Tuesday, December 29, 2015
Thursday, December 17, 2015
As clear as the voice of heaven's timbre
Wednesday, December 16, 2015
“Where do you think the Titanic’s lost sea chest of treasure is hiding?” Frederick said, swimming along the ocean floor.
The blue-green seahorse had scoured the ocean for years, wondering who had acquired the chest, and if he could find it.
“I’m not sure, Son, but if it’s around here anywhere, I’m sure you’d know,” King Maris said, sitting on his throne.
The British ocean liner Titanic sank into the North Atlantic Ocean on April 15, 1912, with precious jewels and diamonds, and no one had been able to locate all of its rumored treasure: gold rings, earrings, broaches, necklaces, pocket watches, and cuff links.
“I just don’t want to be like Uncle Makai who lost his kingdom because he ran out of treasure,” Frederick said.
“Son, he lost his soul before he ever lost his treasure,” King Maris said, reminding his only child that character mattered.
King Maris had ruled the Kingdom of Kaimana; his father, King Llyr, ruled before him; and next in line was Frederick.
According to oceanic legend, a sea chest with millions of dollars of treasure from the Titanic was still missing.
For at least a century, pearls, diamonds, rubies, emeralds, and gold and silver coins from the British ocean liner have tossed in the sea waves. However, no one had captured the fortune to make it their own.
“I can’t imagine running the kingdom without having more treasure than our neighboring kingdoms,” Frederick said. “You’re a greater king than the rich King Saewine of the Kingdom of Nokauakau, and I will not be overshadowed by him or his sons. How could you let me be prey to thieves and enemies? I’ll outdo you, Dad, and stock up on wealth.”
“Frederick, we have so much wealth! Instead of looking for more treasure, don’t squander what we have,” the King said.
“I know you think we have enough gold and silver, but what if we run out and need more?” Frederick said.
“If I’m the next king, then we will need more wealth than what we have now, so I can build my own kingdom,” he added. “It will be a bigger kingdom than yours, or King Saewine, and it will last forever. I hope one day a statue is made of me.”
He rubbed up against the large monuments of his father with Poseidon, “God of the Sea,” also known as Earth-Shaker. The gold and silver monuments erected by his father stood tall on the ocean basin and towered over the average seahorse.
“Find a bride as your princess and start a family. Forget about trying to amass more riches that will rust,” the King said. “Then, your mother and I would be prouder of you than if you found any hidden sea chest. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. What good is it for you to gain the whole ocean and lose your soul?”
“Yeah, Dad, but you’ll see that I was right when I make you richer than any king in the ocean,” Frederick said.
Later that night, when the ocean had grown dark, Frederick set out on an expedition without his father’s consent.
“Dear Father, I’m going to find the hidden sea chest. Be back soon. Yours truly, Your Son,” he wrote on a seashell.
When King Maris found the note in the ocean sunlight, he wept tears of remorse, believing his son was lost. “If we ever see our son again, it will be a miracle,” King Maris said to his wife, Queen Maris. “I hope he returns . . .”
After weeks of swimming past sharks in the fierce ocean waves, Frederick washed ashore on an unknown island. When he opened his eyes, he found himself lying next to a sea chest of treasure, guarded by pirates with sharp swords.
“Ahoy! Shiver me timbers! Is this the treasure that you’ve been looking for?” the pirate with an eye patch said. “Aren’t your hearties coming for you? Are you trying to hornswaggle us? You must have a bounty on your head!”
“I told my father that I would recover the sea chest for Kaimana,” Frederick said, breathing heavily on the sand.
“Aye, aye! I’m an old salt and seadog! You’re a scallywag. Why did you think it would be so easy to find the treasure?” the pirate said, now placing a knife at Frederick’s throat. “You can visit Davy Jones’ Locker at the bottom of the sea.”
“Please let me go. Just let me back in the ocean. I want to go home to my father. He’ll be worried,” Frederick said.
“Yo ho ho! Oh, sink me, now you want to go back to your daddy, do you?” the pirate grumbled, singing a chantey song. “You’re a son of a biscuit eater! Are you three sheets to the wind? For trying to run a rig on me, you’re walkin’ the plank. If you survive, then you can find your way home to your daddy and your little kingdom and booty!”
The band of pirates wrapped Frederick up in ropes attached to a lead weight, took him out on their ship, and bounced him off the plank. Frederick sank to the bottom of the ocean, faster than any sea chest would have sunk.
“Lad, take that ‘er loot with you!” the pirate yelled at Frederick, tossing a large, shiny diamond to the ocean floor with the seahorse. “Dead men tell no tales! Batten down the hatches, sailors! And get me a clap of thunder! Yo ho ho!”
“How am I going to get out of these ropes?” Frederick said, burping one bubble after another. He slowly watched the shiny diamond as it dropped next to his nose on the bottom of the ocean. “So close, but so far away,” Frederick said, considering his fate. “I guess a diamond can’t really help me now.”
Wrestling in the ropes attached to the lead weight only made Frederick more tired and certain of his demise.
“If I die here, Father and Mother will never forgive me. I told them that I was going to bring back a treasure,” he said.
Days went by, and Frederick still struggled to break free of the ropes. He despaired until the point of death. As he was just about to give up hope, he thought he was having a vision, but then again maybe not.
“My name is Naia,” a gorgeous red-orange seahorse said, swimming in Frederick’s direction. “Let me save you . . .”
“Oh, well, I don’t need your help. I’m fine,” Frederick said, uncurling his tail and kicking it against the ocean’s sand.
“You don’t look fine to me,” Naia said, ignoring his protest and unraveling the ropes secured by the pirates.
“Thank you. I really do appreciate your help,” Frederick said in a soft voice. “I was searching for a sea chest.”
“A sea chest?” Naia said. “That old chest that sunk off the Titanic? It was just a drop in the ocean. Look at all the ocean’s beauty. It’s so colorful and brilliant. I can hardly believe how fortunate I am to swim in the ocean.”
“Yep, I know what you mean,” Frederick said, realizing just how beautiful Naia’s blue eyes were in the sunlight.
He glanced at the shiny diamond, realizing how little it now meant to him, especially compared to Naia’s eyes.
“Would you like to meet my mother and father?” Frederick said. “I haven’t been home for a while . . .”
“Of course, I would,” Naia said. “First, let me send word to my father that I will be gone for a few days.”
“Now run along and tell Father that I went on a trip with a friend,” Naia said to her friend Guppy. “I think this is true love. Tell him that I will send word if there is going to be a wedding. He would need to give me away . . .”
“I got a little lost, Naia,” Frederick said. “Thank you for helping me find my way home. My family misses me.”
Not giving the diamond another thought, Frederick swam off with Naia, grateful for someone who cared about his freedom.
After days of swimming in the ocean, Frederick and Naia had danced in the waves to more than one melody.
“Do you have a seahorse in mind to be your wife?” Naia said, trying to nudge Frederick into admitting he admired her.
“Oh, no, not really,” Frederick said, looking in the other direction. “I was trying to gather wealth first . . .”
“Well, then, maybe I should just swim back to my father and let you go on your way to your parents,” Naia said.
“No, don’t do that,” Frederick said. “I would miss you terribly, and I’d probably be lost again in no time.”
Despite Frederick’s protest, Naia swam off in the other direction, leaving Frederick at a complete loss. He swam in circles, crying and looking for his lost love that he might never ever be able to replace. When he finally found her in an ocean cavern with her friend Guppy, he was afraid she would not even speak to him.
“Please, I’m sorry,” Frederick said. “I didn’t mean to offend you. Now I know that love is more important than any lost treasure. I almost lost you, and you’re a greater treasure than silver or gold. Come meet my parents. They’ll love you.”
“I forgive you,” Naia said, wondering what it would take to help Frederick realize that she was in love with him.
By the time Frederick and Naia reached his father, he knew he would have to ask Naia to be his bride and princess. There was no way that he could risk losing the most valuable person that he had ever met on land or sea.
Otherwise, she would surely swim home, and he would never see her again, even though she had saved his life.
When the two seahorses swam to King Maris’ throne, the King and Queen were as speechless as could be at their son’s arrival.
“Son, I thought we would never see you again,” the King said, after many moments of silence. “We thought pirates killed you!”
“Father, I’ve returned with the greatest treasure of all, a love named Naia,” he said, brushing against her side.
“Naia, will you marry me and help me rule my father’s kingdom?” Frederick said, bowing before the seahorse.
A tear-filled Naia’s eye as she kissed him in front of his parents, knowing that she loved him more than anyone.
“It would make me happier than anything to be your wife,” Naia said. “In fact, my father, King Saewine, is the richest king in the ocean, and he would gladly give his treasure as my dowry. I knew when I saw you that it was true love.”
“Your father is King Saewine?” Frederick said, feeling foolish that he had tried to build a kingdom bigger than his.
“Why, yes? Have you heard of him?” Naia said, smiling with pride at her father’s good name in the ocean.
“Yes, we’ve heard of him,” King Maris said, looking at Frederick. “We will hold the wedding here!”
“I’m the richest seahorse in all the ocean!” Frederick said. “And it has nothing to do with that silly old sea chest!”
Ever since that day, Frederick and Naia were richer than any fish in the sea, bird in the sky, and living creature on the ground. Love had given them everything they needed, even if they never owned the treasure from the Titanic’s sunken chest.
Copyright 2020 Jennifer Waters
Monday, December 14, 2015
“Betsy, did you kill the spiders yet?” Mrs. Lobb called from the kitchen of their three-floor New York mansion.
“Mother, please let them live! It’s Christmas, and they’re my friends. I can’t kill them,” 11-year-old Betsy said.
Betsy loved to play in the fields, and in the springtime, she had met an adorable family of spiders.
“I love your dainty webs!” Betsy said, admiring the handiwork of the spiders in the trees. “Please, come and live with me!”
Although the spiders were shy at first, they warmed up to Betsy’s charm and crawled into her pockets, never to return to the fields. For her birthday, the spiders spun her an elegant lace dress, complete with a matching belt and quilted purse.
“I cannot have Christmas Eve guests in this house covered in spider webs!” Betsy’s mother said in a stern voice. “If you don’t kill the spiders, Father will kill them, and it will not be pretty at all. Get the broom and do as I say.”
“Yes, of course,” Betsy said, gathering her spider family in the pockets of her red Christmas dress and running up two flights of winding stairs. Instead, Betsy ushered the spiders into the corner of the third-floor attic of her home.
“Go up to the rafters until my mother’s Christmas party is over,” she said, tripping over the golden hem in her dress.
“My family and I must trim your Christmas tree with webs before midnight,” said Tarantola, the youngest spider. “Each year the Christ Child comes at midnight and touches spider webs on Christmas trees and turns them into silver tinsel. This has been happening since the first Christmas. When he turns a spider’s web into tinsel, he promises the spider will live another year. If I don’t give my gift to the Christ Child, I’ll die in the winter’s frost, so will my family.”
“Oh, we must sneak to the tree,” Betsy said. “Wait for me. I don’t want anything to happen to you or your family.”
As the evening went on, Tarantola spun delicate webs in the corners of the attic with his parents, brothers, and sisters. In the rest of the house, guests danced to Christmas carols as holly, ivy, and garland decorated every window and door.
The Christmas tree towered at twelve feet tall with limbs that balanced crystal ornaments and glistening balls. Servants mingled among the guests with trays full of Christmas pies and three-layered chocolate cakes. Betsy ate crab dip with sourdough bread, making her way to the punch bowl a time or two.
“Aren’t you having fun, darling?” Mrs. Lobb said. “See why you had to get rid of those horrid spiders?”
“Spiders? Does she still play with those ugly creatures?” Mr. Lobb said. “If I see a spider, I’m stepping on it!”
“Father, don’t be so nasty! The spiders are lovely. They only want to decorate the house with their webs,” Betsy said.
“Don’t let anyone hear you say that Betsy,” Mrs. Lobb said. “The guests will think I raised a filthy child.”
“Honestly, I know you mean well, but people might think you’re not in your right mind,” Mr. Lobb said. Mr. and Mrs. Lobb turned to entertain their uppity guests, shushing Betsy before she could say another word.
“Why do I feel like the spiders are my only real friends?” Betsy whispered to herself, looking at the grandfather clock.
The hands on the clock said it was already half-past eleven, and in less than half-an-hour, the Christ Child would come.
“Tarantola must spin his webs for the Christ Child before midnight,” Betsy said to herself, counting the minutes.
“The Christ Child does come at midnight, doesn’t he?” the Widow Vaduva whispered in Betsy’s ear. “It’s time for me to hurry home,” the widow said grabbing her mink jacket. “He’s been to visit my home almost every year to bless the spider webs on my Christmas tree. Your mother must have never known this! Merry Christmas!”
“Merry Christmas!” Betsy said, hugging the widow. “You are nicer than most of my parents’ friends.” Betsy ran up two flights of stairs to the attic, swinging open the door, only to find the attic in beautiful, artistic webs.
“Oh, I can’t see a thing! Tarantola, you’ve spun so many webs that I can’t even find you! Where are you?” she said.
“I’m right here, Betsy. Isn’t it midnight by now?” Tarantola said, sliding down his web into the palm of her hand.
“It’s five minutes until midnight, but my mother’s party is still going on,” Betsy said. “My parents and their guests will kill you if they see your webs on the tree. My best idea is to wait until they leave and decorate the tree after midnight.”
“I’ll surely die, and so will my family,” Tarantola said. “I can’t wait! Carry us down to the Christmas tree!”
“If you insist, but Father might step on you,” Betsy mumbled, trying to remember where she had last seen the broom.
She gathered Tarantola and his family into her dress pockets, ran down the stairs, and hurried past guests to the tree.
“Here you go! You have about two minutes before the clock strikes midnight,” Betsy said to Tarantola and his relatives.
As Betsy ran to the corner of the room, the spiders scurried up and down the Christmas tree spinning webs.
“Is that a spider?” one of the guests said, noticing a growing web on the tree. “Oh, it can’t be a spider . . .”
“Maybe it is a spider,” the other guest said. “It seems like there’s a growing spider web on the Christmas tree!”
“Aaaah!” one of the older women yelled. “It’s a spider! Kill it! All spiders are evil and dirty little creatures!”
As she began to scream, the grandfather clock struck midnight and bright starlight shone through the dark window. The entire room gasped, and a small child appeared next to the tree, admiring the artfully cast webs on the evergreen.
“Please bless our Christmas tree,” Betsy said, walking next to the Christ Child, who smiled at her with peace.
“The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world and all who live in it,” he said, touching the webs on the tree.
As he touched the webs, they transformed into shining silver tinsel from every branch of the Christmas tree.
Then the Child disappeared in the starlight, as if he was only Betsy’s Christmas wish.
“Oh, you left before I really got to say much to you,” Betsy whispered, hoping the Christ Child could hear her.
Before anyone found Tarantola, she shuffled him and his spider family back into her dress pockets again.
Although Betsy’s parents and their guests were never quite sure what had happened, silver tinsel shone on the evergreen.
Betsy felt more than merry in her heart, knowing that the Christ Child had taken every tangled spider web and made it brilliant. Now if he could only do that for each person on the Earth this Christmas.
Copyright 2016 Jennifer Waters
Tuesday, November 3, 2015
Once there was a Dutch girl named Daniëlle Kappel who lived in a castle on the Holland coast with the windmills.
“I’ve placed my wooden shoes next to the fireplace for Sinterklaas,” she said to her father, kissing him on the cheek.
She also sat her large Christmas bouquet of mistletoe from her friend Niels on the fireplace mantle. Flipping open her father’s pocket watch and looking at the late hour, she hoped to receive many gifts for Christmas.
After all, her father was a very rich merchant who sent ships all over the world and traded rare goods in foreign lands. When she was young, she and her mother would spend hours in the fields by the ocean, frolicking by the windmills.
Her mother’s sister lived in a cottage on the coast with seven musical elves from the blistering cold North Pole. Very few people knew that the elves, also called the Mistletoes, lived with her aunt, who hid them in her attic. Sinterklaas asked them to live in Holland instead of the North Pole, so they could deliver gifts for him at Christmas.
Of course, the Mistletoes pretended to be humans, but they had magical powers in song that they used for good deeds. Their names were Joyful, Cheerful, Merry, Peaceful, Carol, Nightfall, and Claus. Since Daniëlle’s mother had passed away, her stepmother mostly ignored her and sometimes forgot Christmas.
“Now run to bed, Daniëlle,” her stepmother said to her, shooing her away on Christmas Eve without a second thought.
Her stepmother claimed that a wicked witch distracted her each year at Christmas, so she could never bake a ham.
“I hope the wicked witch doesn’t bother you this year,” Daniëlle said, quickly hugging her stepmother’s side.
“We shall see. The wicked woman always shows up at the worst times,” her stepmother said, rolling her eyes.
“Just don’t dream of Niels,” the stepmother said. “I forbid you to see him. He only gets you into trouble.”
“He’s my best friend,” the 12-year-old girl said. “Besides, Mother always liked him and wanted me to marry him.”
Pretending not to hear Daniëlle, her stepmother kissed her husband and handed him a helping of blackberry pie. Then she grabbed Niels’ mistletoe bouquet from the mantle and threw it into the fireplace and watched it burn.
When Daniëlle woke in the morning, she found her shoes filled with candies and coins, noticing the mistletoe ashes.
“Oh, Father, is this for me?” Daniëlle said, as she dug beneath the candies to find her father’s pocket watch.
“Your mother would want you to have it,” her father said, as he looked at her black and white photo on the mantle.
Daniëlle put the pocket watch in her dress pocket and felt like a princess with the special power to tell the time.
“Before the day gets away from us, would you run an errand for me, Daniëlle?” her stepmother said with a grimace.
The dark woman moved Daniëlle’s mother’s photo to the back of the shelf and placed hers in front of it.
“Could you take this to your mother’s sister in her cottage by the windmills?” the stepmother said, slyly. She handed Daniëlle a basket of baked goods and fruit, saying, “We want to wish her a Merry Christmas!”
“Surely, I would love to visit her on this special day!” Daniëlle said, as her rosy cheeks rounded her face.
Her blond braided hair lay gently across her shoulders, looking like a gift itself, as it was tied with red ribbons.
“Now I also have an errand to run,” her stepmother continued. “I am taking a pie to an elderly woman on the coast.
We will both surely be back before nightfall, and then we can enjoy a Christmas feast with ham and apples.”
“I love you more than anyone!” Daniëlle’s father said, hugging Daniëlle and wrapping her in a wool jacket.
Daniëlle’s stepmother grinded her teeth and bit her lip at the thought of her husband’s devotion to her stepdaughter.
“Now run along, and be a good girl,” Daniëlle’s stepmother said. “It’s Christmas Day! Don’t be late for dinner.”
As Daniëlle ran along the coast, it started to snow with a brisk wind, growing dark earlier than she expected.
“How grand! You remind me of mother,” she said, admiring a lovely windmill, stopping for a little break.
Although her stepmother expected her back for dinner, Daniëlle opened the door to the windmill, deciding to rest.
“I knew I would finally get rid of you!” a gruesome voice rang throughout the windmill as the door slammed shut.
“Wait! Who would do such a thing on Christmas?” Daniëlle said, crying, as she peered through a crack in the door.
To her surprise, her stepmother—dressed like an evil witch in a black gown—pranced outside the windmill.
“I knew you were never good for Father!” Daniëlle yelled through the door at the top of her lungs.
“Well, he will never see you again, or your do-gooder aunt! My blackberry pie just killed her,” the witch said. “I beat you to her house. By morning, you will freeze to death in this windmill, and I will have all your father’s money. I will kill him, just like the two of you, and I will be the richest woman in Holland!” the stepmother said.
Daniëlle collapsed in tears, falling asleep only to dream of her mother dancing on a spring day in the Holland tulip fields.
“You have the power to tell time,” her mother said. “Use your power to save your father before it’s too late.”
When Daniëlle woke in the morning, her father’s pocket watch lay on her chest, tick-tocking away. The Mistletoes stood surrounding her on every side, holding warm cups of apple cider and singing Christmas hymns.
“Oh my! My lovely elves! How did you find me? I love every single one of you!” Daniëlle said, hugging them.
“Your song must have brought me back to life,” she said, feeling her body. “I’m sure I must have died last night.”
“We found your aunt last night. She died in the foyer of her cottage,” Nightfall said, rubbing his eyes with tiredness.
“We took her to the closest cathedral and asked for peace,” Peaceful said, sighing to himself and holding back a tear.
“I sang a song until she flew to the angels,” Carol said, humming as though no one could hear him. “We tried to sing her back to life when we found her, but she was already dead too long.”
“Then we came looking for you, knowing that the witchy evil stepmother of yours would come after you,” Claus said.
“Your aunt could never find the words to tell you, but the witch killed your mother,” Merry said, patting his tummy.
“We are so glad we found you before you froze in this windmill that brings so much happiness,” Cheerful said.
“Now we must try to save your father and believe that the spirit of Christmas will prevail,” Joyful said with delight.
“The hands on my father’s pocket watch seem to be slowing,” Daniëlle said, looking at her watch.
“We must get to Father before the hands on the pocket watch stop, or the witch will have killed him,” she said.
At once, the Christmas Dutch Girl and the seven musical elves set out to save Daniëlle’s father.
“What will we do once we find my evil stepmother?” Daniëlle said, asking the Mistletoes for suggestions.
“I say we wrap her up and ship her off to the North Pole for Sinterklaas to deal with,” Claus said to Nightfall.
“That seems like an excellent solution to me,” Nightfall said, pulling up his sleeves in the cold morning air.
“Do you think that’s too mean?” Cheerful said to Merry, rubbing his nose and thinking of a fit punishment.
“It might be too mean, but this seems to be an exception,” Merry said, who always chuckled at the worst situations.
“She killed someone, Cheerful!” Nightfall said. “I think we should definitely send her off to Sinterklaas.”
“I can summon Rudolph and his reindeer with a song,” Carol said, starting a round of “Adeste Fideles.”
“Sinterklaas can decide what happens to her,” Peaceful said. “Maybe she can work for him for the rest of her life.”
“What do you think, Joyful? You are the chief elf, and we must obey you,” Claus said in a whisper.
“Her evil spirit can be changed into the Christmas spirit,” Joyful said, thinking of the highest possible good.
“When we find the witch, we will all sing until she is overcome and collapses,” the chief elf said. “Then Daniëlle can bind her in ropes, and we will send her off to Sinterklaas once and for all.”
“Agreed,” said Daniëlle. “Father and I will be free of her, and you can come live with us as long as you want!”
“But how do we know that Meneer Kappel is not already dead?” Nightfall said, always thinking the worst.
Daniëlle looked at the ticking pocket watch and showed it to the elves: “We still have time. He’s not dead yet.”
Through wind and snow, the pocket watch moved slower and slower as Daniëlle hurried to save her father’s life.
“I’m worried that we will not make it in time,” Daniëlle said. “Run as fast as you can. We are almost out of time.”
When Daniëlle and the elves reached her father’s home, they peered inside the windows to find her stepmother crying. Daniëlle’s father held the witch as she cried, saying: “I tried to save Daniëlle and her aunt, but the witch killed them.”
“It’s not your fault, darling,” Daniëlle’s father said. “That horrid witch has been after you for years. She killed my first wife. It’s not surprising that she would also kill my daughter and former sister-in-law.”
“No, it isn’t,” the evil witch said, growing as big as the ceiling of the Dutch castle. “Now I will kill you!”
The witch grabbed a knife from the kitchen that doubled in size as soon as she touched its metal handle.
“You were the evil witch all along! How could I have trusted you? You took my wife and my daughter,” the father said.
“Leave my father alone,” Daniëlle said, bursting through the castle with the Mistletoes who sang in full voice.
As the witch held the knife at Daniëlle’s father’s throat, “Papa, I knew you were still alive! I have the power to tell time. We came to save you! Mother would never let you die at the hand of this witch. She is our angel.”
“Adeste Fideles laeti triumphantes,” the Mistletoes sang in harmony, shrinking the witch back to normal size. Before the witch could regain her large stature, Sinterklaas landed in the front yard with Rudolph and his sleigh of reindeer.
Daniëlle wrestled with the witch until she dropped the knife on the kitchen floor. She kicked it to her father.
“I will not let you harm my daughter,” Daniëlle’s father said, stabbing the witch in the heart until she died.
“We were going to exile her to the North Pole,” Joyful said to the father, “but maybe this is for the best . . .”
“Yes, I think it is for the best,” Sinterklaas said, walking into the Dutch castle with gifts for everyone.
“She’s been trying to end Christmas for years. It’s one of the reasons I sent the Mistletoes to Holland in the first place. I promise to restore you and bring you and your daughter true love,” Sinterklaas said to Daniëlle’s father. “Until then, please help me celebrate Christmas. I would be so honored if the Mistletoes could live with you.”
As the years went by, Sinterklaas kept his promise and brought Meneer Kappel true love with a Greek princess. With the evil stepmother dead, Daniëlle was no longer forbidden to spend time with her prince, Niels.
The Mistletoes orchestrated a wedding for Meneer Kappel—and then for Daniëlle to Niels when they came of age. Dead as a doornail, the wicked witch never bothered anyone in Holland again, and Christmas lived on in peace.
Copyright 2015 Jennifer Waters
I am a Thanksgiving turkey named Stuffin’,
Fuller than a cranberry harvest muffin.
Once I had a tummy and big fat gut,
But now I’m full of you-know-what:
Potatoes, sausage, celery, and onion,
Just like the lumberjack, Paul Bunyan.
Apples, thyme, sage, and parsley
Have been used and not-so-sparsely.
Chicken broth, cornbread, and two eggs
Are stuffed right down my scrawny legs.
Fresh ground pepper and olive oil
Help my skin to cook and broil.
I’ve never been fuller in all my life,
But now I fear the carving knife.
If you have to eat me, at least be stuffed.
My feathers have been puffed and fluffed.
I know I taste better than the pumpkin pie,
Just like Honest Abe, I cannot tell a lie.
So, stuff yourself silly with gravy and meat!
Give thanks for every morsel of food to eat.
Be grateful you’re stuffed, and you’re loved.
I’ve been in the oven, where I’ve been shoved.
Happy Thanksgiving! Have some turkey breast.
Remember all your blessings and be blessed.
Copyright 2015 Jennifer Waters
“I must worm my way through more fine literature,” said Zig Zag the worm, who lived in a nook of books.
The Book Nook lay hidden in the corner of the library in an abandoned French castle near the Rhine River. Although there was an entire castle to explore, Zig Zag crawled through volumes of the world’s best stories. He had become an expert in kings and queens, princesses and knights, witches, and ghosts, and even fairy elves.
Along with fiction, he read theses in education, health, science, the Arts, world history, and politics. One day, a fuzzy caterpillar wiggled its way into the library and opened “The Encyclopedia of Butterflies.”
“I’m Wooly Bear, and I’ve been told that I will one day be a butterfly,” the brown-striped creature said. “Do you know anything about how that is possible? It absolutely seems impossible to become so beautiful.”
Zig Zag put on his reading spectacles and scrunched his nose, paging through the Encyclopedia.
“I’m only a worm, not a caterpillar, so I’m not acquainted with this type of magic,” Zig Zag said. “According to this book, it seems like you enter a cocoon. It almost seems like a cave, and then you emerge. When you emerge, you come out with brightly colored wings, and you can fly anywhere you like.”
“Oh, how painful! How can you say such a thing? I can’t imagine having such an experience,” the Caterpillar said. All of the fuzziness on the Caterpillar’s skin stood on edge, and he could not even feel his body.
“I would rather stay my wooly old self. Why do I have to become new? I like myself the way I am,” he said.
“Well, it’s all right here in the book. It’s very well-detailed in drawings, facts, and figures,” the Worm said.
“Why don’t you have to go through something like a cocoon? So dark and scary. Why me?” the Caterpillar asked.
“Scientists don’t say why. Maybe worms are fine just as they are, and they don’t need to change,” the Worm said. “It must only be caterpillars who need to improve themselves. I feel fine, good enough as I am.”
As the Worm thought of himself as superior, the Caterpillar decided the cocoon could be for the best. After all, the Caterpillar had no choice, so he might as well make the best of mysterious transformation.
“If I have to go into the cocoon, at least I can do it around great literature in the Book Nook,” the Caterpillar said.
“Oh, wait! It says right here that not all caterpillars come out of the cocoon alive. Some of them die before becoming butterflies. It’s a tragedy, but a reality in the lives of some caterpillars,” the Worm said.
“Please don’t tell me anything else. I’d rather not know,” Wooly Bear said, already determining himself to live.
During the winter chill, Wooly Bear Caterpillar made its home in “The Encyclopedia of Butterflies.” Despite all odds, he snuggled up against pictures of what he would one day become—a lovely butterfly.
“Hope to see you in the springtime,” Zig Zag said. “Until then, I’ll be worming my way around . . .”
“I’m sure you will be worming your way through everything,” the Caterpillar said, wishing to never be a worm.
“When you see me again, please call me by my new name: Monarch the Butterfly,” Wooly Bear said.
“I’ll still be Zig Zag, but I will remember to call you by your new name,” the Worm said, scribbling it on a pad.
Wooly Bear’s cocoon grew sticky and quite uncomfortable for the Caterpillar, even when he wasn’t sleeping. Great magic went on inside the cocoon, which the Worm had never read about in the pages of the Book Nook.
In fact, Wooly Bear, soon-to-be Monarch the Butterfly, knew he would never be able to explain it to Zig Zag. Only if Zig Zag had gone through the cocoon himself, then he would understand the mighty magic of the cave.
In the meantime, Zig Zag became more and more wrinkly as he analyzed every piece of writing in the Nook. Zig Zag’s skin flaked and peeled, and he found himself bumpier the more he wiggled his way through the library.
“How are you doing, Wooly Bear? Can you hear me? At least you’re becoming new; I feel old,” the Worm said. “I might be dried-up by the time you emerge, but I’ll be waiting for you. Now I wish I could be a butterfly, too.”
Of course, Monarch did hear Zig Zag and didn’t want him to die. He was now a friend, even if he was a worm. When springtime approached, one day the owner of the castle returned for its annual spring cleaning.
He tromped and stomped all throughout the Book Nook, straightening the novels and making dust clouds.
“Who made this place such a mess?” the owner said. “There must have been a burglar when I was in Florence.”
“How can this be? I didn’t know someone actually owned this place,” the Worm said, hiding from the dustpan. “Monarch isn’t even out of the cocoon yet. He must get out of the cocoon before he’s squashed in the cleaning!”
Zig Zag pushed “The Encyclopedia of Butterflies” under a large red curtain by the tall window. “Please come out of the cocoon now!” Zig Zag said, trying to unravel the cave-like womb.
“Ouch!” Monarch said. “I was liking it in here! I thought I would stay awhile. Why do I have to come out?”
“Hurry up! The books in the nook didn’t tell us about this part of the transformation,” the Worm said.
“There is no paragraph in the Encyclopedia on what to do if the owner of the deserted castle that you’re living in comes back and you are in danger of being stepped on,” Zig Zag said, wrestling with the once caterpillar.
“I suppose I have to spread my wings and save both of our lives,” Monarch said, breaking lose from the cocoon.
The beautiful orange and black butterfly swooped out of the cocoon and grabbed the Worm with its wing. Zig Zag and Monarch flew off into the sunset until they found a new home, a castle with many cocoons.
Copyright 2015 Jennifer Waters
Saturday, October 17, 2015
Copyright 2015 Jennifer Waters
Mattie J.T. Stepanek went to heaven on June 22, 2004, and told me he was going to fly, not walk, when he got there.