Amazing Kids! Magazine

Cecilia

By Sarah Grace Burgess, age 10, Washington

Part One

Cecilia loved blackberries. At first she had not known how much she loved them, and therefore paid no attention to her father’s job. He worked in the blackberry fields as a gatherer. At the start of each worker’s job, they got to choose how they would like to be paid: blackberries and a meal at night or in coins. Cecilia’s father chose coins.

Oh, yes—before I go on, perhaps I should mention the fact that Cecilia and her family are mice.

Anyway, Cecilia most certainly thought her father had made a good choice—having a diet of only blackberries was simply ridiculous, and what if you didn’t like the meal that was cooked? And mice must be able to buy other things, too…but I do believe you understand the point here.

But one night, as a special treat, her father brought home a very large, purple blackberry. Cecilia could not help staring, for it was the size of her head!

She wanted to gobble up the entire thing already, but she knew that would be terribly impolite. So, she courteously accepted her piece and took it to her part of the den. There she took her first overwhelming bite. Sweetness, sourness, pure joy flowed into her mouth. The sensation, she said later, was impossible to describe. Ever since then, Cecilia knew she was destined to work in the blackberry fields.

 

Part Two

Cecilia’s mother sewed a purple jumper with little white blackberry blossoms all over it. Cecilia thought it was the prettiest piece of clothing she had. It had been a while now since her father had brought home that blackberry, but Cecilia most certainly hadn’t forgotten it.

One particular day, Cecilia woke up on the wrong side of the bed. That day, her friend Lily had snickered at her blackberry jumper and her other friend Buttercup had remarked, “Excuse me for saying so, but didn’t you wear that yesterday?” Then when Cecilia had turned toward Ella, she had said solemnly, “You are letting blackberries take over your life, Cecilia.” And of course Cecilia was shocked and because she had not had a good sleep last night, yelled at them all.

The next morning, Cecilia knew it was time to take steps. Nobody thought she would be a good worker in the blackberry fields. They didn’t even think she could! Well, she would show them. While her father was eating breakfast, Cecilia quietly crawled into her father’s wheelbarrow underneath all his tools. At first it was just her and her own halted breathing, but soon the wheelbarrow began to move. After a while, it stopped and her father’s pawsteps faded away.

Cecilia carefully poked her head out of the wheelbarrow. Her tiny jaw dropped. What she saw was this: richly green vines twisted in a green world, sunlight reaching through a few spots. Deep, majestically purple blackberries hung temptingly around her. Cecilia found herself unintentionally licking her lips in relish. Once she saw no workers in sight, she slipped out of the wheelbarrow and went exploring. The thick vines were smooth where there weren’t thorns, and Cecilia easily sidestepped them. She drooled over the blackberries around her, but she knew she should let the other workers pick them.

She was looking for the perfect blackberry. Cecilia could just imagine when she brought home an enormous blackberry—then they would let her work in the fields.

“Cecilia walks in, dressed in a beautiful violet jumper. And what’s this? She is pulling a wagon, with something gigantic in it,” the newscaster says. Cecilia’s mother gasps. “It’s huge! That’s the biggest blackberry I’ve ever seen.” Her father beams and says, “She definitely deserves to work in the blackberry fields!” The boss shouts, “I’ll second that!”

Something hard and green smacked Cecilia’s face. She was yanked out of her daydream, her head spinning. She realized that she had run straight into a blackberry branch. Ashamed and rather confused, Cecilia turned away from the vine. That was when she saw it.

 

Part Three

The biggest, juiciest, purple-est blackberry hung, persuading her to come, to embrace the deliciousness. Cecilia knew that this was the blackberry for her. She saw that nearer to the blackberry the vines were more flimsy and brown, and the thorns were much sharper and more plentiful. But once Cecilia had a goal in mind, nothing was going to stop that tiny little mouse.

Sometimes that was a good thing and sometimes it wasn’t.

Cecilia placed a paw down cautiously on the vine that led to the blackberry. She lifted her other paw and placed it in front of the other. Slowly, gently, carefully, she continued towards it. One time she had to twist her foot around the other and hop over a thorn as sharp as the small bit of knife that her mother used to cut meatloaf (Cecilia’s mother’s meatloaf was not something that should be considered edible). Finally, looking up, she saw that there was only one step more to the blackberry. Cecilia was filled weary joy, and took the last step –

Pain flowed into Cecilia’s paw and blood gushed out. Then everything went black, and Cecilia was falling down, down, down…

 

Part Four

Cecilia blinked. She saw two kind brown eyes looking into hers. It was her mother. “Mom?” Cecilia mumbled. “Where am I? What happened?” Then a sting shot from her back paw and Cecilia screamed.

“Hush, darling,” her mother’s voice soothed. “It will be over in a moment.” Cecilia’s paw went numb. Her mother began to speak again, “We found you on a lower branch from the blackberry I assume you were going after. The workers were able to acquire it, because they had protective boots for the thorns. You were unconscious and the others wanted to take you to the hospital because they were worried about broken bones. I told them you would be most comfortable in your own den, and the doctor could come here.”

“They had to give you a painkiller for now. Sleep, sweety. I thought you should know what happened.”

Cecilia nodded groggily, curling up, then fell into another deep sleep.

 

Part Five

Cecilia saw a hard brown ceiling. A tiny crack was running through it. Cecilia wondered if something could come through it and come into the den. A baby mosquito, maybe. Cecilia shuddered. Mosquitoes scared her.

She shuddered. Cecilia was out of the terrible, thoughtless coma! She sat up. She was still in her wrinkled jumper, and there wasn’t a mouse in sight. She tried to stand up, yelped, and sat back down again. Cecilia waited till the throbbing had left her paw, then picked up two firm branches next to her that must have been meant for her crutches. She hobbled to the doorway and bumped right into her mother!

“Cecilia, darling, are you all right? I came in to see why you were shrieking so,” Mother said.

Cecilia sighed and tried to pick herself up. “These crutches are going to need some getting used to.”

Mother nodded, and suddenly Cecilia saw how disappointed she was. “Mmm. Cecilia, sweet pea, don’t worry yourself silly, but you’re going to have to get some kind of ‘punishment for your actions,’ as they say. You have a meeting with Father’s boss tomorrow to decide what should be done.”

“I only wanted to help,” Cecilia said, then immediately knew that wasn’t true. She had wanted to help gather blackberries, but her reasons were not making sure they were stocked for the winter or giving little mice the joy of blackberries. She had wanted to have blackberries all to herself. She had wanted Lily, Buttercup and Ella to apologize. She had wanted to become famous.

But none of that had happened, had it?

Instead she had an injured ankle, disappointed parents, and a punishment coming soon. Great job, Cecilia, she thought harshly to herself. I can’t imagine a situation very much worse. Then a strange, desperately miserable feeling began to eat her insides. And salty tears ran down Cecilia’s face.

“Oh, Cecilia,” her mother said, rocking her gently. “Oh, Cecilia.”

 

Part Six

“Bring in the girl!”

Cecilia’s father nudged her into a large room. An angry-looking mouse sat on a kingly throne. It was Father’s Boss. Boss’s bushy eyebrows curved downward right in between his menacing eyes and his mouth drooped.

“Why did you violate the rules of the Green Mice Company? Punishments must be made.” He looked down his long nose disgustedly at Cecilia. She was quite frightened, but she mustered up all her courage and met his gaze

“I wanted to eat a blackberry again,” she said simply but truthfully.

“I see. And is your own pleasure more important to you than the rules of the Green Mice Company—and your father’s job?”

“No, Mr. Boss, Sir. I never considered that possibility. I thought I would become famous if I found just the right blackberry—which I did.” The sides of Boss’s mouth went down even lower, almost touching his chin.

“Your reasons were selfish, then. Fame is not everything. You must learn to share.”

“I am not a baby, Mr. Boss, Sir. I learned to share when I was five years of age. Is it so selfish of me to wish to show my friends that what I say is true? I should not have done what I did, and consequences have come. You can see what happened to my ankle. But I bet even you, Mr. Boss, did something quite similar in your youth.” As the adult-like words came out of her mouth, Cecilia herself began to believe them. But Boss’s mouth did not move a millimeter. Cecilia stared at his frown. She wondered if he had ever really smiled. Hmmm. She decided to ask him.

“Mr. Boss, Sir, have you ever smiled?” Suddenly his eyebrows sprang up in question marks and his mouth changed. A deep rumbling sound began. Cecilia was frightened again. Had her question offended him? His mouth was wide open, showing rows of jagged teeth. What if he was a cannibal? What if he ate her?

“Oh please, don’t eat me!” she cried. The rumbling sound must’ve been at least as loud as thunder. Boss’s eyes crinkled. Then, a sound came out of his mouth. It was a loud, surprised, cheery sound. He was…laughing? He was laughing!

And then giggles erupted from Cecilia’s mouth, too. The two were laughing so hard they both fell on the floor. More tears streamed down Cecilia’s face again. But this time they weren’t depressed tears. They were tears of joy.

 

Part Seven

Once Boss and Cecilia finally managed to stifle their laughter, Boss wiped his tears away with his handkerchief.

“No, Cecilia, I haven’t smiled for quite a long time. Let alone laughed. But I am not a cannibal. And, call me Mr. Green, won’t you?”

Cecilia grinned. “Okay, Mr. Green, Boss, Sir.” Mr. Green shook his head.

“Cecilia, really, just call me Mr. Green. No one calls me Boss or Sir. But the moments are ticking by. Your actions—well, you are going to have to stay at home for the next few weeks. Your mother says she is taking away your playing time.” He paused. “I think that’s quite enough punishment, don’t you?”

“Oh, yes, THANK YOU Mr. Bo—Green, thank you,” Cecilia said fervently.

As she began to walk out, Mr. Green called out, “One more thing, Cecilia.” She turned around. “Don’t get all excited, but after your punishment, you will have a job in the blackberry fields. You are much too young to be a worker, but you have a good eye and will find the blackberries for the workers to get. How would you like to be paid – money or blackberries?”

“Oh, goodness, gracious, my! Blackberries!” She blushed and added, “Please!”