Children Stories · Photos · The Dream

Figment

We were walking back from the beach, the evening blue and moonlight submerging us as we followed the sidewalk to my front porch. No words, just thoughts, just senses. We walked for miles, exploring our inner worlds, our reflections. He still doesn’t know about my dreams. If he knew, it would change them. I want to keep them as long as I can. I can’t wake up now.

We approach my house. He hugged me a slow and disappointed goodbye. I walked toward my door but felt his hand on my shoulder.

“I want to know you. I don’t want to stop trying.”

I saw his eyes, serious and heavy. Without a sound he walked on, I looked back. I searched for my keys in my backpack but found the door was unlocked. I walked in…I woke up.

It was six a.m. The light in my room was as blue as it was in my dream. I lay there thinking about where I had been, wondering whether to go back or write it down. I didn’t want to see him anytime soon without finding a way to fill the space he suspected. I started writing.

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Children Stories · Photos

See-Through

 I’m going to tell you a story. The story starts with a dryer. A lonely and ornery bull of a dryer that had nothing better to do than to bump around and turn off. It always went in with so much gusto but inevitably realized it was twenty years past being the young bucking bronco it used to be. Its heart needed a break.

What the dryer didn’t know was how much my heart broke to see my black interview socks sopping wet. Walking out of the house in a white blouse, black slacks, leather slip-ons and pink and blue polka dot socks killed me. I went to Target thirty minutes before the interview. No one was going to see through me.

As I walked to the bus stop, I saw the bus approaching a couple blocks ahead of me. I started running.

Now, racing the bus in your interview clothes to buy a pair of socks may seem counterproductive, but there was a twisted sort of logic to my decisions that morning.

Sweating and panting, I caught up with the gracious and sentient bus and sat in the back, recuperating. I couldn’t wait to go back home and just be.

Water droplets started forming on the window. It was beginning to rain. I shivered and brought my knees toward my chest.

A short guy my age with a suit, ponytail and a lime green skateboard sat next to me.

“Cool socks!”

Children Stories · Photos

In Search of Their Favorite Place

 It was just the beginning. A new weekend filled with possibility had finally arrived. Hope fluttered in their hearts. This was finally their chance to go to their favorite place, a place of warmth and happiness, of ease and comfort. They had dreamed of this place for years. This could be their day! One day they would not have to return. They could escape forever into this safe and cozy corner of the world without worry of ever losing it or venturing desperately to find it again.

The place was simple. It was small, made of sturdy brown logs with warm light inside. There was a glowing fireplace and a long red couch. On the couch lay a folded yellow and orange quilt with a gray and white cat curled upon it. In the dining room was a red wooden table accompanied by finely carved wooden chairs with dark blue cushions. On the table was a large red cup of hot cocoa with whipped cream and marshmallows and steam rising, melting the cream from the bottom.

A woman was there in the kitchen cooking. She was older, her hair streaming with every shade between brown and gray and a youthful glow in her rosy, ample cheeks. Her sparkling smile lines were ready but resting calmly near the far corner of her eyes. She was waiting excitedly to talk and laugh with them, to enjoy her wonderful food and play her delightful board games. She knew that they were just around the corner. She always had faith in them.

They woke up early and filled up all the seats of their four wheel drive, their packs ready for a long hike. The motor turned on in the morning dark and they backed out of the driveway, making a subtle disturbance in the surrounding suburban slumber. They watched through their windows as the white houses turned into fields to ponds to forests. They drove together through the trees, making their ascent along a windy mountain road, the dark dusk slowly fading into day. They did their chores, they paid their bills, they did their errands. They had spent the week preparing for this…just as they always did.

Off the right side of the road, they saw an iron gate painted white with its door opened outward. They slowed down the car, pulled up next to it and made their way out the car doors to approach the gate. It pulled them in. They were caught by the gate’s wonder, its curiosity and familiarity. Here they were, as if for the first time.

They felt very lucky to be there, to see that the gate was actually open today. They were that much closer! It had been weeks, months since the gate had last been open for them. They smiled at each other with hope and gratitude and made their way across the threshold.

They stepped onto a dirt road shadowed by tall evergreens. The sun was shining bright above them. It was noon already. They picked up their pace. No time to take pictures, no time to talk, no time to eat the huckleberries or enjoy the pink and yellow wildflowers. They had to stay determined and keep their focus if they ever hoped to reach their destination.

Sweating, they climbed higher, elevation peaking, steepness increasing. Blisters were forming near their heels and toes, their backs and feet growing sore and weak, noses and shoulders turning red. Taking a break for water they looked up at the sky. The sun could no longer be seen. They looked at their map. They were still several miles away. They decided to trek on further.

A couple hours passed by. The light was changing at a faster rate. A chilly breeze gave them goosebumps and the world was a shade of gray blue. They were not even halfway toward their destination and it was getting dark. To go forward would mean to walk in the dark with the very real possibility of getting lost. That frightening thought left disappointment seeping into their faces. They were vulnerable in those woods and didn’t want to feel it. They thought it would be safer to turn around and find the car. Another day they would wake up earlier, another day they would walk faster, another day they would be more prepared and finally get there before dark. They blamed themselves for not being equipped enough, smart enough, fast enough to reach their favorite place, the place that they dreamed about going to every day, hoping that this week would be different.

They looked back at the dark trail winding up the mountain, its mysterious disappearance into the shadows. They stood there for a moment, wistful and heartbroken, sadness filling their shoes and emptying their hands. The road back to the car seemed unusually long. The weight of exhaustion and lost hope made for a slow crawl. Relief filled them once they collapsed inside their car, sighs releasing, expectation deflating in their seats.

They drove off into the twilight, the zaffre sky glowing deep behind the swiftly moving midnight clouds. They glided through the scenery, watching the fields turn to sidewalks and boxes. Drifting in and out of sleep, they pulled up into their driveway and stumbled to the front door. They collapsed onto their long purple couch with their green and blue blanket sprawled over them, their black cat rubbing their feet. They sat at their black marble dining room table and drank a cup of herbal tea from their white mugs.

Music roamed from a bedroom where a young woman with white hair, tan skin, and wise gray eyes played her kalimba. She was relieved to see them back at home, though her happiness was hesitant. It was comforting to feel their presence, but fear poked her whenever she felt their sorrow. Every week she hoped that they would stay, that they would want to be at home creating her favorite place with her. She never wanted those weeks to end and every time their journey ended full circle she was grateful.

Children Stories · Poems

Mandy Knows

 Mandy knew
And she always did her best.

The best that she could do.

Thoughtful at school
Kind on the playground
Sat in the circle
Sat on the ground.

She sat crossed-legged
Without a sound.

She shared her toys
Respected her teachers
She picked up the trash
Fed the class creatures.

Mandy knew
To let others have a turn
And wait at the fence
To play four-square
Or freeze-dance
Because fairness

Was her biggest
Concern.

And Mandy knew
To make her bed
To pick up her markers
To pet her cat’s head.

To be generous
To listen
To make hearts glisten
To care and share
And always be prepared.

She knew to be dutiful
To patch holes with thread
To make her mama smile
And good words said.

She liked them happy
She wanted them proud
She liked them liking her
And hearing those words
Out loud.

But sometimes
It all went wrong.

She woke up early
But the bus was gone
She washed the dishes
But two hundred have spawned
She made a castle
But only scribbles were drawn.

Her teacher said,
“Mandy, why are you late?
Don’t you know
To come before eight?”

Her mama said,
“Mandy, why aren’t these clean?
Don’t you know
This is a horrible scene?”

Her brother said,
“Mandy, why did you scribble?
Don’t you know
I want a castle, not drivel?”

But little did they know what
Mandy knew.

Quietly she washed
Determinedly she drew
Early she rose
Pushing herself through.

Hours of hard work
Dedication and time
Little did they know
How much she tried.

But Mandy knew
And yet she tried harder.

“This way they’ll see,”
She thought,
“All the hours I spend
To make them happy.”

But Mandy kept getting
Disappointments and sighs
Sometimes they’d even
Roll their eyes.

The more she got done
The more her bus was gone
The more dishes she cleared
The scribblier
Her drawings appeared.

She was folding her laundry
When her mama found a sock
Saying, “What a sad sight
To see it mixed with the darks.”
Fabric turned gray
Because of a simple mistake
White goes with lights
But it slipped away.

“Doesn’t she know?” Mandy cried,
“How much I’ve tried?!”

And with that final word

Mandy stopped.

She stopped folding
She stopped trying.

She stopped caring
She stopped drawing.

She stopped cleaning
She stopped giving.

She stopped
Stopped
STOPPED!

The dishes piled high
Homework covered with red ink
Her room was very messy
Her cat even started to stink!

Her bed left unmade
She ignored every critique
Not scared of a bad grade
She was absent most of the week!

During dinner Mandy stared
She didn’t want to eat
Her brother boasted
How he was focused
And earned himself a treat.

“You shouldn’t earn
When it’s your job to learn
Who cares about treats and those things?
They’re just a carrot on a string,”
Mandy said with a sting.

Her brother yelled
Mandy yelled
Emotions left unstable

Her mama yelled
Mandy yelled
The cat ran under the table

“What is going on around here?!
This is more than I can bear!
The chaos has to stop and cannot stay
Mandy, dear why are you acting this way?”

“Because I do it all for you
But you just don’t see
How much I push to try to be
To be thoughtful, tidy, good and true
A good daughter, a good student
Everything I struggle to pursue
You don’t understand
And you never do
How much I try to do for you!”

Her mama turned away
And lowered herself to a chair
And Mandy could see a tiny tear.

“I’m sorry Mandy.”

Quiet and tense
The pause was immense.

“What you say is right and true
I haven’t been a good mother to you
I try so hard and maybe too much
To be a good mother
To push you to do better and such
But it looks like I’m very much out of touch.”

Mandy stepped closer
And reached for her mother
Her mama meant no harm.

She hugged her warmly
And heard another sorry
It was an end to a wrong.

The next day
After long school hours
And a cloudy rain shower
Mandy came home to unwind
And recharge her power.

She opened the door
Making sure to avoid
Her markers on the floor
And that no toy’s destroyed.

On her desk was something new
Three little notes
One pink, one yellow
One blue.

But one thing was common between them all.
They all said “thank you”
Whether her deed was big or small.

One from her teacher
Full of praise
Telling her how she loves
Her short stories and essays
She said she used one as an example
To show her students another angle.

One from her brother
Saying sorry for being picky
That drawing castles can be quite tricky
And admitting that her colors
Were actually kind of pretty.

And one from her mama
Promising she’ll take notice
When Mandy is doing her best
Because the best is all one can do
And whenever she’s being thoughtful
She deserves a sincere “thank you.”

Because Mandy knew
To be generous
To listen
To make hearts glisten
To care and share
And always be prepared.

She knew to be dutiful
To patch holes with thread
To make her mama smile
And good words said.

Mandy knew
And she always did her best
The best that she could do
To show that she cared
And that she was good and true
That she sincerely wanted
The best for everyone she knew.

Now she knows
And now it’s clear
That she’s not alone
Because she sees
That they care too.

Children Stories

Hot Cocoa Day

The rain pitter pattered on the roof just the way I liked it as I drew pictures of mazes and dragons. Today would be my cocoa day! It was a known fact that when it rained hard enough to make a pitter patter sound that you can even hear on the first floor while dad snored it’s time for cocoa, the best treat in the world.

The front door opened. My mom stepped into the house and closed her giant dripping umbrella and kicked off her green rain boots.

“It’s really coming down out there, Henry! Phew! So glad to be inside in the cozy house with my favorite kid,” she said as she sat next to me on the couch.

“It would be even better with some cocoa!” I said.

“You’re absolutely right, Henry! Maybe along with a game of Shoots and Ladders?”

“Yeah! Shoots and Ladders and cocoa!” I said.

“I’ll go wake up your dad to see how he’s doing and if he wants to join us,” she said as she left to go to the computer room.

I was really excited for cocoa and Shoots and Ladders but knew I had to wait. I decided to go back to my drawing but something strange happened. The dragon! It was gone.

I looked at all my drawings and saw that all the dragons had disappeared! Was I going crazy? I flipped the drawings in all directions, frontwards, backwards, upside down. The dragons were still not there. I looked all over the couch, took off pillows and cushions. They weren’t there either.

“Henry, what are you doing? Having fun over there? Make sure you put all the pillows and cushions back the way you found them,” mom said.

I put the cushions and pillows back still feeling very confused about the dragons. I wondered if I should tell my mom.

“Uh oh, looks like we’re out of cocoa powder. That’s odd. Sorry Henry. We can have tea instead if you like.”

She looked at me and saw me sitting on the floor looking down. My dad came in overhearing the cocoa news.

“You know, Henry, I am actually planning to go to the store. I could pick up some cocoa powder while I’m there,” he said squatting down to me.

I smiled and hugged him before he left into the drizzling world.

At least the cocoa problem will be solved. That was a close one. Now it’s time for the dragon mystery to be solved one way or another.

“Mom if you were a dragon where would you go?” I said.

“Hmm, that’s an interesting question. I suppose I would go wherever there’s magic and treasure,” she said.

“Why?”

“Because that’s where they feel at home. They can feel their imaginations like you can when they’re home.”

I knew that dragons liked caves and gold from stories so maybe they went somewhere like that. Maybe they were not in the house at all.

I went up to my room to do some dragon research with my picture books to see if I can figure out anything more about this mystery. I was confused to see that my door was closed. I never closed my door. I opened it and was shocked by what I saw.

There were three dragons in my room! Each was the size of a large turkey and they sat in a circle; a purple one on my bed, a yellow one on the floor, and a green one at my desk. All were holding a mug, a mug of hot cocoa!

The purple one had feathers on his head that moved as he stretched his neck in surprise. Slowly they all started to walk towards me. I froze not knowing what they would do if I moved or spoke. When they were less than a foot away from me they sat and lowered themselves. Timidly I reached out toward the purple dragon. I was afraid he would bite or breathe fire at me but instead he bowed his head and closed his eyes. He was waiting to be petted.

Behind the dragons I noticed my drawings were scattered around the room. They were looking through them. Maybe they were looking for something.

Just then all the lights turned off. The power was out! This is truly a very special cocoa day. The dragons’ scales and feathers glowed like night lights.

“Henry? Are you okay? I’m going to fix the power in the backyard if you need me,” called out my mom from downstairs.

I walked to the top of the stairs.

“I’m fine mom. I have a flashlight,” I said looking at the purple, green, and yellow light glowing from my room.

I walked back to my room and saw the dragons gathered at my bedroom window sipping on their cocoa.

“Hreee! Hreee!” the yellow one squeaked.

“Sheesssh! Sheesssh!” the purple one whispered.

“Teeesh! Teeesh!” the green one sang.

Slowly they each made noise. The space between the dragons’ calls got smaller, smaller. Henry realized their song sounded familiar. It sounded like the rain.

 

Henry walked toward the window and was amazed by what he saw. The rain was glowing with colors! Purple, green, yellow! He went outside in it and was covered with color. His dad’s car pulled up into the driveway and Henry saw it was covered in color too.

 

The dragons stopped singing and they all turned their head toward me. They saw my mom and dad peeking through the crack of my bedroom door.

“It’s okay,” I whispered. “They’re friendly,” I smiled at my parents.

My parents walked gently into my room and crowded next to me on the floor. We looked up at the glowing dragons perched next to the moonlit window. The yellow one pointed to my desk. There were three new mugs of hot cocoa.

As I got up to go to my desk I noticed a drawing. It was drawing I didn’t draw. There was a lady, a man, and a little boy with glasses sitting on the floor of a bedroom drinking cocoa. It was us!

Softly, the dragons began to sing again. I sat with my family as we listened to them. Their glow began to get and dimmer and dimmer until we could not see them and soon their singing got softer and softer until we could not here it any longer. After a moment I got up to look at the picture. There was now a purple, green, and yellow dragon near the window along with the family in the bedroom. They were in the picture with us.

“Do you think they found their magic and treasure?” I asked my mom.

“I think we all did, Henry,” she said as we drank our cocoa and listened to the rain.

Children Stories

Zoe and Theo

It was a crisp fall day and I was glad to be inside curled up on my favorite place; Zoe’s lap. Wherever Zoe would go I would go too, especially if an untied shoelace was dangling behind her feet.

We’d play all sorts of games like paw peekaboo, circle tag, tight rope and couch jump. We would eat together, watch movies together, read together and my favorite! Sleep in front of the fireplace together!

A sound woke me up. Something seemed different. Something smelled different.

“Hey Zoe! Are you ready? It’s time to go and see your surprise!” said Zoe’s dad.

Zoe gave me a scratch behind my grey ears and off she and I went. I walked slowly behind her.

Zoe was already in the living room as I walked through the hallway. I peeked into the living room and froze.

There was another creature a little bigger than me being petted by Zoe’s mom! She had a big nose, a floppy tongue and her tail moved really fast. The creature’s teeth and claws scared me. And she smelled funny.

Zoe’s mom got up and the creature sniffed the air. She scampered to the kitchen and found my food dish bowl and ate every last bit of my kitty food! This is not fair!

At that point I ran as quickly as I could under Zoe’s bed. This must be a nightmare! Hopefully this creature is just visiting. I’ll stay here until she leaves, I thought.

“Theo? Where are you? Don’t be scared. Lucy is part of our family now! She won’t bite, I promise! She’s just really happy to meet you! Theo?”

This is too much. No way am I coming out! Zoe came into her bedroom and bent down to peek under her bed.

“Ha ha! Gotcha!” she said as she tried to pry me out. Luckily her arms were short and I was quick and small so she couldn’t get me. She closed the door and sat on her purple beanbag chair.

“Theo, I’m sorry you feel so scared. I don’t want you to feel scared. I hope you know that you are my friend and I miss you when you hide away from me.”

She sat there and waited for a bit then grabbed a picture book off her blue book shelf and began to read it until she fell asleep.

I felt lonely under the bed and quietly crawled out. I gently curled up next to Zoe’s head and fell asleep too.

I awoke with the sound of Zoe’s door opening and paws running toward Zoe and I. I froze as the creature licked Zoe’s cheek and hissed when she looked at me.

“Theo, be nice! She’s not going to hurt you. She’s just trying to be your friend, too,” said Zoe.

I felt embarrassed. I didn’t want to disappoint Zoe, so I decided from that point on to do my best to be nice to Lucy.

The next day I watched Lucy and how she and Zoe played together. It made me feel a feeling I didn’t like. But I still was going to do my best to be nice.

I noticed that Zoe would do things with Lucy that she didn’t do with me. Zoe never went to the park with me or gave me baths or played fetch with me.  I wanted to do those things too! I wanted to make sure Zoe felt that she could do anything with me.

One afternoon I made a plan to prove to Zoe that I could do anything that Lucy could do with her. Zoe was throwing a small yellow rubber ball to Lucy on the back porch. I found a crumpled candy wrapper and put it in front of Zoe’s feet and pawed it. She picked it up as I looked eagerly up at it.

“Oh, wow, Theo? You want to play fetch too? Well here you go!”

She threw the wrapper and I scrambled to catch it in my mouth but failed. I returned it back and this time I bumped my head with the leg of a chair. The third time I got caught in the curtains and tripped over my paws.

“Theo, be careful! You are being so silly!” she giggled.

I repeated it over and over. I was not going to stop until Lucy stopped. I was getting tired, bored and upset when I bumped a small wooden table and almost knocked over a plant.

“Theo!” exclaimed Zoe.

I decided to stop and walked away from the porch. Lucy kept playing with Zoe, gracefully catching the yellow ball every time it was thrown. Even with all my hard work I still never caught the wrapper!

Zoe and Lucy came into the living room where I was napping and recovering from earlier that afternoon.

“Time for you to take a bath, Lucy!”

Time for my next task!

Zoe turned on the water in the bathtub until it was the right temperature and filled up the tub. Lucy was a little hesitant about getting in but seemed to enjoy splashing around and making the rubber ducky squeak in her mouth.

The little tub that Zoe and her family sit on was open and ready for me to climb in. I was scared but I knew that this was something very important to me and had to be done.

I jumped on the seat and pawed the water. It was wet, cold, kind of interesting feeling on my paw. I liked the way the ripples moved. Zoe noticed me but was really busy scrubbing Lucy who was covered in soapy foam. I leaned in a little more into the water but accidentally leaned too far and fell into the bowl of water! Immediately I jumped out!

“Meeeoooowwwww!!” I yowled.

What an awful feeling! I can’t stand this! Water is horrible! Yuck!

After dinner I was mostly dry, thank goodness. Never doing that again. Zoe’s mom pulled out something that had a high pitch sound as she moved it in her hand. Lucy started running in circles and jumping with excitement. The leash!

The last task; breaking out of the house to follow them to the park.

As Zoe’s mom, Lucy and Zoe were going out the door I cleverly ran right through their legs and out the door!

I ran and hid under a bush to not get caught and be told to go back inside without proving what I can do. I never was outside before. I heard my family calling for me but decided to stay put. I wanted to explore.

Once their voices were far enough I started to wander. My paws were cold on the grey cement and there was nobody around. Suddenly I heard a loud thundering noise and a long honk! It was a giant metal beast! I ran back to the house but I couldn’t find it. They all looked the same. How am I going to get home?

And Zoe! She’s probably upset. I don’t want to make her scared.

I caught a whiff of something strange and familiar. Something from home…Lucy!

I started to follow Lucy’s smell, trying to ignore all the other unfamiliar smells, sights and noises. I came across a white house with a red fence and a butterfly shaped box with chalk in it on the drive way. I soon saw that across the driveway it said with big purple and blue letters, “Please come home Theo!”

Zoe!

I went up to the front door and mewed and pawed. Zoe’s dad opened the door and picked me up and hugged me. At once he called Zoe’s mom. Zoe, her mom and Lucy soon came home and Zoe ran to me. She hugged me for a long time.

“Theo you don’t have to do everything with me, especially things you don’t like. You are my Theo and no friend can be more Theo than you! ”

Lucy came over to me and this time I didn’t hiss but instead let her gently lick my nose. It was a long day and I started to close my eyes. I even found myself purring in Zoe’s lap with Lucy by my side.