| The sunshine played across little Josie's curly red locks as she frollicked in the field, humming toherself. Her grandmother's white terrier Lucky, never one to sit out an adventure, followed close behind. He secretly hoped that there would be food or some kind of treat along the journey. But mostly he was just curious to see what his unpredictable charge would get into. So far Josie'd had a tea party with her dolls in the the front yard. (Not that she'd shared her biscuits with Lucky, despite his constant begging.) She had braided one dollie's hair and tucked another one into bed, putting it to sleep with a bedtime story. (Lucky had listened to the story too, laying on top of the covers and yawning.) Now Josie had retreated to the backyard to fit in a little more fun before lunch.
Josie sang a medley of Disney songs to herself which seamlessly blended together. "Under the sea. Under the sea. Under the water, somehow it's hotter 'cause in the jungle, the sleepy jungle, the lion sleeps tonight. Makuna Tahaha. What a wonderful phrase..." Lucky joined in, adding his little howl to the melody. Josie heard something and held up a finger to silence the dog. "Shhh, Lucky!" She put her hand to her ear and could just make out a faint cry, as though someone were hurt.
Josie moved cautiously, following the sound but afraid of losing it. The sound grew steadily louder. When Josie reached the pond, Lucky began growling at her as if to say "Turn back." Grandmother had forbidden her from going beyond the pond. Otherwise, Grandmother wouldn't be able to see her. As she moved to go around the pond, Lucky bit the hem of her sundress and tugged his head towards the house. "Stop it, Lucky!" Josie fussed at her. "I know I'm s'posed to stop here. But someone's in trouble!" The little dog whimpered.
Suddenly Josie had a brilliant idea. "Go find them, Lucky! Help them!" She pointed in the direction the cries were coming from. Lucky, brave and noble dog that he was, buried his face between his paws. Josie threw out her arms in frustration and scoffed. "What kinda dog ARE you?"
Undeterred, Josie continued tracking the despearate sound. Lucky stood where he was and showed his disapproval with a couple of angry sneezes. With one final scoff, he finally ran to catch up with the girl. Thinking to herd her back towards the house, he began nipping at her heels. This only made Josie run faster and farther away from the house squealing. "Lucky! No! Bad dog! Aaaaaaaaaaaaah!"
They continued that way, Lucky growling and nipping, Josie running and emitting a hybrid scream-laugh until they found themselves in the forest. They both became quiet and serious. Lucky moved in front of Josie, assuming a protective stance. He growled at the creatues he imagined to be behind every tree. The sound was louder now. Josie could definitely make out a voice, a female voice. She thought she heard it say, "Help me."
Josie took a few tentative steps. Lucky kept pace in front of her. He looked up at her with eyes that pleaded, "Let's go home." He seemed to be struggling on both fronts, trying to both keep Josie back and defend her from any foes. "She's hurt," Josie said. "We've got to help her!"
In the forest, they found a clearing. The voice was louder and clearer than ever. It had to be nearby. But Josie didn't see anyone around. "Down here!" the voice cried. Josie looked down but did not believe the sight that met her eyes. Trapped inside a little wooden cage was a fairy decked in blue. "Hi!" Josie said, holding the cage up to her face. "You're PRETTY!"
"Please let me out of here," the fairy pleaded. Josie flicked open the latch to the cage and the fairy flew to freedom. She hovered just in front of Josie. "Thank you," she said. "My name is Shonda."
"I'm Josie," the little girl said in awe. "Pleased to meet you." She held out her hand automatically. Familiar with human customs, Shonda shook one of Josie's fingers making her giggle.
"Oh, before I forget--!" Shonda said. She flew down into the grass and emerged holding a magic wand with a bright star at the tip. "I dropped my wand when I fell into the trap," she explained. "I think those human boys use them to catch mice."
"Boys are icky," Josie agreed.
"For setting me free, you get three wishes," Shonda said.
"Wow! Wishes? Three of them? Really?" the young girl exclaimed.
"Really really," the fairy replied.
Lucky, sensing her excitement and suspecting there might be treats coming, stood on his back paws and did a playful little dance. "I can't forget your brave helper," Shonda laughed. She pointed the wand at the ground near his feet. A rawhide chew toy appeared. Lucky barked appreciatively.
"What I should wish for?" Josie asked aloud. "I know! I want to be beautiful when I grow up."
Shonda laughed. "But you're already such a pretty girl. And, just between you and me, I've seen the adult you. And you become very beautiful. So don't waste a wish on something that's already going to happen anyway."
"Hmmm." Josie thought long and hard. "When I grow up, I want to marry a prince!"
"But you do!" Shonda giggled. "You marry a true prince of a man, the fairest in all the land. And your wedding day is the beginning of a beautiful happily ever after."
"Then I wish for money. A lot of money," Josie said.
The blue fairy sighed. "If that's what you want."
"Is it wrong to wish for money?" Josie asked.
"No, it's not wrong to wish for money. But it never brings the wisher the happiness they hope for. And no matter how much they wish for, it's never enough."
"I don't think I want money then," Josie said. She briefly thought about wishing for lots of toys. But she honestly didn't want more toys. She liked the dolls and stuffed animals she already had. What she really wanted was someone to help her play with them.
"I wish for you to be my friend!"
"I already am your friend," the fairy replied. She sprinkled some fairy dust on Josie's nose, making her giggle.
"In that case, you can keep your wishes," Josie said. "I don't think I need them."
The two friends played together for the rest of the afternoon. When bedtime came, Shonda told Josie goodnight. She gave Josie a small pouch for safekeeping. "Your three wishes. In case you ever do need them."
As Shonda turned to go, Josie said, "Having you for a friend is more than I could have ever wished for." And that was the start of a long and beautiful friendship.
This story is dedicated to the magical friends in my life. You know who you are.