Amlin and Stick
Also by np_faeries
“Daddy, I think ShoopShoop is sick.“
“Why’s that, Amlin-baby?” Daddy peeked into Amlin’s room.
“Look! His skin is all green.”
Dad walked over to the basket by Amlin’s bed and peered into it. In the basket, ShoopShoop was curled up under a little blanket, sleeping.
“Honey, I agree that ShoopShoop does look a bit green. But Amlin, you know that a Baby Shoyru is supposed to be green, right?”
Amlin looked up at her father indignantly. She put her hands on her hips and stuck out her chin.
“Daddy, don’t you think I know what color Shoopy usually is? He’s a different green now. A sicker green, I’m sure of it!”
Daddy chuckled softly and backed up with his hands held up. “Okay, okay. I know you’re the Shoopy expert in this room. What would you like me to do for ShoopShoop?”
“You’re the Daddy! You’re supposed to know what to do when babies are sick.”
“Well, usually when babies are sick, the best thing to do is to keep their worrying parents from hovering over them 24/7. You just need to let ShoopShoop sleep, Amlin.”
“But he’s sick!” Amlin cried. “Isn’t there something I can do?”
“Tell you what,” Daddy bargained, “we’ll set up the humidifier tonight for ShoopShoop, and we’ll look for the warmest, fluffiest blankets for him. And then tomorrow we’ll surround him with cups of water, juice, tea, and even some snacks in case he wakes up and feels hungry. Then Momma and I will take you out for a picnic so that ShoopShoop will have a nice quiet house to recuperate in. How does that sound?”
Amlin chewed on her lip, hesitating. “Can the snacks be chokato cream sandwiches?”
“Well,” she wheedled. “Can I have chokato cream sandwiches for the picnic too?”
Daddy laughed again. “Of course, Sweetie. Now hop into bed. I’ll go get the humidifier from the closet.”
The next morning, Daddy and Amlin dug out a Thermos from the back of the cupboard and filled it with hot water. Daddy found a breakfast tray and let Amlin arrange the colorful tea bags in a fan of rainbow colors. While Daddy refilled the water in the humidifier, Momma poured glasses of apple, orange, and cranberry juice in little water tumblers, which Amlin also arranged on the tray. Momma carried the tray into Amlin’s room and placed it near his basket while Amlin looked on. When Amlin was satisfied with the preparations, she grabbed her Plushie Blumaroo plushie from her bed, took Momma’s hand, and they tiptoed out of the room.
While Momma and Amlin had been arranging things in Amlin’s room for ShoopShoop, Daddy had made a big stack of chokato cream sandwiches. He was arranging them on a plate and covering them with plastic wrap when Amlin and Momma walked into the kitchen.
“All set, girls?”
Momma looked down at Amlin. Amlin was staring at the chokato cream sandwiches with wide eyes.
“Amlin, did you want to bring one of these chokato cream sandwiches up for ShoopShoop?” Daddy asked, amused.
“Um...” Amlin said quietly, “I don’t think Shoopy needs to be bothered right now. He’s sleeping, you know.”
Daddy raised his eyebrows.
“I’ll eat an extra one for him at the picnic,” Amlin said quickly.
At this, Daddy and Momma both laughed.
Daddy went and got down the big picnic basket from the top shelf of the closet while Momma rummaged around in the fridge for some bottles of water and juice.
“Amlin, could you grab that big checkered blanket from the couch?” Daddy called from the hallway, his voice muffled.
Amlin hurried off to the living room, happy to have a job just like the grown-ups. She was tugging the big blanket from the back of the couch when Daddy came in, the picnic basket under his arm. Daddy helped her fold the blanket into a neat square and placed it on top of the basket. Then scooping up the basket in one arm and Amlin in the other, Daddy headed into the kitchen with Amlin giggling and flailing.
“Here’s the basket,” Daddy announced, setting it down on the table.
“I got the blanket!” Amlin told her mom.
“Thank you, Sweetie,” Momma said to Amlin, placing the plate of sandwiches into the basket carefully.
Daddy waited patiently for Momma to arrange the drinks in the basket, and then picked it up.
“Come on, Amlin,” Daddy said, holding out his free hand. “Let’s go.”
Amlin skipped over and took Daddy’s hand. Holding her plushie in one hand, and Daddy’s hand in the other, they walked out the door. Momma put the blanket under her arm and locked the door behind them.
It was a short distance to the park area that Daddy chose for their picnic spot. “Now, Amlin,” Daddy said, “it’s going to be a short walk to the picnic site, okay?”
“I’ll carry the basket and Momma will carry the blanket.”
“I’ll carry Blumy!” Amlin said, holding up her plushie.
“Alright,” Daddy said, nodding in approval. “But you have to carry Blumy the whole way, okay? No getting tired and not wanting to carry him anymore. You’re a big girl now.”
Amlin pouted. “I won’t get tired,” she said, hugging her plushie to her chest.
The three of them walked toward the wooded area of the park.
Daddy and Momma made their way through the trees calmly, following the path and chatting in low voices. But Amlin flitted here and there, exclaiming over the flowers, tiny mushrooms, colorful butterflies, and even the occasional interesting shaped rock.
In just a few minutes, the woods opened up into a small clearing. Momma spread the big checkered blanket over the soft tufts of grass that were growing in the middle of the area where the sun shone through the hole in the leafy canopy. As she laid out the picnic fare, Amlin skipped over to a nearby tree.
“What is it, Amlin?” he said, busy juggling bottles of drinks.
“I think it’s a house,” Amlin called back, her face knotted in concentration.
“That’s nice, Honey.”
Amlin peered into the little crevice dug out between the roots of the tree. It really was like a small house. Perhaps a nook for a visiting Earth Faerie? The hole was relatively shallow, but quite wide, with natural, elegantly intertwined roots crisscrossing over the top to form a sort of roof. The dirt inside was cool and dry, and packed down so that it wasn’t at all dirty or dusty. Amlin was delighted.
“Blumy wants to take a nap in the house,” she announced.
“Okay, Honey. Put Blumy down for his nap, and you come over here and have your lunch,” Momma called from the blanket.
Amlin had eaten two (and a half!) chokato cream sandwiches and had then been allowed to explore a nearby brook on her own. Daddy watched over her as she took off her shoes and splashed around in the shallows before they headed back to Momma and the leftover food. When she got back to the blanket, Amlin climbed into Momma’s lap and promptly fell asleep. Daddy and Momma finished the rest of the sandwiches and enjoyed the coolness of the shade that had now spread over into the center of the clearing. When the air started to become chilly, Momma gently rose, with Amlin in her arms while Daddy packed up the basket and folded the blanket. Then they walked slowly back home.
Blumy stared after them with his blank button eyes.
“What do you mean, you forgot him there?” Amlin cried.
“We had our hands full, Honey. We just didn’t think about where Blumy might be.”
“But, but, but... he’s alone! And he’s probably cold and scared!” Amlin started sniffling.
“Where did you leave him?” Momma asked.
Amlin thought back to the picnic. “Right in that little house. The one under the tree roots.”
“Well, then I’m sure Blumy is warm and dry,” Momma answered.
Amlin didn’t look particularly convinced.
“Amlin,” Daddy said, turning her toward him, “I’m sure Blumy will be fine for one night. It’ll be an adventure for him, right? I’m sure he’s safe in that little house. Tomorrow morning, I’ll go right back there and bring him home, okay?”
Amlin nodded reluctantly, eyes still bright with tears.
“Now you go on up to bed now. I’m sure ShoopShoop has missed you.”
At the mention of her Baby Shoyru, Amlin started. How could she have forgotten about her poor sick pet while worrying about a plushie? As she ran up to her room, she barely heard her parents sigh.
“There was nothing there,” Daddy said quietly.
“What do you mean there was nothing there? Did you find the tree?” Momma asked.
“I found the tree, and the little hole she was talking about,” Daddy answered. “It was just like she described with the tangled roots looking just like a roof. But her plushie wasn’t there.”
“She’s going to be devastated. What makes you think that what you brought back is going to help at all?”
“I don’t know. I just didn’t know what else to do.”
Amlin woke up slowly, rubbing sleep out of her eyes.
“ShoopShoop looks greener today,” Daddy ventured.
Amlin looked over the side of the bed into ShoopShoop’s basket. She nodded slightly in agreement. And then suddenly remembering, “Did you find Blumy?”
“Amlin,” Daddy started slowly, “I went to the little house under the tree, but Blumy wasn’t there.”
Amlin’s lip quivered, and Daddy sped through the rest of his explanation.
“The little house was just like you described it, but Blumy wasn’t sitting inside. I looked around for him for a while but he just wasn’t anywhere in sight. When I came back to the house I noticed on the smooth floor inside, there was a stick, so...”
Daddy held the stick out to Amlin lamely.
Tears dripping slowly down her cheeks, Amlin reached for the stick. “I guess, I guess.... Daddy, do you think Blumy got changed into a stick?”
Daddy blinked at this. “Um, I don’t know, Honey. I hadn’t thought of that.”
Amlin quickly swiped at her eyes, brushing away tears. “It must be,” she said with conviction. “This stick must be Blumy! He would never run away... right?”
Daddy decided to just go with it. “I’m sure you’re right, Amlin.” He looked at her softly. “Are you okay now?”
Amlin nodded resolutely. “You can go back downstairs,” she said. “I’m going to get dressed now. I’ll bring Shoopy down when we’re ready.”
Daddy stood up from the bed and walked to the door. Looking back he saw Amlin cradling the stick, tears welling up again. Not knowing what else to do, he headed back to the kitchen.
Amlin stared at the stick blankly. “Are you really Blumy?” she whispered.
Suddenly a bright green flash lit the room. When the light faded, a glowing, green Faerie stood by ShoopShoop’s basket.
“W-w-who are you?” Amlin asked, trembling.
“Why Are You Crying? Your Pet Has Obviously Gotten Over His Illness.”
“I-I... I lost my Blumaroo plushie yesterday,” Amlin answered, holding out the stick.
The sight of the stick puzzled the Faerie. “That Is A Stick. And Your Pet,” she said pointing into the basket, “Is Not A Stick, Nor Is He Sick. You Have Taken Care Of Him Well.”
“I really am happy that Shoopy’s feeling better today,” Amlin tried to explain.
“Never Mind,” the Faerie said, cutting Amlin off. “A Plushie Blumaroo, You Said?”
Amlin nodded mutely.
With another flash, the Faerie waved her hand imperiously and disappeared.
At the sound of her shriek, Daddy and Momma rushed up to Amlin’s room. When they opened the door, Amlin was sitting on the bed calmly. At her knee, ShoopShoop was sitting up, peering at something in Amlin’s arms.
Noticing her parents in the doorway, Amlin looked up at them with a confused smile on her face. In her arms, ears hanging down and with a patch on his tail, a Plushie Blumaroo was wriggling excitedly and making faces at ShoopShoop.
Amlin spoke up. “I think I’m going to call him Stick.”