Category Archives: Fiction

The Alice Effect ~ Excerpts

….She popped the safety lid off and placed two pills in her hand. She tossed them in her mouth, swallowed a drink of water and shook two more out of the bottle. There was no hesitation this time; she took these with another drink and followed with two more pills. She continued this until she was sick and her legs felt weak. Then she stood and glared at the woman in the mirror. That bitch always argued with her. Well, not anymore. There would be no more arguments. There was a distant knocking and Ally watched as the woman in the mirror turned towards the bathroom door, and back to her. There was a pleading look in her eyes. As if the woman was asking Ally to save her. Suddenly, the woman in the mirror collapsed.

 

Ally stood and watched as a dark haired woman crumpled to the ground in front of her. With her mind inexplicably clear, she recognized the body as her own. Tom rushed in from the mirror’s right. She watched as he looked at the bottle on the counter and then at the form of his unconscious wife. She didn’t move or call out as the scene played out before her. It was like watching the climax of a movie. Only in this theater she was the star. She watched as Tom knelt down beside the Other…

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… She had taken sleeping pills; she knew that, but how many? Enough, she thought. She should have died. Now, it looked as if she had simply falling asleep and this was only a dream. She opened kitchen cabinets and closet doors; looking for any proof this house wasn’t hers. Nothing had changed but still, something wasn’t right. Suddenly, she was pushed forward again and she was falling. Her eyes opened to florescent lights speeding by. A voice to her right shouted, “I’ve got something!” followed by, “No wait, I’m losing her….”and the world faded again…

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… she ran to the door and threw it open. Instead of the front porch, there was an endless black ocean as far as she could see. The neighbor’s house sat in the distance, a hazy outline in a fog. She looked out over the water and realized this sea was dead. There were no waves, no life, not even the rank smell of algae and fungi that typically grow on a stagnant pool. And this dead sea kept her isolated from the rest of the world. For the first time since coming through the mirror, loneliness wiped the fear away. For the first time since watching her body collapse, she realized she had just condemned herself to a Hell more terrifying than the brimstone and fire she had been raised on. There was silence in the air. “Not even the breath of God can reach me here.”

Oh, don’t be so dramatic.” Surprised  she looked to her right and saw the woman standing in the kitchen, wiping down her counters… “Well, are you going to stand there all day? Come, sit.”

Ally found herself sitting across the table from this strange woman of about 30. The woman stared back at her. “You don’t know who I am, do you?” The woman asked. “Well, I’m not surprised. You weren’t even a spark in your Daddy’s eye when I passed. But, don’t think that means I haven’t been around. Couldn’t miss the birth of my oldest’s first child, could I?”

Ally stared as this story sank in. Could this woman be her Grandmother?

“Well, of course I am!” It was as if she had read Ally’s mind. “You know, I was expecting to see you on this side at a young age, but not this young, and certainly not here. I saw you, you know. Don’t think I don’t recognize what you were doing.”

“I was killing myself.” It was the first time she had spoken the words aloud.

“No, not that,” Grandmother waved a dismissive hand. “I meant with the wine.”

“Oh.” Was all Ally could manage.

“And the tequila, and the vodka you would add to your juice when you thought he wasn’t looking.”

“Oh,” she said again, quieter. She was suddenly ashamed. She had just learned that every shot she had stolen in secret had been see by someone. Her Grandmother continued.

“Do you remember any of those stories you heard? The ones your Daddy told you about growing up?”

Composing herself, Ally answered,”a little. I know…” she stopped short.

“You know I wasn’t always the model woman?” there was a smile on the woman’s lips. “No, that’s true. Why do you think I recognized it in you?”

Ouch, that stung. “Is that why you’re here? In this, what is this, Hell?”

Her Grandmother patted Ally’s hand. “No, I was never here. I did spend some time in the Shadowlands. But, just like on Earth, family came. They found me and they lifted me up out of the shadows. Hell isn’t what you think it is, you know. Think of it this way,there are many levels. At the highest level, there is God. God shines like a sun, warming you and bathing your level in light. The father away you are from that light, the darker and colder it is.”

Ally took this in. It wasn’t like any of the stories she had heard in church. That’s when it struck her, “it’s twilight here. Like just after sunset.”

Sadness was all she saw when she looked into her Grandmother’s eyes… Her eyes, if she were honest with herself. “Sweetheart, you are about as far away from God as you can get. I am not here because I have to  be. I am here because I want to be. I am here to help you.”…

 **This story has been started and deleted many times. Something had been missing. I found that something very recently, thanks to Dr. Stafford Betty. He introduced me, and many others, to the abundant evidence available on the afterlife. While I take some literary license, I do try to take what I’ve learned from him, and what I am still learning from my own research, and include it in this work. It is a slow process and I am certain there will be many changes. Particularly, as I proofread. This is just a taste of where I see the manuscript headed.** 

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The Traveler (rediscovered)

As I was doing a little spring cleaning, I came across some old pictures, a dreadful report card, my diploma and a short story. I thought my ENGL 101 instructor was the first to require me to exercise my creativity – I was wrong.

The following story was written in November 1991, while I was a Sophomore in high school. As such, it contains some child-like ideas. Also, I may have read H.G. Wells prior to writing it. I don’t remember the assignment and I think the first page or two may be missing. But here is the work – uncorrected. A surprisingly difficult task, as it is my habit to edit as I go:
(And for those who wonder.. the diploma is tucked safely away again, the report card has very deliberately disappeared, and the pictures ended up on Facebook, naturally….)

The Traveler:
“I’m Nodnal. I am a wood sprite,” the creature answered. “You must be Jonathan. Reklaw told me about you. Well, come on.”

“Wait. Where am I? Who’s Reklaw,” Jonathan inquired.

“Don’t ask questions and follow me,” Nodnal replied.

Without arguing, Jonathan followed Nodnal to a small hill. They stopped to rest when a strange animal appeared. It was a white horse with a single golden horn coming out of its forehead.

“Hello Nodnal,” greeted the horse. “I see you have found the human.”

“Hello Nicaren,” Nodnal replied.

“What was that?” Jonathan asked as the creature walked away.

“Reklaw was right,” Nodnal said, looking at Jonathan in surprise. “Your imagination is gone. That was a unicorn. Now, let’s go.”

They began climbing the hill. When they got to the top, Jonathan was speechless. The valley below was covered in blinding white snow. In the middle of this valley stood a castle made of ice.

“Dear Lord,” Jonathan prayed, “have I died and gone to Heaven? Is this your castle I see before me?”

“Is this the most beautiful sight you’ve ever seen?” Nodnal asked.

“It’s wonderful,” Jonathan commented as he began to step forward.

“No, don’t move,” Nodnal warned. “If you pass this hill you will never be able to return home.”

Jonathan didn’t listen. He began walking towards the castle leaving Nodnal to run after him.

“Halt,” a loud voice rang out. A monsterous creature stepped forward.

“I was told to bring him here,” Nodnal said to the creature. “Reklaw is waiting for us.”

“A griffin!” Jonathan screamed. “The castle guard is a griffin?”

“Shut up and don’t make Ttoc angry,” Nodnal said. “He’ll eat you alive.”

They entered the castle. There were chandeliers made of ice and crystal. The walls looked like glass. On one wall, there were several different colored mirrors. Suddenly, a beautiful, musical voice sounded through the hall.

“Who said that?” Jonathan asked, not answering the question. “Show yourself.”

“Nodnal, leave us alone,” the voice asked.

“Yes your highness,” Nodnal’s voice shook.

“Jonathan, why did you come to my castle?” the voice repeated.

“I’m not telling you anything until I can see you,” Jonathan replied.

“Very well,” the voice replied, “look into the blue mirror. Do you see that young girl?”

Jonathan looked in to the mirror. He saw two young children at play and a beautiful young woman.

“Is that you?” Jonathan asked.

“No, that is my daughter, Andromeda. Don’t you remember her? You’ve met her in your dreams,” the voice said.

“I still don’t know who you are,” Jonathan announced.

“Look into the pink mirror. Do you see those colors? That is me. I am Reklaw and I am your dreams,” the voice started to weaken. “I am dying because all you ever do is work on your machine. You have forgotten how to dream.”

“Well, what can I do,” Jonathan asked. “How do I remember how to dream?”

“You already remember,” the voice declared. “Now, however, you must stay here forever. Soon, we will all die.”

“You can let me go and no one will ever know I was here.” Jonathan suggested.

“That is not for me to decide. You must talk to Namdnas. He lives in the center of Dreamland, Nodnal will go with you.”

Jonathan and Nodnal started for Dreamland immediately. Halfway there they cam across a toll bridge.

“No one may pass this bridge without answering my riddle,” said an ugly little man. “Are you prepared to try?”

“What is the riddle?” Jonathan asked.

“What animal has four legs in the morning, two legs in the afternoon, and three legs in the evening?” the troll asked.

Jonathan pondered the question and then he asked, “Is the answer a man?”

The troll was outraged. “How did you know?” he asked. “Never mind. Go and do not return.”

So Jonathan and Nodnal were, again, on their way.

Finally, they arrived at the gates made of silver. Beyond the gates stood a giant castle. The castle was made of pink and lavender clouds.

They walked into the castle with no problems. They entered a large hall, on the opposite side of the room was an old man. He had a white beard and was dressed in a long, blue robe.

“Come forward,” he said. “I am Namdnas, ruler of Dreamland. You have come because you wish to leave.”

“Yes. Can you help me?” Jonathan pleaded.

“Yes, only because you have come all this way. Andromeda!” the young girl came into the room. “Andromeda, take Jonathan home. Jonathan, follow her she will help you.”

Andromeda led Jonathan into a room. The ceiling was covered with dark storm clouds.

“Lay down and concentrate on going home,” Andromeda told Jonathan.

He did as he was told. Soon, the clouds began to break and sunlight came through.

“You’re almost home,” a distant voice said.

When Jonathan awoke he was in the school lab. In his left hand was his time machine and in the other was a screwdriver. The time was still midnight, time had never passed.

Jonathan finished his machine and made many trips through time, but he never again forgot how to dream.


Broken

Note: This was my entry into a short fiction contest. Didn’t win so I’m posting it here again…. Some day I’ll finish it….

As water filled the tub, her robe slipped from her shoulders and fell to the floor. She wished her restlessness could fall away so easily. Pulling her dark hair off her neck and shoulders, she stepped into the water and felt its warmth on her skin. She sat back and closed her eyes, hoping for just 10 minutes of peace. She took a deep breath and stared at the blackness behind her eyes. Another deep breath and the steam from the bath fill her lungs; the water gently rippled at the rise and fall of her chest. Another breath; the feel of the water began to fade. A breath… the blackness that surrounded her began to change. No longer was it the black, murky absence of sight. It solidified, forming the walls of a room, dark and empty. Out of the darkness a shadow moved, changing as it came closer; a silhouette. Transforming – a woman. Or was it a mirror? Elizabeth stood looking at a vision of herself, but the woman before her was different, faded and sad. When she spoke her voice had an echo-like quality to it, “Nice of you to come, Elizabeth. I was afraid my cries weren’t being heard.” Elizabeth shook her head; she must have falling asleep in the bath.

“Who are you?” Elizabeth’s own voice echoed in the darkness, “Am I dreaming?”

A sad, quiet laugh escaped from the vision before her. “No, this is no dream. I am a part of you, buried long ago. I’ve been here waiting until you needed me.” The figure moved closer and Elizabeth could see she was pale, like one who has not seen the sun in years. “I am the reason you can’t let him go.”

“Who?” There was really no reason to ask, his face blazed in her mind. She felt tears prick her eyes and the color rush to her face. “Why?” she asked at a whisper, her downcast eyes taking in blackness beneath her feet.

“He opened your heart to me again. You locked me away to grow up and become a wife. You thought you didn’t need me anymore,” The figure smiled, “but I’m a part of you. You can’t be complete without me. He showed you that just because you’re an adult that doesn’t mean life has to be so hard. He helped you to laugh again, I am that laughter. Every time he smiles at you, every time he is close, it is me you feel. That part of you, forgotten. Your happiness has been lost; I can help you find it. You don’t have to be lost anymore”

Lost? She wasn’t lost. She was broken; empty… she stared at the image before her. She was dreaming. That’s all. This wasn’t real; it was just a dream; the result of shame and suppressed guilt. She shook her head again and tried to will herself awake.

“I am not a dream,” she heard another laugh, her own laugh, come from the figure in front of her. “You are not crazy. You were meditating, looking inward, and you found me. This,” the figure indicated the darkness surrounding them, “is my prison. In this darkness you abandon everything you want to forget. You’ve even tried to leave behind your recent feelings here. I won’t let you ignore how you feel with him. You feel free for the first time in years. You don’t have to confine yourself the way you do with Michael. I won’t let you go back to the fake smiles and manufactured happiness.”

“I was a part of you when you met Michael. He fell in love with you while I was still a part of you. The early years he still loved you. Then you locked me away. You thought it was time to be an adult; he thought it was time to grow up. You started worrying more about making him happy and less about your own happiness. That’s when you put me here. And as the years have gone on, you’ve ignored your happiness and more locks have been added. Now you’ve completely given up. He is not the only one that matters. You matter too. You are trying to fit into an ever shrinking mold: his idea of perfect. Do you not see the more you give, the more you conform, the more the mold confines you? This life does not belong to him.”

As she stood in the darkness Elizabeth heard the faint sound of knocking in the distance. The image began to fade. Like the slow waking from a deep slumber she became aware of her surroundings. Elizabeth was in the tub, her cheeks wet with tears. Leeann was knocking on the bathroom door. “Mommy, I want to tell you something.” Elizabeth wiped her face and cleared the vision from her mind. At least she had a little time to herself, but a mother’s work is never done. She called her daughter in, “What is it Love?”

“Umm…” the little girl was stalling. As Leeann stood in the doorway, the sound of the living room television invaded Elizabeth’s quiet sanctuary. “I love you.”

“I love you too baby, now go to bed. I don’t want to have to come in there.” It was so hard to reprimand her sometimes. Elizabeth suspected Leeann knew this.

As Elizabeth finished her bath she thought back to the vision. Whatever it was she saw it was right, she had tried to let him go… she couldn’t. She didn’t regret what happened. A marriage can be a lonely place sometimes, even when you love each other. Sometimes you need a friend to fill the void. Sam was that friend. It was so easy to be with him, so natural. The sex had been nothing more than a causal fling, but he had a talent for making it feel like more. With his slightest touch and with every kiss she could have believed he wanted only her. He had filled the emptiness perfectly.

How could she have allowed this to happen? She knew she could never love Sam the way she loved Michael, but she preferred him in so many ways: the way they talked together, the way they sat together in silence, the way it felt when his arms were around her. Just being near him, was so much of a comfort. She loved the way he made her feel. She loved him. Not in the way that conjures images of happily-ever-after. There would have been no romantic future there, even if she were single. It was the love felt for a good friend. They were friends, nothing more.

Although she didn’t really believe in soul mates, she knew that Sam was closer to being her “other half” than Michael would ever be. In less than a year Sam knew her better than the man she had spent 15 years with. Michael saw her for what he wanted her to be…. Sam saw her for what she was. No matter how hard she tried, no matter how bad she wanted it, she would never be enough to make Michael happy. She couldn’t be what he wanted and she was killing herself trying. It wasn’t a physical death, it was a spiritual one. She felt empty inside. Life was a routine, she wasn’t living it – she merely existed in it, detached. She was walking through her life like an actor through a movie set. She knew out of all her friends Sam was the one it would hurt the most to lose. She also knew he was the one she would have to let go, but not yet. She wasn’t ready for that goodbye just now.

That night she lay in bed with Michael’s arm around her and tried not to think about Sam. When sleep finally took her she was haunted by a familiar dream. There was someone calling to her, just at the edge of sight. As she made her way in the darkness, shadows danced around her. A figure floated in and out of the darkness like a ghost. But the dream had changed. This time as she got closer Elizabeth found she was staring into her own brown eyes. She had just enough time to register the sadness before the emptiness retook the vision.

She cried out into the void and it swallowed her screams….


Guardian

I was led through the mist. On either side of me the trees were shadowed figures in the blue-white haze. The song of crickets and the quiet buzz of various insects were the only sounds; even our footfalls on the shimmering path were silenced in the air. The diamond road stretched before me, the breeze brushed it’s hand against my cheek. I could not see where we were going; I could not see my guide. I did not need to see, I knew who she was. She was the one who answered as I called…

We took an earthen path leading off the main road. It led to a small pool fed by a spring above. All around us moonflowers shined bright from their own inner light. My guide turned to me and lowered her hood. I stood in awe of the woman before me. Her hair shimmered like fire, in her eyes were flames. Her perfectly smooth skin was pale. At her breast there hung a pendent of blazing white fire. Power radiated from that flame, love flowed from her outstretched hands and protection was in her embrace. When she spoke her voice was music and the night took up her song. I don’t remember what she said to me, I only know I will never be alone. She is always there, watching over me.


Reflection (portion)

Liz stepped from the shower and onto the floor mat. She ventured a quick glance into the misty world of the mirror, created by the steamy shower. She dried herself slowly, delaying the moment when she would have to face her reflection. She had spent the last two weeks trying to convince herself of her own sanity. She covered her body with the towel and, with apprehension, wiped the glass and looked into the world beyond it. The shower was positioned behind her, water streaking its door. The tiles reflected the lights above her. She could see the back side of the faucet and various perfume bottles on the counter… everything was as it should be. Then she looked at herself. At first she saw her own reflection. Both arms wrapped around her, holding the towel in place, her hair hanging down around her face, darkened by the water and still dripping. Then, there she was. Not Liz, nor her reflection. This was someone else. The hair, the body, even the movement were Liz’s, but the eyes did not belong to her. They were a stranger’s eyes. Liz felt a tingle on her bare skin.

They stared at each other separated by the mirror. Liz thought the woman wanted to say something. The image put her hand on the backside of the mirror. She began to push against it, as though trying to break through. Liz saw the palm of the hand in front of her turn white from the pressure. Suddenly, she heard the tinkling of breaking glass. The glass between Liz and her reflection began to crack and spread, like the thin strands of a spider’s web. The reflected hand pushed harder and Liz’s heart pounded in her chest. She trembled and began to shout for the specter to stop. Someone began banging on the bathroom door but Liz’s focus was held to her reflection by fear. Suddenly, the bathroom door burst open. A sharp pain shot up from Liz’s hand and she pulled it back from the glass. Her husband reached for a towel and covered her bloody palm. He was speaking to her, but Liz couldn’t understand his words. They came from far away, from another world. Her body was numb except for the throbbing of her hand. She looked back into the mirror and saw her own reflection, pale and scared. Blood, like scarlet water, ran down the glass from where it had splintered and cut her. She tried to think. She couldn’t remember touching the mirror, or cracking it. Still her husband was talking… no… yelling. He was angry. She tried to focus on his words but couldn’t make sense of them. Her vision began to blur, darkness closed in around her. Liz felt her knees tremble and give way. Then she felt nothing at all…

When her eyes opened she saw her husband standing over her. He was slapping her, trying to wake her up. She remembered dimly that he had been yelling. She could see from his face that he was now worried about her. He helped her to a sit up. She could see the bloody towel, her hand was stinging. She looked into the face of her husband. How could she tell him what happened? How did she explain the visions in the mirror without sounding insane.


A Dragon For Christmas

“I want a dragon for Christmas.” The child stood before her mother, arms crossed in front of her.

“There are no such things as dragons, baby.” Her mother sighed and continued washing the dishes. How do you handle a child with such a vivid imagination?

“Yes there are and I want one! I’m writing to Santa right now to ask for one.” She started reaching for her pencil and notebook, last year’s Christmas present. “Mom, how do you spell dragon?”

“Sound it out. D…r…a…g…o..n”

The little girl sat with the pencil in her mouth, a thoughtful pose. The she began to write:

Dear Santa,
I have deeN A good gurl this yer ples bring me a dragen for krismas.
Thank you love MorgaN

“O-N, baby. It’s awwnnn not eeenn” She corrected her daughter’s spelling and then reminded her, “I think you should add a couple more things on the list. I don’t think Santa can get a dragon.” Boy, was she going to be disappointed Christmas morning.

The child finished her letter and folded it into an envelope. “Here, Mom. Can you send this for me please?” Her mother took the letter, added a stamp and put it with the other mail.

The next morning Mom dropped the letter to Santa into the box with the other bills and took her daughter to school. As they drove, young Morgan began talking of Christmas and how excited she was. “I can’t wait! It’s going to be so cool having my own dragon. I’m going to name it… hmmm… what should I name it mom? I wonder if it’s going to be a boy or a girl.”

She kept on until they arrived at school. Again, Mom tried to convince the little girl, “Honey, you have to remember, dragons are not real. They are fantasy.”

“No, Mom, they are real. You’ll see. What was the name of the dragon in The Hobbit? I forgot.”

“Smaug, why?”

“Oh Yeah, Smaug. That’s what I’m going to name my dragon, Smaug.”

“Smaug was mean and tried to burn and crush the dwarves and Bilbo, remember? Are you sure you want a dragon named Smaug?”

“Yes, because my dragon will be nice. Santa wouldn’t bring me a bad dragon.” And off she went to school, leaving Mom sitting in Parent Drop-off shaking her head.

Mom and Dad had tried and tried to get Morgan to ask for something else. Now, with only a week to go, they were desperately searching for something to get her. They both knew that dragons didn’t exist and if that is all the child had asked for, then Santa had nothing to give her. She decided that something needed to be done.

“Call Work” She spoke into the car. The Hands Free device proceeded to dial her office.

“City IT” a voice answered.

“Hi Susan, it’s Kat. Hey, I’m not going to make it in this morning. Can you mark it for me?”

“Sure thing. Doing a little last minute shopping?”

“Yeah, something like that. Thanks!” She hung up and headed for the toy store.

It was Christmas, without a doubt. Eight-thirty in the morning and the store was packed. Mom walked into the Fantasy section of the store and found the toy dragon figures. She selected one of each kind and put them in the cart. She found a large red and orange dragon and grabbed it. Next she went to the books and found “Dragonology: The Complete Book of Dragons” and a few dragon coloring books. Finally, she went into the electronics section and picked “How To Train Your Dragon: The Game” for the Nintendo DS. If her daughter couldn’t get a real dragon for Christmas, she could at least get something.

Satisfied with her decision she headed to the checkout. In the car she called her husband and filled him in on her idea.

“You know she is still going to be disappointed.” He said.

“I know. But I had to do something! It’s Christmas and I don’t know what Santa is going to do for her. I’m going home now to wrap everything. We’ll just have to hope for the best.”

That afternoon she surprised her daughter by picking her up from school. They went for ice cream and when they got home they worked on her homework together. After dinner they tried one more time to convince the little girl that dragons didn’t exist. “Morgan, please send Santa another letter asking for something else? You know dragons are just fantasy. They aren’t real.”

“Yes, they are. I know they are. Just wait. On Christmas you’ll see.”

The week flew by and, before they knew it Christmas had arrived. As usual, they went to Mom’s family on Christmas Eve, ate too much, and came home. Before going to sleep Mom tried one more time to prepare her daughter for the disappointment she would face in the morning.

“Baby, I don’t want you to be upset in the morning, OK. I know you were hoping for a dragon, but they just don’t exist. Maybe Santa will give you something else instead. But I don’t think it will be a dragon.”

“Mom!” then she sighed. “You’ll see.”

Sadly, Mom and Dad went to bed. They prepared for the worst, a sad little girl on Christmas.

“Mom.” She heard a whisper in her ear. “Mom, wake up. You have to see this.” Mom opened her eyes and saw the smiling face of her little girl.

“What is it, Baby?” She asked as she stretched and sat up.

“Shhh, you have to be quiet. Come on.” Mom saw Dad standing behind the child with a look of disbelief.

“What?” She began to grow concerned and jumped out of bed. They followed Morgan down the hall, Dad still hadn’t said anything.

Morgan stopped and said, “OK, now look. But be quiet or you’ll wake it up.”
Confused Mom peeked around the corner and there, curled up under the Christmas tree fast asleep, was a real baby dragon. It was about the size of a small puppy and as it snored wisps of smoke came from it’s nostrils. Mom stood and stared in wonder.

Dad handed her a note. “This was in the tree addressed to us.” She took the note and read:

Dear Mom & Dad,
I have given Morgan a baby Dragon, just like she asked. Do not worry. It will not get any bigger than Nina, your Queensland Heeler. Also, it does not make fire and never will. It is a special breed. She may even be one of a kind. I found her wandering outside my work shop shortly after getting Morgan’s letter. I do not believe it was coincidence. She is quiet and loving. Please take very good care of her. There are so few wonders left in this world.
I have left instructions on how to care for her under the tree. I trust you will all do your best to make sure she is well cared for. Merry Christmas!
Santa Claus
P.S. Let this be a lesson to you… Never underestimate the strength of a child’s faith. Sometimes, that faith is enough to turn fantasy into reality. We all have the power to create… what we lack is faith in the impossible. My gift to you this Christmas is advice: Take time to think like a child and you will open yourself to worlds you’ve never dreamed of… Good luck!

Mom put the note down and watched as the sleeping dragon stretched and opened its eyes. Morgan reached down and began to pet its head. With smiling eyes the little girl said, “This is the best Christmas ever!”


A Story For Morgan (Draft)

Morgan put her shoes on and walked outside to see Nina. “Good morning!” she said cheerfully. “gggruff” Nina the Dog barked in reply. Morgan heard her mother call from the house, “Be careful Hobbit! Stay on this street!”

“OK, Mom!” she called back. “Hi Daddy,” Morgan’s father was working out in the garage. He was always in the garage.

“Hello,” he smiled. “Where are you going?”

“I’m going to take Nina to the park.” She said as she started down the driveway.

“Wait just a minute. Did you feed Pepsee and George?” He asked, knowing she was a forgetful child.

“Ummm…. I’m doing it right now.” She started back into the house. Nina followed her back to the door. The pup, who normally sat patiently waiting at the door, began to growl and whimper. Morgan reached down and patted Nina’s head “It’s OK, girl. I’ll be right back and we’ll go.” Nina just barked at the back door, blocking Morgan’s path. “Daddy! Nina won’t get out of the way.” Morgan’s father came over and grabbed the dog by her collar.

“OK, go on in, I’ve got her.”

Morgan walked back into the house. Her mother was no longer at the kitchen sink. “Mom?” she called out. There was no answer. Nina continued to bark outside. Morgan walked over to Pepsee’s cage first. The small parakeet was having a fit, squawking and flapping in her cage. Morgan spoke softly to her as she filled the dishes with fresh seed and water. Then, she did the same with George’s dishes. “I’m going now!” she shouted out again. Her mother still didn’t answer but Morgan thought she heard whispers as she walked back outside.

Again, Nina sprang at the door growling and nearly tripped Morgan as she tried to run through. Morgan grabbed her collar just in time. “Let’s go girl.” She dragged the pup away from the door and out onto the sidewalk. Then, the two friends headed to the park.

Meadow Street Park was only four houses down from Morgan’s, at the end of the cul-de-sac. Nina stayed extra close as they walked, nearly tripped the child several times on the way. Morgan went straight to the swings and Nina stood guard beside her. “What’s the matter, girl? Don’t you want to sniff the trees?” Even though she was young, Morgan was bright and she was aware the something was wrong with Nina. “Are you sick?” She asked as she kneeled in front of the dog and patted her head. Nina just whimpered and barked. She laid her head in the child’s lap and continued to cry. “OK, let’s go home. Come on, Nina.” Morgan stood to go.

On the way home Nina tried to run but had to stop and wait for Morgan, who saw no reason to hurry. She was concerned about Nina’s behavior but, as usual, reality gave way to daydreams and Morgan wandered home in her own world. Nina ran in front of her and even tried to push the child along.

“Dad, something’s wrong with Nina!” Morgan said as she walked into the garage. Dad, however, was nowhere to be seen. Nina stood barking and scratching at the backdoor. When Morgan opened it to go in, Nina rushed past her. “Nina! No!” The pup ignored her and ran down the hall…

“Mom! Mom! Dad! Dad!” The words came in short barks. “Gone! They’re gone!” Nina ran back down the hall to the child. “Morgan! They’re gone!” Morgan stared at the dog. Nina grabbed the child’s shirt with her teeth and began to pull. “Come on. We have to find them!” The words came from the dog’s clenched teeth.

“Nina, you can talk!” Was all the child could manage to say. Suddenly, there was a fuzzy weight against Morgan’s leg. She looked down to see George, her orange tabby, sitting against her. He was shivering.

“Thank goodness you’re back. I saw the whole thing from under the bed. It was horrible.” The cat gave another shudder.

“Shut up Cat!” Nina barked. “You saw the whole thing and didn’t help?”

George sat straighter and raised his head. “What did you expect me to do Dog? They were witches. I’m not one of their kind. They would have boiled me.”

Morgan stared at the two animals as they sized each other up. The tension was broken by a small voice. “Hello? Can you come in here please? I can’t see you and I’m feeling left out.”

Morgan walked in to the living room, where the voice came from. There, on her perch, sat Pepsee. She was watching Morgan and fluffed when she saw her. “There, that’s better. Now, are you going to ask me if I saw the witches?” The parakeet looked sweetly at Morgan.

“Pepsee!” Morgan looked at her bird with surprise. “You can talk too?”

“Of course I can talk. Now, about the witches…” The small wings began to flutter as the little bird became excited about her story. “I saw Mom standing over there in the food room. Suddenly, she wasn’t there anymore. But I never saw what happened to her.” From somewhere at her feet George answered.

“They were witches, with black hats and everything. I know because I saw them.” He sounded proud for having remembered these details.

“Yes. You saw them but you didn’t stop them,” barked Nina.

It is a strange thing with young children that, once the initial surprise has hit, they move right into acceptance. Morgan, having just heard her three pets speak, moved past the surprise and began to worry about her parents. “Stop arguing,” she told the animals, as though it was a common occurrence. Then, probably because it is what her father would have said, “Why do you always have to argue?”

“We have to find Mom and Dad!” Nina was staring at Morgan with her sad, puppy eyes. She was, after all, a child herself.

“OK, OK,” Morgan began pacing. “We need help.”

“Call 9-1-1!” The small shout came from the bird. “Isn’t that what Mom said to do.”

“And tell them what?” George asked in his relaxed, cat-like way. “Help, Mom and Dad have been taken by witches?”

“Well, we have to do something!” Nina whimpered.

“Ask the Wizard for help.” George answered.

“What wizard?” Morgan asked.

“That one”, the cat responded and looked towards the door. Suddenly, an old man with a long, white beard appeared out of thin air.

Morgan, who had been taught to never talk to strangers, took a step back and stared at the wizard. He was exactly as a wizard should be: he wore a long, colorful robe (mostly purple) and a tall, pointy hat. His beard was longer than Santa Claus’ and just as white. He had long bushy eyebrows and, though he looked very sad at the moment, his eyes twinkled like starlight.

“Hello child”, his voice was soft and kind, “do not be afraid. I have come to help.” He smiled and Morgan could see the stars twinkling in his eyes. She smiled back.

“Where did you come from?” It wasn’t what she had wanted to ask, but it was the first thing that she said. “I mean..”

The wizard just laughed, “Perhaps we can sit and talk. I will tell you everything I can. But there isn’t much time. The sisters have your parents and only you can get them back.”

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