A friend of mine, Jeff Crow, started a project to keep our creativity going. It’s rather simple. One week you write the beginning of a short story and submit it to Jeff, the next week he sends you someone else beginning to end. You can read the entire collection here on Jeff’s blog as they are added. The following is a collaboration between Dawn Locklear and myself:
Give a Mouse a Cookie
“Give a mouse a cookie…why would I do that?” She asked the man in her dream. “What the hell?” jarred awake and terrified as lightning struck the tree above her. Cascading leaves and branches creating a soft cave over her. ElizaMay sat stunned and shivered in the panic.
After her thunderously wicked start, she began to calm because it was so quiet and there was such a sweetness in the air of cedar and vanilla. Unfolding her knees from her chest, she felt the tingle that her arms had fallen asleep. She must have dozed off in that position and obviously stayed in her own clutch during the attack. With hands dropped to the ground, she surveyed her encapsulated space.
It was cool and barely lit though the leaves. Yet there was a dance and flutter of light that sparkled upon her in the tiny alcove. As she started to relax, colours floated around her, small ones at first. This made ElizaMay giggle. Then ribbons of the rainbow spectrum swam in the area like the aurora borealis, and this tickled her into laughter.
Like magic, a tiny little man appeared and offered her a cookie. Startled, she looked him up and down and took stock of just how dinky the cookie was in his hand. Stunned and immoble, he offered it to her again. So she took it and marveled as it grew in her hand. When she looked back to him, he was gone, replaced with a very sweet poka-dotted mouse that stood at attention to her.
Bewildered and amazed, she indeed gave the mouse the cookie. As the mouse nibbled, she noticed the eyes twinkled and this made her happy. With this, ElizaMay was content. She leaned against the tree, looked up in time to see a hole opening in the roof. Standing up, she could look about and see that other than the broken huge branch, all was well. With a tear of gratitude she bent back down, hoping to see the little man or mouse, only to find but a chunk of cookie.
ElizaMay cleared the roof away, stood admiring the incredibly massive tree before her. It was always her favorite place to rest and now even more it would hold a most amazing splendor for her.
With her left over cookie in hand, she walked home.
The sun was warm in just the right ways, an occasional breeze lifting and carrying the heat if it ever dared to become uncomfortable. Though ElizaMay felt so comfortable, in fact, that she thought to herself about how one would never have guessed lightening had struck just moments earlier. As the cool breeze was about to lift that thought off her breath, ElizaMay turned around to look back upon tree. It’s leaves danced in the light, like flecks of sun bouncing off the sea, as if performing a ritual for their fallen brothers and sisters. ElizaMay smiled to herself, allowed the lightness of it all of fill her up and continued on the path home.
She felt so chipper that her arms swung a bit more freely with her steps and she rather absentmindedly ate the bit of cookie still poised between her fingers. With home in sight, and possibly the extra little kick the cookie provided, ElizaMay skipped the rest of the way to her backdoor.
The day carried on into the evening with a lingering kind of pleasantness, straight up until ElizaMay was tucked into her bed. She sleepily spoke of magic to her parents as they turned out the lights and left her door just barely ajar. She smiled and recalled the smell of cedar and vanilla.
ElizaMay was about to turn on her side when a tiny flicker in the doorway caught her eye. She sat up, but it must have been nothing. She moved to settle into bed once again and as she turned to rest her head—She gasped! It took a moment to catch her breath and focus. The polka-dotted mouse appeared on her pillow, at attention, just as before.
ElizaMay suddenly remembered her walk home—the cookie. What had she done with that cookie? Her stomach gave a small rumble as if responding to her question, and ElizaMay’s spirit sunk just a little. The mouse ran it’s paws over its head and ears then stretched them out toward ElizaMay, then back to its small snout. It did this a few times, gesturing for a snack it seemed.
There was only one thing to do. ElizaMay offered her hand out to the mouse; it stepped onto her fingers and found a comfortable grove in her palm to rest. The two slipped out of bed and made their way down to the kitchen. ElizaMay set her friend gently on the counter, she too then climbed up and rose to her feet reaching for the cabinet.
Even on her tiptoes, on the kitchen counter, the hidden box of cookies was still just out of reach. She was about to give up when the box started to inch forward on its own. ElizaMay grabbed hold of the box and realized with it came her polka-dotted companion, suddenly swept off his feet when he no longer had to push. She giggled, then caught her herself, before she made too much noise.
The box now torn open revealed what they had come for. ElizaMay reached in and pinched a cookie between her finger tips. She pulled it out and offered it to the mouse, but in a blink the tiny man had appeared! He swiped the cookie which immediately shrunk to a laughably dinky size and darted a judging glance at ElizaMay.
“What are you thinking?” he squeaked in a voice as dinky as the cookie. “Give a mouse a cookie…” he trailed off shaking his head then—POP! The tiny man vanished followed by—POP! The mouse was gone to with a shake of its fist. ElizaMay couldn’t help it: she laughed.
She laughed all the way back up to bed, and through her dreams. She may have even woken the next morning still laughing.