The Shy Ones

Life in Rainbow Valley was good. How could it not be. They lived in a land where the sun always shined. Not a cloud to be seen in the azure blue sky.

The unicorns were content and carefree! One of their favorite things to do was to slide down the rainbow. There was no shortage of them in Rainbow Valley.

Today they were having rainbow races and all were happy. Well not quite all.

An emergency Unicorn council meeting was called.

Cherry looked around at the other council members, and then spoke. ” I brought you together today because we have invaders.”

The three members gasped in surprise! They had lived in Rainbow Valley for decades without a problem, why was there one now?

Tilly asked what they all wondered. “What intruders? Why are tbey here?”

“They are afraid. Afraid to show themselves to humans. You know how scary they can be.” The others nodded their heads in affirmation.

‘They would like to stay with us for awhile until they can build up some courage, what do you all think?”

“As long as they are friendly”, said Marchiatto.

They all agreed to give the newcomers a chance. Everyone deserved a chance.

The next day there was a wild hulabaloo No one knew what to think. There were hundreds of intruders!.Then Cherry called things ro order as she spoke to all the Unicorns..

“Attention my fabulous unicorns. Do not be afraid of the newcomers, they are our temporary guests. Please make them feel welcome. They are with us to help them find their courage.”

Unicorns are known for bringing happiness and cheer so they were quick to show their hospitality. Eager to help the newcomers.

Meanwhile all the park rangers at the MidWest parks were scratching their heads in confusion. Where had all.the armadillos gone? They were nowhere to be seen! Never had tbey known a day to not see armadillos but over this past week, none could be found. Where oh where had all the arnadillos gone?

To be continued

Selling Seashells!

Pitter-Patter, raindrops were falling on the leaves. Why was she out here walking in the rain? She could go home, but didn’t feel like it. The sound of the rain was relaxing to her.

The alarm went off on her watch. Time to get home, bake her potato and reheat her leftover chili.

Hmmm….maybe she should add some shredded cheese to her chili tonight.  Oh, she could barely contain herself, such an exciting life that she led. Friday was always  Chili nights.

Stepping out of her wet shoes she took off her jacket and went into the kitchen to make her supper.

Shelly didn’t know what came over her that evening. People in her apartment building had their opinions  which they feeely shared over the next week. But no one knew for sure.

They had heard the high pitch scream and ran out into the hallway. It waa quiet. Had they only imagined the scream?

Shelly’s apartment door flew open and  out she came. “I did it! I really did it! I am going to take a cruise to Fiji Islands.

She ran from one end of the hallway to the other end. Shelly was feeling giddy. She had taken the leap of faith nd hoped with  all her heart that she would fly and not fall.

Laughter bubbled  up inside of her. She started skipping and heard Mrs Pauline say in a loud whisper. “That girl is high!”

Shelly burst out laughing when she entered her apartment, Let Pauline think what she wanted. It would give her something to talk about. What would the lady do without having something to gossip about.

. The next few days passed in a blur of activity.  Predictable Shelly had decided to have an adventure! No longer was abe selling seashells by the seashore this summer!”

That job had been hers forever!  She needed a change, and change would soon be  exactly what she would get. No going back now, she thought, as the  plane roared to life.

“Seashells, who wants seashells? Seashells for sale!”

Shelly looked and saw a young man selling seashells. His eyes made contact with hers and … the best love story of all started to unfold.

“Hi! I am Shelly. I used to sell seashells hy the seashore.”

His smile was as bright as the summer sun! “I am Peter, do you want a oeck of pickled peppers? I mean seashells! I am not so good qt trying to change.”

Sometimes you know when its right and Shelly knew. A month later they were married and Shelly couldn’t be happier, selling seaahells on the seashore with her true love.

1Together they worked side by side and had a peck of children, who brought them immense delight. Smart children they all were because they all knew how much wood a woodchuck could chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood.

Asher’s Big Mistake

This is the conclusion to The Winner Is …

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Asher was sitting by the river. He had been in Bittersweet Creek for two months and was still getting used to it. Quite different from the North Pole. Much warmer, which he waa happy about. Though he wouldn’t complain if it cooled down a little bit.

He waa starting over and feeling good. Especially now that he had won first place in the baking contest. The townspeople of Bittersweet Creek were noticing him and his business was really picking up.

No more dealing with tricky leprechauns. He had learned his lesson. Santa and the elves made sure of that! He couldn’t get away from the North Pole fast enough.

His ears were still ringing from the wrath of his now ex-girlfriend, which made his ears bleed. He didn’t know she could get so high pitch! Or that she would be soo upset about stupid elves! How was he suoposed to know that she was a great grandchild of one of the elves!

All the elves had thrown cream pies at him as he tried to climb up on Dinosauris to take him away. He told Dinosauris to fly but he sat so still as Asher got pummeled. The Candy Cane girl sure did have a good arm on her. She threw so fast, as if she was used to throwing pies.

He had told Santa he would start over and he was. This town was full of quirky characters. He had found new people to swindle. He felt positive that he could pull the wool over their eyes. It was only a matter of time.

Getting up he started walking back to his bakery, whistling a happy tune. Thinking of the money be could make. Once all the townspeople were addicted to his sweets he would con them into investing in a new business idea of his. It would be purr….! OUCH! He hadn’t been watching where he was going and now was in quite a bit of pain.

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Tippner entered Mason’s diner right before closing time. Cara looked at the clock and made a face at him. “Don’t make a mess I washed all the tables.”

Tippner looked at his watch. “It is 6:58pm. You don’t close until 7.”

Mason ducked at Tippner’s words. “She may break another dish over your head if you aren’t careful.”

Tippner laughed, “All I want is one of your heavenly shoo-fly pies. You won’t deny me their fresh sweetness will you?”

Without a word she went to the back and came out a minite later with a piece of pie on a paper plate and a plastic fork.

“Paper! You have stooped to serving your favorite customer paper plates!”

“Nope! I served Amanda our new china plates earlier.”

Tippner harrumped, getting a smile out of Cara.

“Well, in spite of the poor service, I will try to enjoy my pie. But don’t expect a tip.”

“Fine, being that I accidentally dropped your pie on the floor.”

“Whha-t” his fork was almost in his mouth. “

“Just kidding!” Cara laughed.

Tippner took his first bite., sighing with sweet satisfaction.

Cara headed for the door. “Enjoy! That pie was made specifically for you. I used an extra special ingredient. Tippner puffed out his chest. “Why thank you!” And he took another bite.

“Real flies.”

Cara burst out laughing at the face he made, “Goodnight!” she called as she headed out the door. She heard Tippner sputtering to Mason about firing her. But she knew he didn’t mean it. He would be in his special booth at 7am sharp tomorrow.

Each move that Asher made got him more stuck and more pain. His clothes were jagged and ripped from the cactus. Oh could anything else go wrong for him. Had Santa somehow read his thoughts and thats why he was stuck on a cactus now?

Asher raised his head, he heard something coming. A cow! He had heard mention of some cow named Betsy and a magical cowbell before. He had rolled his eyes at how gullible people were. Magical cowbells! Yes, fooling them would be simple.

The cow was coming closer and it must be Betsy, for she had a cowbell around her neck.

“Hey dumb cow, move faster I think you can help me.” Betsy’s eyes grew dark as she walked closer to him and stopped right in front of Asher.

“Perfect! Lets see what this so called magical bell can do. Hopefully pull me out of here. He grabbed hold of it and pulled.

Everyone was curious. Where had Asher gone, he hadn’t been in his bakery all week.

“I really wanted his recipe for pumpkin empanadas.”

“I bet you could make them as good as his without a recipe!” Sarah and Amanda told her. After a few flops sbe did. Soon they were a hot selling item at Mason’s Diner.

As time went by the talk about Asher died down.

“He was rather strange you know. The guy thought he had been an elf before at Santa’s workshop!” Tippner laugbed.

“He told me the same story and added how be had been tricked by a little leprechaun named Lolly.” Mason said.

“Leprechauns and elves, Oh my! Who knows maybe he went back to the North Pole. ” They laughed, chalking it up to another crazy incident in the town of Bittersweet Creek. The town where things were rarely normal.

Asher was so frightened he couldn’t move. He was stuck in a miry swamp, and there was a mean bull eyeing him up. He closed his eyes fearing the worst.

The Winner Is …

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The weather was unusually hot for the annual Fall Festival, but that didn’t stop the people of Bittersweet Creek from being in a festive mood.

Amanda looked at Cara’s chocolate chip cookies feeling like she was putting on calories already. Her cookies were always delicious.

“Good luck in winning first place again. I think you should display your winning ribbon on the wall of the diner.”

“She hasn’t won yet.” Mason pointed out.

“What kind of bet?”

Cara rolled her eyes at Mason. “Wanna make a bet that I win first place?”

“That I get a day off work.”

Amanda spoke up, “Yes, me and you can go to the Spa!”

Mason agreed to it, after adding his two cents of course. “A day off for you means no broken dishes for me!”

“Funnny! It was only one dish and you just won’t forget.”

“One dish, two mugs and …”

Amanda pulled on his arm, “Don’t worry Cara, I will go get something to stuff his face so he can’t talk anymore.”

Cara chuckled as she watched Amanda drag him away. Ahh! The thought of a day at the spa was wonderful.

Tippner was holding the candy apple he had bought, looking for a place where he could sit down and enjoy it.

He passed by a little girl and she was crying. Being the tender heart guy that he was he stopped and asked the girl what was wrong. .

“I lost my money and wanted an apple!” She wiped her tears looking so pitiful, with sad, puppy dog eyes.

Tippner stared at his apple. Well he couldn’t enjoy it now. “Here, you can have mine.” He handed it out to her.

“Thanks Mister! Now I have two apples! She brought her hand out from behind her back. It was holding a shiny red candy apple. She ran away laughing.

“Weol that…! Hmphh!” Tippner reached in his pocket for more money and remembered he didn’t have anymore. He had spent it on a BBQ sandwich and cheese fries earlier.

“Come test your strength!” Grayson, Mason’s brother, was running a stand. You had to swing a hammer to ring the bell.

“Step right up Tippner, can you beat Mason? He rang the bell on the first try!”

“No problem!” Taking a deep breath he swung the hammer with all his might, but no ring! Mmm…! He swung it again. Still no ring. Then he spied the little girl who had tricked him out of his candy apple. She was standing a little ways from him grinnimg like a Cheshire cat! Frowning at her he swung again and this time when he swung he rang the bell!

“Third time is the charm.’ Though first time was the charm for me.” Mason patted Tippner on the back. “Good job!’

“Next year your luck may run out!” Tippner said. “You have to break your winning streak sometime.”

“I guess we will have to wait and see.” Mason wore a smug smile upon his face.

“Attention everyone, may I have your attention please. We, the judges, have made our decision about the winner of the best chocolate chip cookies. We are pleased to announce that the Best Baker award this year goes to Asher.”

Cara couldn’t believe her ears. She didn’t win this year. Last year her Shoo-fly pie had won and everyone loved her gooey,soft cookies. But what she was really curious about was , who was Ashet??

(To be continued)

The Cow Jumped Over the Wave

Image from Pinterest. This picture begged for a story! I couldn’t pass it by.

Hilda was looking at her watch and tapping it, wishing she could make time go faster that way.

“Violet, you are as slow as molasses. Are you coming?” She hollered up the steps to her sister.

“Who is coming? We are getting ready to leave, we can’t have company now.”

Hilda shook her head. Why did she waste her breath trying to yell. Her sister had enough trouble hearing when she was right next to her.

Five minutes later Violet finally came down the stairs.

“Who is coming? You never answered me.”

“Noone is coming sister, we have to go. Don’t want to miss our taxi. I told him to be here at 11am sharp. Though we could save money if you would let me drive.”

Violet gave her sister a hopeless look, but didn’t say a word. Hilda knew why she couldn’t drive, eversince she tried driving on the sidewalks. Not to mention stopping in the middle of an intersection for no reason! Violet thought she would have a heart attack if they didn’t get hit first!

Beep!! “The taxi is here, lets go!” They held onto each other as they walked out the door and down the steps. Keeping each other balanced and upright.

A half hour later they were sinking their feet into the sand at the beach. Felt so good. They had grown up near the ocean and it was in their souls.

Gone were their days of surfing. Hilda thought they should try it and be called the Surfing Grannies. Violet reminded her that they had enough trouble staying upright when they were walking! Hilda made a face and sighed.

They put up their umbrellas, and got out their books, ready to spend a day reading and letting the magic of the ocean soothe them. Washing away all their cares.

Hilda put down her book and stretched. She had been reading for two hours.

“Can’t think of a more joyful way to spend this sunny day than at the beach.”

“I agree sister! Would love to have a peach.”

Hilda laughed. “Sorry Violet, we are out of peaches.” Sometimes it was easier to not correct her and just go along with what she said.

“I could go for a soft pretzel. Would you like one?” Hilda asked.

“Yes, please.”

Violet watched a seagull flying in the air and watched the sandpipers scurry across the sand. They were so cute to watch.

Then she looked at the ocean and its rolling waves. Felt the breeze on her face and smiled. Where was Hilda? She was getting hungry.

Oh wow! There were dolphins jumping the waves! Never would she tire of how graceful they were to watch.

Oooh her vision must be getting worse! No, her vision was fine, She had been to the eye Dr last week.

Violet was stunned at the incredible sight! There were only a few people on the beach and none of them were looking at the water. Violet wanted to yell at them to LOOK! Magic was happening right before their eyes. How she wished that Hilda could see it.

“Sorry it took so long, They were short staffed.”

“Thanks!” Violet took the pretzel but wasn’t hungry now. All she could think about was the dolphin and the cow!! A cow looking as graceful as the dolphin. How could that be possible? She always thought they were big, clumsy animals.

“You will never guess what I saw, Sis! There was a cow jumping waves with a dolphin! They were side by side.

Hilda gave her sister a look that said it all.

“I am not crazy, it really was a cow! If a cow can jump over the moon, why not some waves?”

Hilda “smacked her head” and made a mental note to herself to call the Dr.about Violet.

“Look there it is again! The magical brown cow!” Violet yelled.

Hilda’s jaw dropped. Mental note to herself. Don’t breathe a word about the cow to anyone. What happens at the beach, stays at the beach!

New Beginnings

Painting by Berthold Woltze

The train ride had only begun and already the guy behind her was getting on ber last nerve!

If there would be more seats available she would move, though he probably would have followed her. She wasn’t fearful of him, simply put, he was only annoying. Kristy hadn’t said a word to him, thinking he would be bored and move on. Unfortunately he didn’t seem to care if anyone responded to him or not. He continued rambling away, as the train chugged down the tracks.

After what felt like an unending speech he finally came up for air and took a break. Maybe he had got the message that she wasn’t interested in conversation.

Kristy let out a deep breath. Peace at last. The question was how long would it last? She would have to try and not think about that, while savoring the moment.

Hadn’t he noticed that she was wearing all black. She was in mourning. Well, at least that is the impression her clothes were to give.

Didn’t do much good from keeping over talkative men away. Her sister had insisted that she wear all black to keep men away from her. Why did she listen to her sister? She felt like a fraud.

Nicole, her sister, meant well. She was looking out for her. Had always looked out for her little sis. Their mom had died when Kristy was only five years old. Nicole had to take over for it was only the two of them.

Their Dad had fallen into the depths of grief and while he worked to keep a roof over their heads, that is about all he did. He was distant as far as affection went. Sorrow had eaten him up. Five years later he had a heart attack. Died of a broken heart.

The train clickety clacked down the track and Kristy thought of where she was beaded. How she would miss Nicole, but it was time to strike out on her own.

Nicole was a newlywed, they didn’t need a houseguest. She had insisted that it was fine for Kristy to stay, but Kristy refused. She would be okay. Well, that is what she kept telling her knotted up stomach.

She had dozed for a little while and woke back up. Eating the sandwich and apple she bad packed, she began to feel slightly bored.

“Hi! So where are you headed? I thought you may be bored so here I am.” He grinned broadly.

“Thanks for your concerns, but I am fine.” The young man looked at her for a few moments, not saying a word.

Kristy felt like she could give him some information. He was sort of pleasant.

“I will be the new teacher for girls at the school in Charca County.”

A strange look passed over his face for an instant but then it was gone.

“So, you are a schoolteacher, eh?” Kristy nodded in reply.

“I knew that was always what I wanted to do ever since I can remember. Children captivate me and can sometimes teach us lessons that we need to learn.”

“Abslutely, they can and they do.”

“Do you have children Mr. Plett?”

“I do!’ He smiled, and for the first time Kristy noticed that he did have a handsome smile.”

“How wonderful, how many?”

“Well, that is a little complicated.”

Kristy’s heart sank, complicated? Did he not know how many he had? Did they not all have the same mom?

“Too many to count.”

Kristy’s mouth dropped open! She got her answer! He obviously ran around. She was disgusted!

“How awful! Please don’t talk to me anymore.” She glared at him and grabbed her book. Opening it up, she showed him the conversation was over. Though she could barely concentrate on the words in her book. “Too many children to count!” That blew her mind.

The first day of school had arrived. Kristy was nervous but excited too. She had pursued her dream and now it was time to act on it.

The girls red brick schoolhouse was waiting for her. She was there early, wanted to make sure all was ready. Everything was done, now all she had to do was patiently wait. Easier said than done.

The door to the schoolhouse opened and a young man walked inside. Kristy gasped and he looked amused at her shock.

“Good Morning Ma’am. I wish you a delightful first day. I remember my first day well of teaching the boys school, which is down the road. Three years ago I started. Many children have passed through my door since then. Too many to count, but all precious. He winked, giving her a big smile as he headed for the door.

The first day of school and Kristy had already learned a lesson! Don’t make assumptions for you could be so wrong. Her flushed cheeks knew that all too well.

Asher’s Tale

Painting by Daniel Gerhartz

Tears brimming, she read the note once more.

My dearest Tess,

Eight roses for you, to thank you for making these past eight weeks amazing! I can’t find the words to describe the feelings you have put into my heart.

I have to go away, but I will be back, I promise. Please wait for me.

Love, Asher

Her heart ached. As much as she was touched by his words, her mind buzzed with questions.

Where had he gone? Why hadn’t he given her a reason, and how long would he be gone? Was she supposed to wait indefinitely for him? Did he think that she had nothing better to do than to put her heart on a shelf and wait for him to come back from somewhere, sometime?

She sighed. Even though she was upset she couldn’t deny that the past eight weeks had been so full of bliss and happiness. Asher had been with her almost every waking moment and in her dreams through the night.

Please come back soon Asher, wherever you are, her soul breathed. Picking up a rose she breathed in the fragrance, closing her eyes and dreaming of him

What had he done? It appeared that he had fallen for a trap and he didn’t know how to get out of it.

Who would believe that leprechauns truly had magic powers. In fact he had never even believed that leprechauns were real! How wrong he was!

He sat fuming about what had happened. They had tricked him! Some leprechaun named Lolly was waiting on a dirt path for him. He had enticed Asher with the promise of gold! Lots of gold.

Asher thought of what all he and Tess could do with the gold. He would make all her dreams come true.

He had agreed to Lolly”s terms as long as he could say goodbye first to Tess. Unfortunately he hadn’t been able to find her and Lolly was impatient to leave.

All he could do was leave a note and hope the roses and his words softened her heart. He was sure she would be upset about him being gone, but he was doing it for them. They were going to have gold!

Now here he sat freezing in the North Pole trying to make sense of everything. He had been magically shrunk to look like an elf! He was supposed to make the elves sick, so that the leprechauns could take over. IF his plan worked, he would get his gold! He missed Tess, but the pull of having gold was too strong.

Santa gave him the name licorice, after his favorite candy and he then was declared to be one of Santa’s elves. He felt some guilt at his deceit but the thought of gold snuffed his guilt away.

Now he sat and bided time until he acted. Munching on some licorice he could only hope that Tess was waiting for him.

Memories in the Rain

He couldn’t believe it. There had been one gray cloud in the sky, only one! The one rain cloud had found him and was pouring out all of its rain upon him. He still had ten more minutes to go to reach Golden Oaks. He shouldn’t have stayed at the park so long. There was no doubt about it, he would be a drenched rat by the time he returned.

Arthur mumbled as he looked up at the sky. “I know you are laughing God, you special ordered that rain cloud for me.”  Who says that God doesn’t have a sense of humor, he thought to himself.

This was what he got for taking the golf cart again without permission. But it was so fun to give Caleb, the maintence guy and young whipper snapper a hard time. Arthur laughed, imagining Caleb’s face when he realized the cart was gone.

Yeah, it was worth the rain, though he wished there was a way to make the golf cart go faster right now. The raindrops were falling faster. All that time that he had wasted styling his hair. Oh, wait, he didn’t have any hair. Yes, there were advantages to being bald.

There was a time though when he was known for his shiny black, luxurious hair. Back when he was young.

When he looked at his cousin Mason, he saw a mirror of himself. The ladies had once swooned over him, like they do over Mason. A good thing that he has Amanda now. She can keep him in line. A tall order, but she seemed up to the challenge.

Five more minutes to go. At least it was a warm rain, he wasn’t shivering. But he was growing eager to change into dry clothes.

Rebecca Sue. Why did she pop into his mind right now? He hadn’t thought of her in thirty some years. They hadn’t dated long, but their most memorable date was when they danced in the rain.

The falling rain wasn’t bothering Arthur anymore as he drifted back into time, back to the time when he and Rebecca Sue didn’t mind the rain.

The bonfire was over and Rebecca Sue and him were soon the only ones left by the smoldering ashes of the bonfire.

They sat on the blanket in no hurry to leave. It was only them, alone in the darkness of the night. Then it started to rain.

At first Rebecca was upset at the rain but then Arthur took her hand and asked her to dance. She gave him a crazy look, but it wasn’t raining hard and soon she didn’t mind the rain at all.

It was a memorable night for sure. Arthur could still feel how nervous he was when Rebecca’s father was waiting for them on the front porch. Rebecca was more than  a hour past curfew and she was soaked.

Her clothes were sticking tightly to her. The rain may have started coming down harder and Arthur’s car had run out of gas. That was the last night that he went out with Rebecca Sue.

Arthur’s clothes were beginning to stick to him now as he kept driving the little golf cart. Ahh! Golden Oaks Retirement Home was down the road, he saw it. He was almost home.

He parked the golf cart where it had been and walked up to the front doors of Golden Oaks. There in the lobby was Caleb. It was like deja vue, for be was red faced like Rebecca Sue’s father had been. But Arthur wasn’t nervous thjs time. He clapped Caleb on the shoulder. “Hi young fella, beautiful day isn’t it!”

He quickly wished Caleb a good day and continued walking to his room. Ready to get some dry clothes on.

“Arthur! What happened to you?” Charlotte was walking towards him.

“Arthur! I need to speak to you.” Nurse Julie was coming from the other direction looking none to happy!

He walked towards Charlotte taking her arm. “Shall we go and practice for the dance Friday night?”

Charlotte squealed with delight!

“Let me change out of these wet clothes and I will be ready soon.”

“Arthur!” Nurse Julie was heading his way.

“Would love to chat, but I can’t keep Charlottr waiting. See you later.”

He hurried as fast as he could down the hall, leaving Julie shaking her head, feeling thankful that there was only one Arthur at Golden Oaks. She didn’t think she could handle two.

Turning around to head back to her office she saw Caleb heading her way. He still looked mad, she sighed, and wished she could pull off a fast escape like Arthur did. Caleb was already yelling and not even up to her yet. She prepared herself for his rant.

“You need to do something about Arthur. Did you know he took my golf cart out for a spin again. My brand new golf bag must have fallen out for they aren’t in the cart and….”

The Secret Plot Begins

This is the continuation of my Adventure Awaits! post from Monday. What adventures are in store for Mary at the North Pole?

Childhood memories flooded back into Mary’s mind. Memories of Santa Claus, and trying her hardest to fall asleep on Christmas Eve so that he would come. Now here she was at the North Pole!

Riding through the clouds with Dinosauris was amazing. Her heart was still soaring as she eagerly waited for Candy Cane to come give her a tour of Santa’s workshop.

She was going to meet Santa’s elves! Dinosauris had told her to wait and Candy Cane would come to greet her soon. Meanwhile he had to get a drink. Flying was hard work!

“Welcome to the North Pole, where the  magic never ends!”

Mary saw a girl walking towards her grinning from ear to ear. The girl was short like Mary expected Santa’s elves to be, but she didn’t have pointed ears.

“Hi! I am Candy Cane. We are so glad you are here. I hope Lolly the Leprechaun was friendly.”

Mary thought about how Lolly had jumped out in front of her one day when she was walking, giving her quite the scare. But he was friendly.

“I was quite surprised by him, but he was friendly. I thought maybe he would lead me to a pot of gold, but this is even better. I am going to meet Santa!”

Candy Cane smiled. “He is the jolliest guy you will ever meet, with a roly poly belly. ” she said, with a wink.

“But first let’s see his workshop.” She started walking, leading Mary there , chatting along the way.

“A head’s up, there are some crazy elves you will meet. Don’t be worried, there are plenty of normal elves, like me.”

Mary laughed, she liked Candy Cane. Soon they reached Santa’s Toy Hop. You couldn’t miss it. There was a huge sign with blinking lights on top of the building.

Mary stared at the sign. “Toy Hop?”

Candy Cane smacked her head. “This is what happens when Santa puts Snowball and Alabaster in charge of the sign! Take note, they are two of the crazy elves that I was talking about.”

Candy Cane opened the door and all the sounds assailed Mary. Lots of elves were working hard at making toys that beeped, and played music. As well as dolls that talked and cried. It was loud, happy chaos and Mary stood in awe, looking around.

Watching a certain elf in a corner for a little while she asked Candy Cane what he was doing.

“Oh, that is Tink. Tink is Santa’s accountant, but he makes toys as well. Though he does have a slight obsession with numbers. He is busy counting all the toys. Listing them by category, he is very organized.

Candy Cane grabbed a toy horn. “Watch this. ” She blew it right into another elf’s ear. The elf had been dozing in his chair. He jumped up, falling off the chair.

Mary laughed with Candy Cane. “HOP to it, Snowball! After all this is Santa’s Hop, right? Is that a new type of dance?” she questioned Alabaster, who was working beside Snowball.

They both glared at her, especially Snowball, who was feeling a little sore from falling off the chair.

“Not my fault, I told Alabaster we were missing a S.”

“Looks like coal for you, Alabaster! Though maybe the big guy’s heart will be kind and like the name “Santa’s Toy Hop!” She dodged, just in time, from a rubber ball thrown at her.

The elves were crazy, just like Candy Cane had said, but they did seem to be having fun.

“Ho Ho Ho!” Everyone stopped what they were doing and greeted Santa. Mary felt like she might faint. She was seeing the real Santa. Her palms were sweaty from excitement and nerves.

When Santa came up to her she felt like her heart would fly out of her chest.

“Hi Mary!” He bent down and his kind, sparkling eyes drew her in.

“So, what do you think? How would you like to be one of my elves. Poor Frost got really sick and he is out of commission for the rest of the year.”

Mary gulped! Santa was asking if she wanted to be a helper!”

Well, no one had to ask her twice to be Santa’s helper. It sure beat her toiling in the hot sun, back home.

“It would be my pleasure!”

“Wonderful!” Santa clapped his hands together. “Now you need a new name. A more elf like sounding name.”

After a short discussion, he asked for silence. Then he proclaimed Mary’s new name. “I would like to introduce a new member to our family.”

Mary blushed, tingling with joy. She would be the member of such a special family. Tears threatened to come.

“Please give a warm elf welcome to “Christmas Cookie, you can call her Cookie for short.”

She humbly smiled as everyone clapped and cheered. Mary was sure that was going to like it here.

Noone noticed that Licorice the elf wasn’t clapping. So Santa thought he could so easily replace Frost. Wonder what he would think when more of his elves got sick. He smirked.

He had to bide his time. Would wait til closer to Christmas, tbe busiest time of the year. If all the elves got sick the week before Christmas, oh how awful that would be. Rubbing his hands together, he plotted the downfall of the elves. Loving the thought of all the gold that would be his reward from the leprechauns!

Adventure Awaits!

Thanks to Jason for this photo that my made imagination wander once again. See more of his photos at http://jasonfrels.com/2022/09/08/a-little-less-heat/

The small spot of shade was a welcome sight to Mary’s weary body. Summer was ending but it was holding on with the grip of a toddler holding onto their favorite blanket.

She sat down, taking a break, resting up against the tree. How many miles did she have to go yet? There was so much unknown about this trip she was on.

It had taken her a little time to begin this journey for she didn’t have the courage. How many people start out on a journey having no real idea of where they are going?

Some of her friends were concerned about her. They thought that maybe a suite in a rubber room would be a more suitable place for her, but what did they know?

She wanted something different in her life. The tedious job at the bubble wrap factory was getting to her. Time for a change! So when she was asked to go on this journey she was intrigued. Especially intrigued by the tiny leprechaun that invited her on the journey. Never before had she seen a real leprechaun and her friends questioned whether she really had seen one. She was still so embarrassed by the memory of trying to have them meet him.

“Tell me again why you didn’t appear to my friends? You made a fool out of me!” She nudged him with her foot as he was dozing under the tree next to her.

Lolly startled awake. “WHAT? Why did you wake me?”

“It is time to go, we have been here for a hour already. But first tell me again why you made yourself invisible right when I was going to introduce you!”

Lolly smirked. “That was funny. I was giggling, listening to what your friends were saying. They were trying to be so polite but ooh they really think you lost it, don’t they?”

“Yes, thanks to you!”

“Glad to have helped. We are proud of our reputation for being tricky.” He bowed to Mary grinning, and then they started down the trail once more, with him whistling.

Mary made a face, what was she doing following him? Who knew what trick he may be pulling on her! Oh, maybe she was a gullible doolally for following him, but…..what if there really was gold at the end of her journey. She had to find out.

Sometimes it could pay to look foolish, she told herself. In the end there could be an amazing reward waiting for her.

“We are just about there.” Lolly said.

Her feet were getting sore, her heart stirred with excitement at what may be waiting for her.

“We made it! There he is.”

Mary looked ahead and didn’t see anything at first, but then as they got closer. Her excitement turned to fear.

“Is…is…that a real dragon?”

Lolly laughed, “Well he isn’t a stuffed toy. He is real alright and he is going to take you on a ride.”

Mary stopped in her tracks! What had she done? She never should have come.

“I am not riding a dragon!” Her brave voice quivered, giving way to her fear.

“Oh, you can’t back out now. That isn’t how it works. Dinosauris won’t hurt you.”

“Hi Mary! I will be glad to be your sky taxi to the North Pole.”

“The North Pole! Its COLD there.”

“Aren’t you smart.”

“This is crazy! I can’t go.”

“You can and you shall! No one says no to Santa Claus. One of his elves contact ed me to look for you. Santa needs you. It will all be explained once you get to the North Pole.”

Mary was stunned. Santa had looked specifically for her! What could he possibly want? She was still fearful of Dinosauris, but he was smiling and she hadn’t seen any fire come out of him. If Santa wanted her, surely Dinosauris wouldn’t hurt her.

“Okay. I am ready to go.:

“I promise you a safe flight. Climb on, buckle up and enjoy the ride!”

“There isn’t any buckle!”

“Oops! Must have fallen off on my way here. I wondered what had happened to my passenger. Now I know.”

Mary’s face went pale! “I am kidding! Just hang on tight to my neck, you will be fine. Here we go!”

Dinosauris soared high into the sky. Mary could no longer see Lolly. This was amazing being up in the sky. Her fear was giving way to the thrill of the ride! One could only wonder what waited for her when she got to the North Pole.

(To be continued…)