Written for a contest. Sweet little boy has an interesting adventure.
|Word Count = 1996
Once upon a time, in a distant town, there lived a little boy named Lian. He was a very lucky little boy because he had his mother all to himself. His mother stayed home and tended the family’s garden. She cooked and baked and made everything she could by hand. She loved her little boy very much and told him so frequently.
Now one day, Lian was not feeling so well. He ached and had a cough. Lian’s mother tried her hardest to make him feel well. She sang him songs and read him stories. When he felt sleepy, she tucked him into bed with his special teddy bear and sat with him until he fell asleep.
“When you wake up,” she promised him, “I will be making peanut butter cookies for our afternoon snack.”
Lian fell asleep happy. He loved peanut butter cookies. He loved eating them with mommy and giggling at the mess they made together.
When Lian awoke, though, he was not at all happy. His throat hurt, and he felt hot all over. He stumbled out of bed to find his mother, dragging his teddy bear with him. The kitchen seemed so far away! Finally, he stood in the doorway, looking at his mother. She was making peanut butter cookies, just as she had promised him she would.
Lian watched his mother walking to and fro, suddenly jealous and angry that his mother felt well and he felt so awful. When she noticed him standing there, his mother turned to him, smiling and opened her mouth. But she never got to speak.
“I hate you!” Lian screamed, his throat aching. “I hate you and I hate peanut butter!”
And then he was falling, and the bright afternoon seemed dark as night, and his mother stood, shocked, with tears running down her face.
Lian woke up in a very strange place. There were bright lights all around, and people in white coats talked in words he didn’t understand. His mother was there, looking very upset, and Lian wanted to talk to her, to tell her he didn’t mean what he had said, that he was so sorry...
But a lady bent over him with a scary needle and soon the world went away again.
Lian lay in a different place, all soft and hazy and misty. It was warm and comfortable there and he didn’t want to move. But gradually the mists dispersed and the sun shone down on a beautiful place. Grass and trees grew on both sides of a charming orange path. Lian was laying on his side in the path, just gazing at all the trees and strange orange butterflies. A figure came walking up the path and Lian recognized his special teddy bear. His teddy bear stopped in front of him and held out a paw. Lian took it and the teddy bear pulled him up until he was standing and looking his teddy in the face.
“Teddy!” Lian said. “You’re so big!”
“Call me Ted,” the bear said, gruffly. “Follow me.”
Ted the bear turned and marched down the path and Lian followed after, wondering.
“Where are we going?” Lian asked, after he had gotten tired of walking.
“To see the King of P.B. Land,” was the answer.
“Why are those butterflies orange?” Lian asked.
To his relief, Ted stopped and turned to look at him. “You can’t tell?”
Lian shook his head.
“Look again, Lian. Look closely.”
Lian stared at the butterflies.
“Look closer,” Ted said impatiently, and pushed Lian off the path.
Lian stumbled forward, close to a bush that the butterflies were hovering near. Now that he was within a few inches, he could tell there was something odd about them. They weren’t really orange, they were closer in color to... “Peanut butter!” he exclaimed.
“Yes,” said Ted. “They are peanutbutterflies. The bush they are attracted to is a jelly bush. Peanut butter and jelly do go so well together.”
Lian agreed, and stared in awe at the tiny blobs of jelly. They were in the shape of flowers and the peanutbutterflies were landing on them, resting for a few moments, then flying up and onto another jelly flower.
“Perhaps you have noticed our sliced bread trees,” Ted said. “But we can’t stand here all day. The King is waiting.”
Lian followed Ted the Bear down the path again. He realized that the path was made of peanut butter too, somehow hardened so that it was not sticky.
“Why is the King waiting on us?” Lian asked.
“You said something you shouldn’t have, not very long ago. Perhaps you remember?”
Lian did remember. “But I didn’t mean it!” he said, suddenly frightened. Kings could be kind, he knew from the stories mommy read him, but they could also be mean and evil.
Ted stopped again and looked as stern as it was possible for him to look, with his stuffed, pleasant face. “Words have power, Lian. When you said...” and Ted stopped, unable to repeat the words. “What you said,” he finally continued. “You disturbed the balance between the Kingdom of P.B. Land and another, older kingdom. You must set it right.”
Ted then took Lian firmly by the hand and, not unkindly, drew him forward along the path. Before too long they had come to a wall that stretched high above Lian’s head. The wall was very strange looking and Lian stared at them for long moments. Finally, he figured out that the walls were made of very large peanuts, the size of bricks, glued together with peanut butter. Ted walked up to the wall and there was a large gate. Ted spoke through it and the gate opened. He took Lian by the hand and went inside.
Had it not been for Ted pulling him along, Lian would have stopped and stared at what he saw. An entire city made out of peanut butter! Everywhere he looked, he saw peanuts used as building bricks, peanut shells used as carts and wagons, pulled by peanut butter colored ponies. There were ordinary people walking here and some that were not so ordinary... Lian tried not to stare at the people. His mommy had told him that staring was wrong, but he couldn’t help himself. Some of the people looked like they had been made entirely out of peanut butter!
“Ted,” he finally whispered. “Those people...”
Ted glanced at Lian and said, “Peanut butter fairies. Very proud they are, too. It is a good thing they don’t know who you are. They would make your life miserable if they knew.”
“But why?” Lian almost wailed.
“The King will explain. Hurry up, Lian. We’re almost there.”
And they were. They turned a final corner and a large palace made entirely of peanut butter rose before them. One of the towers looked melted and dribbled a little peanut butter onto the ground in front of them.
“There, see?” Ted said, pointing with his paw at the tower. “See what you’ve done?”
“I did that?” Lian whispered, awed and a little ashamed.
Ted did not answer him, but pulled him along. He murmured something to the guards at the palace gate and the guards let them through. So it went all through the palace, with Ted pulling Lian along until he almost had to run to keep up.
Suddenly, Ted the bear was pulling him through a crowd of people, right up to a throne where a powerful and kind looking man was seated. Ted stopped and bowed as deeply as possible for an overstuffed bear.
“Here, your Majesty. I have brought the one you asked for.”
Lian stood, too frightened to move, as the King’s eyes sought his. The King smiled at Lian, and Lian, relieved, smiled back. The King stood and announced that audiences were over for the day and that he would see Sir Ted the Bear in his private study, along with his Lord Lian.
Lian was confused by being called a Lord, but he was happy that he would not have to speak to the King in front of all those grown-ups. He followed Ted (Sir Ted?) into the King’s study.
The King sat down at his big desk. “Please, both of you be seated,” he said quietly, in a very different voice from the one he had used in the throne room.
Ted and Lian sat down and the King looked at Lian for long moments before he spoke again. “So this is the child who brought my tower down.”
Lian squirmed uncomfortably, but Ted said, “If you please, Sire, the tower is not down yet.”
The King glared at Sir Ted and said, “No, but it is melting as we speak! It will soon be down, and after it, the rest of the palace unless...” The King broke off and stared into space for a minute.
Lian fought down his fear and asked, “Unless what?”
The King looked at Lian, surprise on his face. “So, you are not a shy child. Good. Well, Lian, unless you can fix what you have damaged.”
“How can I do that?” Lian asked.
“It will be dangerous and scary,” the King said doubtfully. “You are very young.”
“I can be brave!” Lian said, though his heart was pounding very fast.
The King smiled at him and said, “You chose well, Sir Ted, when you picked him for your Lord. I shall call in the court magician and he shall tell you what needs to be done.”
The King rang a bell on his desk and bid the servant who answered it to fetch the court magician. Moments later, the court magician bustled in and Lian stared at him. He was the strangest adult he had ever seen! He was very tall and dressed in a tall pointy hat and long full robes with strange signs all over them. The court magician bowed to the King and turned to Lian. “So this is the little troublemaker, eh?” he said, looking annoyed.
This time Lian spoke up for himself. “I didn’t mean to make trouble, sir.” he said, looking the magician in the face.
“No? But you did all the same, child! Hasn’t anyone ever explained to you how important words are?”
“I don’t understand. What do you mean?” Lian asked.
“Words define everything. We use them to tell others what we are thinking and how we feel. But words used incorrectly, in moments of anger for example, can cause large amounts of damage. Are you willing to mend what you have melted?” the court magician said.
“Yes, but how?” Lian answered.
“Tell me exactly what you said and why you said it. Tell me everything about that day,” the court magician requested.
So Lian did, leaving nothing out. And when he was done, he felt horrible and wanted to cry. How could he have been so mean to his mommy?
The magician and the King spoke to one another softly. Sir Ted placed one overstuffed paw on Lian’s shoulder.
“Are you sorry for what you said?” the King asked Lian, bending down to look into his face.
“Yes,” Lian said, in a tiny voice.
“Then this is what you have to do.” The King was explaining, but the room was getting all misty.
“No!” Lian cried, seeing the walls fade away. How could he save P.B. Land if he wasn’t there?
“My darling, I’m here. Look at me, Lian, look at mommy!”
Lian opened his eyes and looked at his mother. She was sitting next to his bed and she looked awful. He remembered what the King had been saying. “I’m sorry, mommy! I’m sorry! I love you and I love peanut butter and I’m very very sorry!”
“Oh, Lian,” his mother cried, and threw herself on him and hugged him and hugged him. And somewhere, in the mists that he wasn’t quite out of yet, he sensed a tower straightening, its peanut butter magically strengthened into stone again.