AMY'S MAGIC CHRISTMAS
Snowflakes began to fall from the gray sky above Amy Clayton, just as she was about to enter the downtown mall. She was glad she had decided to wear her jacket with the hood today. It would probably be snowing heavily by the time she finished her business here and was ready to head for home. Once inside the mall, she took refuge away from the numerous holiday shoppers and stuck her right hand into the pocket of her jacket. She withdrew the small news ad and viewed it again.
Helper wanted for holiday season. Part time only. 4 to 6 weekdays, 9-6 Saturdays and Sundays. Must be neat, courteous and reliable. Apply in person at Jensen's Toy Shoppe in the downtown mall.
Amy slipped the news ad back in her pocket, brushed a few wet snow spots from her jacket, then looked around. She spotted the Jensen Toy Shoppe on the tier to her left. With a slight feeling of fear, she nonetheless gathered up all the strength she could muster, and headed for the escalator that would take her to the upper tier. It was no wonder Amy was experiencing just a little bit of fear, perhaps mixed with some anxiety and apprehension. After all, she was only ten years of age, and this would be her first try at applying for a job.
She exited the escalator, almost bumping into an older woman, whose hands were filled with shopping bags. After excusing herself, she headed with unsure feet to the toy shoppe. The shoppe was crowded and, for a moment, Amy almost forgot why she was there, as her brilliant blue eyes scanned all the wonderful new toys the shoppe offered for sale. She was looking longingly at a beautiful stuffed animal when a dark haired sales lady approached her from behind.
"Can I help you?" the lady spoke out.
Amy turned and looked at her, and tried to smile.
"That's one of our finest bears," the lady said. "And he is only twenty-five dollars. Shall I wrap it up for you, young lady?"
"Oh, no, " Amy murmured, a bit nervously. "I was just looking at him. He is nice though, but I am not here to buy anything."
"Oh?" came the saleslady's response. "So, you are just window shopping, is that it?"
"Uh, no, " Amy replied awkwardly. "I'm not doing that either. I'm here about the job."
"The job?" the lady said, looking puzzled.
"Yes," Amy said quickly. "The helper's job. Is it already taken?" Then Amy withdrew the now crumpled news ad from her jacket pocket and handed it to the woman. The woman read it quickly, then looked down and smiled at Amy.
"How old are you, dear?" the sales lady asked her politely.
"Ten," Amy said truthfully.
The woman smiled again. "Well, you are much too young, I'm afraid," she explained in a soothing voice. "You see, state laws forbid us from hiring anyone under the age of sixteen."
"But I'm a good worker," Amy told her. "My teacher, Mrs. Evans, says I am the best worker in her class, and I help my mom at home, too. I can do lots of things. I can clean, sweep, do dishes, and lots of other things. Sometimes, I even help my mom with cooking meals."
"I'm sure you do, dear," the saleslady said, admiring this young girl's attitude and determination. "And I'll bet you would make a truly fine and capable employee, but the law is very clear on that sort of thing. You wouldn't want to get us, or yourself, in any trouble, would you?"
"Oh, no," Amy stated honestly. "I wouldn't want to do that. I just want a job. You see, my dad lost his job at the insurance company where he worked, and my mom has to stay home because I have a new baby sister that she has to take care of. I have a smaller brother, too, but he's seven now, and not so much trouble any more. I thought if I could get a job, like after school and on weekends, I could help my mom and dad pay some bills, and maybe we could even have a nice Christmas this year."
"Well, that certainly is very admirable and unselfish of you, but we just could not hire you because of your age, you see?"
"I -- I guess so, " Amy responded, a look of sorrow crossing her pretty face. "I didn't know there was any law against working."
"If you come back and see us when you are sixteen, I am sure we could find a spot here for you," the woman told her sympathetically. The woman extended her hand and Amy shook it.
"I'm sorry we can't hire you, " she told Amy. "and I hope things work out for you and your family. Everyone should be able to have a nice Christmas."
"That's what I think, too, " Amy said. "That's why I was trying to get this job."The woman nodded her head in comprehension, then walked with Amy to the entrance of the store. A tear formed in Amy's left eye as she departed the toy shoppe and headed to the escalator.
Now she would have to go home unemployed, she was thinking, and there would be no toys for Justin or baby Nicole this Christmas, or for herself either. There might not even be a turkey or ham, she pondered, as she crashed into a well dressed older chubby man in his sixties.
"Ooops, I'm sorry," Amy announced, looking up at the man.
The man, clad in a dark blue suit, expensive blue top coat, and the shiniest black shoes Amy had ever seen, smiled down at her.
"Oh, no problem, my child," the man told her. "I think it was my fault anyway. I apparently wasn't looking where I was going. You see, my eyes were busy gazing at that elegant doll in the window over there. That is some spectacular doll, isn't it?"
Amy turned her head in the direction the man was indicating, and she saw the doll he was referring to.
"Oh, yes, " Amy said with a sigh. "That's a very pretty doll."
"Do you think a four year old girl would like that doll?" he asked Amy.
Amy gave him her opinion swiftly. "Yes, " Amy replied. "I'm sure any four year old girl would love to have that doll."
The man smiled as his eyes looked over at the doll in the store front window more intently. As he did this, Amy's own eyes focused in on his face. She could not believe how much this man looked like her lategrandfather, who had died of a heart attack just last year. His hair was as white as her grandfather's had been, and he even had a somewhat ruddy
complexion, and blue eyes, which seemed to twinkle when he smiled, justlike her grandfather's used to.
"Well, thank you, young lady, for your help," the man said. "I think I shall purchase that doll for my granddaughter. It will be my gift to her this Christmas."
"I'm sure she will like it," Amy commented. "Well, I have to be going now. I have to get home."
"Doesn't look like you did much shopping today," the man said to her, noting that her arms were minus shopping bags.
"Oh, no, " Amy informed him. "I didn't. I came here for a job, not to shop."
"A job?" the man chuckled. "Why on earth would someone as young as you be seeking employment, may I ask?"
"Well, " Amy sighed long and hard, "my dad lost his job at the insurance company, and my mom has to stay home to care for my baby sister, so there isn't much money anymore. I thought if I could get a job after school and on weekends, I could help a little."
The man nodded his head in affirmation, contemplating what Amy had just explained. "I see," the man said at last. "It sounds like you and your little family are in quite a fix."
"That's for sure," Amy rapidly agreed. "I just wanted us all to at least have a nice Christmas this year, you know?"
"Yes, yes of course," the man stated.
"But I didn't get the job," Amy said, pouting a bit. "The lady there was real nice, but she said I was too young."
"Yes, I would think so," the man responded. Again, the man seemed lost in thought, and Amy was about to go when he spoke again. "Tell me, child, " he went on, 'how old are you?"
Amy knew she was never to reveal any personal information about herself to strangers, much less talk with them, but telling this man , who looked so much like her deceased grandfather, her age, did not seem so terrible, so she decided to tell him she was ten.
"Ah, ten," he sighed. "That is a wonderful age. Tell me, have you ever heard of The Wishing Well, child?"
"No," Amy said, somewhat curious. "What's The Wishing Well?"
"It's a very special place," he informed her. "Quite magical, so some say. Let me give you a card."
Amy waited impatiently as he pulled out his wallet, took a white business card from it, and handed it to her.
"Go there soon, dear child, and tell them Mr. White sent you. That, and this card will get you inside," he explained.
"Thank you, " Amy said, tucking the card in her jacket pocket, without reading it. "It was nice talking with you, sir, but I really have to be going now. My parents don't know I came here for a job, and they will be worried if I don't get home soon."
"Of course, " the man said, flashing her a broad smile once more. "Be sure to go to The Wishing Well soon. It could just prove to be the answer to all your problems."
Amy smiled in return, then scooted rapidly down the escalator stairwell, two steps at a time, not even waiting for the electronic stairway to transport her to the main floor.
It was indeed snowing outdoors, and Amy pulled her hood up as she ventured onto Clover Boulevard, some six long blocks from where she lived. She arrived home just before four o'clock. Her mother was in the kitchen.
"Well, there you are, finally," her mother, a short auburn haired woman in her late thirties, said to her, as she kissed Amy on the cheek. "I was getting worried about you. You are usually home from school long before now. Did the snow hold you up, honey?"
"Uh, sort of, Mom," Amy fibbed. Amy was not a liar. She never lied to her parents, her teacher, or anyone, for that matter. But she didn't want her mother knowing that she had been out searching for a job. It would just upset her mother, Amy knew, and with all her mom's other troubles, she did not wish to add on any more problems.
"Well, I'm just glad you are home," her mother said. "You had better get out of that wet jacket, and perhaps change your clothes, Amy. We will be having dinner as soon as your father gets home."
"Where is Daddy?" Amy inquired.
"Out looking for work, as usual," Mrs. Clayton said. "I just hope he finds something soon," she added, sighing deeply.
"Is the baby sleeping?" Amy asked.
"Yes, honey, she is," her mother replied. "And your brother is upstairs in his room sulking."
"About what?" Amy wanted to know.
"He is unhappy because we can't afford to get him the hockey equipment your father and I promised him some time ago. He doesn't understand, like you do, that we just don't have money to spare now that your father is out of work."
Amy nodded, then decided she would have a talk with Justin, her younger brother, and perhaps explain more in detail what the family financial situation was. It was just as Amy was mulling over in her mind what she might say to Justin that her father arrived home. She heard him stomp his feet in the laundry room, freeing his shoes of snow, then hecame into the kitchen. Amy smiled up at him and greeted him with a big hug. He hugged her back and smiled down at her.
"Hi, Daddy," she said. "You are cold!"
"Yes, I sure am," her father replied, patting her on the head lovingly. "It's freezing out there. I'm glad to be home." Then he turned his attention to his wife. Mrs. Clayton could tell from the expression on his face that nothing positive had developed today in his search for employment.
"Hi, Honey," Mrs. Clayton said to her husband, smiling as she said it. "No luck, huh?"
Ed Clayton shook his head in a negative fashion. "No, Dear, " he uttered. "I'm afraid not. There doesn't seem to be much out there these days for an insurance investigator."
"Well, I am sure something will break soon, " she told her husband, trying to sound optimistic. "Why don't you get that wet coat off and sit down for dinner? It's almost ready."Then she turned to Amy.
"Honey, please call your brother down for dinner, will you?"
"Yes, Mom, " Amy replied, and headed for the foot of the stairs.
Amy's baby sister, Nicole, slept soundly in her crib as the remainder of the Clayton family ate their dinner. After Amy had helped her mother clear away the dishes, she went upstairs and looked in on her baby sister, who was still fast asleep. Amy watched her breathe and smiled to herself. I just have to do something, Amy whispered to the baby. I have to help somehow so that we can all have a merry Christmas this year. She leaned over and kissed her baby sister on the cheek. Nicole stirred a bit, but did not awaken.
Then Amy headed to her brother's room where she attempted to relate to him the bad financial situation their family was currently undergoing. By the time she finished her twenty minute talk with Justin, she felt he had a good understanding of things, and she left his room and headed for her own. It was time to do her homework. Her teacher, Mrs. Evans, was a wonderful educator, but she had no patience or tolerance for students who did not get their assignments in on time.
The snow had stopped falling during the night, and as Amy headed for school the next day, it was bright and sunny outdoors. It was still very cold though, she noted, as she headed for the corner where she always met up with her best friend, Lucy Clark.
"Hi, Amy, " Lucy shouted out, when she caught sight of Amy approaching the corner.
"Hi, yourself, " Amy smiled. "It sure is cold this morning, huh?"
"Yeah, it is, but at least it isn't snowing any more," said Lucy.
The two girls began walking briskly now towards Thomas Jefferson Elementary School. "Did you get all your homework done?" Amy asked her friend.
"Yeah, but I'm not sure I got all the math right, " Lucy muttered.
"Some of those problems were really tough, you know?"
"I know," Amy replied. "I'm not sure I got them right either."
"Oh, I'll bet you did," Lucy countered. "You always do. You're the top student in the class. You seem to get A's on everything! I don't know how you do it."
"Well, I study," Amy responded. "That's all you need to do."
"Yeah, I guess," Lucy shrugged. "Well, at least I'll bet I did better than Emily. Did you see what she did yesterday in class?"
"When Mrs. Evans gave us that math quiz with all the problems about subtraction, Emily put in plus signs and added the problems instead of subtracting them!" Both girls laughed. "She always does that," Lucy said. "She hates subtraction"
"Well, I don' think Mrs. Evans will put up with that too much longer," Amy said.
Just before reaching the school, Amy and Lucy met up with their mutual friend, Christina Baker. Christina came running over to them. "Hey, are you two going to enter that writing contest?" Christina asked her two friends.
Maybe," Lucy informed her. "I don't know yet. I don't know what I would write about."
"Well, I'm going to enter it," Christina said excitedly. "The prizes that author talked about sound really super! How about you, Amy? Are you going to enter the contest?"
"I think so, " Amy told her. "I'm not sure yet."
"What are you going to write about, Chrissy?" Lucy wanted to know.
"I'm going to write about a girl in the fourth grade who wins the state lottery and becomes a famous movie star!" she proclaimed, beaming with enthusiasm.
Both Amy and Lucy giggled upon hearing that. "Yeah, and I'll bet her name is going to be Christina, right?" Lucy
inquired, still giggling somewhat.
"Well, ... maybe," Christina said, pouting slightly. "It could happen, you know?"
"I don't think so, " Amy cut in. "First of all, a girl in the fourth grade is way too young to play the lottery, and what does winning the lottery have to do with becoming a movie star?"
"Well, I can dream, can't I?" Christina replied, then smiled broadly. "Besides, that author man said we could write about anything we wanted to, so there. And it is supposed to be fiction, isn't it?"
"That's fiction all right!" Lucy said, as a grin swept across her freckled face.
Now all three girls giggled heartily.
Just after the lunch period, Mrs. Evans called for everyone's attention. All of the children sat upright at their desks and gazed at their teacher. Mrs. Evans then began to speak. "Now, children, as you know, we had an author here the other
day, and he proposed a writing contest for all the fourth graders here at Jefferson. You do not have to enter this contest, but I am hoping that all of you will. It is an excellent opportunity to show off your writing skills, and to use your imagination" Then, looking at a few of the boys, she continued on. "It is a fiction contest, so you can write about anything you choose. However, I do not want to see any violence or bad words in any of these stories."
A few of the boys in the class seemed to squirm a bit in their seats.
"So, the stories are due on my desk in two weeks, and the author will be picking them up then." Mrs. Evans told the class. "Any questions?"
"How long does the story have to be?" a student named Zeke asked.
"It can be as long as you wish it to be, but it has to be at least three pages in length, Zeke, and no writing on the backs of the pages," Mrs. Evans said. "It also has to be neat, and all of the spelling must be correct. This would be a good time to use your dictionaries, everyone."
"Can we do it on a computer?" asked another student named Olivia.
"Yes, you can, " Mrs. Evans replied.
Amy decided there and then that is how she would write her story, although she wasn't at all sure yet just what it would be about.
"Is that author guy really going to bring us pizza if we write a story for this contest?" asked Jeremy Flanders, who had a keen interest in food, especially pizza. Some of the kids in the class began to giggle.
"I am sure he will," Mrs. Evans said, frowning a bit at Jeremy, "But that is not why you should write a story, Jeremy. You should write a story because you want to showcase your talent."
"Jeremy's only talent is eating!" came the cry of Donald Johnson, who was Jeremy's best friend. The entire class erupted in laughter, and even Mrs. Evans found it difficult not to laugh.
"All right, settle down, class, " Mrs. Evans spoke out. Once the kids had quieted down again, the white haired teacher, with over thirty years of educating children to her credit, continued speaking. "So, children, let's get busy on this project. I would be very proud if the winner of this writing contest came from our class." She seemed to be looking directly at Amy when she made that remark.
"I think Mrs. Evans expects you to win the contest, " Lucy said to Amy on their walk home from school.
"Why do you think that?" Amy inquired.
"Well, because she was looking right at you when she said she hoped the winner would be from our class."
"Oh," was all Amy had to say to that.
When Amy arrived home, she was elated to see that her baby sister was awake and crawling about in the used play pen her father had bought for her. The baby smiled when she caught sight of her older sister, and Amy bent over and picked her up. She placed a kiss on Nicole's cheek, and the infant gave off a cooing sound, much to Amy's delight. When her father arrived home, Amy found out that still another day had passed without him finding a job. That night, as Amy laid in her bed, she decided two things. First, she would go to that Wishing Well place after school tomorrow, and see what that was all about. Secondly, she would begin writing her story for the contest as soon as she came home from that place. She figured she had better get busy on her story while her family still had a computer. Maybe they would have to sell it, she contemplated, just before falling asleep, to pay bills or to buy groceries. However, she still had no idea what she would write about. The answer came to her in the form of a very vivid and very lengthy dream that night. Her dream was about a wonderful tropical land that was somewhere far away, though Amy was not sure of exactly just where this land was located. When Amy awoke the next morning, it took all of twenty seconds for her to realize that it was a dream, and not real.
Amy had no trouble finding the address that was on the card that Mr. White had given her. The Wishing Well was located in an office on the third floor of the six story Barton Building, just south of the mall. Amy made her way onto the elevator and pressed the button for the third floor. Upon exiting the carrier, she turned left and found The Wishing Well two offices down the hall. A large gold sign on the glass door told her she was in the right place. A lady, about her mom's age, greeted her with a smile from behind the reception desk where she was seated.
"May I help you? the lady asked.
"Uh, I hope so, " Amy said softly. "A nice man gave me this card and said I should come here." Amy handed the business card that she had received from Mr. White to the lady. The receptionist looked at it, then smiled again at Amy.
"Well, you are in the right place," the lady told her. "Mr. White is the CEO here." Amy had no idea what a 'CEO' was, but she just smiled and nodded her head, happy that she was at least in the proper office.
The woman then handed Amy a clipboard with a pen attached to it, and a form. "You need to fill this out," she was informed. "You can sit down over there to do so."
Amy took the clipboard and nodded again to the lady. She took a seat on the big leather sofa, and gazed at the form. On it were questions such as name, age, address, telephone number, and who had referred her to The Wishing Well. Amy filled it out carefully and neatly, then returned it to the receptionist, who looked it over, then nodded her approval.
"Did I do it right?" Amy asked.
"Oh, yes, dear," the woman told her. "You filled it out just fine."
"May I ask you something?" Amy inquired.
"What is this place? I mean, what happens now?"
"Oh, didn't Mr. White explain that to you when he gave you his card?"
"Uh, no, Ma'am, he didn't."
"Well, The Wishing Well is a funded organization that was started a few years ago by Mr. White and a few others. Drawings are held here for those in need of financial aid, and the winners receive cash prizes. Our next drawing is in a few weeks, just before Christmas, and some lucky winners will receive cash at that time. You will be in that drawing, by the way, so I wish you the best of luck, young lady."
"Oh, I see, " Amy said, now a trifle excited. "Can I ask you how many winners there will be, and what the prizes are?"
The woman smiled widely now at Amy. "Again, the prizes are all in cash. There are three winners at each drawing, and the amounts are $1,000 for first place, $500 for second place, and $250 for third place."
"Oh, wow!" Amy replied, now much more than just a trifle excited. "That sounds wonderful! Our family could really have a great Christmas with any of those three prizes!"
The woman then handed Amy a ticket stub with a number written on it. "This is your ticket stub, " she told Amy. "Be sure not to lose it. You can come back on the twenty-first of December and see if your number is on the list that we post on the office door." Amy took the ticket stub and stuffed it into her coat pocket. "Well, I wish you the best of luck, Amy Clayton, " the lady told her, glancing down at the form to see what Amy's name was.
"Thank you," Amy said happily. "Can I go now? I mean, am I all done with what I needed to do?"
"Yes, you surely are, " the receptionist said. "Best of luck to you, and don't forget to come by on the twenty-first to see that winners list."
"Oh, don't worry, I'll be here!" Amy exclaimed, with a huge smile on her pretty face. "And thank you again, and please thank Mr. White for me if you see him, okay?"
"I will, Amy," the woman replied.
Amy didn't even realize that she was smiling all the way home. Perhaps she wouldn't have been smiling at all if she had been aware that over ten thousand people were entered in that drawing of December the twenty-first. That evening Amy got busy writing her story. She of course had enlightened her parents about the writing contest, and they were both pleased that their daughter was keen on entering it. Thanks to her dream of the previous night, the words just seemed to flow, and Amy had a hard time getting her fingers to work fast enough to keep up with her brain. It was her mother who came over to the computer some time later and told Amy that she had done enough for tonight, and that it was past her bedtime. "Please, Mom, just let me finish this one page, okay?" Amy asked, almost in a begging tone.
"Well, okay, young lady," her mom gave in. "But that's it. I'll give you five more minutes and that's all. You need your sleep."
"Thanks, Mom," Amy said, then she was briskly hitting the key board again. It only took her four minutes to finish the page. She pressed the 'save' button, then turned off the computer. This has been a super day, she was thinking, as she laid down in her bed and shut her eyes. Sleep came quickly for the worn out ten year old that night, but no dreams.
It was on the twentieth of December that the author visited the Jefferson elementary school again; this time to pick up the stories from the fourth graders who had taken part in the contest. Amy's story was one of the seventy-two entries. Mrs. Evans told the class that the author would be back in early January, after the annual winter break, to announce the winners and pass out the prizes.
"Will he be bringing the pizza with him?" Jeremy Flanders wanted to know. Several giggles could be heard throughout the class room following Jeremy's question.
"Yes, I am sure he will, Jeremy," Mrs. Evans said with both a smile and a long sigh. Then she added, "I want all of you to know that I am both pleased and proud that all of you turned in a story, and I wish each and every one of you the very best of luck in the contest."
That was the final day of school before the winter break. Mrs. Evans took all of her students stories home with her that evening, as she had made copies of each story that had been turned in, prior to turning over the originals to the author that day. She planned on reading them over the winter break. That night, after dinner, Mrs. Evans prepared herself a hot cup of tea, and settled in her favorite chair. Snow was beginning to fall outside, and she had no plans to go out in it. She began sorting through the children's stories, most of them being rather short in length. She read
the three page one that had been submitted by Jeremy Flanders, which was a tale about a boy who wins a pizza franchise in a raffle, then goes on to eat his way to oblivion. Doris Evans just shook her head and smiled
knowingly as she finished reading Jeremy's entry. The next one that caught her eye was the story that her brightest
pupil had written. It was entitled, "Faraw, A Faraway Land". Doris Evans then took another sip of her tea, then began to read the story.
FARAW, A FARAWAY LAND
by Amy Clayton
Mrs. Evans class
The land of Faraw is located in the balmy region of the South Pacific Ocean. It is a beautiful land, spread out over
three islands, and is surrounded by water on all sides. The three islands are not far apart from one another, and can be easily accessed via Faraw's sturdy bridges, although at least one of these bridges is rather dangerous to cross.
The average year round temperature of Faraw is a very comfortable seventy degrees, sometimes reaching eighty degrees during the summer months and perhaps lowering to sixty-five degrees during the months of December and January.
The southern portion of Faraw boasts some very inviting beaches, which are overflowing with warm white sand and the bluest waters on earth. Mountains, tall and majestic, filled with greenery, except for one, occupy the northern area of Faraw, and from these spectacular peaks one can overlook the entire land of Faraw. The lone exception to these many mountains of greenery is the awesome Miguel Moron-Riposte mountain of Faraw, which is covered with snow and ice year round in spite of Faraw's tropical weather. This frosty alp stands some 4,000 feet high and is named after Faraw's naval commander, Miguel Moron-Riposte, the only person who has ever successfully climbed to its summit. No one has ever been able to unravel the mystery of what a snow clad mountain is doing in such a tropical paradise as Faraw, but it has been there for thousands of years, and is truly a breathtaking sight to behold.
There is only one main town in all of Faraw, and that is the town of Amy, named quite appropriately after Faraw's ruling leader - the wise and well liked Queen Amy. Faraw is a monarchy and has been such for many, many centuries, and the small population of this enchanting land prefers it to be. There are no motorized vehicles in Faraw, as the Queen forbids them. Neither she or the citizens of Faraw want the pollution that such contraptions bring. Thus, the main transportation of Faraw are horses, bicycles and boats.
At the foot of the mountains lies an abundance of rich farm acreage, which provides the citizens of Faraw with plenty of good vegetables and fruits of all types. The lush sea ports of Faraw reap a swarm of various fish, lobster, shrimp, and other ocean treats for the Farawites to feast on year round. There is also a stunning rain forest on Faraw and one can find several exotic species of birds and animals located there. The people of Faraw lead a healthy and happy life. That is, they did until some three months ago when the news of a dragon roaming their small country sent them into panic and fear!
It was on a typical sunny morning in Faraw when Queen Amy first received the news that a dragon was apparently running amuck in the plush green hills in the western region of Faraw. The Queen, after a hearty breakfast of wild berries, milk and waffles, was seated upon her throne in her main office, dictating notes regarding the upcoming annual Faraw festival, to her personal maid and loyal secretary, Maiden Veronica, when the buzzer on the intercom atop her highly polished oak desk rang out. It was Veronica who responded to the buzzer.
"Yes, who is it?" Veronica inquired.
"It is I, your Highness, Captain Donald, your number one Royal Security officer," came the voice over the intercom.
"This is not Her Highness," Veronica pointed out. "This is Veronica. Her Highness is quite busy at the moment, Donald."
"Oh, hi, Veronica," Donald said. "I realize that Queen Amy is probably very busy arranging for the big festival and all, but I really do have an urgent matter that I need to discuss with her."
"Can't it wait?" Veronica asked him.
"I'm afraid not, Veronica, " he replied. "It truly is a matter of great urgency."
There was a slight pause while Veronica spoke with Queen Amy, then she returned to her phone conversation with Captain Donald Johnson of the Royal Guard. "You may enter, Captain Donald," Veronica told him. "The Queen will see you."
"Thank you, Veronica," Donald responded, then hung up the phone in the reception office. He knocked on Queen Amy's office door and was admitted. The Queen looked up at Donald, as he stood before her, clad in his blue and white neatly pressed uniform. He bowed to the Queen, then saluted her.
The Queen smiled in his direction. She always liked it when her subjects bowed before her. It gave her a sense of authority that only one as regal as she could comprehend.
"You may be seated, Captain," Queen Amy said to him, motioning to a plush velvet chair in front of her desk.
"Thank you, my Queen," Donald said as he sat himself into the chair.
"Would you like some kiwi or perhaps a glass of mango juice, Captain?" the Queen inquired.
"No, nothing, your Highness, thank you," he replied. "I already had breakfast some two hours ago."
"Very well," the Queen said. "Now, what is this matter of great urgency that you spoke of to Veronica?"
"It is regarding a dragon, my Queen," Donald said. "It seems a dragon has been spotted on our land early this morning, out near the Lucy Clark cove."
"What?" the Queen exclaimed. "A dragon, you say? That is absurd, Captain! Why, we haven't had a dragon on Faraw in centuries!"
"I realize that, your Highness," Donald said, almost apologetically. "Nonetheless, my Royal Ruler, one was apparently spotted this morning."
"Spotted by whom, may I ask?" the Queen wanted to know.
"By Princess Christina," Donald informed her. "It seems the Princess was riding her steed near the cove when she spotted it. She claims the dragon is quite large and was breathing fire and smoke, but it ran off, out of her view, when it saw her."
"Ah, Princess Christina," the Queen said with a slight smile. "Ever since I made that girl a knight she does nothing but ride her white horse all over the land and flash her sword at every living thing. She doesn't even tend to the beautiful flower garden I gave her any more in honor of her getting rid of that evil pirate Joshua last year."
"I saw her at her flower garden yesterday, your Highness," Veronica piped up.
The Queen turned her head slightly and looked at her faithful dark haired maid and secretary. "Well, that is good news," the Queen said. "I am delighted she is spending time there. It is a beautiful garden and needs to be attended to on a regular basis."
"Do you doubt Princess Christina's word, my Queen?" Captain Donald asked his royal leader. "I mean, do you think she did not see any dragon this morning?"
"Oh, goodness, no," the Queen said quickly. "I do not doubt Christina's word. She is quite reliable and would never tell a fib, I don't think. I just wonder if perhaps what she saw was maybe something else. Maybe something that looked like a dragon but wasn't."
The Captain pondered Queen Amy's comment for a moment before speaking again. "I don't think that was the case," Donald said flatly. "In fact, your glorious Highness, Princess Christina said she got quite a good look at the beast before it ran off. She even told me that the dragon was a female."
"What?" the Queen exclaimed. "A female, you say? How on earth was Princess Christina able to determine that, I'd like to know?"
"Well, my Queen, " Donald replied, a bit nervously, "Christina claims the dragon had extra long eyelashes and also said that when it ran off, it ran like a girl."
Both the Queen and Veronica giggled upon hearing that. "Well, that's good enough for me," Queen Amy proclaimed. "So be it then. It does appear we have a girl dragon running amuck on our land and we must do something about it quickly. I won't have our annual festival being ruined by this, and we are only two weeks away from it." No one spoke while the Queen sat deep in thought at her desk. A few moments later, she turned to Veronica. "Veronica," the Queen spoke out in a commanding tone, "get Dean Clark on the phone for me at the Lucy Clark college. I want her to research all we know about dragons. If anyone can tell us what we need to know about this beast, it will be Dean Lucy Clark."
"Yes, your Highness," Veronica replied, and she immediately began to dial the college on the Queen's private phone.
"And you, Captain Donald, " the Queen spoke out, "I want you to round up all of my ministers and advisors and have them meet with me at the Parliament Hall at one o'clock this afternoon.
"Do you wish me to fetch Lady Emily too?" Donald wanted to know.
"Yes, of course. Lady Emily is very wise. We shall need her input. I also want all of my royal Princesses there, too," the Queen informed him.
"Well, I am sure I can locate Princess Teasia at her gym. She is giving a class today on self defense to our female citizens. And Princess Kayleigh is no doubt at her castle because she is busy redecorating it, I do believe. I am sure I can find Princess Breanna at the beach, your Highness. She likes to lay in the sun there at this time of day. You can of course always find Princess Lucy at her college since she is the Dean there, but I am not sure just where on our great land Princess Christina might be," Donald said. "She moves about rather rapidly on that horse of her's."
"Just find her, and all the others,'" the Queen said. "And make certain they are at the Parliament Hall at one o'clock. I shall leave it up to you, Captain."
"Yes, my Queen," Donald replied. "Should I also summon Duke Zeke and Lord Chris?"
"Yes, I would like them there also," Queen Amy confirmed. "I will have Veronica reach all the other Parliament members by telephone. You had best go now, Captain Donald, and get busy on your task."
"Yes, your Highness," the Captain said. He then stood, saluted his Queen, and left on his mission.
"I have Dean Clark on the phone, your Highness," Veronica announced, just as Captain Donald was leaving. She handed the receiver to Queen Amy.
"Good morning, Lucy," the Queen said. "How are you?"
"Just fine," Lucy said cheerfully. "And you, my Queen?"
"I am fine also," the Queen told her. "But a bit annoyed this morning. Did Veronica inform you that we apparently have a dragon on our land?"
"Yes, she did, Queen Amy," Lucy replied. "That is dreadful news! How can I be of assistance to you, O Royal One?"
"I need you to do some research and quite quickly, too. Please see what you can dig up on former dragons that we once had here on Faraw and bring all that you find to the Parliament Hall at one p.m. today. We will have a meeting there at that time to see what we can do to be rid of this horrid creature that is stalking our wonderful paradise," the Queen said.
"Yes, your Majesty, I will get on it at once," Lucy promised. "I will bring all that I find to the Royal Parliament Hall at one o'clock."
"Very good, Dean Lucy. Thank you," the Queen said, then the telephonic conversation was ended.
It was just before one o'clock that same afternoon when Queen Amy arrived at the grand royal Parliament Hall on Kaylan Wang Boulevard in the center of town. She was driven there of course in her royal coach by her trusted chauffeur, Javier Villa, who was also a distinguished Count, as well as a member of the Faraw Royal Guard. The Queen was accompanied by Veronica and four royal coachmen, who also on occasion, served as extra guards for Her Majesty. Several citizens of Faraw were gathered just outside of the hall, awaiting Queen Amy's arrival. News of the dragon had already been leaked and the people of Faraw were frightened.
Queen Amy, being the good and strong ruler that she was, took the time to answer some of her subjects questions, and did her best to assure her people that the dragon would soon be captured or killed, and that no one had anything whatsoever to worry about, even though the Queen herself was not so sure that would prove to be the case.
After calming the crowd down that had gathered at the Great Hall, the Queen entered the Parliament chambers and received a loud and lengthy ovation from those that were awaiting her entrance. Trumpets blared and everyone stood as Queen Amy walked to her gold plated and velvet covered throne and sat down.
After everyone had settled down, Maiden Veronica approached the oak podium, just to the left of Queen Amy's throne, and called the roll.
"Princess Kayleigh," Veronica spoke into the microphone atop the podium.
"Here," came Princess Kayleigh's response.
"Princess Dean Lucy," Veronica called out.
"Here," Princess Dean Lucy said softly.
"Princess Teasia", Veronica called next.
"Right here," Princess Teasia shouted.
"Princess Breanna," Veronica said into the microphone.
"Here," Princess Breanna replied quickly.
"Princess Christina," Maiden Veronica said loudly.
"I am here!" Princess Christina shouted out, as she tapped her sword on the desk she was seated behind. Everyone turned to look at Princess Christina, due to the tapping sound she had made with her weapon.
"There is no need to tap your sword on the table, Princess Christina," Veronica told her. "Everyone here knows that you are a knight as well as a princess."
Most of the people there giggled a bit at Veronica's remark, except for Princess Christina, who tapped her saber once again, then said aloud, "Yes, and I am the only female knight in Faraw, too!" Then she smiled widely.
Again, most everyone there giggled somewhat.
"Let's move on, shall we," Queen Amy spoke out, looking at Veronica.
"Yes, of course, your Majesty," Veronica said.
"Lady Emily," Veronica called out.
"Present," Lady Emily replied in a majestic tone. Lady Emily, who was also a princess of the Royal Court, preferred to be known as Lady Emily these days, though no one was quite sure just why. Lady Emily was considered to be extremely lucky and was the proud franchise owner of the only MacDonald's fast food restaurant in Faraw. She had won the chain franchise in a contest, it was said. However, Duke Jeremy Flanders, who owned several dining spots on Faraw, including a famous pizza parlor, had been trying for months to buy Lady Emily out.
"Duchess Kaylan," was called next.
"I am in attendance," came the voice of Grand Duchess Kaylan Wang.
"Marquis Jason Harrold," Veronica said.
"Right here," the Marquis bellowed, as he smiled broadly. Marquis Jason was well known in Faraw, not only for his wealth, but also for his often outrageous pranks. He once spray painted two of Queen Amy's finest white horses a deep purple color, something the Queen did not appreciate at all!
"Countess Olivia," Veronica called.
"I am present," the wealthy aristocratic Countess Olivia Martinez proclaimed.
"Duke Zeke," Maiden Veronica said into the microphone.
"Here," Duke Zeke exclaimed in a hearty voice.
"Lord Chris," Veronica announced.
"I'm here. Count me in," Lord Chris, who was also the Minister of Agriculture, hollered out.
"Naval Commander Miguel," said Veronica.
"Present," the smartly dressed commander bellowed. He was wearing his dress white uniform today, complete with all of his medals, Veronica noticed.
"Count Javier," Veronica cried out.
"Here," the Count and trusted chauffeur replied in a booming voice.
"Countess Felicia Kennedy," Veronica uttered.
"I am here," the elegant Countess Felicia murmured. Countess Felicia had the distinction of having had the Faraw International Airport named after her. It was now known simply as Kennedy International.
"Defense Minister Rudy Hayes," Veronica stated into the microphone.
"Here," the Defense Minister affirmed loudly, standing slightly and bowing to Queen Amy as he answered the calling of his name.
"Secret Service Agent Raul Navaho," Maiden Veronica cried out.
"Present," Agent Navaho, who was also known as double O trouble, answered with in a firm tone. Agent Navaho,
who frequently sported various disguises, was wearing a trench coat, felt hat and a fake beard today.
"Count Manuel Karafuto", was the next name Maiden Veronica called.
"Over here", Count Manuel responded, smiling widely, as he answered the roll call. The Count was an honorary
member of the Royal Parliament, and had been since he and his three extremely rich partners from the USA built the new cathedral in Faraw some two years ago.
"Captain Donald Johnson," Veronica called out.
"I am here, of course," came the voice of the Captain, who was the undisputed leader of Her Majesty's Royal Security Force.
"Duke Jeremy Flanders," Veronica said, finally.
"Right here," Duke Jeremy bellowed, in between bites of pizza.
"Everyone is present and accounted for, your Majesty," Maiden Veronica said to the Queen.
"Very good," Queen Amy spoke out. "You may all be seated now. We have some very disturbing business to discuss today, so I want everyone's full attention. Is that clear?"
"Yes, your Highness!" the entire congregation shouted in unison.
"Good," the Queen said. "This Parliamentary meeting is now in session. As all of you surely know by now, we have a dragon running amuck on our tropical paradise. It is a female dragon and was spotted early this morning by Princess Christina. We must all band together now and rid our land of this horrible creature, and it must be done swiftly, as we have our annual Faraw festival coming due in two weeks and it must not be ruined. Several royal dignitaries from foreign nations are scheduled to visit our land during our festival, so it is imperative that this wicked dragon be gone by then. I will not allow a dragon, or anything else, to mar our annual festival. Is this clear?"
"Yes, your Majesty!" the small gathering in the Parliament Hall clamored simultaneously once more.
"Now, Princess Christina, since you are the lone person who Christina so far seen this dragon, why don't you tell us all what you saw this morning?" the Queen stated.
"Okay, I can do that, Queen Amy. No problem," Princess Christina said, as she stood now and began to speak about her adventure earlier in the day.
"Well, I was just riding along on my new white horse, Snowflake, seeing if I could find any villains anywhere here on Faraw, when I heard this really loud noise over by the Lucy Clark Cove. It was sort of like a booming sound, you know? Anyway, I rode over there, and that is when I saw it in the flesh! It was a huge bluish-green colored dragon, and it was spitting out really big amounts of fire and smoke!" Many gasps and moans could now be heard in the Parliament Hall, mostly from the females there.
"Oh, my God, Princess Christina," Lady Emily cried out, "were you scared?"
"No, not at all, " Christina replied. "After all, I am a Knight, you know? And we Knights are brave. We don't scare easily."
"Well, what did you do after you saw the beast, Christina?" Count Javier asked her.
"I said 'Hey, dragon, what's up?'", Princess Christina told the Count. "It was right after I said that to the dragon, that it looked over at me. It hadn't seen me until I spoke to it. Then, it stopped belching all that fire and smoke stuff and ran off. I was unable to catch it, I am sorry to say, but I did try to. If I had caught up with it, I would have run it into the ocean just like I did that evil pirate Josh, when he showed up at our sea port last year and tried to steal our gold."
"Yeah, you sure taught him a lesson, Christina," Minister of Defense Rudy piped up. "And a wet one at that!"
Everybody cheered! They were all very much aware of how Princess Christina had boarded the pirate ship and gotten rid of the pirate Josh by winning the sword fight she had with him. It was because of that, in fact, that Princess Christina had received Knighthood from the Queen.
"Tell us more about this dragon, please?" Countess Felicia asked of Christina.
"Okay, I will, " Princess Christina replied. "Well, first of all, it's a girl dragon. I know that because it has really extra long eye lashes and also because when it ran away, it ran just like most girls do." There were a lot of giggles and some snickering, too, at that comment.
"Also," Christina went on, "I saw a metal chain with a tag around the dragon's neck and I was able to read it before it fled. It read 'Meagan' on the tag, so it is for certain the dragon is a girl. Meagan is a girl's name." There was an abundance of "ooooo's" and "awwww's" at that remark.
"A dragon with a necklace and name plate?!" Dean Lucy shouted out. "That can only mean one thing!"
Everyone was silent as they all awaited an explanation from Princess / Dean Lucy as to what she had meant by what she'd just said.
Finally, Queen Amy spoke out. "What do you mean by that, Lucy?" the Queen inquired.
"Well, your Royal Highness," Lucy began, "as you instructed me to do this morning, I thoroughly searched my trusty computer for all the data I could obtain on former dragons here on Faraw, and I was able to learn a lot." Lucy put on her new glasses, which were chic looking, and which gave her a definite look of intelligence when she wore them. She peered down at the notes and papers on the desk before her. Everyone held their breath as they waited anxiously for Lucy to go on with her revelations. "It would appear we have had many dragons on Faraw," Lucy spoke out loud and clear, "but it is the last two that we should really concern ourselves with. Some 900 years ago, my Queen, there were two dragons that showed up here on Faraw. They probably entered our land from the ocean, though that was never actually verified. Once on Faraw, your Highness, the two dragons spent most of their time in and around the Cove. I should also point out here that one dragon was a boy dragon and the other was a girl dragon. They were young when they arrived on Faraw, but once they grew up, Queen Amy, they apparently were married in a dragon marriage ceremony atop Miguel Mountain. It seems shortly after that, they had a baby, and that baby was named Meagan. It has been written that soon after their baby was born, they and the baby apparently froze to death atop Miguel Mountain and were never seen or heard from again. That happened about 900 years ago, as I have already stated."
The members of the Royal Parliament were stunned by what Dean Lucy had just said, and they began chattering noisily amongst themselves.
"Quiet down, everyone!" said the Queen from her throne, but the chattering went on. "I said quiet down!" Queen Amy bellowed. „One, two, three -------" When the Queen began reciting those numbers, the noise ceased at once!
"Much better," the Queen said. "Thank you! Now, Dean Lucy, do you mean to tell me that these two dragons actually had a marriage ceremony? I have never heard of such a thing. Please explain this to all of us, won't you?"
"Yes, my Queen," Lucy continued on with her fascinating saga. "They did indeed get married. It seems these two particular dragons were very special and unusual. They were also quite smart and could actually talk." More noise broke out with that revelation, and the good Queen Amy had to repeat shouting numbers again. The noise subsided immediately!
"Talking dragons?!" the Queen exclaimed questionably.
"Yes, your Majesty, they could indeed talk," Lucy confirmed. "They also were really not vicious at all. They were pretty nice dragons, from all the information I could gather, and they were friendly with the Farawites who lived here back then. That is, in fact, how that name plate came to be. You see, my Queen, when their baby girl dragon was born, a man named Frank, who was the local blacksmith here on Faraw way back then, made a name plate for the baby. He made the necklace that the name plate is attached to also, and he made it extra long so that when the baby grew up, it would not choke her. That baby was named 'Meagan', needless to say." More chattering erupted at this point and Veronica blew the whistle she always wore around her neck, and the noise halted.
"So, if I am hearing this correctly, Dean Lucy," Queen Amy stated, "this dragon we now have running amuck on our land is Meagan, who is now some 900 years old. Is that correct?"
"Yes, that would seem to be the case, O Royal One," Lucy quickly answered.
"Meagan must have been frozen all these many years, and now somehow managed to get loose."
"Do you think she is dangerous?" the good Queen wanted to know.
"I - I can't honestly answer that, Queen Amy," Lucy admitted. "I have no way of knowing whether she is or isn't dangerous."
"Well, I think she is dangerous!" came the booming voice of Defense Minister Rudy Hayes, as he stood up and waved his arms about. "There is no such thing as a good dragon! She is probably bent on revenge! She probably blames the Farawites who lived here centuries ago for the demise of her parents, and now she seeks to gain revenge on all of us! As your Minister of Defense, and winner of several medals of honor, my Queen, I beg you to issue the order to find this loathsome dragon Meagan and destroy her! And I say do it now before any of our good citizens are injured or killed by this destructive creature!"
"Wait a minute!" Princess Lucy cried out. "We don't know that Meagan is a bad dragon! She may not be harmful at all. Should we not find out more about her before seeking to destroy her?"
"Good point, Princess Lucy!" Countess Olivia chimed. "I'm with you!"
"I'm not!" shouted Duke Zeke. "I agree with Minister Rudy. Let's find Meagan and slay her! The sooner, the better, too!"
Several arguments ensued at that point, some in favor of finding and destroying Meagan the dragon, and some against. Maiden Veronica had to blow her whistle four times before everyone became calm and silent again. Then, the Queen spoke out.
"It seems we have a problem here," The Queen said to one and all. "Therefore, we shall resolve this matter by voting. Those in favor of seeking and destroying this dragon raise your hands now, but remain seated. Those who are opposed to destroying the dragon and finding out more about her first, please stand up, but do not raise your hands."
Maiden Veronica calculated the votes, and by a majority of two votes it was decided that the dragon Meagan would be sought after and destroyed upon sighting. Dean Lucy and Countess Olivia, who had opposed the majority ruling, began to cry softly.
"Very well," the Queen said. "We have voted and the ruling is to seek out and destroy this dragon. So be it." Then Queen Amy issued the royal order to Captain Donald.
"I will gather my finest soldiers, " Captain Donald told the Queen, "and we shall hunt down this creature at once, your Majesty."
"See that you do, " the Queen told him. She then dismissed the Parliamentary session and everyone left the spacious chamber.
It was in the outer hallway that Princess Lucy and Countess Olivia met up with one another. "We must not let this happen, Olivia," Dean Lucy said softly to the Countess.
"But what can we do about it, Lucy?" the Countess asked. "the Parliament has voted and Queen Amy has already issued the royal order to destroy Meagan."
"We must get those that voted against killing Meagan to join forces with us, then reach Meagan before Captain Donald and the others who want her destroyed," Lucy told Olivia. "There is no time to waste if we are to save Meagan from slaughter!"
Very soon, teams of sort were formed. Dean/Princess Lucy, Countess Olivia, Naval Commander Miguel, Secret Agent Raul, Princess Breanna and Princess Kayleigh banned together, all six of them hoping to save Meagan from harm.
Minister of Defense Rudy, Duke Zeke, Marquis Jason, Lord Chris, Count Javier, Baron Manuel and Princess Teasia joined up with Captain Donald and his soldiers to try and find the dragon and destroy her. Countess Felicia agreed to let Captain Donald and his group use her airport as a command center.
Lady Emily volunteered to supply both groups, free of charge, all the hamburgers and french fries they could carry with them on their mission. Duke Jeremy offered to keep his pizza parlor open later than usual, in case anyone wanted pizza instead of burgers. He claimed he was temporarily out of pepperoni though. Duchess Kaylan supplied fresh horses for Princess Lucy's group, and consented to also be a guide for them. The dark haired Duchess was one of the few people who had successfully crossed the perilous Veronica Corona-Mann bridge at night time, and both teams knew that treacherous bridge might have to be crossed in order to locate Meagan the dragon. It was close to sunset on Faraw when at last both teams were ready to try and find Meagan. Their missions started out in opposite directions. Captain Donald and his crew headed west, and Princess Lucy and her gallant squad decided to head east.
It wasn't long before darkness blanketed all of Faraw. The ocean breezes began to blow and howl on this particular night, and of course that signaled to one and all that a major storm would soon be coming. The beautiful bright stars which were usually visible in the skies over Faraw were not to be seen on this night. Instead, dark stormy clouds hung angrily overhead.
"It looks like we're in for a horrible storm," Countess Olivia said to Lucy as she rode alongside her on her faithful horse, Skyhawk.
"Yes, it appears that way, " Lucy replied, looking upward towards the dark clouds, as she steadied her jet black horse, Midnight, who was bucking somewhat as huge raindrops began to fall on his head. "We aren't going to let the weather stop us from saving Meagan, are we, gang?" she shouted back to her troop.
"No! We must save Meagan at all costs!", they all responded loudly, and with hearty enthusiasm, as drops of rain began to pour down from the clouds above them.
Meanwhile, in the northern sector of Faraw, a rain soaked Princess Christina was preparing to mount her trusty horse, Snowflake. She tapped her sword for luck, then shouted out,
"Giddyup, Snowflake!" And off she rode, headed for the area where she had seen Meagan earlier in the day.
On the other side of Faraw, far to the south, Lady Emily, who had now closed her McDonald's franchise for the night, and Countess Felicia, who had left her airport in the hands of Captain Donald's command post personnel, were preparing their very own expedition to locate Meagan. Thunder boomed loudly and large streaks of lightning flashed across the sky as these two brave girls mounted their horses and took off for parts unknown.
Queen Amy, being the regal soul that she was, had no intention of getting herself rained on. She was at this hour seated most comfortably in front of one of her many palace fireplaces, watching her devoted maid and secretary, Veronica, stoke the fire while she dined on a tasty pizza from Duke Jeremy's and sipped a soda from a crystal glass.
The storm grew increasingly more severe, and all those that were out in it were now soaked to their skin. Nonetheless, the hunt for Meagan continued onward by one and all, and just after two a.m. in the morning the dragon was finally spotted. It was Lord Chris who spotted Meagan, breathing fire and smoke from an area on the other side of the menacing Veronica Corona-Mann bridge.
"There she is!" Lord Chris shouted out to his Captain. "Let's get her!"
Without waiting for a response from Captain Donald, Lord Chris charged full force ahead on his horse, and it was just a few seconds later when a loud splash could be heard from below. Lord Chris and his horse had fallen into the turbulent waters beneath the unsafe bridge. Duke Zeke and Marquis Jason had to dive into the perilous waters to save him, and save him they did. Captain Donald built a campfire to warm Lord Chris, and as he and the rest of Donald's crew stood around the campfire, trying desperately to get warm and dry, Meagan escaped into an enormous cave that was just north of the bridge.
It was just moments later that Princess Christina arrived. However, since she had departed for the hunt from the northern sector of Faraw, she did not have to cross over the precarious bridge. She spotted the fire across the bridge, where Captain Donald and his assemblage were trying to warm themselves, and she shouted over to him.
"Hey, Captain Donald, " Princess Christina called out. "Have you seen any sign of the dragon?"
"Yes, " Donald bellowed. "She is in the cave over there."
Donald pointed out the cave with his hand and even in the dense rainfall, Christina could see it. She looked towards the cave and just as she did, a huge burst of fire and smoke shot out from within it. Christina backed up a few steps, then hunched over, trying to see into the cave, but it was way too dark for her to see anything.
"I'm going in after her, " Princess/Knight Christina shouted out to Donald, as she drew her sword from its resting place.
"Don't be crazy, Princess," Donald hollered, just as a fierce streak of lightning illuminated the sky. "That dragon is huge and she will eat you like a marshmallow!"
Just as Christina was deciding whether to really enter the cave or not, she heard the sounds of horses galloping nearby. She turned to see Princess/Dean Lucy and her band of courageous riders come into view to her left. They too had not needed to cross the dangerous Veronica Corona-Mann bridge.
"Wait, Christina," Lucy called out, as she halted her horse nearby and leaped to the ground. "Don't go in there! You could be seriously injured or even killed!"
"I must go in, " Christina replied. "I am a knight and it is my duty to rid Faraw of this dragon. That dragon is dangerous. She has already spit out fire and smoke from the cave. She will kill us all if we don't destroy her first!"
"She isn't dangerous," Lucy protested. "She's just scared is all! She is only spouting her fire and smoke in self defense because she knows she is being hunted."
Princess Christina thought about what Dean Lucy had just said, and finally relented, just as Lady Emily and Countess Felicia rode up to where Captain Donald and his troops were across the way by the campfire.
"What's going on?" Lady Emily asked of Donald. "Has anyone seen Meagan yet?"
"Yes," Donald informed her. "She is over there, across the bridge, hiding in that big cave." He extended his arm and pointed out the cave to Lady Emily and Countess Felicia, who now dismounted from her mustang, named Sally, and came over to warm herself by the fire.
"Princess Christina was going to go in the cave after Meagan," Donald told them, "but I think Dean Lucy talked her out of it."
Lady Emily, Countess Felicia, and the rest of Donald's troops watched through the stormy weather as Dean/Princess Lucy and Countess Olivia now approached the opening of the cave. Princess/Knight Christina stood steadily nearby, her sword in hand, in readiness.
"What are Dean Lucy and Countess Olivia doing?" Count Javier inquired of Captain Donald.
"I'm not sure, " Donald replied, "but it looks like Olivia and Lucy are going to go inside the cave."
"Well, that will be the end of those two girls!" Minister of Defense Rudy yelled out. "They must be insane! That dragon will eat them alive!"
"I hope not, " Princess Teasia cried out. Tears of fright for Olivia and Lucy were streaming down her cheeks and Baron Manuel had to console her.
Across the bridge, where Lucy and Olivia were getting closer and closer to the cave's opening, Princess Breanna shouted out to them, "Please be careful, Lucy and Olivia!" She was shaking fearfully and worried about their safety. Lucy crept closer to the cave's opening, followed gingerly by Olivia. Then, the two valiant girls entered the cave and no one could see them any longer.
Much to everyone's surprise, there was no belch of fire and smoke from Meagan, as expected by one and all. Everyone waited with breathless anticipation and anxiety as Lucy and Olivia ventured further and further into the cave. It was cold and extremely damp inside, and after twenty steps or so, it was Lucy who first saw Megan's bright eyes.
"Hi, Meagan," Lucy said softly. "We mean you no harm. We are here to rescue you, not to hurt you." Lucy and Olivia stood there patiently, waiting for some sort of reaction from the large dragon, but Meagan just sat there and did nothing.
"I know you can talk," Lucy spoke out again to the large beast, "so won't you please talk to me? We are your friends, not your enemies."
It seemed like an eternity before Meagan spoke out, and when she did, both Olivia and Lucy smiled broadly.
"Are - are you really my friends?" Meagan at last spoke out in a soft and delicate tone.
"Yes," Lucy assured her. "We are. We know you were just spitting out all that fire and smoke in self defense because you were scared. We also know that you have been caked in ice for many, many years, and now that you are free, we would very much like you to come out of hiding and live freely with us here in Faraw. We are truly sorry about what happened to your parents, Meagan, but that was long, long ago and certainly not our doing."
"Do - do you really want me to come out and live freely here in Faraw?" Meagan said, hopefully. "And are you sure no one will try and harm me ever again?"
"Yes, we do, and I promise you no one will ever try and harm you ever, ever again," Lucy promised.
"Oh, thank you! Thank you!" Meagan said, and she extended her lengthy tongue and licked Lucy's face delicately. Then she did the same to Olivia. Both girls giggled from the face tonguing they had received from Meagan. Meagan, Lucy and Olivia talked and talked of many things during the next few hours, and dawn was just breaking when Meagan exited from the cave. The storm had ended and the sun, bright and yellow, was coming into view as Lucy and Olivia, seated cozily atop Meagan's back, emerged from the cave.
A tremendous roar of applause came from all who were still there outside the cave when Meagan saw Olivia an Lucy riding out of the cave slowly on Meagan's back. Meagan batted her long eyelashes at everyone in friendship, and together, with Meagan, marched back into Amy Town. Bells rang from the palace and the citizens of Faraw poured out from their houses to greet Meagan in the street.
Captain Donald and his soldiers, under orders from Queen Amy, erected an enormous make shift cave just behind the Dean Lucy Clark college, and that is where Meagan spent most of her time, when she wasn't playing with the citizens and children of Faraw. Faraw's annual festival was held on time, as planned, and Meagan led the parade down the main street of Faraw. Meagan was a big hit with the royalty who visited Faraw for the festival, as none of them had ever seen a real dragon before! Queen Evans of the land of Ooblahdee wanted to buy Meagan and take her back to Ooblahdee with her, but Queen Amy told her politely that Meagan was not for sale at any price. Meagan also came to the rescue at the festival when some of the barbecue pits failed to function. It was no problem at all for Meagan to cook the many steaks, chops, burgers and hot dogs with a simple belch of her fire. Everyone remarked, in fact, how much better they tasted cooked that way!
If you ever have the opportunity to visit Faraw, be sure to look in on Meagan. She and all the people of Faraw now live together, happily and freely, in that wonderful tropical paradise
------ THE END -----
All Mrs. Evans could do was sigh after reading Amy's story. What a wonderful story, she was thinking, and she could not help but smile as she pondered how Amy had so expertly crafted all the characters in the story to resemble the names and personalities of her classmates. She was still thinking about Amy's story when her husband came through the front door, home from his weekly club meeting.
"Hi, Sweetheart," her husband said. "It sure is snowing hard out there."
"Oh, Harold, don't track the rug with those shoes. Take them off and let them dry," she said to him. "You will get the entire house wet otherwise."
"Yes, dear," he mumbled.
"So, how did your meeting go?"
Same as always," he said, as he removed his wet shoes. "What have you been up to to?"
"Oh, just reading some of the stories my students wrote for that contest I told you about."
"Any good ones?"
"Yes, one so far. Amy Clayton wrote a truly impressive tale about a fantasy land where a dragon was roaming about. That girl really has quite a gifted imagination. Her story is absolutely wonderful."
"Did any of them write about a lovely, kind teacher, who makes her husband a hot cup of tea when he comes home on a snowy night?"
Doris Evans laughed. "No, I haven't read one like that so far," she told her spouse. "But I got the hint." She then rose from her chair and headed to the kitchen to make the tea for him.
It was close to noon the next day when Amy entered the Barton Building and headed up to the office of The Wishing Well. The snow fall of the previous night had melted, and it was dry today, but still very cold outdoors. Amy had no idea what time the drawing was held, but she hoped it was already over, and that the list of the three winners had been posted. As she got closer to the office, she could see a white sheet of paper on the glass door. Her little heart began to beat just a bit quicker. Once she reached the door, she peered up at the paper. In bold lettering at the top of the sheet it read,
'RESULTS OF THE WISHING WELL DRAWING OF DECEMBER 21.'
Amy looked down the page and saw that ticket number 01768 had won first place, and the cash sum of $1,000. It was then that she quickly withdrew the ticket stub from her pocket and looked at it. The number on her ticket stub did not match the $1,000 winner. Amy sighed, then looked at the second place winning number. It read 10035. Amy looked again at her ticket stub, then back to the sheet of paper on the window.
"That's my number!" she shouted aloud, then began jumping up and down in the hallway. She had won the second place cash prize of $500! She swiftly pushed open the glass door and raced up to the reception desk. The same lady as before was seated behind it. The woman smiled widely as she caught sight of Amy approaching her desk.
"I won! I won!" Amy exclaimed, handing the woman her ticket stub. " I won second place!"
"I know, " the woman said. "Congratulations, Amy." The receptionist looked at the ticket stub Amy had handed her, then tapped a few keys on her computer key board, and glared at the screen. She then rose from her chair, with the ticket stub in her hand. I'll be back in a few minutes, Amy, " she said. "Why don't you have a seat over there while you're waiting?" The receptionist indicated the same area, across the way, where Amy had filled out her entry form earlier that month.
Amy nodded, still smiling brightly, and headed for the sofa and chairs on the opposite side of the office lobby area. It was then that she first noticed the dark haired woman who was seated there, holding an infant on her lap. A small boy, about six or seven years of age, was seated quietly next to the woman. Amy selected a seat two chairs away from the dark haired lady. The baby on the woman's lap stared at Amy, then smiled brightly. Amy could not hep but smile back. The infant reminded Amy of her own baby sister. Amy then looked up at the woman.
"She's so cute," Amy said. "How old is she?"
"It's a he," the woman replied softly, "and he's nine months old."
"Oh, I'm sorry," said Amy. "It's hard to tell at that age whether they are girls or boys."
"I know, " the woman replied. "No need to apologize."
Amy studied the woman's face. She appeared she had been crying. Her eyes were red, and she had that look of despair about her. "Are you here to collect on a winning ticket?" Amy asked, hoping that she was. It looked to Amy like this woman could use a lift of some sort. "I am. I won second place in the drawing."
"I know, " the woman responded, trying to force a smile. "I heard you when you came in."
"Oh, sorry," was all Amy could think of to say. "I didn't mean to be so noisy. I was just very excited. I still am."
"I don't blame you. I would be too if I won, but I didn't." The woman looked like she was about to start crying again, and Amy hoped she wouldn't. She detested seeing people cry. It reminded her of her own mother, who had been crying a lot since Amy's dad lost his job.
"I'm sorry. I thought maybe you were waiting for your prize money, like I am."
"No, just resting a bit before we head for home, " the woman muttered. "We came down to see if we had won anything, but we didn't. So, I thought I would rest awhile and warm up some before heading back home. It is awfully
cold out there today, and it is supposed to snow again later on." Amy nodded, then was sorry she had mentioned her winning second place in the drawing. Perhaps this woman thinks I am showing off, Amy was thinking. I shouldn't have done that.
"My name is Amy, " Amy said, extending her hand towards the woman, who was unable to shake it due to her hands being occupied with holding the infant on her lap. Amy withdrew her hand slowly.
"Helen Lopez," the woman uttered. "Nice to meet you, Amy."
"What's the baby's name?" Amy inquired.
"Shane, after his father, " Helen told her. "And this big boy is Cody." Helen Lopez turned her head slightly to indicate she was referring to her oldest son. The boy smiled at Amy, fidgeting a bit now in his seat. Amy returned his smile.
"Isn't your husband here?" Amy inquired.
"No," Mrs. Lopez replied, almost on the verge of tears again. "My husband was killed in a car accident three months ago. That's why I entered the drawing. I was hoping to get some cash to get some things for the children for Christmas, and maybe pay a few overdue bills, too." Now Helen Lopez did begin to sob a bit, and Amy felt horrible. I am so stupid, Amy was thinking. Why am I saying all the wrong things to this poor lady? Amy reached into her coat pocket and took out a clean handkerchief. She handed it to Mrs. Lopez, who let go of her baby just long
enough to take the handkerchief. Then she dried her eyes.
"Thank you, " Helen Lopez said, in between sobs.
"I'm so sorry, " Amy said meekly. "I - I didn't know. I shouldn't have asked that question. It was dumb of me."
"That's -- that's okay, " Helen told Amy. "You had no way of knowing my husband was dead, or the situation we are in."
"Is there anything I can do?" Amy asked with sincerity.
"No, no, we'll be all right."
But Amy wasn't so sure of that. She looked towards the door near the desk. The receptionist still had not returned. Then an idea came into her young mind. "Mrs. Lopez, may I treat you and Cody to a nice lunch at the mall before you head for home?" Amy asked.
"Oh, no," Mrs. Lopez replied quickly. "You don't have to do that, Amy. That's very generous of you, but we'll be just fine. Thank you anyway." She then handed Amy back the now wet handkerchief, and Amy tucked it back into her pocket.
"I'd really like to, Ma'am," Amy said. "I mean that. I'm just waiting for my prize money, then I can treat you and Cody to a nice lunch. I'll bet Cody would like a big juicy burger and some fries, right?" she added, looking over at Cody and smiling at the boy. Cody grinned widely, and nodded his head up and down eagerly.
"Well, if you're sure you really want to, " Helen Lopez said weakly.
"I would, " Amy assured her. "I really would."
Just then the receptionist returned. "Amy, can you please come back here? You need to sign a paper, then you can be on your way with your money, " the receptionist informed her. Amy rose and headed for the open doorway where the receptionist was standing. She turned and looked back at Mrs. Lopez.
"I'll be right back, " she said. "Then we can go have a nice lunch."
Mrs, Lopez nodded and smiled. Cody smiled at Amy, too. It took about five minutes for Amy to sign the necessary paper and collect the second place cash prize. She had never seen a hundred dollar bill before, much less five of them. Amy folded the notes carefully, then put them in her coat pocket. She thanked the receptionist, wished her a very
Merry Christmas, then hurried back to the lobby area. Much to her surprise and dismay, Mrs. Lopez and her two children were gone. A feeling of despair and disappointment swept over Amy. She had so much wanted to do something for this little unfortunate family of three. Very quickly she exited The Wishing Well office and looked down both ways of the hall, but there was no one visible. Slowly, then, she headed for the elevators, and pressed the down button. A moment later a bell sounded and the doors to car two opened widely for her, but Amy did not enter it. Instead, she swiftly turned around and headed back to The Wishing Well office. The receptionist, who was once again seated behind her desk, was
surprised to see Amy returning.
" Did you forget something, Amy?" she asked.
"Oh, no, " Amy replied. "I came back to ask you something."
"Can you please give me the address and phone number of that lady who was just here? Her name is Helen Lopez."
"Why do you want that, Amy?"
"Well, I would like to give her some of the money I won. I think she needs it more than I do, " Amy replied truthfully.
"Well, that is surely very generous of you, Amy, and I wish I could help, but we are not allowed to give out addresses or phone numbers of any persons who enter these drawings."
Amy just stood there, not knowing now what to do. "I understand, " Amy said. "But I really want to help that lady and her
"Well, as I said, I can't do that," the receptionist repeated. "However, I don't know of any rule that says I can't let you borrow our phone book, " she added with a wink. Amy smiled broadly as the telephone book was handed to her. She
turned the pages rapidly and soon found a listing for 'Lopez, H. at 1260 Olive Avenue'. There was another listing just below that one for 'Lopez, S.' at that same address, which Amy assumed was for Helen Lopez's late husband, Shane.
Amy borrowed a pencil and slip of paper from the receptionist, wrote down the address and telephone number of the Lopez residence, then departed the office of The Wishing Well, after thanking the receptionist for her help. Amy figured the Lopez family would not be back home just yet, as Olive Avenue was quite a distance away, so she decided to head for the mall, look around a little there, then try to telephone Mrs Lopez from a pay phone. The skies were overcast as Amy walked the short distance to the mall. It surely looked like a snow storm was coming soon, just as Mrs, Lopez had told Amy it would.
Amy walked around the lower floor of the mall, looking at almost every
store front window. When twenty minutes had passed, she decided it was time to place the call. Luckily for Amy, she had some change in her pocket, and would not have to try and break a hundred dollar bill at some store. She
headed for the bank of pay phones near the Sears store, and put the proper
amount of coins in the slot. Reading from the slip of paper, she carefully
dialed the number she had gotten from the telephone book at The Wishing
On the third ring, she received an answer, but it was not the answer
she was hoping for. It was a recording, and it informed Amy that this number
had been disconnected, and that there was no new number to replace it. Amy
dialed the number again, and got the same recorded message. She hung up
the receiver with total disappointment.
Not one to be denied so easily, Amy decided then and there that she
would simply go to the Lopez home in person. There seemed to be no other
alternative for the determined ten year old with a heart of gold.
Amy left the mall and headed for the bus stop on the corner of Fourth
Street. She had checked her change prior to leaving the mall and discovered
she had just enough for bus fare. Flurries of snow were starting to fall as she
waited for the bus. Some three minutes later the bus pulled up and Amy was
glad to be on it, feeling the warmth of the heater inside the big vehicle. She
had to transfer at Park Avenue, and in less than a minute she was aboard that
bus. Amy knew her town rather well, thanks to the many auto rides she had
shared with her father when she accompanied him in the past. Mr. Clayton
had often taken Amy and Justin for rides on Saturdays. They usually stopped for ice cream, too. But that was back when he was employed, Amy was thinking, as the bus rolled along down Park Avenue.
"Olive Avenue, " Amy heard the bus driver call out loudly, and she
reached up and pulled on the buzzer.
The bus made a hissing sound, then stopped a few seconds later, and Amy was back out in the cold once more. The snow flurries had intensified, and Amy pulled her woolen cap down over her ears as she headed down Olive
Avenue in search of the Lopez house. She located it two blocks north of the
bus stop. Amy stood on the sidewalk for just a few seconds surveying the house. It was old and not in the best of condition. Amy walked quickly up the
sidewalk leading to the front door, then pressed hard on the door bell. She
could hear it ringing as she stood there.
A few seconds later the door as opened by a very surprised Helen
"Amy!" Mrs. Lopez exclaimed. "What on earth are you doing here?"
"You didn't wait for me, "Amy told her. "I was supposed to take you
to lunch, remember? I tried to telephone you, Ma'am, but your phone doesn't
work, so I decided to come here in person."
"Oh, my goodness, child," Mrs. Lopez said, beside herself with concern
for this ten year old girl. "Come in. Come in, and get warm, please."
"Thank you, " Amy replied, rubbing her hands together as she entered
the Lopez house.
"Please sit down, " Mrs Lopez said to Amy, and Amy sat down in a
worn chair near the window in the living room. "I think we have some cocoa
left. Would you like a cup?"
"Oh, no, thank you anyway, " Amy replied. "I can't stay long. I have to
get home. It's starting to snow again, and I need to get home before my mom
starts to worry."
"I'm sorry we left The Wishing Well without telling you, Amy, " Helen
began to explain. "You see, I just felt somewhat uncomfortable having you
buy us lunch. I hope you understand. There is no sense denying we are in
a bad fix financially, but taking charity, especially from a child, is something
I would rather not do. Since my husband died, Amy, I have been working for
a house cleaning outfit, so we do have some income, though not much, I must
admit, but we get by. My mother has been good enough to watch the baby while I work, and I am always home by the time Cody gets home from school.
But I hope you are not insulted that we left, and hope you understand why we
Amy nodded her head affirmatively. As she looked around the living
room, she could see that this little family was in worse shape than her own.
Just then Cody walked into the room, holding a battered fire truck in
his hand. He was surprised to see Amy, and smiled widely at her.
"Hi," he said.
"Hi, Cody," Amy said with a smile.
Then Cody turned to his mother.
"Shane is finally asleep, Mom, " he told her.
Mrs. Lopez smiled and ran her fingers through his hair.
"Well, I better get going, " Amy said, rising from her chair. "But first,
I want you to have this, Mrs. Lopez, and please don't say 'no', okay?"
Amy reached into her coat pocket and withdrew the folded five one
hundred dollar bills. She had intended to give just two of those bills to Mrs.
Lopez, but now she decided to give her all five of them. She placed them in
the woman's hand. Mrs. Lopez looked down at the money.
"Oh, no, Amy, I can't take this!" she said quickly, trying to give the
bills back to her.
"Yes, you can, " Amy told her. "I want you to. Please? It would really
make me happy if you did."
"But -- but this is your money, child!" Mrs. Lopez proclaimed, a tear
forming now in her left eye, touched by what this young girl was doing for her
family. "You won it. Surely, you must need it."
"Oh, no, " Amy told her. "I don't need it. I have lots more at home, and
my father has a great job and makes lots of money. I don't need any money."
Amy hated telling such a fib, but she was sure she would be forgiven
for having done so, under the circumstances.
"Are -- are you sure, Amy?" Helen Lopez said, tears of happiness
now streaming down the dark cheeks of her face.
"Oh, yes, " Amy assured her. "You take it, please? Maybe you can get your phone fixed, and get some toys for the children, yes?"
"Oh, yes!" Mrs. Lopez replied loudly. Then she took Amy into her arms
and gave her a tight hug. Amy hugged her back.
"I better go now, " Amy said.
"I wish I could drive you home, " Mrs. Lopez told her, "but we no longer
have a car. I had to sell it."
"That's okay, " Amy murmured. "I just live on the other side of the
woods. Maybe I'll just cut through there."
She was referring to the large wooded area known as Briar Woods,
which separated the east side of town from the west. Amy did not wish to
tell Mrs. Lopez that she didn't have enough change left for bus fare home.
"Are -- are you sure, Amy?" Helen Lopez asked with concern. "Those
woods can be rather dangerous, especially in winter time."
"Oh, I know those woods pretty well, " Amy replied. "I'll be okay."
Amy was about to head for the front door when Mrs. Lopez stopped her.
"Wait!" the woman said.
Then Mrs. Lopez headed out of the room. When she returned a few
minutes later, she was holding a pair of ear muffs, a pair of mittens, and a big
red scarf. She handed the items to Amy.
"Put these on, Amy, " Mrs, Lopez told her. "At least they will keep you
a bit warmer."
Amy put the items on and then thanked her for them. They both wished
each other a Merry Christmas, then Amy left the Lopez house. It wasn't as
cold as before, Amy noted, but the snow was falling heavier now. Amy wondered if the temperature had increased, or was the reason for her not being so cold due to the warmth she felt inside her from having given the
Lopez family that money?
Snow covered the streets and sidewalks now, and Amy decided she would indeed take the shortcut home through the woods near Mrs. Lopez's house. She assumed doing so would save time, and that she would come out of the woods on Pine Avenue, which was just a few blocks from her home. She had been in this wooded area before, but never in the winter time, and never in this part of it.
She couldn't wait to get home. Maybe her mom would fix her a nice
hot cup of chocolate. She decided she would tell her parents about the man
in the mall, The Wishing Well, the drawing, and of course that she had won
five hundred dollars, but had given it away to someone who she decided
needed it more. She just hoped they wouldn't be mad at her for doing all that, but she didn't think they would. They might be upset with her for not telling
them sooner, Amy was thinking, just as a snow covered branch from a tall
tree brushed against her woolen cap.
She was walking briskly now, and her legs began to cramp, but she
moved on, giving thought now to whether she was going in the right direction
or not. It was snowing so hard now, she was unable to ascertain that.
She felt pretty sure she was headed towards the area that came out onto
Pine Avenue, but was she?
It was some three minutes later that Amy tripped over a snow covered
rock and twisted her ankle.
"Owww!" she cried aloud, then fell down into about one inch of fresh, cold, white snow.
Amy was unable to walk now without pain. She moved towards a
large tree, and the branches of it offered her some refuge from the falling
snow. She sat down beneath it, pushing her coat as far down as she could,
so that she was seated on part of it and not in direct contact with the wet
"Oh, my!" she cried out loud. "I can't walk! What am I going to do?!"
She then yelled out as loud as she was able for 'help' but there was
no one around to hear her pleas.
An hour later, unknown to Amy, Mr. and Mrs. Clayton called the police,
and informed them that their ten year old daughter was missing. An Amber
Alert was immediately put out, and a search party was formed to hunt for Amy,
who was currently crying her eyes out under the large tree in Briar Woods. Twice, she had tried with all her might to get up and walk, and on both occasions she had been unsuccessful.
The local TV station got news of the Amber Alert and came to the
Clayton home to gather information for their five o'clock broadcast. Mrs. Clayton was far too distressed to deal with the reporters, so Mr. Clayton
had to handle it. He gave one of the reporter's a current photograph of
Amy, and was promised that Channel Six would use it that night on their
news broadcast if Amy wasn't located prior to five p.m.
The search party, consisting of several policemen, firemen, neighbors,
and even some of the parents of Amy's class mates, formed quickly, and two
of the policemen had dogs with them. They headed out in different directions
of Ridgeville, as instructed by the police captain who was heading the search team.
That evening at five p.m., Mrs. Helen Lopez watched in awe and shock,
as the Channel Six newscasters broadcast the news that Amy Clayton was
missing. They showed her photo on the screen, and immediately after having
seen it, Helen Lopez raced out into the cold and snow to her next door neighbor's house to use the telephone. She telephoned the police, then the
news station, and less than five minutes later, two police cars, along with the
Channel Six news van, were at her home on Olive Avenue.
Helen Lopez related to both the police, and the news reporters, the
entire story of how she met Amy at The Wishing Well, how Amy had come
to her house, given her the $500, and the fact that Amy planned to walk home
through the woods.
The police captain then immediately informed all search teams to
concentrate solely on Briar Woods. The news reporters went back to the
Clayton home to pass Helen Lopez's story on to Amy's parents, and it was
then they discovered that the Clayton's were anything but 'rich' and that Mr.
Clayton did not, in fact, have a 'great job', as Amy had led Helen Lopez to
believe. Both Ed and Cathy Clayton just shook their heads when they heard
the whole story.
It was almost nine o'clock that evening when a Ridgeville policeman
and his German Shepherd dog, Ellie, found the shivering and shaking ten year
old Amy Clayton at the base of the large tree she had been huddled under since earlier that afternoon. Ellie licked Amy's face, then the policeman picked Amy up in his arms, after shining his flashlight as a signal to the other search party members, that the missing girl had been found. Shouts of elation and
relief could be heard throughout the wooded area as Amy was carried to an ambulance and whisked away to Ridgeville Memorial Hospital.
After Amy was properly and carefully attended to there by two
doctors and three nurses in the emergency center of the hospital, she
was placed in a bed in a warm, private room. Amy fell asleep at once,
not even having tasted one spoonful of the hot soup that had been given
to her. She wasn't even aware that her parents were in the room, along
with her teacher, Mrs. Evans, watching her sleep.
The Channel Six ten p.m. news featured the entire story about Amy,
and also an interview with Helen Lopez, who spoke in depth about the
kindness that Amy had bestowed upon her little family. The reporter ended
the news story with well wishes for Amy and her family, and how happy he
was, along with everyone else in Ridgeville, that Amy had been found safe
and sound, though with a twisted ankle and possible frost bite.
"She is now resting at the Ridgeville Memorial Hospital, " the news
man said, "and we wish her a full and speedy recovery, and a very Merry
Christmas to her and her family."
The next morning when Amy awoke, she was feeling far better than
the night before, although she was still unable to walk. She saw through the
window of her hospital room that the sun was out and the snow storm was
over. She also saw several vases, and pots of flowers, and plants throughout
the room, and she couldn't imagine where they had come from.
As she was giving thought to that, a young nurse walked into the room, carrying a tray of hot oatmeal, toast, fruit, juice and milk.
"Well, Amy, " the nurse said, flashing a big smile, "how are you this
"I feel better, " Amy said, smiling back. "Thank you."
The nurse then placed Amy's breakfast down on the swinging tray
and raised the bed.
"Hungry?" she asked.
"Oh, yes!" Amy replied. "I'm starving!"
"Good. That's a good sign."
"What are all these flowers doing here?" Amy asked the nurse, in between bites of her oatmeal.
"They arrived early this morning, " the nurse told her. "And I suspect
there will be more as the day wears on. They are for you, Amy, from people
who want to wish you well."
"Really?" Amy asked, somewhat puzzled. "Why?"
"Well, your story was on TV last night, and lots of people think that
what you did for that lady and her children over on the east side of town was
pretty special and generous. I think so, too," the nurse answered.
Amy didn't know what to say to that. She was somewhat confused.
She didn't honestly feel that helping out the Lopez family was such a big deal.
Once the nurse left, Amy got out of the bed, and hobbled around the
room as best she could, looking at all the cards that were attached to the
flowers. She didn't recognize most of the names, but she smiled when she
saw that one vase of pink roses was from Mr. White.
Amy just managed to get back in bed when the doctor walked in. He
smiled at Amy, took her temperature, then checked her ankle. A moment later
her parents came into the room. They rushed over to Amy and hugged her
snuggly. placing kisses on both her cheeks. That made Amy giggle.
"You're not mad at me, are you?" Amy inquired anxiously
"No, sweetheart, we should be, but we aren't, " her father told her.
"We're just happy you are safe and well."
"Where is Justin and baby Nicole?" Amy wanted to know.
"Mrs. Cummings from next door is watching them for us," Amy's mom
told her. "Justin says to tell you "hi", sweetie, and he can't wait to see you. He
was every excited to see your picture and hear all about your story last night on
television. We let him stay up to watch it."
"Television?" Amy asked with surprise. "The nurse here said I was
on TV, but I thought she was just kidding. Was I really on television, mom?"
"Yes, you were, dear," Mrs. Clayton confirmed. "It was quite a story.
Our telephone started ringing right after the news show, and then again this
morning, starting at six o'clock."
"It seems everyone in town thinks you are quite a little heroine, honey,"
her father chimed. "We think so, too. What you did for that lady and her kids
was really unselfish, Amy. We are very proud of you."
Amy didn't reply to that, but her face flushed red from embarrassment.
"How long do I have to stay here, Daddy?" Amy asked.
"The doctor told us you can probably come home tomorrow or the
next day, honey, " her father informed her. "They just want to be sure you are
one hundred per cent okay before releasing you."
Throughout that day and the next, several more flowers, plants, and
even boxes of candy, arrived at the hospital for Amy. Two reporters from
Channel Six even came to see her, as well as the police captain who had
headed the search for Amy, and Amy was totally surprised when the mayor
of Ridgeville showed up to visit her in her room, bringing his wife with him, and the largest box of Christmas candy Amy had ever seen. But the best surprise
of all was when her teacher, Mrs. Evans, paid her a visit. They talked for
almost an hour, and Amy was thrilled by her visit.
It was the morning of Christmas Eve when Amy was finally released
from the hospital. She decided to leave all of the flowers and plants, and most
of the candy, with the staff at the hospital beacuse all of them had been so nice
to her. She only took with her the large box of candy that the mayor had brought her, when her parents picked her up that morning.
When she got back home, she found, much to her delight, that her
house was filled with even more flowers and plants and, best of all, it was
also filled with her friends from school, including Lucy and Christina, and
others. Mrs. Clayton made pancakes for everyone, and the phone seemed
to ring constantly throughout the day.
Amy was awed by all the fuss everyone made over her recent ordeal. but after her friends had left, she had time to think about Christmas. She was
in her room, thinking about how she still had no gifts for anyone, and it
saddened her. There wasn't even a Christmas tree this year. She wondered
how much money had been spent by her parents to buy all that pancake mix and milk that had been prepared earlier that day for Amy and her friends. Amy
was just about to cry when she heard the doorbell ring. She limped to the open
doorway of her bedroom, and she could hear voices coming from downstairs.
Then, she heard the front door of the house being shut. Amy hobbled to her
bedroom window, pushed aside the window curtain, and peered outside. She
saw a blue and white mail truck driving away from their house. Then she heard her mother calling her.
"Amy, you better get down here, " her mother called out.
Amy scurried downstairs, as best she could, with the cane the doctor
had given her. She saw her father dumping an immense bag of envelopes
onto the living room floor.
"What's all that?" Amy asked, as she reached the bottom of the stair well.
"Mail, " her father told her, shaking the bag now to make certain all
of its contents were on the floor. "It's all for you, Amy. It just arrived."
Ed and Cathy Clayton, Justin and Amy, spent the next two hours
opening all of the cards and letters that were addressed to Amy, while baby
Nicole watched and made funny sounds from her play pen across the room.
There were over six hundred cards and letters, and almost all of them
contained cash and checks, and even a few money orders. Some had just
a dollar in them, but others contained much more money, like the one with
the hundred dollar bill in it, from someone who wished to remain anonymous.
Looking at that hundred dollar bill, Amy felt sure it was from Helen Lopez, due
to the folds on it.
"Wow," said Amy, who was totally marveled by all this. "I can't believe there are so many wonderful people out there!"
When it was all counted up, there was a total of $835 in those envelopes. Both of Amy's parents had tears in their eyes, and Amy was about to say something when the doorbell rang again.
It was Amy, with cane in hand, who answered the door. A man in a
brown UPS outfit was standing there, a big smile on his face. He was holding
the huge teddy bear that Amy had been so fond of when she was at Jennies'
Toy Store awhile back seeking a job.
"Amy Clayton?" he asked.
"Yes, sir. That's me." she answered.
"Sign here, please?" he said.
Amy signed her name, and the man handed the colossal sized bear to her.
"Sorry it isn't boxed," he said, "but we didn't have a box big enough for this bear."
"That's okay, " Amy replied, hugging the bear. "Thank you, sir, and
"Merry Christmas to you, too, young lady, " he replied, tipping his hat as he left.
There was a card attached to the giant bear and Amy read it silently.
'Be sure to come and see us again when you turn sixteen. We have a job
waiting for you. Merry Christmas, Amy Clayton. From the staff at Jennies'
"Wow, that bear is really big!" Justin remarked, as Amy placed the bear
inside the play pen with Nicole, who went to it at once.
"Daddy, can we go buy a Christmas tree now, please?" Amy asked her father.
"Well, I suppose we can do that, sweetheart," he said, smiling at her.
"Hooray!" Justin piped up.
Amy, Justin and their father went out for the tree, while Mrs. Clayton
remained at home to watch over baby Nicole. They returned a little over an hour later with a wonderful looking tree. Mrs. Clayton put on some Christmas
music, and they were all busy decorating the tree, and munching on popcorn, when the door bell rang still again. This time Amy's dad answered it. It was
Mr. White, and he had bags of groceries with him, and two helpers who were
carrying carts of food, that smelled delicious!
After announcing who he was to Amy's father, and shaking hands with him, he entered the living room. Amy smiled the biggest smile she could upon seeing him.
"Mr. White!" Amy shouted out, almost scaring her baby sister.
"Hello, Amy, " he said, a big smile encompassing his chubby face.
"I heard about what you did, and figured it was high time that someone did
something for you, and this nice family of your's."
Amy didn't know what to say. She was shocked by the knowledge
that such an important man was in their home.
Mr. Clayton introduced Mr. White to Mrs. Clayton and Justin, then asked him to please be seated.
Amy's mother was overwhelmed by all the groceries and the catered
foods, which she noticed came from the most expensive food store in town.
Happily, she escorted Mr. White's two helpers into the kitchen, and they
assisted her in putting everything in its place, including the big turkey that
was already cooked and ready to be consumed.
Mr. White stayed for Christmas Eve dinner, at the entire Clayton family's insistence, and Amy relished the tasty treats, along with Justin, that Mr. White had seen fit to bring along. The two helpers did not stay for dinner though, even though they were asked to. They told Mrs. Clayton politely that
they both had to get home to their own families, but thanked her heartily for
It was certainly turning out to be a wonderful Christmas, Amy was
thinking, after her little belly could not consume another bite of the tasty
food. But the best of it all, as far as Amy was concerned, was when Mr.
White offered Amy's father a job.
"I own an insurance agency, " Mr. White said to Ed Clayton, "amongst
other things, and I sure would be honored to have someone with your
background and experience in insurance aboard. That is, if you don't have
anything else in the works."
Amy saw her father's face light up at once. Mr. Clayton said nothing
for a moment, taking a sip from his coffee, and obviously deep in thought.
"May I ask you, Mr. White, how you know about my background in
insurance?" Ed Clayton asked politely.
"Oh, sure, " Mr. White replied. "I heard about it on the news the other night when they were talking about Amy. They happened to mention that you
were in the insurance field, but temporarily out of work. I just happen to need
a good investigator, as the one I had moved out of state last month."
"I see, " Ed Clayton replied. "Can I ask you what the pay is, sir?"
When Mr. White told him the figure he would be starting at, Amy's father almost knocked over his coffee cup. It was almost twice the amount
he had been making at his previous job. He smiled, and so did Cathy
He extended his hand and Mr. White shook it.
"I accept, sir, and thank you!" Ed Clayton said happily.
"You can start right after the holidays, " Mr, White told him. "But there is one condition."
"What's that, Mr White?" Ed Clayton asked, a bit nervous now, and the smile disappearing from his face.
"That you stop calling me 'sir' and 'Mr. White' and call me Tom, okay?" Tom White told him, smiling broadly.
"I can do that!" Ed Clayton told him, his smile now returning. "And thank you so much, sir. Er, I mean, Tom."
It was shortly after nine a.m. Christmas morning, that Amy heard the
door bell ring again. She was sitting by the Christmas tree, holding Nicole
in her lap, and trying to keep her baby sister from grabbing at the decorations
on the tree. Her parents were in the kitchen talking and drinking coffee, so
Amy did not know whether they heard the door bell or not.
Amy got up, placed Nicole into her play pen, then with cane in hand, made her way to the front door. When she opened it, there was no one there, but she caught sight of a large truck driving away. On the side of the truck, in bold lettering, it read 'THE WISHING WELL FOUNDATION'.
Then Amy's eyes shifted downward, and she caught sight of big,
white envelope laying on the door step. She bent down carefully, and picked
it up. Once back inside the house she opened the envelope. Inside it was
five gift certificates, one for each member of the Clayton family, and a note.
The note read, 'Merry Christmas, Amy. I noticed when I was at your home
yesterday that there were no presents under the Xmas tree, so I thought I
would send along these gift certificates, one for each member of your
family. Again, what you did for the Lopez family was extraordinary, and
just amplifies the old saying that it is truly better to give than receive.
Please thank your parents for me for their charming company last night,
and please tell your father that I am indeed looking forward to working
with him. Again, Merry Christmas to you, Amy, and to your entire family.
It was signed, 'Tom White'.
Amy went into the kitchen and showed the note and the five gift
certificates to her parents. Both her mom and dad were overwhelmed.
"Mr. White obviously thinks you are a very special girl, Amy, " her
father told her, as he pulled her close and gave her a super sized hug.
"We think so, too, " her mother said softly.
Amy's face turned red.
"Well, I don't know about that," Amy piped up. "But I do know that
Mr. White is a very special man."
The very next day, the Clayton family went to the mall and purchased
gifts with the certificates they had received from Mr. White. Amy got herself
a new coat. Mrs. Clayton bought some appliances for her kitchen that she'd
been wanting for a long time. Justin of course bought all the hockey equipment he could get with his certificate, including a new pair of ice
skates, and Mr. Clayton used his certificate to buy a new suit for his
upcoming new job. It was decided by the entire family that baby Nicole
would get a brand new play pen with her certificate, complete with all
the trimmings on it. It took Ed Clayton the remainder of the day to put
it together for her. Baby Nicole smiled her best winsome, toothless smile
when she was at last placed into the brand new apparatus.
Amy spent the remainder of her winter break from school writing
thank you notes to those persons who had included a name and return
address on the cards and letters she had received.
Just before New Year's Day, Amy received a telephone call from
Helen Lopez, who explained she had managed to get her phone back in
service. She also informed Amy that she too had received a generous
gift certificate from Mr. Tom White. She also informed Amy that she had
a new job. It seems someone who had viewed the story on TV had called
her and offered her a much better job than her old one. Amy was happy
for her, and they promised to stay in touch with one another.
The night before school was to start again, Amy laid in her bed,
waiting for sleep to come. As she went over the events of the past two
weeks in her mind, she knew she would always remember this particular
Christmas season with great fondness, no matter how long she lived. I
will remember it as Amy's magic Christmas, she told herself, just before
slumber overtook her.
At eleven o'clock, on the fifth of January, true to his word,
the author showed up at the Jefferson Elementary School, accompanied by
an older man in a suit, and also a lady, who looked to be perhaps his assistant.
At least that is what Amy thought, as she sat in the third row of the smallish
assembly hall, along with all the other fourth graders.
The school principal, Mr. Grant, shook hands with the author, then spoke into the microphone atop the podium at center stage.
"Well, boys and girls, it is time to announce the winners of the
fourth grade writing contest, and award the prizes. After our author, Mr.
Carter, does that, there will be a special treat for all of you in the cafeteria.
I understand several boxes of pizza have been delivered to our cafeteria, so please follow your teacher there when this assembly is concluded."
Mr. Grant then introduced the author, Mr. Carter, and a huge round of applause greeted the man as he stood at the podium.
"You children certainly turned in some very fine stories. I had to enlist some help in the form of my capable assistant, Ms. Jenners, and also
a few other people, to decide just whom the top three winners should be. It
wasn't an easy job because there were so many wonderful and creative tales
written by the fourth grade students here at Jefferson. At any rate, don't feel
badly if your story was not in the top three, because, as I have said, all of these
stories were good."
Mr. Carter then looked over at his assistant, and she rose from her
chair on the stage and came over to the podium, where she handed Mr. Carter
Amy wondered if her story had been good enough to win one of
the three prizes that would be given out, but she did not covet any prize. Her
Christmas had turned out so special and so magical, that she knew it would
be selfish of her to wish for anything more.
"The third place winner is Kevin Simpson of Mrs. Kelly's class for
his story, "The Space Walkers". Come on up and collect your prize, Kevin",
the author said.
Everyone in the auditorium clapped their hands as Kevin got up
from his seat and walked to the stage. He was smiling proudly. Even Amy
clapped loudly, and she was happy for Kevin.
Mr. Carter handed Kevin Simpson an envelope that contained a
twenty-five dollar gift certificate from the downtown mall. He shook hands with
the boy, then waited until Kevin was seated again before announcing the
"In second place," Mr. Carter bellowed into the microphone, " is
Christina Baker of Mrs. Evans' class, for her story, "How I Won The Lottery
And Became A Movie Star."
The combined fourth grade classes erupted in laughter at the mention of the title of Christina's story, but they nonetheless applauded eagerly as Christina headed for the stage, a glowing smile fixed on her comely face. Mr. Carter shook Christina's hand, then handed her an envelope, which had in it a fifty dollar gift certificate. Christina was beaming with joy as she returned to her seat. Amy smiled at her and was thrilled that her friend had won a prize in the contest.
"And now for our first place winner, " Mr. Carter spoke out.
There was total silence in the auditorium as everyone waited
anxiously to find out who the first place winner would be.
"First place goes to Tina Flowers of Ms. Zaleski's class for her
story, "The Cat That Got Away". Congratulations, Tina!"
Amy joined in the applause for Tina Flowers as she headed for the stage to receive her prize. She was given an envelope with a seventy-five dollar gift certificate enclosed within. Amy flashed a big smile as Tina passed her seat.
Jeremey Flanders, who was seated right next to his teacher, looked
up at Mrs. Evans.
"Is it time for the pizza now?" he asked in a loud whisper.
"Shhh, Jeremey, " Mrs. Evans told him sternly.
Some of the children were starting to rise from their seats, thinking
the proceedings were over, but Mr. Carter tapped on the microphone, and then
asked everyone to please remain seated.
"We are not done quite yet, boys and girls, " the author proclaimed.
"We have one more order of business. Is Miss Amy Clayton present today?"
"She's here!" Lucy Clark shouted aloud.
Then she nudged Amy with her elbow from the seat next to her.
"Amy Clayton, would you please come up to the stage?" the author said into the microphone.
Amy wasn't at all sure what was happening, but she rose from her chair and headed towards the stage on wobbly legs. A thunderous round of clapping from her school mates took place as Amy approached the stage.
She had no idea why the author wanted her on the stage. All three
prizes had been awarded, so why was he calling her to the stage?
Once Amy was on the stage, the man in the suit rose from his chair, and headed over to her. He smiled at Amy, then shook her hand.
"For all of you faculty members and kids who don't know this man, he is Mr. Arnold Zimmerman of Bonanza Magazine in New York City. They publish children's stories each month, and they want to publish Amy's. I have
known him for many years, and when I read Miss Amy Clayton's story, I knew
I had to call him. I e-mailed him Amy's story and it didn't take him but one day
to get back to me and tell me that he wanted to publish it," said Mr. Steve
Carter. " We didn't feel that it would be fair or proper to award Amy Clayton a prize in this contest, considering her story will soon be published."
Everyone, including each and every staff member, was applauding
noisily. Some even had tears in their eyes, like Mrs. Evans, who was so proud
right now of Amy that she thought her heart was going to burst.
Mr. Carter then looked down at Amy, who began to tremble some now, still not quite certain just what was going on here.
"Well, what do you think of that news, Amy?" Mr. Carter asked her.
"Does that sound good to you?"
"I -- I guess that would be okay," Amy managed to utter.
A lot of laughter followed her comment.
"You see, Amy, we all thought your story was so wonderful, that we
felt it deserved a higher level than first place." Mr. Zimmerman explained. "I'd like to purchase the rights to your story and publish it in our magazine, you see?"
Now Amy was getting the message.
"You mean buy my story, sir?" Amy asked, with bated breath, her whole body now shaking.
"Yes, that is precisely what I mean, Amy," he told her. "We will
have to gain consent from your parents first of course, but we would be willing
to pay you seven hundred and fifty dollars for the rights to your story."
It was at that point that Amy Clayton let out a shriek and collapsed
on the stage floor. Amy had fainted!
Several of the faculty members rushed onto the stage, including
the school nurse, Ms. Landers, and soon they had Amy revived and up on
her feet again. Amy's face turned beet red from embarrassment, but then she
smiled out at the assembled crowd, letting everyone know she was okay, and
she received still another round of applause.
Amy's story was published the following month, and she wrote two
more stories after that, without having gotten the ideas for them from a dream.
Amy hopes to be a writer when she grows up, and maybe that will happen.
Almost anything is possible, if you try hard enough, Amy's teacher
once told her, and Amy knows those are very good words to live by.
-- THE END -