Tag: turtles

Little Magic

Maggie had been studying magic for two years, and had only learned three spells. All the other witches laughed at her when they remembered her at all. As most of them had already graduated and moved on to more specific studies, they didn’t remember her very often.

A new class of witches would start lessons in a few weeks, and the teachers had hinted, and then finally bluntly told her, adding diagrams and illustrations that floated in the air, that she would need to move out to make room for the new students. Maggie offered to commute or sleep on the floor and to stand at the back of every class so she didn’t take an extra chair. The teachers said that would just make everyone uncomfortable.

Maggie packed her suitcase and went home. Her broom still didn’t fly, so she strapped it onto her suitcase and started walking. It wasn’t long before a friendly-looking ladybug landed on her sleeve. Luckily, one of her three spells was a translation spell.

The teacher said that it shouldn’t work with animals, only human languages. They said that animal brains and animal languages are too different from human brains and languages. That didn’t make sense to Maggie. Language is an attempt to communicate, so it should be translatable.

Maybe it was her firm belief that it would work that made it possible. Or perhaps Maggie’s magic was just weird, just like all the other students said. In any case, she cast the spell, and could understand the ladybug.

“I’m thirsty and tired,” the ladybug said.

Maggie stopped and took out her map. She traced the road and calculated the distance. “At the rate I’m walking, I’ll reach the river in about an hour. If you’d like to come along, you’re welcome to stay right there.”

“That sounds nice.” The ladybug stretched its wings. “I’ll just take a little nap.”

Maggie kept walking. Somehow the sun seemed a little brighter and the breeze a little cooler. It was a beautiful day.

And then there was a crash of thunder, and dark clouds rolled in out of nowhere. Maggie whispered her second spell, and she was surrounded by an invisible bubble that kept out the rain. The spell wasn’t meant to be an umbrella, but it worked that way all the same. It was just in time, as the rain began to hammer at the outside of her bubble, making the sound of a hundred woodpeckers knocking on the roof at once.

The ladybug squealed in terror. “When I said I wanted water, I didn’t mean this much.”

“Of course not,” Maggie said. “According to my calculations, just two of these raindrops would be more than adequate.”

The ladybug crawled to her wrist. “Leave me here, on one of the trees. I can drink from one of the leaves. I think I like the look of this part of the forest.”

She chose a tree, and Maggie left her there. The ladybug told her a traditional ladybug luck charm. Maggie wasn’t sure that ladybug spells would work for her if witch spells didn’t, but she repeated the spell as she continued walking.

Moments later, she tripped over a turtle and ended up covered in mud. Sighing, Maggie cast a translation spell, and then used her third spell and cleaned off the mud. The turtle gasped.

He looked from side to side. “I can see! Whatever was covering my eyes is gone. Where am I?”

Maggie crouched down and looked at the turtle. “Are you lost? Where do you need to be?”

The turtle looked up. “I was at the river. And then everything was dark.”

Maggie smiled. “I’m going that way. I could take you there.”

“Thank you. The rain is missing you somehow, and I’d like to avoid it, and the mud too.”

Maggie picked up the turtle and kept walking. The turtle hummed a turtle walking song that didn’t have very many notes, but had lots and lots of rests. The rain cleared up just as they reached the river.

Maggie set the turtle on the bank by a big rock that he said looked familiar. She leaned against the big rock and ate lunch as the turtle taught her a little magic tune that would help her be calm even when things were difficult. Then she did some calculations using the position of the sun, the river, and the rock to help the turtle find his home.

She said goodbye, and whispered the ladybug’s luck charm as she left, hoping for good luck for both of them. She looked up, and saw a rainbow in the distance. She imagined it was right over her house. The rain eased up, and stopped by the time she crossed the bridge.

A wolf was waiting on the other side. She cast her translation spell and listened to his demands. Even though she knew humans didn’t believe he owned the woods, she negotiated a price to cross through them. The wolves believed they owned the woods, and Maggie didn’t see any evidence they were wrong.

In they end, they agreed she would give up seventy percent of her dinner, and spell the entire pack clean of mud and rainwater. Maggie’s teachers said the spell wasn’t meant to be used to dry things off, but if it cleaned off the water, then wasn’t that the same thing?

The wolves appeared out of the shadows and surrounded Maggie. She hummed the turtle song of calmness and stood tall and confident. When no more wolves appeared, she cast the spell and set most of her dinner on a fallen log.

The wolves parted to let her pass to get to the log. They watched her continue down the trail through the woods and didn’t follow her. The trail was muddy, and Maggie had to spell her boots clean often to get them unstuck when the mud was especially deep.

The wolf met her again at the end of the trail. Maggie whispered the ladybug charm and hummed the turtle song and kept walking. Just as she passed the wolf, he spoke.

“Why are you not riding your broom?”

“I can’t. I can’t make it fly.” Maggie frowned. “The spell just doesn’t work for me.”

The wolf looked at the broom. “It looks dead. Maybe your spells only work on living things. Cast the spell on yourself.”

Maggie cast the spell on herself, and she floated off the ground. “I’m flying!”

“Good.” The wolf nodded. “For my good advice, I’d like the remaining thirty percent of your food.”

Maggie gladly paid the fee and flew home. The rainbow led the way, disappearing just as her house was in view. Her mother was waiting in the doorway.

“Home already?” she asked.

“I learned that witches’ spells aren’t for me. I think I need to learn magic from the animals, instead.”

Decades later, Maggie’s magic school was attended by both animals and unusual humans. She was considered one of the most gifted witches in her generation. No one would have guessed that she discovered the secret to her success on the same day as her biggest failure. Maggie thought it might have all been due to ladybug luck. The turtle song and wolf advice might have helped, too.

Isaac’s Adventures Underwater: Chapter Fifteen

Isaac led the octopus down to the beach. “Thank you for your assistance,” the octopus said. “Now let’s swim around to the other side of the island. It will be easier for you to get to the next island on your map from there.”

“I don’t swim very well in the ocean,” Isaac admitted. “The waves get me all mixed up. I’m not really a strong swimmer to begin with. That’s why I need help getting to the next island.”

The octopus tapped his glass helmet. “I understand. I have a hard time getting around on land.” He looked out at the waves. “As exciting as discovery is, I suppose it’s best to be practical when we have a task to complete.”

Isaac looked out at the ocean, and then back at the octopus. “What do you mean?”

The octopus looked back at Isaac. “Isn’t it obvious? I’ll take the sea route and you take the land route. I have no doubt that I’ll reach the other side of the island before you. But have no fear, that will only give me time to arrange a solution to your difficulty.”

That made sense. “Thank you. I’ll see you there.”

The octopus scurried into the waves and disappeared. Isaac turned around. Which way to go? Right or left? It didn’t really matter. Both ways would take him there eventually.

But which was the easier path? He’d like to get there quickly. The path to the right was rocky and steep, but it was also shady at this time of day, which would be nice.

Isaac looked to the left. The path was shallow and flat and very sunny. It would be a much easier path to follow. Did that mean it would take longer to get there? He didn’t really want to spend any longer in the sun than he had to.

Easy and sunny or difficult and shady? Which one was longer? On the map, they looked the same. Isaac looked right, and then he looked left. And then he chose the right. It looked more difficult and less traveled-by, but the shade made all the difference. Too much sun gave him a headache.

Isaac picked his way carefully through the rocks, humming a tune to himself. The shady path grew darker as he walked around the side of the hill that led up to the sisters’ house. Sunlight filtered through the bushes high overhead and left dappled patterns at the edge of the path.

The wind blew and the bushes made a whispering sound. The patches of sunlight on his right danced. “Twinkle, twinkle, little sunbeams. How I wish I had some ice cream,” he sang to himself. He almost expected someone to join in, but the path was quiet except for the whisper of the wind.

Soon enough, Isaac was rounding the far end of the path and stepping back into the sunlight. The octopus was waiting on the beach. “You are fortunate,” he said.

“Good! Why?”

The octopus waved an arm towards the water. It looked like there was a trail of things floating out there. “I was able to communicate with both my fellow octopodes and a traveling bale of turtles. We’ve built you a bridge.”

Isaac looked back at the water. He couldn’t see a bridge. “Is it invisible?”

“Of course not. Maybe you don’t see well at a distance. My research on human sight is rather limited. Try walking a little closer.” He made shooing motions with his noodley arms.

Isaac walked closer to the water. Up close, he could see that the floating things were bits of driftwood and turtles, all lined up, making a sort of path out to sea. “That’s the bridge?” Isaac was pretty sure he was too heavy to walk on a turtle bridge.

“Oh good, you can see it now. Well, hop on!” The octopus waded into the waves.

Isaac followed him into the water and looked back. High above, he could see a wall of rosebushes. He turned back and swam towards the first bit of driftwood. Two octopuses were holding it in place, one on each end.

Isaac’s friend, still wearing his glass helmet, helped him climb up. Cautiously, Isaac stepped onto a large log. The octopuses behind him swam away with the driftwood. So far so good.

The turtle treading water ahead of him was waiting patiently. It was a big turtle, but it didn’t really look large enough to carry his weight. “Are you okay?” it asked.

“Just a little nervous,” Isaac said.

“No worries, then. Just a quick step and you’ll be onto the next. If you go quickly, you won’t even notice you’re not on land.”

“But won’t that make me more likely to fall?”

The turtle laughed. “I guess it depends on how good your balance is.”

“Just hurry up and go,” the octopus on Isaac’s right said. “We can’t hold you in place much longer like this.”

“Take it at a run,” the octopus on the left said. “On your mark, get set, go!”

Isaac started running.