bushes of self-criticism tore up the silly puns. The story clung desperately to its hope and trudged its way through the long paths of grammar and spelling checks.

It was not the same story once it emerged from the woods. And the little house on the other side of the woods was not the house that the short story expected to see. Had the reader moved?

The short story straightened its lines and knocked on the door. “Hello?” it called. “Were you expecting a story?”

“Come in,” called a strange voice.

The story hesitantly entered the not-quite-familiar house. “Where are you?” the story asked.

“Just in here, dear.”

The story followed the voice and found the reader tucked away in bed, already wearing her reading glasses. But she didn’t look quite right. In fact, everything about her seemed a little bit off.

“Reader, what big eyes you have,” the story said nervously.

“That’s just the glasses. They magnify things, you know.”

“Reader, did you always have pointy ears on top of your head?”

“Silly story, how could I keep my reading glasses on without ears?”

The story looked at the reader again. Something was really wrong here. “Reader, why are your teeth so sharp?”

“The better to criticize you unfairly,” the reader roared, and sprang out of the bed. But it wasn’t the reader at all. It was the friendly amateur editor. But the editor wasn’t looking so friendly any longer.

The story gasped. “What did you do to the reader?”

“What reader?” The amateur editor laughed. “I think you need to be set aside. You just don’t really have the potential you used to have. Maybe someday the writer can figure out what went wrong. For now, there aren’t any readers waiting for you at all. You are just a terrible story.”

With a cry of dismay, the short story prepared itself to be shut away in a drawer, little read and little remembered. And that’s just what happened. Fortunately, the story still had its message of hope to keep it company in the dark drawer.

A long time later, the writer came across the story again. “Oh, dear. This little story certainly met an unfriendly editor. Look at all the changes. It’s hardly the same story at all. And it had so much potential. Its heart is still good. I think I can revive it.”

The little read story was rescued from the dark drawer and set on its feet. Its goodies were restored, better than before. The next time through the woods, it stayed focused and didn’t get distracted or lost. The short story found its reader and delivered its metaphors and puns and message of hope. It was no longer little read or little remembered. It was loved. The story and the reader lived happily ever after, and the world was just a little bit better.

Charlie’s Room: Wrong Turn

It was twilight, and Isaac was sitting on the front steps listening to Miss Marta’s rosebushes sing lullabies. The stars were just starting to shine, but it wasn’t dark or cold enough to go inside yet. A light breeze blew past and Isaac shivered a little.

Marianne and Charlie were at the choir open house at Charlie’s school. The flier he’d brought home said that seating was limited, so Marianne and Isaac had played rock, paper, scissors to see who went with Charlie. Isaac lost. They promised to give him a full report when they returned home.

He looked down the street, hoping to see a glimpse of headlights. The street was empty. Maybe he should go in and make some hot cocoa. If he started it now, it should be ready about when they returned.

Isaac stood up and looked down the street one more time. This time, he saw something. It was a single, blinking light. Definitely not Marianne and Charlie. Perhaps it was a cyclist? But the light turned and veered across the lawn of the neighbor several houses down. It looked like it was heading straight towards him.

He waited, worried that it was someone with an emergency. Whatever it was, they were still able to ride their bike, he told himself. So, it couldn’t be too terrible. Probably.

The light came closer and closer, but he still didn’t see the cyclist. Was it really that dark already? The streetlights came on further down the street, and then next to Miss Marta’s. He couldn’t see the blinking light anymore. Perhaps they’d just cut across the lawns on their way home and were now inside.

He reached for the doorknob. “Excuse me,” a robotic voice said.

Isaac turned around. A silver cylinder, the size of a soda can, was hovering in the air in front if him. A light on the bottom of the cylinder was blinking brightly. Facing him, there was a round window. Through the window, he could see black eyes watching him from a tiny blue face. “Hello,” Isaac said politely.

“Greetings,” said the voice from the floating soda can.

“Can I help you?” Isaac asked politely.

“Yes. We are hungry and lost. Do you have any food or star charts?”

“I’ll see what I can find. Would you like to come inside?” Isaac opened the door, and the soda can followed him in.

There were a few pieces of bread in the bag on the counter. Isaac pulled them out of the bag and held them up. “Can you eat bread?” he asked.

There was a burst of light, as though someone had taken a picture with the flash on. “Yes. Thank you.” the voice said. The bread disappeared.

“Do you need fruits and vegetables too? I hear it’s important to prevent scurvy on long trips.” The voice didn’t reply. Isaac rummaged through the fridge and held up a few different things. The light flashed and the carrots and oranges and zucchini disappeared. Isaac wasn’t sure how they were storing so much food in such a little space. “Do you need any more food? Do you need water?”

“No, we have enough now. Thank you. Do you have star charts?”

Isaac led the little flying can to his desk and opened up his laptop. He scrolled through a number of charts. It took a while for the aliens to figure out where they were in the galaxy, and where the galaxy was in relation to the rest of the universe.

“I understand now,” the robotic voice said at last. “We took a wrong turn at Alpha Centauri. Thank you for your assistance.”

“You’re welcome,” Isaac said. “Have a safe trip home.”

The little soda can disappeared. Isaac closed and put away his laptop. There was still some time to make cocoa before Marianne and Charlie came home.

He was just giving the mugs one last stir when he heard Marianne and Charlie close the front door. “Dad?” Charlie called.

“In the kitchen. I made cocoa,” Isaac called back.

Marianne and Charlie hurried in and picked up their mugs. “You missed out,” Marianne said. “It was great. They had the older children come and sing, and it was amazing.”

“They had cookies. I saved you one,” Charlie said. He pulled some linty cookie pieces out of his pocket. “Oh. It broke. It will still taste good, though.” He handed Isaac the pieces.

“Thank you,” Isaac said. “It was nice of you to remember me. What did the children sing? What else happened?”

Isaac sat back and smiled as Marianne and Charlie took turns telling him about the open house. It would have been nice to go too, but it turned out that he was needed here at home. Hopefully the little soda can ship full of tiny aliens would arrive home soon with stories of their own to tell. And maybe they would have their own loved ones waiting for them and happy to have them home, somewhere far, far away.

Isaac’s Adventures Underwater: Chapter Fourteen

Anna and Hannah each sat on a little footstool, with a footstool between them like a table. The bowl of cheese curds was resting in the exact center of this footstool. The sisters faced each other, forks in hand.

“Isaac, watch and tell me if she eats more than I do,” Anna said.

“If she eats more, let me know,” Hannah said.

They glared at each other. The lilies behind Isaac made a crackling sound, and then trumpets blared again, and the girls started eating. More accurately, they shoveled the curds into their mouths until their cheeks bulged.

“Time out,” Isaac said. “You need to chew and swallow your food or you’ll choke.”

Watching each other warily, the girls put down their forks. They chewed and glared. Suddenly, Anna snatched up her fork. Her hand darted out and she took one of the cheese curds from the bowl and popped it into her still full mouth.

Hannah jumped up and grabbed a handful of cheese curds, completely ignoring her fork. Anna grabbed the bowl and twisted away from Hannah, keeping the rest of the cheese curds out of her reach.

“This means war,” Hannah said, waving around her handful of cheese curds as she yelled. Read More

The Artist Who Lost Himself and Stole His Own Painting

“And what do you want to be when you grow up?” the teacher asked.

“I’m going to be an artist,” Oscar solemnly declared.

“And what else?”

“Just an artist, nothing else.”

Oscar loved to paint since he was very small. He especially loved drawing on the walls, as high as he could reach. When he drew on the wall, his artwork was still there the next day, making the world beautiful.

Of course, his parents tried to hide the pens and pencils and crayons and markers. Oscar always found something to paint with. If he couldn’t find paints, he’d draw with make up. When that was hidden, he painted with ketchup or soap or shampoo or deodorant or toothpaste.

His parents gave up. “When we move out someday, you are going to help us paint the walls.”

Oscar grinned. “That sounds wonderful. I’d love to!”

“We’re going to be painting them white.”

“Just white?”

“Just white. Nothing else.”

Oscar was horrified. “Who would want plain white walls? I’d be happy to paint something much, much better.”

When he finally finished art school, Oscar went door to door selling portraits. Despite his talent, it took a long time to be successful. He persisted. Eventually, he saved up enough money to have a studio to paint in.

He didn’t have to go door to door to sell his paintings any more. People came to him asking to buy them. He finally had all the time he wanted to paint. And so he painted a lot.

He painted beautiful, realistic still lifes. He painted apples and partridges, pears and playing cards, water glasses and plums. He painted lovely, inviting landscapes. He painted deserts and mountains and oceans and forests. He added cows and geese and camels and elephants. He painted on canvases and walls of all sizes and shapes.

“Maybe you were right about this art thing,” his dad said one day on a visit to his studio. “Some of these are really good. Do you ever paint anything for advertisements?”

His mom looked at the walls, all covered in paint and shook her head. “You never did grow out of that, did you?”

“Out of painting?” Oscar asked.

“Out of painting on the walls.”

Oscar sighed. “They’re murals, Mom. People pay me to do them, so I have to practice somewhere.”

And then one day, Oscar wanted to move on and paint something grander. Something that was better than anything he had ever painted before. He wanted to paint his magnum opus.

Right away, he was faced with a difficult decision. Would he paint a still life or a landscape? After some thought, he made a decision. Why not both?

He painted a room with large windows. The windows looked out on a lovely forested hill on the edge of a charming village. Friendly animals peered through the branches of the trees. The room was filled with all the things he liked best. Art supplies and canvases, photo albums and his favorite paintings. Food and flowers.

It all looked lovely, beautiful, realistic, and inviting. Just like Pygmalion, Oscar fell in love with his art. He spent hours staring at the perfect room with the perfect view and sighing.

He couldn’t paint anything else. It was a crisis. His parents and friends and customers and teachers all visited, but Oscar refused to look at anything but the painting.

And one day, when he reached out to touch a perfect pear, his hand met empty air. The canvas was a door instead of a window. Oscar stepped inside and made himself at home.

“Oh look, Oscar painted himself inside his last painting,” his mom said. “I wonder where he went.”

“We’ll leave him a note,” his Dad said. “I think he should paint some pictures to advertise that new toothpaste. Mint fields in the sun or something. I’ll include it in the note.”

But Oscar stayed in the painting. He was declared missing, and eventually, his parents came and collected his things. They sold his painting to a museum. Oscar was not pleased.

The moment the painting left his studio, Oscar hid out of sight when people were around. He didn’t think he could sit still long enough to fool people into thinking his painting was normal. If they knew they could come inside, everyone would want to come of course. It was his magnum opus. But, he really didn’t want any company.

In the museum, people were around all day. They were noisy and pointed and took pictures. Even worse, some people scoffed and said that his painting was boring. Oscar sat out of sight and fumed. The museum didn’t deserve his painting.

One night, he slipped out of the painting, plucked it off the wall, and left. He took it back to his parents’ house and hung it in his old bedroom. They returned it when they finally noticed, but he just stole it again. And again. And no one seemed to notice it happening.

They finally gave up. Left in peace, Oscar could finally start painting again. He left his new paintings in his old bedroom. The museum was thrilled to buy paintings that didn’t steal themselves. Everyone lived happily ever after.

Empty Your Pockets

“Mom,” Gracie said. “Mom? Mom. MOM.”

“I’m in the kitchen,” Mom said.

“Mooooooooom,” Gracie said as she hurried down the hall.

“Gracie, what’s wrong?” Mom asked. She turned off the faucet and dried her hands.

“My super amazing beautiful glittery rainbow rock is missing!” Gracie said. “It’s gone!” Read More

Sir Taffy Is Never Lost

After wandering the Peppermint Forest for five days, Sir Taffy still wouldn’t admit they were lost. His squire, young Bubblegum, sighed as he set up camp. They passed Mr. Mint at least twice today, but Sir Taffy hadn’t stopped for directions. Bubblegum was certain they were going in circles.

The next morning, Bubblegum gathered his courage and approached the knight. “Sir Taffy,” he said. “I notice that this trip has been longer than usual, and I thought that maybe…”

Sir Taffy loudly interrupted his squire. “Are you offering to carry my umbrella too? Very kind. It doesn’t fit quite right in my pack.” He tossed the umbrella at young Bubblegum and spurred his horse forward.

Bubblegum picked up the umbrella and brushed off the dried mint leaves.   “We’ll never get out of this forest,” he said.

Three days later, Bubblegum stopped and asked directions. Mr. Mint was happy to point them to the correct path.   They were out of Peppermint Forest that afternoon. Sir Taffy sulked.

“You didn’t have to ask directions,” he said. “I knew exactly where we were. I have a map of the entire kingdom in my head. We weren’t lost.”

“Of course not,” Bubblegum said. “So where are we headed next?”

“Through Gumdrop Pass,” Sir Taffy said. “You haven’t heard of it of course, because it’s secret. It will get us through the Gumdrop Mountains in record time.”

“That would be nice,” Bubblegum said.

Unfortunately, Sir Taffy couldn’t remember exactly where the pass was.   So, they spent two weeks climbing around the mountains. Fortunately, a giant, jolly pink bug found them and led them out.

Sir Taffy was under the impression that they were escorting the bug home.   This was probably because that’s what Bubblegum begged the bug to tell him. Bubblegum was grateful the bug took pity on him.

The path crossed Lord Licorice’s lands next. Lord Licorice was Sir Taffy’s sworn enemy. “I must go and tell him what I think of him while we’re here,” Sir Taffy insisted.

“I think his castle has dungeons. I don’t want to find out,” Bubblegum said. “Let’s just leave him alone.”

Sir Taffy pulled back on his reins and stopped his shortbread pony. “Have you no courage, squire?”

“Nope, none at all. Let’s keep going,” Bubblegum said.

“Methinks I need to find a new squire,” Sir Taffy said. He frowned.

“Methinks we both signed a contract and are stuck,” Bubblegum said.   “Besides, I think it’s bad manners to go visit someone just to insult them.”

“What do you know about manners?” Sir Taffy said. They didn’t talk to each other for the next three days.   Luckily the road through Lord Licorice’s lands was as straight as a licorice whip and they didn’t get lost once.

A rainbow greeted them on the other side. “It’s the fabled Rainbow Trail,” Sir Taffy said, forgetting that he was ignoring his squire. “Hurry across, I’ve heard that it is the shortest path to our destination.” Sir Taffy spurred his pony forward and Bubblegum ran to catch up.

Halfway across the rainbow, Bubblegum knew something was wrong.   “Wait, Sir Taffy. Stop!”

Sir Taffy pulled on the reins. “Lost your courage again, squire?” he asked.

“Look, Sir Taffy, it’s the Gingerbread Plum Trees ahead. We’ve already been there. We’re going backwards,” Bubblegum said.

“Are you sure? We should go and check,” Sir Taffy said. “Maybe if we go forward a little further it will look different.”

“I don’t think so. I’m sure I recognize those trees. We spent an entire week there. I won’t go another step on the Rainbow Trail. In fact, I’m going back. I don’t want go back to the Peppermint Forest again. Or those awful Gumdrop Mountains,” Bubblegum said.

“You are supposed to listen to me,” Sir Taffy said. “This is insubordination. I should leave you behind to fend for yourself.”

Bubblegum pulled out his trump card. “But I still have your umbrella,” he said. He held it up and then turned around and started walking.

“This is outrageous,” Sir Taffy said. He rushed past Bubblegum so that he was leading the way back. “Just remember that I am in charge, because I have the map of the whole kingdom memorized.”

“Lead the way,” Bubblegum said. “Where are we going next?”

“Peanut Brittle House and the Lollipop Woods,” Sir Taffy said. “We’re nearly home to Candy Castle.”

“It will be nice to be home,” Bubblegum said. “I hope it doesn’t take too much longer.”

“Of course it won’t,” Sir Taffy said.