The Reluctant Hero

The young man cautiously opened the door.  He groaned when he saw the angelic looking girl and tried to close the door again.  She pointed her wand and the door froze.  “Not so fast,” she said.

“I’m not going on a quest,” the young man said.  “I just got into the university of my choice.  I told you that two weeks ago.”

The little girl tossed her golden curls and laughed a bubbly little laugh.  The young man scowled.  The girl grinned and folded her arms.  “You just say that because we haven’t found the right quest for you yet.”

The young man snorted.  “I don’t have time for all the things I’m supposed to be doing now.”

The girl tapped her foot and narrowed her eyes.  “Benjamin McAllister, I promised your very lovely grandmother that I would get you out of the house and off on a quest as soon as you were old enough.  Now, are you going to invite me in?”

Benjamin sighed.  “Yes, Miss Hazel.  Please come in.  Can I get you something to drink?”

The little girl bounced in.  “That’s better young man.  I think I’d like a glass of juice.”  She waved her wand.  “Oh good, you have apple juice.  I’ll have that, please.  And tuck in your shirt.  It looks sloppy.”

She skipped over to the couch, rearranged the cushions and sat down, swinging her legs, with her eyebrows raised expectantly.  Benjamin frowned.  “It looks silly to tuck in a tee-shirt,” he said.  Then he marched to the kitchen and started pouring the juice.

“I see you have chocolate chip cookies.  I’ll have three of those and some milk instead.  You can drink the juice,” Hazel said.

Benjamin sighed again and did as he was told.  When they were both sitting in the living room, Hazel leaned forward.  “So, about this quest,” she began.

“Miss Hazel, I really don’t have time,” Benjamin said.

“Don’t interrupt, child; it’s bad manners.”  Hazel dunked her cookie in the milk and took a bite.  “Yum.  So, I was thinking of putting on a game show.  You could be the first contestant.  It would only take an afternoon, what do you think?”

“Just an afternoon?” Benjamin asked. Hazel nodded.  “Okay, I’ll do that.”

“Great, I brought the paperwork,” Hazel said.  “You just need to sign here, and here and here and here.”

Benjamin looked over it.  Everything seemed reasonable.  He started to sign the papers.

A week later, he was playing paper rock scissors with Hazel.  It was best three out of five.  He won two, lost one, and then won his third round.  “Excellent,” Hazel said.

“But you lost.  And this wouldn’t be a very good game show,” Benjamin said.  “It lasted less than five minutes.”

“Never mind that,” Hazel said.  “It’s time to pick your prize.  Choose a door.”

“What’s behind the doors?” Benjamin asked.

“The prizes, of course.  This is a game show.  Pick one,” Hazel said.

“Fine.  The middle one,” Benjamin said.

Hazel smiled widely.  “Great choice,” she said.  She waved her wand and the door whooshed open.  A scroll flew out and smacked into Benjamin’s hand.  “Read it.”

Benjamin broke the wax seal and unrolled the scroll.  “This says that I have to leave tomorrow to rescue an island kingdom from a sea monster.”  Benjamin scowled.  “I don’t have to claim this prize.  You can’t make me.”

“In choosing the door, you claimed the prize.  It’s in the contract.  I’ll let your university know you’ll be a little late. “

“You tricked me!” Benjamin said. He scowled.

“Of course I did, dear,” Hazel said.  “It’s part of my job.  Now stop making faces at me or your face will freeze that way.”

“That doesn’t really happen,” Benjamin said.

“It does if I make it happen,” she said.  Benjamin stopped scowling. Hazel smiled.   “That’s better.  Now, let’s go meet your fellow adventurers.”