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The Elf In The Blue Tree
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Oh, hello, relaxing a little?
May I ask you something, are you a daydreamer, are you given to flights of fantasy?
Do you dream of the wonderful things you would do, if you had the chance?
I knew of a girl like that once and she had quite an adventure.
As I recall she was ten years old at the time.
She had shoulder length chestnut brown hair she liked to pull back into a ponytail and she had sleepy blue eyes.
Her parents named her Clariece, a bright girl but a little lazy.
A bit of a tomboy she climbed trees, played baseball and had a tendency to spend too much time daydreaming.
Well, let me tell you what happened to her.
Clariece would oversleep on school days, her mother always needed to call her more than once to get her up in time. Sometimes she forgot to tie her shoes, or to comb her hair because she was busy daydreaming about one thing or another.
Her mother rushed her out of the house in plenty of time for school but she still arrived late, because she wanted to cut through the apple orchard which stood between her home and the school.
She would climb up into an apple tree and sit in its branches, daydreaming of becoming a famous tight rope walker, or some other fabulous adventure on which she might embark.
In school she seldom paid attention to what her teachers were saying, preferring to spend her time gazing out of the window and imagining herself as a daring heroine saving the lives of people caught up in a terrible catastrophe.
However, all this would change.
One day, as she customarily cut through the apple orchard on her way to school, she spied something unusual in the middle of the orchard.
Where it had never stood before was a large tree, it was blue, a big blue tree.
'Whoever heard of a blue tree?' she thought.
She walked over to give it a closer inspection, as she did she heard a small voice high up in the branches calling down to her.
"You, little girl, please can you give me a hand?
I am stuck here in this tree, and I cannot get down by myself."
Clariece looked up, and there, sitting on a high branch was a little man.
He was dressed in blue.
The elf had a tall blue hat and even his long beard was blue; he appeared to Clariece very much like a garden gnome.
The little man called to her again.
"Can you climb up here and help me down from this branch? I have been stuck on it for such a long time. I do so want to get out of this tree."
Clariece, who was no stranger to climbing trees, didn't hesitate for even a second; she scrambled up the branches of the blue tree.
In just two minutes she had reached the place where the elf was sitting.
She grabbed him around the waist and started making her way back down towards the ground.
Reaching a low branch she swung to the ground and dropped lightly on her feet.
She set the little fellow near the base of the blue tree and said, "There you are, safe and sound."
She looked at the elf for a long moment and then said, "I don't believe I have ever seen anyone like you before in my whole life."
The elf looked up at Clariece, one shoe untied, one of her socks was up and the other was down, her hair was badly tousled and she had blue leaves from the tree tangled in it. There was a smudge of dirt on her white blouse and another on the side of her face.
"I don't think I have ever seen anyone like you either," the elf replied
"You did rescue me from that horrible blue tree, and for that I am thankful, so to show you my appreciation I want to give you a gift.
From this point on whatever you pretend to be will become real and you can change your mind as often as you want."
Clariece brightened, "You mean wishes?"
The elf said, "Well, more like choices. Wishes may grant you the material things you desire, but this gift allows you to become whatever you dream to be.
I must warn you, this gift of change is not forever, on the twelfth day of the twelfth month of your twelfth year at the twelfth stroke of midnight, the gift will end. Whatever you are at that time is what you shall remain."
Clariece said, "How delightful", and made a large circle dancing around a nearby apple tree.
As she came around the tree she looked toward the little elf, but he had disappeared, the blue tree along with him.
Clariece thought to herself, 'Of course, I should have known, after all everybody knows there are no such things as blue trees, or little blue elves,
I must have been daydreaming again, but it seemed so real, and what a wonderful ability that gift would be.'
In the distance she heard the first bell ringing at the school.
'Oh, I'm going to be late again.' she thought.
Clariece ran as fast as she could through the orchard, down the block and into the school.
She just managed to slip into her seat at her desk as the last bell rang.
The teacher told the students to take out their geography books and that today they will discuss topographical maps.
Clariece hated geography, and soon her mind was drifting away.
She thought how nice it would be to be a famous explorer searching the Amazon jungles for the lost city of gold.
Suddenly there was a flash of lightning.
Clariece was not seated at her desk any longer, she was seated on a log at the front of a small tent.
She jumped up, "Oh," she said as she looked around, "Where am I?"
She was surrounded by jungle, with birds and insects buzzing around her head.
"I must be dreaming, but it's so real."
She pinched herself on the arm, "Ouch, Oh I'm awake, this is real!"
She reached down at her feet and felt the grass, it was wet and smelled fragrant.
"The gift, the blue tree, the elf, I was not dreaming it was real.
I am standing in the middle of the Amazon jungle, ready to go searching for the lost city of gold."
She looked at her clothes.
The white blouse and blue skirt of her school uniform was now transformed into a khaki shirt and short khaki pants.
Her black loafers had converted to heavy leather hiking boots.
'This is splendid,' she thought.
She looked at the campsite; there were three others in the group.
She didn't know how, but she knew their names and what their purpose was in the expedition.
A tall thin man named Kirk, the leader of the group, called out,
"OK everyone, let's get packed up, we leave in one hour.
Clariece you are in the lead today, don't get us lost."
He handed her a compass, a rolled up map and a machete.
She took the items and sat back on the log next to her tent.
Clariece picked up the compass, she turned it this way and that way trying to figure out which way was north.
One of her teachers talked about compasses in class and how to read them, but Clariece had been daydreaming about being on a fox hunt and missed the important details.
She set down the compass and picked up the map.
Unrolling it she stared at it in utter confusion, it was a topographical map and she had no clue how to read it.
'If only I had paid a little more attention in class.' she thought, as she put the map next to the compass on the log.
"What about this?" she said, as she picked up the machete. "Are we planning on being attacked by wild animals?"
Kirk stopped at her tent and said. "You better get started Clariece, we leave in twenty minutes and you haven't even started to pack your things."
He gestured toward her tent.
Clariece had spent so much time trying to figure out how to use the compass and map that she used up most of the hour Kirk had given them to get ready for their departure, now she had to hurry.
She looked inside the tent, on one side was a bed roll and on the other was a large backpack; various items were strewn around on the ground, combs, brushes mirrors and clothing.
Clariece hurriedly stuffed the items into the backpack and then pulled it out of the tent.
She saw how the others had rolled up their bedrolls and secured them to the top their packs, with their tents making a neat triangle over the bedroll.
She rolled up her bedroll and tied it to the pack where it hung limply over both sides.
Next she collapsed the tent, but try as she might she could not figure out how to fold it into the neat triangle the way her companions had tied theirs. In the end, she tied it in a bunch on top of her pack.
Everyone's pack was a neat rectangle without a single bulge or crease. Clariece looked at hers with dismay; it looked like a lumpy bundle of rags.
Kirk called out. "All right everyone let's move."
Clariece struggled into her backpack, it was much heavier than she would have thought.
She started heading for the trail.
Kirk stopped her and said, "Not that way, it's this way."
He pointed in the opposite direction.
She turned and saw the way he was pointing and said. "Oh of course, what was I thinking?"
They walked for hours in the hot and sticky Amazon jungle.
Clariece was sweating and itchy, the flies and bugs gnawed at her continually and her hands were getting blisters from trying to use the machete.
Kirk needed to correct her route several times to keep them on the right path.
At last they reached a clearing and Kirk told everyone to stop and make camp for the day.
It took Clariece several tries before she was able to get her tent pitched and even then it sagged in the middle.
She unrolled her sleeping bag inside the tent and lay down.
Someone called for everyone to come and eat, but she was just too tired to care.
The ground was hard under her and she was the victim of numerous bug bites. She cried, the tears ran down her face.
Clariece sobbed, "This is not fun at all. There's no television, no hot water to wash with and no bathroom. The pack is too heavy; I cannot use the compass or read the map.
I did not know that explorers lived such a hard life; I don't like this at all.
I think it would be much better to be a famous fashion model."
Her mind drifted away and she imagined herself being fussed over and waited on as she got ready for a big picture shoot.
The lightning flashed again and the jungle disappeared.
Dressed only in a towel she was seated in a makeup chair in front of a brightly lit mirror in a long well lit room lined with mirrors.
There were several more styling chairs all occupied by models.
Besides Clariece at least five or six other models were being attended to. Hairdressers and makeup people bustled about the models, applying makeup and nail polish with artistic flair.
The smell of hairspray filled the air.
Just as before, Clariece knew everyone's name and what their job was.
Her hairdresser fussed over her hair, a makeup artist applied her makeup, and a manicurist polished her nails.
'This is more like it', she thought.
Behind her a short thin man paced back and forth yelling, "Time ladies, time. Let's hurry a little, can we?"
This would be James, he was the project coordinator.
His short blond hair stood straight up like the bristles on a wire brush.
A white sweater was draped over his shoulders and hung loosely tied about his neck.
He always paced and fretted about the time.
James continued to pace ringing his hands and begging for people to hurry.
It all seemed a little comical to Clariece.
Her hair and makeup finished she was rushed off to wardrobe by her personal assistant Mary.
The wardrobe manager, an effeminate man named Frank, handed her a dress and said, "You're late, quick get into this."
Clariece had not realized that under her towel she had on only her underwear. She blushed at the realisation, but none of the others seemed to notice or care.
She struggled into the dress and with the help of Mary got it to hang just right.
Frank looked at her for a few seconds and said, "What have you been doing, pigging out at the banquet again?
The dress is beautiful, but you, I think you're a little too fat for it. You need to watch your weight; you're getting a little plump around the middle."
To Mary he said, "Put a sash around her waist and hang it loose."
To which she replied. "The designer won't be too happy if you add a sash to his creation. I don't know if James would approve of the idea either."
Frank said, 'I cannot help that, we have to cover that budge. There is no way she can go out there looking like that and put her in higher heels, maybe it will help if we make her look taller."
Clariece was looking at herself in the full length mirror.
She was annoyed that they were talking about her as if she wasn't there.
She blurted out, "I think I look fine."
The room went very quiet.
The two antagonists looked at each other and then at Clariece.
With a look of astonishment Frank raised one eyebrow and spoke, pausing between each word for effect, "Did you say something?"
Clariece answered, "Yes, I said in my opinion I look just fine."
Frank dropped his voice a little lower and said, "First, models do not have opinions and second, if models do have opinions they do not voice them, models just do as they are instructed."
Clariece didn't like Frank's tone, or the things he said.
She realised that being a glamorous fashion model might not be as much fun as she thought it would.
She stood there in front of the mirror listening to them continue to argue. She thought about her old classroom and her teacher, her mind began to wander again.
'I wonder what it would be like to be a fourth grade teacher' she thought.
Lightning flashed around her and the room vanished.
As the months flew by Clariece dreamed herself into many situations.
She daydreamed of becoming a bright young medical intern.
She found this profession required much too much studying, and the hours were overly long.
Then she daydreamed of becoming a firefighter.
She realised that they must endure hard training, also the heat and smoke were too much for her to handle.
As a deep sea diver she discovered there were even more requirements that she could not accomplish.
She even dreamed herself as a space astronaut.
All of which required skills she didn't have or sacrifices she wasn't willing to make.
Clariece started discovering that to become anything important requires a lot of hard work, and often many years of training.
She thought that there must be something she would be good at.
She daydreamed about a job that she already had some skill in, maybe the captain of a large fishing boat out on the ocean.
'Yes,' she thought, 'I love to go fishing; I love boats and the water. I think I would like the thrill of hooking into a big fish and bringing it in. I can see it all now.'
Her mind drifted off and she imagined herself the captain of a great ship sailing the oceans in search of the next big catch.
Again lighting flashed around her.
She was standing on the upper deck of a large fishing vessel somewhere in the open water of the ocean.
The sun had already set and the night stars filled the sky.
The salty ocean breeze blew softly against her face as the boat rocked gently on the waves.
Crew members scurried about, tending to their various duties.
A crew member called to her, "Captain Clariece, we're in place, shall we drop the nets?"
'Ah,' she thought, 'my first order as captain.'
She looked down at the crew and said, "Yes, cast the nets."
She smiled as she saw the crew jump to her order.
In minutes the nets were lowered into the water and they began to drag the nets, trying for a big catch of tuna.
'This is more like it.' Clariece thought, 'I should have tried this in the first place.'
Her first officer, a large man nicknamed Big Mike approached her.
He had a concerned look and said. "Captain I think you should be alerted to the weather condition. There is a huge storm forming ten miles due east of us. Shall we hold our course or move off?
Clariece wasn't sure which action she should take, but ten miles seemed like a long distance away.
"Hold our course. I think there may be a big catch here," she said.
"Aye Aye captain." Mike said as he hurried back to the wheelhouse.
The ship trolled for another two hours pulling the heavy net through the ocean until the tiny bells on the net pulley jingled signaling that the nets were full.
Clariece called out, "Hoist the nets, and let's see what we have caught."
The crew jumped to her command and began working feverishly to bring in the catch.
Soon the nets came aboard and spilled their load of fish on the deck. The crew opened the nets and started separating the fish and throwing them on the conveyer belt that would carry the load to the ice filled hold below. 'Success at last, I've found something I'm good at,' she thought.
Big Mike came running up to Clariece.
He said, "Captain the storm is building, if we don't leave soon it will catch us. What are you orders?"
Clariece had no idea what orders she should give.
She looked at the darkening sky, black clouds obscured the stars.
The wind was building and the ship began to toss in the rising waves.
Big Mike said, "I don't believe we can out run this one, better batten down the hatches and get everyone down below deck."
Clariece thought that this sounded like the right action to take and gave Big Mike the order to clear the decks.
He rushed off to carry out the order.
Down below, in her cabin, Clariece pondered what to do next.
The ship pitched and rolled as the waves grow larger and began to wash over the decks.
They floundered for another two hours while the storm grew in intensity.
Big Mike knocked on her door, when she answered he said. "Captain we are taking on a lot of water in the forward holds. If you don't do something soon, we are going to lose the ship."
She answered. "Give me a minute, gather the men in the mess hall and I will speak to them."
After Big Mike left she paced the floor trying to figure out what to do and what she should say to the crew.
This predicament needed the experience of a seasoned captain, not one who daydreamed herself into the position.
As she paced, Clariece had the feeling that someone was watching her.
She looked around the cabin and saw in the corner, the blue tree.
At the base of the tree; just where she had left him, stood the little blue elf.
He pulled a large pocket watch from his coat and looking at it he said." This is the twelfth day of the twelfth month of your twelfth year and it will soon be the twelfth stroke of midnight."
The watch sounded with a loud bong.
"This will be your last chance to change, but you must hurry and decide what course your life shall take."
Bong, Bong the watched chimed, nine times then ten and eleven.
Clariece closed her eyes and cried out," I just want to be back in my own room and be the girl I was before all this started."
Lightning flashed around her as the watch sounded for the last time.
Clariece opened her eyes.
The room was dark, but even in the shadows she could tell this was her own bedroom.
She crept slowly to the full length mirror and cautiously she peeked at her reflection.
A wave of relief washed over her, she was her old self again, the magic had worked.
She gazed at her image in the mirror, and thought back on all the strange and sometimes terrifying adventures she had experienced.
One thing she learned from all of this, if you want to get an important position in life it takes a lot of hard work and determination.
You can daydream about what you want to be, but when you are really there it is much different and you must be prepared.
This small girl in the mirror may not be what she always wanted to be, but for now it's what she needed to be.
Clariece climbed into her bed, it had never felt as wonderful as now.
She set her alarm clock for ten minutes earlier than usual.
In the morning, when her mother came into her room to wake her up for school, she was already up.
Hair combed, dressed and ready for school.
Running to her mother she cried, "Mom, I love you so much and it's so good to be home."
Her mother looked at her in bewilderment.
"What on earth?" she said.
Clariece became the best daughter any parent could want and she always helped her mother around the house.
She was no longer late for school.
She never cut through the apple orchard again.
In school, she paid very close attention to everything her teachers were saying.
She became a shining example to her fellow students.
She still daydreamed once in awhile, but now only in her room, and only after she finished her homework.
Clariece grew up, as all children do.
As time went by she graduated from high school and then went on to college where she studied very hard.
She married and had beautiful children of her own.
Do you wish to know what she became?
She became a famous author who writes stories for young people like you to read.
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