6 comments

Middle School Fantasy Mystery

I am only little. The Wizard says that if I were good, I would be bigger, but because I am bad, I will be little forever.

I cannot see what's on the table unless I stand on my tiptoes and stretch, but I must clear it anyway.

I cannot add wood to the fire without being singed, but I must stoke it anyway.

I cannot reach the windows without first putting a heavy box on a heavy chair, but I must wash them anyway.

Sometimes, I talk to Mouser, the cat.

Sometimes, Mouser talks back.

Mouser says that the Wizard has the wrong word. Instead of 'little' he should call me 'young.'

I am too little to understand the difference.

Today, I am sweeping the floor with a broom that is taller than I am. If the floor isn't swept by the time the wizard returns, he will throw me in the coal shed. I don't like the coal shed. It has spiders and is very cold, so I sweep as quickly as I can. I think about hiding the dirt under the carpet, but the Wizard always checks, so I carefully sweep it out the back door instead, bit by bit. Whenever I open the door, the cold wind bites my feet like thousand hungry bed bugs.

Hungry. I am so hungry. I'm always hungry, but today I have not had breakfast. The Wizard sometimes brings food for me when he returns, but not always, and I don't know where he is or how long he will be gone. I can drink water if I melt snow next to the fire, and if I don't make a mess that the Wizard will notice, but there is no food that I am allowed to touch.

Mouser yowls in the corner. He doesn't have any words for me today. Maybe he is hungry too. Maybe the paw that the Wizard trod upon is hurting him. He is very skinny. I am very skinny. The Wizard says I am skinny because I am bad. If I were good, I would be fat and tasty.

The broom hits my feet. I fall over it and tumble to the ground. I start to cry. If the wizard comes home to find me crying, he will be angry, but I cannot stop my tears. Pain tears at my stomach and my eyes and my head and I can't make it stop.

There's a bowl on the table, says Mouser. I look at him. My tears start to go away. Mouser isn't crying anymore. He is looking at me and he wants me to stop crying too.

"I can't eat what's on the table," I remind Mouser. "That's the Wizard's food."

No. But you can look at it.

Mouser is right. I am allowed to look at what's on the table. Keeping the table clean is my job.

I get to my feet and cross the wooden floor. Every floorboard creaks at me, louder than usual, as if warning me to stay away, but Mouser is never wrong.

I put my hands on the edge of the table and pull myself up, standing on my toes. The bowl is there, filled with the purple mushrooms that I am never allowed to eat. I cannot see the mushrooms--the bowl is too high--but I can smell them, deep and dark like potatoes that have just been pulled from the ground.

"Mouser, I may not eat them," I say, but maybe I am talking to myself.

You may not eat the mushrooms in the bowl, says Mouser.

"Yes, that's what I said--"

I stop.

On the table, next to the bowl, lies a single purple mushroom. It is small and crooked and I wonder if the other mushrooms threw it out for being different.

It is not in the bowl, says Mouser.

Sometimes, I am allowed to eat leftovers that are on the table. Sometimes the Wizard even lets me eat them off a plate.

"Is it a leftover?" I ask Mouser.

Why not?

I cannot quite reach the mushroom. I climb onto the Wizard's chair, an offense that will earn me worse than the coal shed if I am seen, but I am so hungry, and the mushroom is so close. I lean across the table, almost lying on it, and my fingers touch the mushroom. It is soft in my hand and as I bring it to my mouth I notice a strange smell, but I don't, I can't care.

I chew, then swallow.

Spots appear in my eyes. I cry again. "It doesn't help," I wail to Mouser. "It is too little, I am still hungry. . ."

What do you wish for? Mouser asks. It is a strange question, but Mouser's questions are often strange.

"I wish I wasn't hungry," I say. I can hardly understand myself through my tears.

Suddenly, my stomach fills. It feels the same as the time the Wizard's sister visited and gave me some pie under the table. The pain in my stomach is gone.

My tears stop.

What else do you wish? Mouser asks.

"I wish. . . I wish that you were not hungry, Mouser."

Mouser sits up, no longer sad and droopy. He begins to lick his injured paw.

"I wish that your paw didn't hurt," I say.

Mouser looks at his paw for a moment. Then, he stretches and walks towards the table, bounding up to join me in one smooth movement.

"I wish that we were not skinny," I say. Mouser's body grows larger, his skin pulling tightly as he becomes fat. I feel my own body grow bigger.

"I wish we were not little," I whisper.

Mouser grows again. His head swells, bigger and bigger. His claws leave scratches in the table as his legs lengthen and stretch. He looks surprised as his body grows and grows and grows until he is as big as Farmer' Mason's cow.

My own legs are hanging off the side of the table. When my feet hit the ground, I know that I am growing too. I stand up. I grow taller and taller, wider and wider, until my head touches the rafters. I knock against the ceiling with my knuckles. Dust and cobwebs shower onto the floor.

The table collapses under Mouser. Purple mushrooms scatter across the floor.

"Enough," I say.

We both stop growing.

"I wish--"

The door slams open. The Wizard is home. Fear grips my heart, but then I see how small he is, smaller than the door that he just opened, smaller than one of my legs, so, so little.

"What is the meaning of this?" he thunders, and my chest tightens until I realize that his voice is little now, too.

He sees a mushroom on the ground. He lunges for it. Mouser pounces first, squashing the mushroom under his feet and hissing in the Wizard's face.

Mouser is between the Wizard and the door. The Wizard whimpers and backs towards the wall.

Mouser looks at me. What do you wish? he asks.

I bend over so that my big head is very very close to the Wizard's little one. I smile at him.

Then I say, "I wish the Wizard was a mouse."

December 10, 2023 20:52

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6 comments

Ell Graves
20:55 Feb 23, 2024

What an interesting little story! I love the concept, it was very captivating and enjoyable to read. Quite unpredictable too which I also enjoy. Nice work 🥰

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Tamarin Butcher
17:00 Feb 24, 2024

Thanks Ell, I had fun writing this one!

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14:09 Dec 18, 2023

Really cute fairy tale....until the end,! Though in saying that most fairy takes actually are quite dark if you think about them! This was a fun read Tamarin thanks!

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Tamarin Butcher
18:21 Dec 18, 2023

Glad you liked it! I think I have a bit of an obsession with fairy tales but not the Disneyfied versions (which I think is what you are hinting at).

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Mary Bendickson
03:52 Dec 11, 2023

Sneaky, squeaky story.

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Tamarin Butcher
21:09 Dec 11, 2023

Thanks!

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