Zanth sniffled, trying to stifle back the tears he could feel welling up in the bottom of each eye. If he blinked, the tears would roll down his cheeks and he didn’t want Chomp or Lit to see him cry. He ran his left arm across his face, trying to play it off as if he were wiping sweat from his forehead. It was the end of June, after all, and the summer heat had made its way to their small town of Minuton.
Coming from the park where they had been playing catch with Chomp’s new Flinger, they had just arrived to Zanth’s home -- “The Timberton”. It was what everyone in the neighborhood called Zanth Timberton’s home. Zanth’s dad had been mayor a few years back, his mom was a well-known teacher at the local high school, and Zanth had five older brothers and sisters who had grown up here, but they had all moved out of the house, were married or in college and lived in other nearby towns.
The Timberton had been built out of the base of a giant Sequoia tree when the Timbertons moved to Minuton. Mrs. Timberton had studied architecture in college and together, Mr. and Mrs. Timberton wanted and designed a home where they could raise their large family. They designed The Timberton with a spacious gathering and kitchen area. Mr. Timberton loved to have friends and family visit and wanted space to entertain them.
Much like the escalators that giants used in their trading markets, multiple flights of moveable stairs made their way to each floor of the home. Each child had his/her own bedroom as the home worked its way up the inside of the trunk of the tree, and each floor of the home had a covered balcony that overlooked Minuton from different sides of the outside of the trunk. A grand patio was built off the kitchen for summer cookouts and parties.
Other homes in the neighborhood were also built in the bases of Sequoia and other species of large hardwood trees, but the The Timberton was an original. Over the past twenty years, it seemed that just about everyone in town had visited The Timberton for some reason or other.
But now, the ‘For Sale’ sign that had been prominently posted for months had a big SOLD sticker across it.
A short woman with long, red hair and bright, pink lipstick wearing a purple business suit was standing next to the sign, taking a photo of the home. She turned to find Zanth, Lit and Chomp staring at her. She smiled wide, “What a beautiful home! The new buyer will love it! Do one of you live here?”
Zanth slowly raised his hand, hanging his head and whispered, “I do. Well…I did.”
She continued to smile wide, “Well, nothing lasts forever, does it?” She giggled to herself. The three friends only stared at her harder, puzzled at her insensitivity.
“I’m sure wherever your parents are moving you to will be just as fabulous!” She then gave each of them a business card, “If you ever know someone looking to buy a home, give them my name, will you? I’m Phyllis Stablish with a short ‘a’ like in the word ‘apple’.” She smiled again and winked, then snapped her painted and pudgy fingers and disappeared.
‘This can’t really be happening,’ Zanth thought, ‘I never thought The Timberton would sell. Moving is going to be awful. My life is over. This is so unfair. All because of my stupid orange eyes.’
Lit slowly landed next to her friends. She was a flyer and usually flew beside Zanth and Chomp wherever they went. She put her hand on Zanth’s shoulder, brushing her blue bangs out of her face with her index finger, “We are going to miss you so bad. When do you think your family will actually move?”
Zanth shrugged his shoulders. His black hair hung in his eyes. He rarely combed it except after his morning shower each day. Zanth wiped his arm across his eyes again, sniffled and turned to face Lit. Her wings lay flat against her back now. The translucent tips of the wings reached nearly to her ankles on the bottom and were parallel with her shoulders near the top. Lit rarely walked, but when she did, she kept her wings dormant, folded neatly.
“I’m not sure, Lit. I was hoping this would never really happen. They want us in Tinyton by the first of the month,” Zanth tried to smile, but it was only a halfway, closed-mouth smile. He sighed deeply, then exhaled slowly. “I guess I should go in and see when the big move is really going to happen.”
‘Why was I born this way?’ he thought, ‘Orange eyes. Really?’
Chomp was carrying a grape in his arms, eating a bite at a time. With his mouth nearly full, he said, “Zanth, let us come in with you. You need us to help cheer you up. We can’t just leave you like this.” Chomp smiled at Zanth, grape juice dripping down his chin, onto his pink T-shirt that sported the SmallWorld logo. Chomp’s shirts always seemed to be two sizes too small for him. Chomp’s round belly peeked through where his shirt and jeans were supposed to meet. “It smells like Mr. Timberton is cooking dinner, too. I love grilling! He might need some help.” Chomp pushed past Zanth and Lit and made his way into The Timberton, carrying his grape with him.
“Lit, are you hungry?” Zanth looked at his friend, “‘cause it looks like you’re invited to dinner. C’mon in.”
Zanth walked in, placing Chomp’s Flinger on a table near the front door. Lit flew in right behind him. She loved coming to The Timberton where she could fly high into the air. The ceiling was at least two and half feet from the floor and there was at least that much space from side to side. It was a flyer’s paradise. She took a fly around the room then landed again. It was a safe space to fly without being threatened by birds or bats from the giants’ world.
Chomp was already helping Mr. Timberton grill squirrel burgers out on the back patio. Zanth and Lit meandered through the gathering and kitchen area and then onto the back patio that was basically an extension off the kitchen. They saw that Chomp had left half his grape on the kitchen counter. Mrs. Timberton was putting away an apron. The scent of brownies filled the space.
“Hiya Mrs. Timberton,” Lit waved as they walked through to the patio. Zanth didn’t acknowledge his mom at all.
The Timberton had a great view of Minuton. Tall fir and other pine trees created a dense forest of “trunk homes” that were subdivided into ten foot square blocks. Lights began coming on throughout Minuton as the sun began to set. From the patio, a tall white barrier could be seen in the far distance. Minuton was surrounded on all sides by this barricade the giants had erected decades ago. The barricade helped keep out predators that only bothered the giants, but would devastate people who were the size of the Timbertons, Lit and Chomp and the rest of their neighbors.
“Smells awesome, Mr. T.,” Chomp said, “I think some pepper and some of this green stuff and oh, and a dash of this yellow powder would make them even better.” Chomp dabbed his little finger in a red, grainy substance then tasted, “Oh wow! That is incredelicious, Mr. T! We’ve gotta use that, too.”
As Zanth and Lit found Chomp and Mr. Timberton out by the grill, Chomp rummaged through the spice rack pulling out all sorts of jars and canisters. “And if we added this right before we serve them, that would totally be the yummy-o-so!”
Mr. Timberton had known Chomp since Chomp was a baby and knew he had a special gift with food, “Chomp, the grill is all yours. I trust you. I will just put together a salad to go with the burgers,” he said.
“That’d be great, Mr. T.,” Chomp replied, “Hey, Mrs. T., do you have any cheese?” He walked back toward the kitchen and began to open the fridge.
Mrs. Timberton was pulling brownies out of the oven, and could have been bothered with Chomp barging into her refrigerator, but she knew that once Chomp was in the kitchen, he was in his “zone” and wasn’t concerned with whose toes he might be stepping on. It was well known in Minuton that when Chomp Supeson was in the kitchen, it was best to just leave him alone. Everyone also knew that whatever Chomp created was always incredelicious, so they just let him work his magic.
Mrs. Timberton pulled open a drawer in the fridge that held all sorts of cheeses. “Is this enough for you, Chomp?”
“Wow, that is great, Mrs. T.,” Chomp smiled and brought all the drawer’s contents back to the patio and to the grill area, passing Zanth and Lit on his way. “We are going to feast tonight, my friends!”
Mrs. Timberton turned off the oven, put the brownies next to Chomp’s grape on the counter to cool, and then walked over to Zanth and hugged him. “From your expression, I guess you saw the sign?”
“Yep,” he said, hanging his head, those same tears filling his eyes again. He used his left arm to wipe his face again. Lit patted him on the back then carefully flew to where Mr. Timberton and Chomp were finishing up grilling dinner, giving Zanth some time alone with his mom.
Zanth’s mom gently put her fingers under his chin and lifted, “Look at me with those beautiful orange eyes. It’s going to be ok, Zanth. I know this hard for you, but it’s all going to be ok.”
Zanth looked at his mom and then broke down in sobs, hugging her tightly. “These stupid orange eyes!” Zanth inhaled deeply and then wiped at his eyes some more, using his sleeve to wipe across his nose, “I hope so, Mom. I’m a little worried about what they’re going to find out.”
Mrs. Timberton hugged him, “I love you, son. We’ll make this move work. It’s going to be for the best. It’s kinda exciting to be one in a million, right?”
From behind the grill, Chomp yelled, “Dinner’s ready!”
Zanth and Mrs. Timberton joined the others at the table that now had freshly prepared squirrel burgers, fixings, and a salad. Mr. Timberton said, “Oh man, I forgot to grab cups and forks. Zanth, do you mind?”
Zanth closed his eyes and pointed at the kitchen cabinets and drawers that contained the cups and forks. He opened his eyes and then focusing on the items, wiggled his ears three times. The door opened to where the cups were kept and the drawer opened to where the forks lay waiting. He moved his finger across his body and pointed to the table where the five of them sat. Five cups and five forks came zooming across the air and landed neatly in front of each person.
“Thanks, Zan!” Mr. Timberton smiled and winked at his boy. He placed a napkin on his lap. Mrs. Timberton did the same.
As everyone began dishing up food, Lit said, “Well, we have made a lot of good memories here at The Timberton. I’m for sure going to miss coming here.”
Chomp was halfway through his first burger and talking while he chewed, added, “Yeah, Zanth! We’ve had the best times. I’ve never known life without you, buddy. Remember when I slept over and we told scary stories all night? I thought I’d never sleep. Every noise I heard I thought was the ghost of the silver fox coming to get us!” He giggled, spewing bits of food out of his mouth. “Good times,” Chomp whispered to himself, “Good times.”
Zanth took a small bite of salad and smiled, nodding, remembering that Chomp had to sleep with the lights on all that night.
Lit added, “When I moved here in 5th grade, Zanth was the first person that said hello to me. My family was the first family of flyers that had ever lived in Minuton. I think the other kids thought I was kinda weird, but not Zanth!” She punched him softly in the shoulder.
Zanth took a sip of water, “I just wanted to see you fly. I was so curious, and I’m glad that I was. I’m going to miss you and Chomp and all our other friends.”
Zanth sighed. He had barely eaten his food. He looked around the table at his mom and dad, at Lit and at Chomp. The sun was setting lower in the sky now, and the house and street lights of Minuton were coming on more quickly. He stood up and moved to the balcony railing and inhaled, breathing in the smell of pine. He loved this town, especially this time of night in the summer when everything was quiet and the lights in the trunks of the trees dotted the landscape. People walking on the trails below waved to Zanth. He waved back. He didn’t want to move.
Zanth rarely became angry, but he was feeling so frustrated about this move. He now stared intently at the patio floor, his nostrils flaring. Zanth focused on a knot in the wood grain of the floor planks. Smoke began to stream from the spot as the knot began to turn red and ignite into a small flame.
Surprised, Zanth shook his head, clearing his angry thoughts and then looked at the table where the pitcher of water sat. He quickly pointed his finger and wiggled his ears three times. The pitcher zipped across to Zanth’s hand where he immediately poured it out onto the flame.
Lit’s eyes widened. With her mouth wide open, she blinked and stuttered, “Wow … didn’t see that coming…”
Chomp just stared at Zanth, salad leaves falling out of his mouth. “I knew about the moving-stuff-with-your-finger thing, but dude, did you just set the floor on fire using your eyes?”
“Zanth?” Mrs. Timberton asked, “Hey, are you ok, son?”
“Yeah, buddy, you feeling alright?” Mr. Timberton added.
“Yeah, I’ll be alright.” Zanth sheepishly looked at Lit and Chomp, “But now, I guess you both know why we’re moving.”