Fiction Kids

Mom was in a bad mood. The baby in her belly was making her feel sick. She’d been unwell ever since she found out that thing was in there. Della wished it would hurry up and get born, so she could have her mom back.

Life was hard when Mom was crabby. She wouldn’t let Della watch TV.

“You’ve watched too much TV already today,” she said, when Della asked.

She had to throw up a lot, so she couldn’t take her to the park.

“Daddy worked hard to finish the fence, and set up your play area. You can go out in the backyard,” she said, when Della asked.

“But I want someone to play with,” Della tried again.

“Take Baxter with you. He’d be happy to go out back,” Mom suggested.

“Baxter doesn’t play with me. He just runs around chasing squirrels,” Della pointed out.

She knew better than to keep arguing when Mom was rubbing her temples. Della slipped on her sandals, grabbed CeCe Doll, and called Baxter. When he came barreling into the family room , she opened the sliding door, and stepped out after him.

The backyard was big, and there was a lot to do. Della had a swing set, an outdoor easel, a play house, a sandbox, and a mud kitchen. Mom had been so sick earlier in the spring that she hadn’t gotten around to planting anything in the flower beds or the garden. Della had permission to dig in both. She had a hammock, and a little kiddie pool that Daddy filled up with a couple inches of water every other day.

 Her parents didn’t mind if she got dirty. They weren’t like most of her friends’ parents. Della could wear a pristine white sundress to splash in the mud and she’d never get fussed at for staining it. Mom and Dad believed that kids were supposed to be messy.

Della skipped over to the swing set and sat down on the yellow swing with CeCe doll in her lap. She watched Baxter sniff around the bottom of the three oak trees in the yard. She pushed off and started to pump her legs. When she was as high as she could get on her own, she jumped off the swing and flew through the air. Della landed with a thud on the grass, and CeCe Doll tumbled out of her hands.

Baxter came bounding over and caught CeCe Doll in his mouth. Tail wagging, he waited for Della to notice. When she did, he took off running.

“Baxter! No! Drop it!” Della cried.

Baxter ran across the yard and around the play house, where Della was able to corner him.

“Leave it!” Della ordered.

Baxter dropped the doll, tail still wagging.

“Sit! Stay!” Della commanded.

Baxter did as he was told. Della swooped in and rescued CeCe doll.

“Eww! You slobbered all over her,” she groaned, wiping CeCe Doll’s face on her dress.

Della cradled the doll and carried her back across the yard, over to the mud kitchen. She sat her up on the counter, and got to work rummaging through the milk crates that were scattered between the kitchen and the sandbox. Della was looking for the large metal bowl. She liked that one best. It was big, shiny, and made lots of noise if she banged a spoon against it.

“Aha!” Della gasped.

She ran to the sandbox and grabbed the silver bowl. She carried it over to one of the flower beds. Della scooped up a handful of black dirt and tossed it in the bowl. She scooped up another handful of dirt and dropped it in. When she scooped up a third handful of dirt, she felt something wiggling in her palm. Della transferred the dirt from one hand to the other, revealing a small, pink worm.

“Hi, wormy!” she cooed.

She placed the worm back on the ground and watched it wriggle into the earth. She dug up one more handful of dirt and added that to the bowl. Then, she carried it over to the kiddie pool and set it down. Della ran back to her mud kitchen to grab a measuring cup. She dipped it into the pool, filling it to the top.

“I need three cups of water. This cake recipe tells me two more cups,” Della said, as she poured the first cup in.

When she had added the correct amount of water to the dirt, she brought her bowl over to the kitchen and set it on the counter. She used her hands to mix the dirt and water together. The result was a thick, gooey, mostly smooth concoction that resembled chocolate cake batter. 

Della wiped her hands on her clothes before sifting through a bin of kitchen tools. She needed to find a wooden spoon, and she wanted to see if she still had the manual hand mixer grandma had given her. She found both tools after just a few seconds of searching.

Della set the spoon next to the bowl. She put the beater part of the hand mixer in the mud batter and turned the crank. The goop bubbled and made gloppy sounds as the beaters spun. Mud splattered on Della’s face and dress, but she didn’t care.

“What else can I put in here?” Della asked herself.

She picked up a cup and walked over to the sand box. She filled the cup with sand and returned to the kitchen.

“I know! It needs a pinch of salt!” she exclaimed.

Della sprinkled sand into the mud mixture, then stirred it with the wooden spoon.

“Powdered sugar and butter!” she exclaimed, as the ingredients came to mind.

Della dumped out a bucket of chalk that was sitting next to the mud kitchen. She selected a nub of white and a full stick of yellow chalk. She picked up a rock that was as big as her hand and hit the white nub repeatedly, until it was nothing but powder. She dipped the yellow piece in the kiddie pool, and then smashed it in the same way. Because it was wet, the yellow chalk made more of a paste than a powder, and Della thought it resembled melted butter.

She spooned the white powder into one cup, and scraped the paste into another. She combined both ingredients with the mud batter.

“This is going to be a cake for Mom. I’ll make it extra pretty,” Della decided.

She dug up a few more handfuls of dirt, and added them to the bowl. Baxter followed her into the flower bed. He scratched at the dirt exuberantly with his front paws.

“Baxter, are you helping me? Silly boy,” Della giggled.

Back at the mud kitchen, Della kneaded the dry dirt into her batter. She found a round cake pan and poured the thickened batter in. Della packed the mixture down into the pan. She pulled a large plate out of the mud kitchen cabinet, and turned the cake pan over on top of it. She held her breath as she carefully removed the pan, hoping the cake would keep its shape.

“Yesssss! It worked,” Della cheered, when she pulled the pan off to reveal a perfectly molded round cake.

With CeCe Doll in one hand, she wandered around the yard picking dandelions and violets.

“This cake is going to cheer Mom up. She’s going to love it if I put flowers on it,” Della said.

When she had picked more flowers than she could carry, she brought them over to the cake. She set CeCe Doll down on the counter and began to arrange the flowers around the top border. 

“I’ll do a pattern. Purple, yellow, purple, yellow, purple, yellow!” Della exclaimed.

Baxter jumped into the kiddie pool, then bolted out. He headed straight for one of the empty flower beds, where he continued his digging. Dirt clung to his wet paws. 

“Now I’ll do a different pattern on the bottom. Yellow, purple, yellow, purple, yellow, purple,” Della said.

She put the biggest, brightest yellow dandelion in the middle of the top of the cake.

“I need sprinkles,” she decided.

Della selected a purple, pink, and blue piece of chalk. She laid them side by side on the patio and used her big rock to smash them into dust. She sprinkled handfuls of chalk dust all over the top of her cake.

“What would make it extra special?” Della wondered.

She scanned the yard in search of something she could add to her cake. Baxter was rolling around under the biggest oak. His face and paws were streaked with mud, and the white fur on his back was now covered in grass stains. Della picked up a fallen branch and snapped the smaller twigs off. She raced back to her cake, where she broke the sticks into even smaller pieces and used them to spell out ‘I LOVE MOM’ across the top.

“There! It’s perfect!” Della declared.

She picked up the cake plate and slowly started walking toward the house. She balanced the plate precariously in one hand while she pulled the sliding door open with the other.

“Mom?” she called out.

Mom was napping on the couch. Della was just about to set her beautiful cake on the end table, next to Mom’s head, when Baxter came hurdling in. Della had forgotten to close the sliding door. Baxter pushed past Della, knocking her off balance, and sending the cake flying over the couch. He leaped up on Mom’s legs as the cake plate landed with a crash on the hardwood floor. Della burst into tears.

“Della, are you okay?” Mom sat up fast.

“Your cake! It’s ruined! And now there’s a big mess because I forgot to close the door,” Della cried.

Mom pulled Della in for a hug. 

“Messes can be cleaned. Are you okay? Are you hurt?” Mom asked again.

“I made you a mud cake to help you feel better, and now it’s ruined,” was all Della could say.

“Let me get this dirty dog back outside and then we can assess the damage,” Mom told her.

Baxter followed Mom to the door and went outside without protest. Mom took Della by the hand and together they went to find where the cake had landed.

Della cried harder when she saw that the cake had slid off the plate and crumbled in a pile on the floor. 

“Della, I can tell you worked really hard on this cake. I’m sorry it fell on the floor. Let’s pick up everything we can with our hands, and put it back on the plate. We can sweep up the rest. Once we get it cleaned up, there is a slice of chocolate cake  in the fridge we can share,” Mom said.

Della hugged her mom. Together, they cleaned up the mess.

“I love you, Mom,” Della said, squeezing her again.

“I love you, too, Della. I’m the luckiest mom in the whole world,” Mom replied, returning the squeeze.

She got the slice of chocolate cake out of the fridge and gave the whole thing to Della.

“Next time, you can leave the mud cake outside, and come and get me to see it. I don’t mind you getting dirty, but that much mud should probably stay outside,” Mom explained.

“Okay, Mom,” Della agreed, loving her Mom more in that moment than ever before.

December 15, 2023 13:30

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Olly Peridot
07:25 Dec 21, 2023

Nice story!! I really liked your creative spin to the prompt. Also, I found Della very likeable and sweet.


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Rebecca Detti
15:55 Dec 19, 2023

Thank you for sharing this Chelsey, I really enjoyed reading and thought the language was really heartfelt. So sweet. Just what we need at this time of year, the small joys!


Chelsey B
23:41 Dec 29, 2023

Thank you!


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Mary Bendickson
21:52 Dec 17, 2023

Sweeeet story. Made it like it would taste good,too. So glad mom still appreciated it. Thanks for liking my 'Words'


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Rose Lind
22:35 Jan 08, 2024

I would like to note your characters carry a more than usual amount of personal space. They act independently and seem to engage as observers. You have a natural innocence in your child's character, I have veiwed that in your other stories and hope you continue to monopolise that ability. I especially like the worm discovery. It made me remember when dad dug deep with his pitch fork, can't remember right label, and I saw a very large worm. It was mucous and I touched its body, it was cold and and undesired sensation. He pulled the worm fro...


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Stevie Burges
08:36 Dec 28, 2023

Thanks, Chelsey - a well-written sweet short story. I enjoyed it.


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A.J. Williams
22:04 Dec 26, 2023

A fun and cheerful story!


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