Friday, July 31, 2015

No Chocolate for Nicole!

Snicker. The blog is named after him.

     by Valerie L. Egar

     Nicole liked blueberry pies, lemon tarts, cream puffs, coconut cake, banana pudding, oatmeal cookies, pistachio ice cream, even rhubarb cobbler, but not chocolate. Not chocolate cake, chocolate cookies, or chocolate ice cream. If it was chocolate, it wasn't for Nicole.

   "You're weird," said her brother, Seth. "You're probably a space alien."

     None of her school friends understood, either. When her class celebrated birthdays, parents always brought chocolate cupcakes. Nicole gave hers to Charles. Even though he was happy to have it, he always said, "There's something wrong with you. Everybody likes chocolate." 

     No one understood she was never going to like chocolate any more than she liked Brussels sprouts. Nicole was tired of people acting as though it was the strangest thing they'd ever heard. Even adults who were happy when children didn't eat too many sweets, urged her to eat chocolate. "You'll like my brownies," they might say, or, "Just taste my chocolate pie." Some days, Nicole worried there might be something wrong with her.

     One Saturday in June, Nicole noticed a moving van at the house across the street. She peeked out the window, hoping to see the people who were moving in. More than anything, Nicole hoped the family would have a girl her age. When a green car pulled up to the curb, Nicole was thrilled to see a girl her height jump out of the car.

     Nicole and Lynette became fast friends. School was out for summer and they spent their days together. In the morning, they drew or painted in Nicole's room. After lunch, they swam in Lynette's pool. In the evening, they caught fireflies, rode their bikes up and down the street or sat on the porch and talked.

     "Would you like to come camping with us this week-end?" Lynette asked Nicole one evening as they played Scrabble. "We're going to Loon Lake." 

     Nicole was excited. She'd never been camping. When she asked her parents, they said,"Yes." Nicole and Lynette spent the rest of the week hoping the weather would be good.

     The night before Nicole was to leave, Seth tried to frighten her. "People sit around the campfire and tell ghost stories," he said. 

     "So?" Nicole knew the stories might be scary, but they were only pretend. Telling stories around the fire sounded like fun.

     Then he told her about s'mores. Seth explained that s'mores were a campfire desert made with a piece of chocolate and a toasted marshmallow between two graham crackers. "That's what you eat when you listen to ghost stories," Seth said. "Lynette's going to know how weird you are when you don't want any."

     Nicole didn't want Lynette to think she was strange. She didn't want her to laugh at her. Nicole wondered whether she should change her mind about going camping, but she was really looking forward to it. She decided not to worry about it.

     When they arrived, Lynette's dad took them canoeing. They saw loons diving in the water, hunting for fish. 

     "Look," Lynette's dad said and pointed to a heap of sticks in the water. He told them it was a beaver's lodge. 

     The water was so clear, Nicole saw a big fish swim under the canoe. "Maybe I'll try and catch him later," Lynette's dad said.

     That evening, Nicole and Lynette gathered kindling for the campfire. They grilled hot dogs and sat around the fire talking. 

     "Almost story time," Lynette's dad said as it got darker. Nicole started to feel anxious.

     Lynette's mom took out a basket of fresh strawberries. She put a big strawberry on a stick and topped it with a dollop of marshmallow fluff from a jar and handed it to Nicole. She made another for Lynette. She showed the girls how to hold the stick over the fire just right so the marshmallow fluff didn't burn.  It tasted delicious!

     "No s'mores?" Nicole asked.

     "I hope you're not disappointed," whispered Lynette. "I don't like chocolate very much."
     "Me neither!" said Nicole.

    The best friends sat, happily toasting strawberries dipped in marshmallow fluff as Lynette's dad told ghost stories.

Published in the Journal Tribune June 21, 2015. Copyright 2015 by Valerie L. Egar. May not be copied or reproduced with the permission of the author.



Saturday, July 25, 2015

Sharing a Tiny Bedroom

Snicker. The blog is named after him.

Sharing A Tiny Bedroom

     by Valerie L. Egar

      Inspired by a European folk tale.

     Brian and Boris spent every summer at their grandparent's beach cottage. They swam in the ocean and idled away lazy afternoons fishing. They rode their bikes on quiet paths. Even when it rained, they had fun playing games on the porch.

     Summer was perfect in every way, except for one thing -- they had to share a tiny bedroom. The space between their beds was so narrow, Brian stood on his bed to get dressed. Boris stored his baseball cards and books under his bed, but his basketball didn't fit. He slept with it next to his pillow. 

     Sharing a small room was very hard. Brian got mad when Boris put his sandy bathing suit on his pillow.  "Eww! You got sand in my bed," he yelled.

     Boris got mad at Brian when he sneaked a bag of clamshells under his bed, on top of his baseball cards. "I don't want your nasty shells on top of my stuff," said Boris.

     One week in June, Uncle Maurice visited from Canada. Uncle Maurice was clever enough to make quarters magically appear from behind their ears and smart enough to explain the tides in a way they could understand. He showed them the best places to fish and helped them by eating their broccoli when Grandma wasn't looking.

     One evening as they sat on the porch, Brian and Boris told Uncle Maurice their room was too small. Secretly, they hoped their uncle might convince Grandma to move them to the guest room that the grown-ups used. Better still, maybe Uncle Maurice would tell Grandma to let them camp on the beach.

     Instead, Uncle Maurice said, "I have a solution."

     The boys listened eagerly.

     "Do you promise to do exactly what I say?" 

     Boris and Brian promised. 

     "Tomorrow, put your bikes in your room and keep them there when you aren't riding them."

     Boris parked his bike between the beds and scrambled over it to go to sleep. Brian stood his bike on top of the bed. He slept on the tiny patch of mattress that remained. 

     The boys agreed that the room didn't feel bigger at all. They told Uncle Maurice his idea didn't work. 

     Uncle Maurice sipped his morning coffee and thought. "Today, take your fishing gear -- your rods and tackle boxes and put them in your room, too."

     "That's not going to work," said Brian.

     "You promised to do as I asked," said Uncle Maurice. "Trust me."

     The boys put the fishing equipment in the room. They stood the rods in a corner. Because the tackle boxes didn't fit under their beds, they put them on top and had to scrunch themselves into pretzels to sleep.

     Brian and Boris were tired at breakfast. They were starting to doubt that anything Uncle Maurice suggested was going to work. 

     "Better yet?" Uncle Maurice asked.

     "No!" they shouted.

     "Today, I'm going to help you carry Grandpa's canoe into your room. That will definitely make your room a lot better."

     "No, it won't!" said Boris. "We'll have no place to sleep at all."

     "Sleep in the canoe," said Uncle Maurice. "You can pretend you're floating on the water."

     That night Brian and Boris lined the canoe with blankets. It was balanced between their beds and although it rocked a little when they tossed and turned, sleeping in it was no fun at all. 

     In the morning, they were grumpy. Their room was so cluttered, Boris couldn't find his baseball cards. One of Brian's sneakers fell behind his bed, but no matter what he did, he couldn't reach it.

     When Uncle Maurice said he had another idea, the boys rolled their eyes. "You're going to like this one," he said. "Take the canoe, the fishing equipment, and the bikes out of your room and straighten up."

     After Uncle Maurice helped them carry the canoe outside, they put the bikes and fishing gear back in the garage. They made their beds and straightened the room. 

     Brian and Boris looked around. The room seemed much larger than it had ever been, with more than enough room for both of them. In fact, it was perfect in every way.

Published in the Journal Tribune on June 7, 2015.  Copyright 2015 by Valerie L. Egar. Cannot be copied or reproduced without permission from the author.