A Birthday Wish Come True

A Birthday Wish Come True

Bastina dropping off MarisolWe had just finished setting up the party in the backyard Saturday morning when Bastina arrived with Marisol. After a quick thank-you to all of us and a reminder to her daughter to mind her manners, our neighbor drove off.

As soon as her mother was out of sight, Marisol dashed to the backyard. The disappointment in her face was obvious. As she turned to Dray, her lower lip quivered, and her eyes grew moist. “Dray? I . . . I thought I was going to see the horses.”

Party was set up“The day is young, child. Be patient.” Dray pointed to the gazebo, festooned with bunting and banners. Refreshments were set out on tables, and a pile of presents awaited the birthday girl.

Marisol’s jaw dropped and her eyes grew round. She slowly walked over to the gazebo, noting the Happy Birthday sign and the tables laden with cakes and beverages. She stopped and pointed to the boxes adorned with festive paper and bows. “Are . . . are these for me?”

Are these for me

Dray nodded. “There is a small something from me among those gifts, but my special present will come later, after refreshments.”

Marisol’s grin stretched ear to ear, and she nodded her understanding to Dray.

Start by opening presents“Happy birthday, Marisol!” I placed my hand on the child’s shoulder. “Why don’t you start by opening these presents, and then we can all have some refreshments before Dray gives you her special present.”

Marisol nodded. The child carefully unwrapped each gift, taking care not to rip the paper. Her eyes lit up when she opened the first gift, a collection of story books and jigsaw puzzles, all featuring horses or dragons.

BD gift for Marisol from everyone else

YH and company with Marisol“We know that horses and dragons are your favorites, and your mom told us you are quite the reader, reading well above your age level, and you love putting jigsaw puzzles together. So, this is from the four of us.” My Young Hero pointed to himself, then gestured to the group around him – my Foreman, my Gypsy, and my Bounty Hunter.

“Oh, thank you! These are wonderful!” Marisol couldn’t stop smiling as she looked through the collection.

BD gift for Marisol from Cleric and SorceressSorceress and Cleric with MarisolThe next gift was a children’s book about herbs and wildflowers. “This is from Clara and me,” Sorceress told Marisol. “Your mother told us you have recently shown an increased interest in this subject. I think you will find the illustrations and anecdotes in this book quite extraordinary.”

“Oh, it is beautiful!” Marisol leafed through the book. “I’ll enjoy it very much! Thank you!”

BD gift for Marisol from me and MilesNext, Marisol opened the gift from me and Miles. “Oh! Binoculars! A book on birdwatching, and a journal to keep a list of the birds I see! Thank you!”

“I remember you saying you enjoy observing the birds. Miles and I thought this might assist you in that activity.”

GoldfinchMarisol tried out the binoculars. “Oh, these are great! I can see a Goldfinch on that feeder pole!” She immediately opened her new journal and laboriously wrote the day, date, and location, along with the name of the bird, twice asking for help with spelling. When she finished, she grinned at me. “I will make great use of this gift!”

BD gift for Marisol from DragonNext, Marisol opened a leather-bound notebook, with her name and a picture of a dragon and a horse on the front. “Oh, this is exquisite!” The child ran her hand over the cover before opening it.

Elf cleric“You can paste pictures in there, or draw images, or write your ideas, your desires, your hopes . . . whatever pleases you.” Dray smiled at Marisol, and the child nodded.

“Thank you! I will treasure this, Dray!”

Marisol reached for the last present on the table, a gift bag. In it were several hand-crafted figurines and a small charm bracelet.

Bastina and Marisol see dwarfOld DwarfMy Old Dwarf stepped up. “I been makin’ tha wristlet fer ye, lass. I be knowin’ ye be right partial ta horsies an’ dragons, but I been includin’ a bunny, too, causin thet be how ye been meetin’ alla usins, when ye been followin’ me when I been chasin’ a bunny rabbit. But I dinna be knowin’ iffins ye be o an age where ye be likin’ gew-gaws like thet, so’s I be carvin’ a few little figures fer ye, too. Ye kin be keepin’ ’em on a shelf in yer room, or inna box wit yer udder trinkets.”

“Oh, these are marvelous!” Marisol smiled at my Old Dwarf. “I do like jewelry, and I will wear this always!” She put it on her wrist. “It’s a perfect fit! And I know just where I can put the figures, where I can see them every night before I go to sleep!”

BD cake for Marisol with candlesMarisol spent a few more minutes looking at all her gifts while Cleric served the cake and ice cream. “I made individual cakes so everyone could have their favorite. I made you the orange chiffon you liked last time.” Cleric handed Marisol her cake and the little girl made a silent wish and blew out the candles.

While we were all eating, Miles nudged me. “Your Arrogant One felt the party was beneath him?”

I shrugged. “I’ve been wondering that same thing. I noticed he was missing but didn’t want to make a big deal of it.”

After everyone finished eating, Dray took Marisol’s hand and walked her to the barn. She murmured an incantation under her breath. From the look on Marisol’s face, the spell worked.Dray shows Marisol the horses

“Oh!” Marisol stared at the steeds, who looked curiously at the newcomer.

Black horseForeman facing right closeupMy Foreman gave a hand signal for his horse to step forward. “The black stallion is mine. His name is Centaur. Would you like to pet him?”

Marisol nodded wordlessly, and my Foreman lifted her in his arms and let her pet the big horse.

“Oh! He’s so soft!”Gypsy horse

Gypsy close-up facing right“This one is Gypsy, and he’s soft, too.” My Gypsy led his horse over and Marisol cooed over him, too.

Giving Hero an appleYoung hero 2“And this is my pony, Hero. He loves apples. Would you like to fee him one?” My Young Hero showed Marisol how to hold her hand flat and let the pony take the apple gently from her hand.

Marisol giggled. “His whiskers tickle!”

Suddenly, my Arrogant One stepped out of the barn, leading a three-quarter size horse. “Marisol? How would you like to ride a pony?”

AO leading pony from barn

Marisol gaped at the elf leading the pinto to her and squealed. “Really? You’d let me ride?”

Arrogant One with Marisol and horseThe elf nodded. “Of course. This animal is quite gentle and will be an excellent mount for you.”

“Oh, yes! Yes, please!” Marisol seemed beside herself.

I rushed over to my Arrogant One. “No tricks.”

He gave me a look of pure innocence and continued talking to Marisol. “His name is Pegasus. Here, let me help you mount.”

Once Marisol was securely in the saddle, my Arrogant One led the pony around, first at a slow walk, then a little faster.

“Are you comfortable?” The elf brought the pony to a stop.

“Oh, yes!” Marisol’s eyes were shining as she leaned forward and patted the pony on his neck.

“If I give you the reins, do you think you could handle the pony on your own?”

I stepped forward. “I don’t think that’s a good idea.”

“Please? I’ll be very careful,” Marisol pleaded.

The elf scoffed. “I will not allow the child to be harmed.”Riding by herself

Without waiting for permission, my Arrogant One handed the reins to Marisol.

“What do I do? How do I tell the pony to walk?”

My Foreman and the lads hastened to her side. My Foreman instructed the child in the basics of walk and trot, and how to stop the pony. The lads walked beside her, one on each side, until she was comfortable with controlling her mount.

“That was a nice thing to do.” I walked up behind my Arrogant One.

“You need not sound so surprised.” He sneered.

“Actually, I do. This is not exactly in character for you.”

AO learning magicThe elf turned to me, a wistful smile pulling at one side of his mouth. “When I was but little older than her, I wanted nothing more than to learn the art of illusion. I remember how thrilled I was when someone not only invited me to watch them perform some illusions but encouraged me to learn some of them. They spent all afternoon with me, teaching me, and then giving me space to try on my own. When something means so much to a person, even a little encouragement can mean the difference between elation and heartbreak.”

I raised an eyebrow at the elf, surprised that he would share something so profoundly personal.

Then he shrugged. “Besides, the beast ordered me to do it.” He turned from me and walked back to Marisol. “Do you know why he is named Pegasus?”

Marisol tilted her head and stroked her chin. “Pegasus was a figure in Greek mythology. Mommy and I read a book about him. He was a winged horse.” Her eyes grew large. “Does this horse have wings?”

The elf winked at her and nodded. Suddenly, the horse she was riding changed. In an instant, the saddle was gone, and the horse sprouted wings. “Hold the mane and ask him to fly.”

I screeched as the pony leaped into the air, but my Arrogant One held his hand out toward the pony, keeping it just a foot or so off the ground.

Marisol didn’t say a word, but the expression on her face spoke volumes. She looked like she had never enjoyed herself so much.

“Beast?” My Arrogant One looked at Dray questioningly.

She nodded, and shape-shifted into her true form, taking to the air with Marisol and Pegasus as my Arrogant One dropped his hand and his control over the winged horse.

FlyingMy heart just about stopped, and I held my breath as I watched Dragon and Marisol fly higher, circling the treetops for several long minutes. Then they floated back to the ground. Dragon changed back into Dray, and Pegasus was once more just a saddle horse. I think that was when I remembered to breathe again.

Marisol jumped out of the saddle, radiating joy and awe. Her eyes sparkled and a huge grin spread across her face. “Oh, thank you! Thank you, everyone! Thank you, elf, thank you, Dray! I will never forget this birthday as long as I live!”Marisol hugging Dray

We hope you enjoyed Marisol’s birthday party. Be sure to get a piece of cake and some ice cream before you leave, and please join us again next week for more exciting adventures with my little band of displaced characters. I’ll leave the porch light on for you.

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A Birthday Wish

A Birthday Wish

“Missy, look who I found while fetching the mail.”looked up from laptop

I looked up from my laptop, curious why Dragon was calling me Missy, the name my characters called me in public. I soon saw the reason and smiled. Dragon, in her assumed identity of the delicate lass, Dray, walked over to the gazebo where I sat working. Skipping behind her was a young child.

“Well!” I closed my laptop and walked down the gazebo steps. I bent down, putting myself at eye level with the child, and smiled at her. “Who is this?”me and Marisol

The little girl giggled. “It’s me, Marisol.”

Marisol?” I feigned shock. “No, it can’t be! Marisol is a little girl.” I held my hand down to indicate someone much shorter than the child in front of me.

Marisol giggled again. “I’ve grown since you saw me. Last week, Mommy measured me, and I’ve grown two whole inches this year!”

“Two whole inches? Imagine that! You’ll soon be as tall as your mother!”

Marisol giggled and rolled her eyes at me.Bastina

“Speaking of your mother, is she with you?” I stood and glanced over at the side yard, expecting to see our neighbor, Bastina.

Marisol bowed her head and scuffed her foot back and forth in the grass. Her voice was small when she finally answered. “No.”

Dray frowned. “Does she at least know where you are, child?”

Marisol close-upAgain, Marisol scuffed her foot back and forth. “No.” Her voice was even softer this time. When she finally raised her head and looked at Dray, the little girl’s brow was furrowed, and she was chewing her lower lip. “I have to talk to you, Dray, and I didn’t want Mommy to hear.”

“Oh?” Dray lifted a delicate eyebrow and tilted her head, studying Marisol closely. “And prithee, what do you need to discuss with me that your mother cannot hear?”

are there horsesMarisol hesitated. “My birthday is Sunday. I’ll be seven years old. I’d really like to see the horses for my birthday. Maybe even pet them? I mean, it doesn’t have to be on my birthday, just for my birthday. Any day around my birthday would be fine.”

Dray wrinkled her brow, seemingly confused by the child’s request. “You know we do not have horses here.”

Marisol scoffed. “I know you did. I think you still do.”

“Hmmm.” Dray narrowed her eyes. “But you do not believe your mother would want you to be around horses?” Again, Dray tilted her head and carefully studied the child.

Marisol folded her arms in front of her and sighed deeply. “I don’t think Mommy wants me to see the horses.”

Horses by barnMarisol accuses Dragon who changes 2When we first met Marisol and her mother last year, we discovered Marisol had the unique power to see past Dragon’s spell of concealment. She was able to see the illusory horses and stable. She was also able to see through Dragon’s shape-shifting ability. She saw not the exotic maiden everyone else saw, but the beast’s true form. While her mother did not understand Marisol’s power, she was uncomfortably aware of it, since another part of the child’s power was to cause those around her to see what she saw.

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Marisol dropped her arms to her side and looked beseechingly at Dray. “But horses are my favorite animals, Dray! I mean, except for dragons, of course.” She giggled, then gave Dray another sad look. “I really, really, really want to see the horses. It’s my birthday wish! Please?”

Dray pursed her lips and rubbed the back of her neck.

Talia and MarisolPerhaps sensing Dray was about to refuse, Marisol tired a different tack, turning to address me as well as Dray. “You know Talia has been working with me, teaching me how to control my . . . problem.”

Dray and I nodded. We knew that Talia, one half of the team who operated the Chris-Tal Clear Metaphysical Store, had taken Marisol under her wing. She was providing guidance and direction to the young conduit of magic.

“Well, I’m doing really well with the exercises she taught me. I promise no one else will see the horses.” Marisol raised her hand as if taking an oath.

Dray sighed. “Suppose I speak with Talia. If she feels you have achieved a sufficient level of control, then I will approach your mother. Mayhap I can convince her to allow you to be our guest one day this week, without revealing the true purpose of your visit.”Marisol hugging Dray

“Oh, that would be perfect, Dray! Thank you!” The little girl ran to Dray and threw her arms around the woman, hugging her tightly.

That afternoon, after Dray checked with Talia, I dialed Bastina’s number and handed the phone to Dray to make arrangements.

Dray talking to Bastina“How fortuitous!” Bastina was so thrilled with Dray’s offer to have Marisol visit on Saturday, I could hear her enthusiastic reply even though I was standing a good ten feet from Dray. “I have to work the mid-shift at the herb shop Saturday, from eleven to six. I usually take Marisol with me, but after work I need to pick up her birthday cake and make some last-minute arrangements for her party on Sunday. I couldn’t do that if she were with me.”

Dray responded warmly. “It is our pleasure! Is it permissible for us to throw a small celebration for Marisol when she visits Saturday? Perhaps have a cake? Seven is quite the milestone in a young lady’s life, and we would be remiss if we ignored this occasion.”

With Bastina’s blessing, Dray and I began the plans for the party. We called the rest of my characters together, along with my husband, and explained our idea.

Dragon explains“I am going to allow Marisol to see me in my true form, and to see the illusory horses.” Seeing the shocked looks on the faces of her companions, Dragon waved dismissively. “I believe Marisol is sufficiently mature that she will not go off blathering about it to all and sundry. Also, Talia assures me the child has achieved a level of control over her powers that will prevent unexpected guests – anyone who crashes the party, so to speak – from seeing what Marisol sees.”

Me“I think it would be a good idea for us to have a little party for Marisol, leading up to the grand event of the day.” I looked around at the lack of enthusiasm among my characters and sighed. “We can have cake and ice cream and give her some small, token gifts. We can make it a real birthday celebration.”

Old DwarfMy Old Dwarf’’s eyes lit up at the mention of refreshments. “Be ye tinkin’ o some chock-lit cake?”

ElfCleric shook her head. “Marisol does not like chocolate. I will make an orange chiffon cake. It is her favorite”

Seeing the dejected look on the dwarf’s face, cleric reached out and patted his hand. “I know! Instead of one big cake, I will make individual cakes for each person. Yours will be chocolate, my friend. And we can have several flavors of ice cream. Master Miles has shown me how to use the machine that makes it.”

Make individual cakes

Young hero 2“What sort of gifts can we give Marisol?” My Young Hero frowned and scratched his head.

Made a listWe spent some time discussing ideas. Dragon decided granting Marisol her birthday wish would be her gift. Cleric felt the party and the cakes could be her contribution, and my Old Dwarf decided to handcraft a present. I offered to do the shopping for everyone else and made a list of what to get.

Invitation