Happily Ever After
By Lauren F.
A young man named Collin lived in a small, old house with his family. It was foggy out and Collin waited impatiently at his desk, wanting badly to go home.
No one ever came to his shop full of his handmade pottery. He had bowls, vases, plates, and all sorts of unique cups and mugs. Even though he loved his art work, not a lot of others did. He usually had one, two at the most, customers a day. Because of this, he and his family were very poor, and Collin was forced to work extra hours, hoping for more money. But no such luck had ever come.
Now, as the sun was setting, not one customer had come that day. Not even a visitor. Even those had been nice, since Collin was always so lonely. With the constant cleaning, lack of customers, and highly priced clay, Collin felt like he was losing more money then he made. Just as he decided to clean up the shop before closing, the front door opened and the hanging bell rang, a sound rarely heard. In walked a young couple, talking loudly.
“This is just great,” said the women, her eyes glowing.
“I know, the kids are going to love it,” said the man in excitement.
“Oh, I’ve always wanted to go to the beach!” the women said, hugging her husband. “Thank you, thank you, thank you!” she sang.
Collin had always wanted to go to the ocean. He had never even seen it himself. He was just too poor, and such a trip would be too expensive. But it would be nice. No, it would be great, and the kids would love the vacation.
Just then he heard a loud crash and the sound of glass shattering all over the ground. Collin ran from behind the counter and to the nearest aisle. The couple stood close, with their eyes on the floor, pasted on the broken plate.
“So sorry,” the women said, “My bad, how much?” She pointed to where she had found the plate and Collin read the price aloud.
“$34.96,” Collin said.
The man nodded and pulled out his wallet. He handed over the bills and led his wife toward the door.
“Wait,” Collin called, his voice echoing in the empty shop. He grabbed the matching mug off of the shelf and handed it the woman.
“For you,” he said with a sweet, thick voice, like honey being mixed in a jar.
“Why thank you,” the girl said politely.
“You’re very welcome,” Collin answered.
As soon as they left, Collin went straight to work. He first swept the dirty floor, wiped down the foggy windows, and then made his way to dusting the pottery. He went down each aisle, cleaning every piece on the way. Slowly and carefully, Collin made it to the last row, then the last shelf, and finally, the last mug.
It wasn’t really a mug though, it was really more like a stretched out tea pot, but still, it was his favorite. He swiftly cleaned the cup, by holding it tightly in between both palms. With the cloth in-between his right hand and the mug, he gently rubbed over the glossy clay. He did this for a while before switching hands. Back and forth, back and forth.
A damp mist escaped the bottle and crawled through the air. It spun faster and faster, soon twirling into a small tornado. A loud pop followed and as Collin opened his eyes, a lean figure took shape.
The genie was a pale blue, with a thin twisted-off tail that misted away at the end. He wore fancy, sparkling shorts that, to Collin, looked pretty funny. On his head was a hat that was long and flat, and in his hand was a bottle of suntan lotion. He looked around in confusion then spotted Collin. Tilting down his sun glasses, the genie looked Collin up and down in disappointment. Then, with a sigh, he snapped his fingers and was gone.
Collin felt a sudden urge push him and his vision went all blurry. His stomach lurched a foot in front of him as he came to a sudden halt. In a second he was in a field and at the far end he saw some sheep. The genie was off to the side, leaning on a tree. He now wore overalls, a straw hat, and there was a weed sticking out of his mouth.
“I’m a genie, blah, blah, blah, blah, complete a task blah, blah, blah, blah, get a wish, got it?”
It took Collin a while to realize that the genie was talking to him. “Uh, ya, sure, got it,” Collin stumbled out the words. Even though Collin had a lot of questions, something stopped him from asking.
“First task,” the genie said, “don’t let the wolf eat the sheep.” The genie snapped his fingers and was gone.
Confused and startled, Collin found himself walking toward the sheep, his eyes scanning the edge of the woods. The large beast came out of nowhere. It lunged for the nearest sheep and Collin shut his eyes tight.
Poor thing, he thought, but there was nothing I could do. He slowly opened his eyes, expecting one less sheep and a bloody trail to the woods. Instead, he found himself standing on an open book, on top of a page that read, “The Boy Who Cried Wolf.''
“Whatever that means,” Collin mumbled to himself. The picture underneath the heading showed the scene he had just been in before he had closed his eyes. He touched the picture, and the whole thing wobbled. His hand fell through, like a rock sinking into water. He quickly pulled his hand back, and was surprised to find it dry and normal, like nothing had happened. He hesitantly stuck his hand in again, this time brushing a sheep with one of his fingers. The sheep slid over a bit, but without changing its position. He wrapped his whole hand over the small, furry, sheep’s body and put it on the other side of the fence, which held another field of grass.
The genie's voice echoed in Collin’s mind. ''Don’t let the wolf eat the sheep.''
Slowly, one by one, Collin lifted and placed each sheep into the new field. He stood back and looked at his accomplishment in satisfaction. The wolf’s wild green eyes glowed with hunger. It was frozen in its attack position, its mouth twisted into a drooling snarl, its bared teeth ready to sink into thick flesh.
What to do with him, Collin thought, silly me, he will just leap over the fence. What to do, what to do? The hollowed out log caught Collin’s attention like a bear in a pack of bees. Bingo. Collin smiled as be picked up the tangled wolf and placed it into the open, spacious log.
He then stuffed the hollow with a life’s supply of plants and leaves and bushes. “Eventually,” Collin said aloud, “he will have to become an herbivore.” He laughed, “Imagine that.” And to the right he saw letters and words shifting and switching around. He read in astonishment, “luckily the old wolf was an herbivore and the sheep and the boy lived happily ever after.”
Collin suddenly heard loud clapping and the genie’s clear voice say, “Very good, next please!”
Collin was flipped over and turned to another page, which read, “Three Little Pigs.'' Collin looked at the picture and studied it carefully. It showed three different scenes. One was of a pig in a straw home, one was in a home of twigs and wood, and the last, was in one of sturdy brick. Under the pictures, in small letters, was: ''Second task, rebuild pig one and two’s homes so that they are safe from the wolf, like pig three.''
It was then for the first time Collin noticed the gray wolf lurking in each background. Easy enough, Collin thought, and soon enough he was being flipped to the next page.
I’ve changed a wolf’s diet, rebuilt houses, what next? Collin thought.
“Little Red Riding Hood,” the genie’s voice rang, “save her from the wolf.”
What is up with these wolves? Collin wondered.
“I like them,” the genie said.
Collin quickly out-maneuvered the wolf and caught him before he made it to Grandma’s house. Just as he was finishing up the script, the genie popped up in front of him.
“Very nice work Collin,” the genie smiled. “Now that you know how happy endings work, and you can make them too, you deserve one of your own. You have one wish. Anything you’d like as long as you’re not too greedy and it has a happy ending.”
A week later, Collin and his family were packing for their vacation.
“Daddy, Daddy,” Martin, his youngest son, said pulling on Collin’s shirt. “Why are we going to the beach?” Martin tilted his head. Even though he was young, almost six, he had a small idea of what kind of things cost too much.
“Dad has been working very hard lately,” Collin answered, ruffling Martin’s hair. “But if you don’t want to go to the beach we could always go to the park……..”
“No, No, No!” Martin shrieked, and couldn’t keep from laughing. “I want to swim!”
Collin packed the last small bag into the car he and his family lived happily ever after.