Thursday, June 30, 2011

Little People

I really miss my daughters and my grandchildren tonight.  They're spread all up and down the east coast and tonight it feels like they're a million miles away.  Oh I call and talk to them on the phone, but there's nothing that compares to a real hug and being able to see and touch them.  Besides, I just know all the kisses and hugs I gave my grandchildren for their "heart pockets" are used up, by now, and it's time to refill them ...

Bethany, Heather, and Carrie

Little People
by CJ Heck

Footsteps on the staircase 
hand prints on the walls 
tiny fingers dripping things 
up and down the halls. 

Voices all in unison 
calling out my name 
arguing and pointing 
and saying who’s to blame. 

Dishes in the sink 
couch cushions on the floor 
clean and dust, then fall in bed 
tomorrow will bring more. 

Those times are etched in memory 
my children now are grown 
but I’ll gladly have it all again 
when my grandkids all come home.

Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Magic Banana, Part 2

A Children's Story - Part 2 
by CJ Heck

... I know this is true , because someone who's been there told me to tell you. 

The two suns and their rainbow had slipped down from the sky when Lambie and B Bear finally sat down to eat the food in the picnic basket. They had walked along the path in silence all day. Now they were deep in the frightening Everlie Woods and they were very glad the two purple moons burned so brightly in the evening sky.

Lambie asked B Bear, "How do you know we're going in the right direction, B Bear?"

B Bear told her that he didn't really know for sure. He was just following his nose because his father always told him, "Son, the nose knows!"

Then Lambie asked, "Do you suppose we WILL get to the other side of Everlie Woods? Do you suppose the great Wallah of Poobah can help us get Monkey back? Will we be able to find our way home again? I DO want to grow up, B Bear!"

Poor Lambie, thought B Bear. She's so kind and gentle and she's VERY worried, just like I am. I have to try and get her mind away from this awful situation, if only for a few minutes. "Lambie, what do you want to be when you grow up?" he asked as he dug through the picnic basket for another sandwich.

"I want to be just like my Mother, B Bear. She's a nurse and she's very pretty. I want to be a pretty and fisticated nurse just like my Mother."

B Bear scratched his head, thinking. Then with a puzzled look on his fuzzy face, he asked, "Pretty and a nurse, okay. But Lambie, WHAT is fisticated?"

Lambie found his question very odd. B Bear was smart and yet he didn't know something! Lambie answered, "B Bear, that's what my father always tells mother. He tells her she is a good nurse, very pretty, and so fisticated."

B Bear heard this and, because he WAS smart, he began to laugh. He laughed until his tummy hurt. He laughed until his ribs ached. He laughed until tears overflowed his eyes and made wet trails down his fuzzy brown cheeks! He was about to tell Lambie why it was so funny when, all of a sudden, there was a loud booming voice!


"Who said that?" asked Lambie and B Bear at the very same time.

"It is I", came the booming voice again. "I am the Keeper of The Silence!"

B Bear looked all around, but all he could see was a very tall, orange tree. "Who is talking?" asked B bear. "Is that you, tree? Trees don't talk!"

"QUIET! I am the Keeper of The Silence!" shouted the very tall orange tree again.

Lambie said, "Keeper of The Silence, please don't use that grouchy voice with us. We're on our way to see the great Wallah of Poobah to get our friend, Monkey, back. Could you please tell us if we are going in the right direction?"

"Yes, I'll tell you, IF you'll be QUIET!" he answered, pointing with one of his long branches. "You must turn left by that large blue rock over there. Then you will be going in the right direction. Now, GO!"

Lambie and B Bear finished their picnic and said thank you to the tall strange orange tree who was the Keeper of The Silence. Then, waving goodbye, they turned left at the large blue rock and continued on their journey. A short while later, they came upon a sign that said:

‘Wallah of Poobah, This Way’ ------>

B Bear and Lambie turned right and once again followed the path. They really missed Monkey. They hung onto the hope that the great Wallah of Poobah would be able to help them get their friend back.

After a while, Lambie and B bear decided they had to rest. They had been walking for hours and they were very tired. They sat down on a log by the side of the path. In the purple moonlight B Bear noticed a very large blue rock. He told Lambie that it looked very familiar. Lambie laughed and told him that all big blue rocks looked the same to her! B Bear began to laugh, too.

Suddenly, a voice boomed, "Quiet. QUIET! I said! I am the Keeper of The Silence and I said BE QUIET!"

"What? How could this be?" asked Lambie.

"I don't know," answered B Bear. "This is very strange!"

Somehow, the two friends had come in a full circle. They were right back where they had eaten their picnic hours ago. They were back at the large blue rock. They were back where the Keeper of The Silence had told them which way they should go!

Lambie asked the Keeper, "Didn't you tell us to turn left at that large blue rock over there?"

"Yes, yes of course!" shouted the Keeper of The Silence.

"Then why are we back here again?" asked Lambie.

"How am I supposed to know that?" sulked the Keeper of The Silence. "I told you which way to go, and ... I ... never ... lie."

Then Lambie remembered the sign they saw along the path. When she asked him about it, the Keeper of The Silence only muttered and shook his bushy orange leaves.

B Bear had been sitting quietly, listening to the conversation between Lambie and the Keeper of The Silence. He was thinking, and when B Bear was thinking, all sorts of important things went through his mind. All at once, he jumped to his feet, put his finger to his lips and said, "Shhhhh" to Lambie. B Bear then asked the very tall orange tree, "Mr. Keeper, what would happen if I turned RIGHT at the large blue rock over there?"

The Keeper coughed and cleared his throat. Then he said, "Well, if you do THAT, you will NEVER see the Wallah of Poobah!"

B Bear whispered to Lambie to follow him and they went exactly where the tall orange tree told them NOT to go -- they turned RIGHT.

"What are we doing, B Bear? Why are we going THIS way?" asked Lambie.

"Shhhhh ..." said B Bear. "Follow me, and hurry!"

... I know this is true , because someone who's been there told me to tell you. 

When they were past the place where the Keeper of The Silence was, past where the large blue rock sat, past the log where they sat down to rest, B Bear told Lambie what he had figured out. "Lambie! I know exactly why we went in circles!" cried B Bear excitedly. "This is Everlie Woods. We have been pronouncing it 'Ever-LEE'. Lambie, it isn't that at all! We should have pronounced it 'Ever-LIE'! I believe everything in Everlie Woods lies! When we came back to the same place we were hours ago and the Keeper of The Silence said he doesn't ever lie, I KNEW he had lied. That means the sign was a lie, too! EVERYTHING in Everlie Woods lies. If we want to get to the Wallah of Poobah, we must do the opposite of what anyone here tells us to do. It's sad, but when someone lies, you can't believe them, ever."

Poor B Bear and Lambie. They had so many problems. They walked all night. They watched as the two purple moons settled down into the trees to make room for the two bright suns and their rainbow. All through the night, they went in the opposite direction from where every sign pointed. They also turned in the opposite direction when anyone they met along the path told them which way they should be going.

When at last they reached the edge of Everlie Woods, they could see a huge castle off in the distance. It had to be the castle of the great Wallah of Poobah! Lambie and B Bear finally began to feel hopeful again. They ran as fast as their tired legs could carry them, straight to the castle where the wise and great man who had all the answers lived.

After a long wait in the hallway of the castle, it was finally their turn to see the Wallah of Poobah. It seemed like such a long time ago when Monkey disappeared because so much had happened since. It was hard for them to believe that it had only been yesterday morning.

The two best friends introduced themselves and then explained everything to the great Wallah. They told him about the first argument and making up. They talked about the long walk and Monkey's whining. Then they told him the last and worst thing ... how B Bear had pointed the banana at Monkey and wished his wish. Finally, they told him about the quiet, sad sound that took Monkey away. "Great Wallah, won't you please tell us how to get our friend, Monkey, back?" cried Lambie. "Can you help us?"

The Wallah thought and thought. Then he stroked his long white beard, and he thought some more. Suddenly, he raised a finger in the air and with a mighty voice, he proclaimed, "Aha! I see what the problem is and I know how to fix it! My two young friends, somehow, you got hold of a magic banana. They’re VERY rare you know. I’ve only seen one in my entire lifetime! Now, there's something very important that I must tell you about a magic banana. With a this kind of a banana, every action has an opposite reaction. Your banana is extra powerful here, because it also pulls even more magic from The Forest of Enchantment!

What you have to do is go back to where you last saw your friend. Listen to me carefully. Pick up your special banana and turn it around! Then you must point it at the place where your friend used to be and wish him back again! Ah yes,“ he muttered to himself, “every action has an opposite reaction!" Then he turned to them again and exclaimed, "Now go -- and hurry! You must go back to where you last saw your friend and unwish your wish!"

... I know this is true , because someone who's been there told me to tell you. 

Lambie and B Bear thanked the great Wallah of Poobah and said goodbye. Then, even though they were very tired, they ran all the way back through Everlie Woods and back to the edge of The Forest of Enchantment. Amazingly, they found the banana still lying on the ground right where B Bear had dropped it yesterday. B Bear picked it up, trying to feel its magic, but it didn't feel any different from any other banana. With a deep breath, he closed his eyes. Then he pointed the special banana at the same spot where Monkey had disappeared and shouted, "Monkey, come back! I don't WANT you to disappear!"

Nothing happened. Nothing at all. Then B Bear remembered the most important thing the Wallah of Poobah had told them. This was a magic banana and every action has an opposite reaction. This time, B Bear turned the banana around and pointed the other end at the spot where Monkey had been standing. He took another deep breath, closed his eyes tightly again, and this time slowly repeated, "Monkey, I wish you to come back! I don't WANT you to be gone!"
((( p o o f! )))

In an instant, Monkey was standing there just like he was yesterday morning! He was even brought back in the middle of a sentence. He was STILL whining about how hungry he was and asking why they couldn't stop NOW and just eat here. Monkey was so surprised when Lambie and B Bear ran over to hug him that he stopped whining and stared at them with eyes as big as dinner plates!

"Come on, Monkey, let's just go home." Said B Bear with a smile. “We have such a wonderful adventure to tell you about." Then he handed the very special banana to his hungry friend.

... I know this is true , because someone who's been there told me to tell you. 

You know what?  The very last time this someone saw them, they were headed towards home, hand in hand in hand. The three best friends were all together again and already looking forward to their next great adventure.

Bookmark and Share

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Magic Banana, Part 1

 A Children's Story - Part 1  
by CJ Heck

... I know this is true , because someone who's been there told me to tell you. 

Tucked in somewhere over our stars and under our moon there's a faraway land. This land is lovely and very different from our world. It's called The Land of The Purple Moons because up in the sky at night, it has two large purple moons. There are also two bright suns that shine in the daytime that are always hooked together by a beautiful rainbow. Also in The Land of The Purple Moons, there's a thick magic forest called The Forest of Enchantment. It's called that because sometimes things happen there that just can't be explained.

This is a story about three best friends who lived near The Forest of Enchantment in The Land of The Purple Moons and an adventure that none of them will ever forget.

The first of the friends was Bartholomew Bear. His friends couldn't say that name, so they called him B Bear -- this was just fine with Bartholomew, because he couldn't say it either. B Bear was very smart and, (if anyone should be, he was), the leader of the three best friends. They looked up to him to have wonderful ideas and make important decisions.

The next was Monkey. He, (if anyone had to be, he was), the playful one of the three friends. He loved making them laugh by doing silly things and making funny noises and faces. Monkey was always hungry. Every morning, he filled his pockets with good things to eat before he left home. That was okay though, because he always shared what he brought with his friends.

The last of the three friends was Lambie, a little pink lamb. She was kind and gentle and, (if anyone could be, she was), the very heart of the three best friends. Lambie was the one who always knew when it was time to go home so no one would worry about them. She was the one who always knew when an idea was not a good idea, because she was also the one who made sure the three best friends were always good.

... I know this is true , because someone who's been there told me to tell you. 

One day, the three best friends decided to meet at the edge of The Forest of Enchantment the next day. It would be a nice day for a picnic and B Bear announced that he knew the perfect spot. He told them it was near a babbling brook that whispered poetry and there was a tall gumdrop tree nearby where Monkey could climb and play. Maybe he would even toss some gumdrops down to them!

Now they wondered, what time should they meet? After much discussion, Monkey, being the silly one, said they should meet at three hairs past a freckle, eastern elbow time. The three friends laughed and, of course, Monkey laughed louder than anyone else. With Monkey holding back even MORE giggles and snorts, they finally agreed. They would meet at the o'clock of eleven fourteen.

The next morning, Monkey arrived first. As usual, his pockets were full of food -- just in case he got hungry before lunch. He sat down on a tree stump and munched on cookies while he waited for his two best friends.

B Bear was next to arrive, carrying the biggest picnic basket Monkey had ever seen! When B Bear saw Monkey's bulging pockets and saw that Monkey was already eating, he shouted in a very loud voice, "Monkey! What's wrong with you? You knew I was bringing a picnic basket. You knew it would have plenty to eat inside. Why did you have to fill your pockets with food today?"

Monkey didn't mean to make B Bear angry. He tried to make B Bear laugh by making funny faces, but it only made B Bear even more angry!

In his loudest voice, B Bear shouted, "Monkey! I asked what's wrong with you?"

Just then, Lambie arrived. She was already talking about how she hadn't forgotten to bring lots of juice in case they all got thirsty. Lambie didn't notice the mad face B Bear was wearing or the sad face that Monkey now had on. She DID notice B Bear's loud voice, though, and said, "B Bear, don't use your grumpy voice with Monkey. That isn't nice!"

B Bear told Lambie about Monkey's bulging pockets and his cheeks full of cookies. Then he told her how Monkey made things even worse by making silly faces -- it was like Monkey didn't care that B Bear was upset -- and that was why he was so angry!

Since Lambie was the heart of the three friends, she said, "B Bear, say what you mean, mean what you say, but don't say it mean. Shouting never solves a problem. Let's all sit down and talk about this calmly."

The two suns were very high in the sky by the time the three friends finally worked out the problem and were on their way to the picnic spot. Monkey agreed to put the food from his pockets into the picnic basket, except for one banana (just in case he got hungry along the way), and B Bear agreed to put away his angry voice.

... I know this is true , because someone who's been there told me to tell you. 

After walking for nearly an hour, Monkey began to whine, "When will we be there? How much farther to the babbling brook? Will the gumdrop tree really have enough gumdrops for all of us? I'm tired! I'm hungry! Why do we have to go there at all? Why can't we just eat here?"

Since she was also very understanding, Lambie suggested that they sit down and rest for awhile. She told Monkey that now would be a perfect time for him to eat the banana he had saved.

B Bear was tired, too, and he had worked up a bear of an appetite, himself. His patience with Monkey and his whining was all used up. Before Lambie could stop him, he grabbed the banana from Monkey, pointed it right at him and shouted, "Monkey! Stop whining! Stop asking all of your questions! Sometimes, I wish you would just ... disappear!"

All at once, there was a quiet little sound: ((( p o o f!)))

B Bear was so surprised by what happened that he dropped the banana on the ground where he stood. Monkey was gone! B Bear rubbed his eyes and peeked through his fingers. It didn't change anything. Monkey was exactly nowhere at all! Lambie and B Bear stared at each other. How could this happen? How can this be? Where did Monkey go? Is this one of his silly games to make us laugh?

Because he was so smart, B Bear said, "It must have been the magic of The Forest of Enchantment!" He had heard stories about strange things happening here that shouldn't happen anywhere. Maybe that's it. But the thought didn't make B Bear feel very good. He didn't feel good at all!

The two best friends that were left were very upset. They walked around in circles thinking and wringing their hands. They looked for Monkey again and again, just in case it was all a terrible mistake. Monkey was still gone. Even when they called his name over and over, he didn't answer. B Bear and Lambie were very worried.

"Oh my, B Bear. What have you done? What are we going to do?" cried Lambie.

B Bear felt just awful. He was wishing he hadn't wished. He tried again and pleaded, "Monkey, please come back! You know I didn't mean it. You're my friend and I don't want you to disappear!" But Monkey stayed gone. He was totally and completely gone.

Because B Bear was their leader, he knew he would have to make a decision. He sighed deeply and then said, "I think there is only one thing we can do, Lambie. We have to go and see the great Wallah of Poobah. He's the Keeper of Truth here in The Land of The Purple Moons. Every thought you could ever think is there. Every question you could ever ask is there. Every answer to every question ever asked is there. We have to go right now! We can't wait another minute!"

Lambie knew B Bear was right. He was smart and if he said they needed to do that, then they needed to do that. The truth was, Lambie was afraid. Everyone in The Land of The Purple Moons knew the Wallah of Poobah lived on the other side of Everlie Woods -- a strange and frightening place ... and no one who had gone there had ever returned. Not once.

The two friends knew they had no choice. They put aside their fears and began to walk. They were glad they had packed a picnic because they would need it on their long journey.

B Bear and Lambie felt terrible about poor Monkey disappearing. They were determined they would make it through Everlie Woods. No matter what happened, they would go and talk to the great Wallah of Poobah. He will know what to do. He will help them bring Monkey back, and they would make it back from Everlie Woods! After all, B Bear said they would and B Bear was the smartest one she knew.

... I know this is true , because someone who's been there told me to tell you.

... to be continued ...  Part Two on Tuesday, June 14, 2011.

Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Preschool Short Story: The Little Umbrella

A Town Like Your Town

by CJ Heck

I know a little town like your town. It has a little main street just like a lot of main streets, and a little store not too different from a lot of little stores.

The owner of the store was a kind and gentle man named Pop Starr. Pop was a good man, and all the people in the little town knew and loved him.

Pop's little store had a lot of things on a lot of shelves for people to buy. This is a story about one very special thing in Pop's store.

In the back of his little store, Pop had built a special little room just for toys. Boys and girls loved going into the little toy room. They gazed in awe and wonder at all the colorful toys on the shelves that reached all the way up to forever -- well, almost, but not exactly.

The children spent many hours wishing for the things they saw in Pop's little toy room. Even Santa Claus had heard about the little toy room, in the little store, on the little street, in the little town.

Now, I told you that, so I could tell you this ...

Way up high on the top shelf in the toy room was a little umbrella. The umbrella had been there for such a long time, maybe forever ... but it had been there so long that it was covered by a thick layer of dust. It was a sad umbrella and it was also very lonely.

Every day, the little umbrella looked down from its shelf at the toys in the toy room. It had never seen such wonderful colors!

How it wished it could be so bright and so beautiful. What a joy it would be to wear one of the colors it saw on the spinning tops, the rubber balls, and the bright red fire engines!

The little umbrella wanted to be like the airplanes the children played with in Pop's little toy room, zooming up-down-up and high into the sky. It would be so exciting to feel the wind blowing above and below its wings.

What a wonderful thing to be -- what an important job to have!

The little umbrella felt so alone on its shelf. It longed to be held and loved, just like one of the pretty dolls the little girls hugged and talked to in Pop's toy room.

What a wonderful thing to be! What an important job to have!

Hour after hour, day after day, year after year, it watched all of the children come into the little toy room to play with the toys. The little umbrella dreamed that someday it, too, would be needed just like the people needed old Pop Starr who owned the little store, on the little street, in the little town.

Now, I told you that, so I could tell you this ...

The Storm Cloud
One day, a huge and terrible storm cloud came. It kept the sun from shining on the little town and outside, it became very dark.  

A horrible wind began to blow and the rain came down hard and everything it touched was soaked.

The storm brought thunder with its powerful booms and lightning that lit up the sky forever -- well, almost, but not exactly.

Pop stood and watched it all happen from the little window in his little store on the little street in the little town.

Suddenly, the door opened and the little bell hanging above it jingled. A woman rushed into the store holding the hand of a small child. Both of them were out of breath and both were soaked from the falling rain.

Now, old Pop knew just about everyone who lived in the little town, but he didn't know the woman and her small child. He welcomed them in out of the storm with his kind and gentle smile, a warm hello, and two warm and dry towels.

Holding hands
The woman told Pop that her car had run out of gas just down the street from his store. They walked to the gas station, filled their gas can, and they were on their way back to the car when the storm began.

She told him they were glad to find Pop's store, but they were in a hurry to get home to their own little street in another little town far, far away from here.

Now, I told you that, so I could tell you this ...

Kind old Pop scratched his head and thought for a minute. Then, with a big smile, he walked to the back and into the little toy room of the little store on the little street in the little town.

From the top step on his ladder, Pop reached high up to the very top shelf and searched around with his fingers. He finally found exactly what he was looking for.  Pop brought down the little umbrella.

He brushed off the years of dust and, with a twinkle in his eye, took his gift to the woman and her small child.
The joy in giving and the joy in receiving went around and around. Everyone was happy.

The woman and her small child thanked Pop for his kindness. Then they said goodbye to the kind and gentle man in the little store on the little street in the little town. Then they stepped back outside into the wind and the rain and opened the little umbrella.

Now, I told you that, so I could tell you this ...

The little umbrella was so surprised! It had left its lonely home high on the top shelf in the little toy room! It felt so needed.

"OH MY!" Cried the small child. "What a beautiful umbrella! Mommy, it has every color in the world!"

Happy Little Umbrella
"Could it be true?" Wondered the little umbrella.

Then, finally able to see himself without the thick layer of dust, he exclaimed, "Green, blue, red, purple, orange, yellow! Oh my!  Just look at my colors! I am as beautiful as all of the toys in the little toy room!"

As the little umbrella was opened, it went up, Up, UP! The wind rushed across and over and  under!  It was such a wonderful feeling! The little umbrella thought, "Oh my! I'm feeling just like the airplanes in the little toy room!"

Then, just when the little umbrella thought it couldn't possibly be any happier, the very BEST thing happened. It felt love and a need to protect the mother and the small child who were holding onto its handle.

The little umbrella knew it was keeping the rain off of them and it felt proud. It was a wonderful feeling.

This was an important thing to be! This was a very special job to have!

So, the little umbrella from high on the top shelf in the little toy room, in the little store, on the little street, in the little town was very happy -- not almost, but exactly.

Now, I told you that, so I could tell you this ...

The little umbrella had learned something very important. It didn't have to wish to be anyone else. It was already perfect ... just the way it was.

"A writer soon learns that easy to read is hard to write." ~CJ Heck

Monday, June 6, 2011

Frankie's Lucky Day

A Short Story
by CJ Heck

The morning sun peeked through the white lace curtains at Frankie's window. As the sunbeams teased her eyelids open, she yawned and stretched, then sat up and swiveled to the edge of the bed to slide her feet into the fuzzy pink slippers that were waiting on the floor below -- all things she had done a thousand times before. For Frankie, today only began like any other normal day ... 

Frankie yawned again and then made a nasty face at her reflection in the mirror over the dresser. What a mess, she thought, as she brushed the tangled auburn hair, finally deciding on a ponytail to tame the wayward curls. While she was attaching the little gold pin to her Brownie uniform, her mother called to her, "Frances? Frances Sharon! Now don't forget to wear your Brownie uniform. Remember, you have Scouts after school today." 

She hated it when her mother called her that! Frances was such a horrible name. She didn’t care that she was named after her great-great-grandmother Frances. Maybe it had been a fine name way back then. But to Frances Sharon Curtis, a modern girl who lived in the here and now, it sounded like something a farmer named a horse that wore a straw hat with holes cut out for its ears! There was no sense arguing with her mother about it. Frankie frowned. What was done, was done. Then she finished tying her sneakers as she shouted her answer, "Okay, Mom. I'm wearing my uniform!" 

As Frankie ate her breakfast, she thought about her two best friends, Sarah and Allie. They both called her Frankie. They were the ones that gave her the name -- she couldn't even remember anymore how long ago it was. Allie had just let it slip out one day, and the nickname stuck, and that was just fine with Frankie. She sighed. She wished her parents would call her 'Frankie' instead of (eww, gross), 'Frances'. 

When Frankie finished her breakfast, she put her dishes in the sink. Then, gathering together her books, homework, and lunch bag, she kissed her mom goodbye in the doorway and left to meet the school bus on the corner. 

“Frances, don't take the bus today, honey. I’ll be picking you up right after school for Brownies. Oh, and don't forget, Sarah and Allie will be riding with us.” Her mother reminded, her as Frankie was closing the door. 

Frankie nodded to her mother and ran down the front steps of her house just like she did every day. Today when she got to the bottom, though, she could see a small, pink 3-inch square piece of paper lying on the sidewalk. Frankie bent down and picked it up, admiring the curly design across the top of it. Thinking she would like to try to draw it, she tucked the little pink paper into the pocket of her Brownie uniform. 

The morning was way too long. Frankie felt as though she was going through each of her classes in a fog. She could remember turning in her homework, and writing down the new homework information each teacher wrote on the blackboard, but that was about it. Frances Sharon Curtis, also known as Frankie, felt very different today. It was a good feeling, too, like something big was about to happen, although what it could be, she had no clue. 

When the lunch bell finally rang, Frankie hurried to meet her friends in the cafeteria. There was Sarah at their regular table, just across from where the lunch line formed. Sarah had big blue eyes and the prettiest wild and curly red hair that Frankie had ever seen on anyone, boy or girl -- and she had a wild and crazy sense of humor to go with the hair, Frankie laughed. She was also covered with freckles that were nearly the same color as her hair. Sarah could always make Frankie laugh! They had known each other since meeting on the playground in kindergarten and had been best friends ever since. 

Right beside Sarah, sat Allie, and both of them were giggling. Allie had been a new girl in town. Frankie and Sarah had met her on the very first day of school last year, while they were all waiting for the bell to ring and the doors to open. Most kids thought Allie was stuck-up, but Sarah and Frankie both knew she was only shy. Allie was a pretty girl, very short with big brown eyes and hair the same color. She always looked so healthy, thought Frankie. Her skin was the color of a peach and her cheeks were always rosy. 

"Hey, Frankie!" Sarah yelled, waving both hands in the air. "I have PB and J today. Wanna trade?" 

"Shhh, you’re gonna get us in trouble!” Frankie teased. “Sorry, Sarah. Mom packed me a turkey sandwich, my favorite." 

"I have chocolate pudding to trade, too," Sarah teased back. 

Frankie suddenly thought about the small pink square of paper she had found on her way to school with the curly design she was going to try and draw. She hated to part with it, but she decided she could probably remember how the design looked. Besides, she really loved chocolate pudding. "Sarah, I found this cute little paper on the sidewalk this morning. You want to trade my paper for your pudding?" 

Sarah studied the little pink square that Frankie handed to her. Like Frankie, she thought it might be fun to draw the funny little design that ran clear across the top. "Sure, Frankie. I'm too full for pudding anyway." She said, as she tucked the small pink square into the front of her book to keep for later. 

When Sarah went back to class, Wanda, the nerdy girl who sat in front of her, walked in with a fist full of new pencils. Sarah's pencil had shrunk to nearly half its size from sharpening it, and the eraser was completely worn away. Sarah thought about the small pink square of paper she had just traded her pudding for with Frankie. As much as she hated to part with it, she really needed a better pencil, so Sarah offered to trade the small pink square for one of Wanda's new pencils. 

Nerdy Wanda studied the paper the same way she often studied a small scab on her arm in class before picking at it. She noticed right under the curly design there was a line of numbers. Among the numbers, of all things, was her exact birth date -- a ten for the month of October, and a thirteen. "Sure," Wanda agreed, "I'll trade." She was thinking, how unusual that some random thing like this tiny piece of pink paper has her exact birthday numbers on it -- who knows, maybe it's even lucky! 

Later in the day, right in the middle of her math class, Wanda found she was out of paper. To someone like Wanda, a very snobby nerd who was ALWAYS prepared, that was nothing short of a tragedy! She turned to Mandy who sat in the seat just behind her. "Would you trade me some paper for one of my new pencils?” 

Mandy was one of the nicest girls in the class. She offered to give Wanda some paper, but Wanda said, “No. I would always feel like I owed you something. Suddenly, Wanda had an idea. "Mandy," she said, "I have this really neat piece of pink paper. It has my exact birthday numbers on it, so it has to be lucky, too. I would be willing to trade it with you for some paper. Okay?” 

The truth was, Mandy loved anything small enough to use for a bookmark. She loved reading. She was often reading three or four books at the same time. Mandy looked at the small pink square that Wanda showed her and decided it would make a perfect bookmark for the book she was reading for her book report! She agreed, and after giving Wanda a few pieces of paper, Mandy tucked the little pink square into her book, allowing it to stick out between the pages where she had stopped reading last night. 

Frankie’s afternoon was almost as strange as her morning had been. She couldn’t get rid of the feeling that something big was going to happen. She pushed the thought from her mind several times during the day, but it kept sneaking back in, uninvited. She had no idea what it was about and she just wanted the school day to be over. Frankie breathed a huge sigh of relief when the dismissal bell finally rang. 

Once outside, she spotted Allie and Sara waiting for her at the bottom of the steps. As they walked to her Mom's car for a ride to Brownies, Mandy came running up to them. She told Frankie her mother called the school this afternoon to say she won't be able to pick her up. Mandy said she didn't want to take the bus and then walk to the meeting. "Could I please ride along with you guys? Tell you what -- I'll even give you my lucky bookmark if you'll let me ride with you." 

As Mandy held out her bookmark to Frankie, Frankie's jaw dropped. She could hardly believe what she saw! Mandy’s bookmark was the same small 3-inch square of pink paper she had found on the sidewalk this morning! It was wrinkled now, and one of the corners was bent down, but she could still see the curly design she had wanted to draw! Frankie smiled and told her, "Sure -- hop in!" Then Frankie tucked the little pink square back into the same pocket in her uniform where it had been that morning. 

That evening at home, Frankie still had that goofy feeling about something big happening, while she was getting into her favorite pajamas. Suddenly, she heard a loud shout from her father downstairs. Her father never shouted! Something was wrong! Frankie ran down the stairs, two steps at a time, and into the living room, where her parents were sitting on the couch in front of the TV. 

"Dad, what's wrong?" she asked. 

Her mother took a deep breath. Then she said, "Honey, everything's okay. Daddy’s just disappointed. He bought a lottery ticket last night and somehow, he lost it. He's been playing the same numbers every week for years and tonight, his number -- every one of his numbers -- finally were drawn in the lottery. He's just disappointed, honey -- we're both disappointed." 

Her dad then said to no one in particular, "I don't understand how I could have lost it. As soon as I bought the ticket, I put it in my shirt pocket, same as always. Then I got in the car and drove home. The only other thing I did was walk to the mailbox to mail some letters, but then I came right back into the house to have supper. I didn't even know it was gone until just now, when I looked for it in my pocket." 

Frankie had the strangest feeling in the pit of her stomach. "Daddy, what exactly did the ticket look like?" she asked, thinking about her small 3-inch square of pink paper with the curly design across the top. 

Her mother smiled. "Frances, it looked like, well, like a lottery ticket. It would be small with a lot of numbers on it. Frances, don't worry about it. It isn't like we lost something we already had. We're no worse off now than we were before." 

Frankie turned around and ran back up the stairs, back into her room, and pulled the small wrinkled square of pink paper from the pocket of her Brownie uniform. Then she took it downstairs to the two people she loved most in the world. "Dad, did it look like THIS?" she asked. 

Her mother and father stared at the little square paper, and then at each other, then back at the small and wrinkled pink square once more. Suddenly, like one single excited voice, they both screamed together, "Frankie! That's it!" 

Frances Sharon Curtis, a girl with blue eyes, with unruly auburn hair, with two best friends named Sarah and Allie, smiled a huge smile. Her parents had called her 'Frankie'. 

Then she smiled again, thinking about a small square of pink paper, everything it must have been through, and finally finding out what her funny feelings all day really meant: Today was a very lucky day. 

Bookmark and Share