Category Archives: My Stories

Sprite

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One day I found a baby bird that had almost been caught by a cat. I knew about the food chain, but even so, I thought that cat was really mean! I was afraid the cat might scratch me for taking away her lunch, but I had the courage to pick the baby bird up and take her inside. I asked my mom if I could take care of her until she could fly, but she said I should call the wildlife center first. I did, and they told me to stay where I found the bird and see if her parents came looking for her. If they didn’t return in an hour, they said, then I should bring the bird to the center. I waited for the bird’s parents, but they never came back. When I got to the center, they needed to tend to the bird’s injuries, but said I could keep her until she learned to fly, just as long as I understood the type of care she would need.
After the people at the wildlife center nursed the bird back to health, I picked a name for her. I decided to call her Sprite. Thinking that was a great name, the people at the wildlife center gave her to me and told me what I would need to do to take care of her. One thing they said was that I should take her to the center and every day and encourage her to fly outdoors, just as her mother would if she were around. I promised I would do it, but, after taking Sprite home, I discovered part of me that didn’t want her to learn to fly!  Part of me wanted to keep her forever! There was also a part of me, though, that wanted her to fly more than anything.
On days when I wanted Sprite to fly, I took her out at the wildlife center and encouraged her just as the wildlife center staff had instructed me to do. On days when I wanted to keep her, though, I didn’t. The people at the wildlife center started to notice this, and one day when I came in wanting to teach Sprite how to fly, they asked me why they didn’t see me every day. I hung my head, not wanting to admit the real reason.  Finally, though, I took a deep breath and let it all spill out.
“I really want to tame her and keep her as a pet!” I exclaimed. “Can you please teach me how to do that?”
“Sweetheart, I know how much you love her,” said one woman who was a staff member. “But you shouldn’t disregard the fact that she’s a wild bird, not a pet. She needs to be free. She wouldn’t be happy if you kept her.”
I felt like crying. I tried to hold it back, but felt even worse when I heard what the woman said next.
“if she goes too long without being taught to fly, she said “she’ll never learn. If you won’t teach her to fly, you will need to bring her back here so we can do it. It’s your choice.” That did it. I was crying before I could stop myself.
“I can teach her how to fly!” I said between tears, even though I wasn’t sure it was true.
“We’ll give you one more chance,” said the woman. “If you don’t come in with her tomorrow afternoon, we will call you and ask to have her back the next day.” I nodded, but wasn’t sure what to say. I took Sprite home.
The next afternoon, and several afternoons after that, I wasted no time taking her to the wildlife center to learn to fly. After hearing that she might never learn to fly if I didn’t teach her, I think the side of me that wanted her to won out.
After being encouraged a few more times by me and the people at the wildlife center, Sprite was finally flying on her own. I had gotten my wish, and all of me was happy. I think the same was true of her.
After saying goodbye to Sprite at home, I took her to the wildlife center to be released. As soon as we let her out of her cage, she was off! I waved goodbye as she flew away. I don’t know how, but somehow I had faith that I would see her again.

School Leadership Uncertainty

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At my school we have a Princess Club for any girls who are interested. Some of the other girls in that club wear tiaras, jewelry, and pretty dresses, and Ms. Shoran, the teacher in charge of the club, says that’s okay. I guess it is, but I don’t wear those things. I’m not that kind of princess. Ms. Shoran says you don’t have to wear those things to be in this club, nor do you need to dance or sing like most fairy tale princesses do. All you need to do is share your interests. Everybody has interests, and when you share them, it helps you become a good leader. That’s what this club is really about, and that’s why I’m in it. I want to learn how to be a leader. We all take turns being the leader in this club, because leadership is what being a princess is really about. Most princesses grow up to be queens, but I guess most fairy tales skip that part. I bet you can tell I don’t care much for fairy tale princesses. They’re so boring, waiting around to be rescued and never trying to solve problems on their own. I wouldn’t want to be a real princess either. I get in trouble so much at home, I’d live in constant fear of disinheriting the throne! But without that fear, I think I would make a pretty good leader, just as soon as I decide what to teach my fellow princesses.
Being a princess is not just about being beautiful, though I can tell some of the other girls in the club are really glad that’s part of it. Like Sara, who likes to design dresses. That’s what she had us do when she was the leader. Or Evelyn, who likes to make jewelry. We all made necklaces when she was the leader, but I gave mine to Grace, my friend from another school. I don’t like jewelry. I also don’t like the meetings where the leader has us do normal princess stuff. Those are really boring. I kept messing up when we were designing dresses. I was so embarrassed, I felt like tickling the other girls so they’d mess up, too. I didn’t, but I was glad when that meeting was over. I’m also glad our Princess Club isn’t restricted to girly things like that. Being a princess means being a leader, and here’s what I remember Ms. Shoran saying about being a leader:
“Being a good leader is not just about having privileges, power, or dominance. Being a good leader means you’re responsible, hard-working, and honest. A good leader isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty while working on projects with her followers. That’s part of why being a princess is not just about being beautiful.”
So far, my favorite Princess Club meetings have been the ones where the leader taught us how to cook something. I don’t much like cooking, and I definitely don’t like helping set out the tableware, but it was fun trying all the treats the other girls made for us. All the times I tried cooking at home, it was a disaster. Several other girls in this club enjoy cooking, though. Around Thanksgiving, Sally taught us how to make cranberry sauce. Another time Wendy taught us to make pizza. Then there was the time Nancy showed us how to make pancakes and put her own homemade topping on them instead of maple syrup. She also topped the pancakes with nuts, and I loved chopping those nuts with a nutcracker. Maria, whose family is from Mexico, taught us how to make tacos. I loved smashing the clumps of meat like she showed us, and it was really funny how she misplaced the shells. We finally found them in the hall, where they had fallen out of her bag.
I really hope I can be a good leader when it’s my turn. I’m not sure yet what I’ll teach the other girls about, though. Maybe I’ll teach about crocodiles, because I really like dangerous animals. I like aquatic animals too, especially ones like crocodiles, that live both on land and in water. I’m not as interested in marine animals, that live in the water all the time. I know teaching about crocodiles would mean a biology meeting, and so far, we’ve only had one biology meeting. Most of the girls in the Princess Club don’t seem to like biology. That’s why if our Princess Club was a mountain, I seriously doubt my crocodile meeting would be the crest. Annie and I like biology, though. When Annie was the leader, she taught us about paramecia. We looked at paramecia through a microscope, and Annie told lots of jokes about these single-celled organisms. She’s very funny. I liked hearing all the new information she had, because before that meeting, all I knew about paramecia was that they were very tiny, mostly because of the insult “paramecium brain.” It was much more fun than learning about paramecia in science class, too. I hope I can make a meeting on crocodiles just as fun, but I’m not sure how.

Raccoons, Leaves, and Cacao Beans

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While we raked leaves, we pretended the big oaken tree in our yard shedding them was a cacao tree. The acorns it was also shedding? Well, those were cacao beans. The leaves being gathered up by our thin little rakes were magic leaves. When you wrapped the cacao beans in them, it filled the beans with magical powers, that would be given to anyone who ate them. We had to hurry and eat the cacao beans before a raccoon ate them.
Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? Yeah, I’m getting a little old for these games. These were all Jenny’s idea. Especially the part about the raccoon. I love raccoons. I love all animals. But ever since Jenny got bitten by a rabid raccoon and had to go to the hospital, raccoons have had to be the villains in her games. Sometimes I’ve reminded her that raccoons can be nice, but Mom and Dad always tell me to let my sister use her imagination to get over her trauma. They say they let me do the same thing I was her age, but I don’t remember any trauma, nor do I remember having fantasies as elaborate or nonsensical as hers. If I did, I’m sure they were at least more coherent than hers often are.
I must say, though, the things she’s coming up right now are pretty cool. I wonder what kinds of magical powers these cacao beans will give us when we eat them? What kinds of powers would they give a raccoon? Would a raccoon be able to transform himself into a human if he ate these magic cacao beans? What would he do then? Would he still bite people if he had rabies? Maybe not. Maybe if the raccoon who bit Jenny turned into a human, she could talk to him and ask him not to bite her again. Maybe she could even take him to the hospital to get rabies shots, just like she got when she was there.
“Hey, Jenny,” I said. “We should find the raccoon that bit you.”
“Why?” asked Jenny, her eyes shining with fear.
“Don’t worry, he won’t bite you again,” I continued. “I won’t let him.”
“Then why?” Jenny asked again.
“So we can give him some of these magic cacao beans,” I answered, picking up a handful of acorns. Jenny looked at me again, even more fearfully this time.
“There will be plenty left for us,” I added. “And by giving the cacao beans to the raccoon, we can make sure he won’t bite you again. Jenny shook her head.
“No!” she whined. “A raccoon with magical powers could hurt me even more badly!”
“Maybe,” I said. “Or maybe, a raccoon with magical powers could turn himself into a human.” I went on to tell her my idea of taking him to the hospital to get rabies shots and then having him promise not to bite her again. Jenny’s eyes brightened, but then she looked worried again.
“Come on,” I said. “What are you afraid will happen if we gave him magic cacao beans?” Jenny thought for a minute.
“He might cast a horrible spell to give more people rabies,” she said. “Then we’d all start biting each other and getting sick!”
“Why would he do that?” I asked.
“Don’t raccoons want the people they bite to get sick?”
“No,” I said. “That raccoon was just scared. He didn’t know he had rabies, and he didn’t mean to give it to you.”
“Promise?” asked Jenny.
“Promise,” I said.
“Okay!” said Jenny. “Let’s save some of these magical chocolate beans for the raccoon. But we have to wrap them in leaves first!”
“Okay,” I said. “But they’re called cacao beans,” I reminded her for what seemed like the twentieth time.
“Right,” said Jenny. We wrapped each acorn we had collected in a magical leaf before putting all the raked leaves in the compost. Then we pretended to eat our magical cacao beans. It gave Jenny the power to fly, but I wasn’t sure what magical power it would give me. I had to think about that.
“Stay open-minded,” said our mother. “That’s one of the things imagination is best for. Maybe something will come to you.”
“Yes,” said our father. “Maybe even in a dream.”
I didn’t have any dreams that night, but the next morning, Jenny came down in her pajamas full of smiles.
“Guess what?” she asked, grinning from ear to ear. “Last night, I told the raccoon not to bite me again. Then I took him to the hospital to get rabies shots, so he would never make anyone else sick!”
“That’s wonderful, Jenny!” said Mom. “Did you have any dreams last night, Jeffrey?” I shook my head, feeling too grown up to get into this. Mom and dad looked at each other.
“Just remember, Jeff, you’re never to old to be creative,” said Dad.
“That’s right,” said Mom. “Open-mindedness comes from imagination, and so does creativity. Both are good for grown-ups as well as children.”
I thought about what my parents and little sister had said. Then I remembered how much fun Jenny and I had with the cacao beans and magical leaves. I’m old enough to know it was just a game. But I still keep waiting to dream about the magical power I get from those cacao beans.