Today we are featuring Inklings Book Contest 2016 finalist, Lily Shi! Lily finished 2nd grade this past school year. She wrote a delightful story about a brave little mouse.
Charlotte and the Storm
by Lily Shi
Rain. Sheets and sheets of rain one after another rolled down the hill followed by loud claps of thunder and bright streaks of lighting. It drenched everything in water. It was wet and cold. A misty sheet of fog covered everything. It went on like this every day. Everything was gloomy and no rainbow appeared afterward.
Every day, Charlotte the mouse and her six brothers and six sisters would ask, “Can we go outside to play?”
Every day, Charlotte’s mother would answer, “If you play outside, your pretty short brown fur would get drenched and soggy. Plus, you have to clean the hollow before you play.”
Every day, Charlotte and her six brothers and six sisters would each take a duster or a mop or a broom. Furiously, they would clean the hollow until it shone like the raindrops whistling outside.
Every day, after they cleaned the hollow, they would ask their mother, “Now can we go outside to play? We’ve cleaned the hollow!”
Every day, Charlotte’s mother would snap back, “I already told you! You would get soaked! When you would come into the hollow, you would have a fever from the cold and you would get the hollow soaked too!” But every day, in a gentler tone, Charlotte’s mother would add, “But you can play inside or read and draw.”
Every day, after Charlotte’s mother would say that, a loud noise of “Aww!!!” would fill the room, even louder than the thunder booming outside, for when they play hide and seek, the only place you could hide in was under the beds, and everybody knew that.
Every time they skipped around and danced, they would bump into either the furniture or their mother, and if they did, Charlotte’s mother would snap, “Be careful!” Every time they would read or draw, they could not concentrate, for they kept hearing the loud sound of “Boom!”
Then, one day… Ring! Ring! Ring!
Charlotte blinked her eyes open. Ring! Ring! Charlotte took a huge yawn and pushed her head up. Ring! Ring! Ring! She reached out her paw and fumbled for her alarm clock. Ring! Ring! When she reached it, she opened her eyes again and turned it off. She yawned widely again, showing her little teeth and tongue. She wanted to go back to sleep. Just another rainy day, she thought.
Charlotte pushed her blanket aside, climbed off her bed and stretched her eyes wide with her fingers. She walked to the bathroom droopy-eyed. Charlotte wet the towel and washed her face. After that, she brushed her teeth. Then she walked down the tunnel with her brothers and sisters. It had tables on either side, each with a candle, a few sheets of paper and a feather dipped into a bottle of black ink. Charlotte exited the tunnel and entered another room. There, Charlotte’s mother was placing Charlotte and her sisters’ and brothers’ breakfast onto the table.
But, as soon as Charlotte and her siblings reached the table, they realized this: No rain was pouring outside! No thunder was booming! No lightning was flashing!
Charlotte’s mother waited for the shrieks to die down, then announced: “After you eat your breakfast and finish your chores, you can go outside to play.”
Squeaks of excitement filled the room. Charlotte and her six brothers and six sisters gobbled down their oatmeal. They drained their milk and gulped down the eggs. Charlotte and her brothers and sisters dusted the hollow especially fast, but they did not end earlier than usual, because all the bouncing around had made the hollow especially dirty. Then they all made a run for the door but were blocked by Charlotte’s mother.
“Ladies and gentlemice, you all forgot to change! Go change right now!”
Charlotte and her six brothers and six sisters all ran to the rooms and picked out their clothes from their closets. Charlotte picked a red shirt with red pants, and a red skirt and red shoes. Mice liked to dress in one color.
“Now can we play outside?” asked Charlotte, dancing in the pale sunlight.
“As long as you keep an eye on the weather,” answered Charlotte’s mother, “I’m sure it’ll rain soon.”
With shrieks of delight, Charlotte and her six brothers and six sisters turned tail and raced up the hill to play.
“Hide and Seek!” the mice squeaked.
“I’ll be the seeker!” cried one of Charlotte’s brothers. He scampered over to the tree. “One, two, three, four…”
Charlotte laughed with delight and ran over to a tall patch of bluebells. As she crouched down, the bluebells tickled her nose and caused her to sneeze. This is no good, she decided. She ran further up the hill and saw a huge oak tree. It had thick gnarled branches. The leaves crowded together over the top. Charlotte spotted a small black hole in the front of the oak tree. Perfect, she thought. She could still hear her brother chanting, “Twelve, thirteen, fourteen…”
Plenty of time, Charlotte thought. She scampered into the hollow. It was pretty bright in the hollow because of the sun outside. Charlotte had to determine where to sit by checking the sun rays and the wind pattern so Charlotte’s brother couldn’t see her shadow or smell her.
“Forty eight, Forty nine, fifty! Ready or not, here I come!” shrieked Charlotte’s brother.
Charlotte stayed where she was. She stayed there for a long while. She then waited. Seconds passed. Minutes passed. It almost seemed like hours! Finally, Charlotte’s brother peered inside the hollow.
Charlotte smiled. As soon as the third round of Hide and Seek was finished, they began playing tag, chasing each other around the trees that were filled with white puffy blossoms.
But as Charlotte was being chased by one of her shrieking brothers, the shrieking suddenly stopped. There was a loud scream and a splash behind Charlotte. Charlotte looked into the river and saw her brother falling into the darkness.
Charlotte screamed! Without thinking, she hopped into the river. She let herself fall deep, deep, down into the darkness. Very deep. What did I do!? Thought Charlotte.
Then suddenly, she hit something furry. She let her arms ring out under her. She grabbed on to her brother and swam up, up, into the sun light. Her head went above water. She forced herself to breathe slowly. Charlotte paddled to the shore and put her brother on the ground. The others crowded around her.
Hmm… I think Granny mouse taught me how to take water out of a mouse… Oh yeah! She pushed on her brother’s chest.
I hope this works, thought Charlotte. There was a gurgling sound, and a fountain of water sprouted from Charlotte’s brother’s mouth. Charlotte’s brother blinked open his eyes.
“Who, cough, cough, are you? Cough, Cough. Where am, cough, cough, am I?”
“We are your sisters and brothers! You are here, on the hill. You fell into the river.”
Charlotte’s brother’s eyes widened. He jumped up. He tapped Charlotte on the shoulder. “Tag!”
Charlotte laughed, and it all started again.
Charlotte and her six brothers and six sisters hopped through patches of bluebells and skipped through fields of marigold. They ran around the river and raced down the hill. They were enjoying themselves so much that they didn’t notice the clouds getting dark.
Then, while Charlotte was being chased by her sister, shrieking, “I’ll get you!” There was a PLOP! Something wet and cold fell onto Charlotte’s nose. More and more came and the sky was engulfed in dark clouds.
“It’s raining!” Charlotte yelled, stopping abruptly.
“Got you!” shouted Charlotte’s sister tapping Charlotte on the back.
“It’s raining!” Charlotte yelled back. Gasps filled the hill.
“We should have looked out!”
“Run for your lives!”
“Stop!” Charlotte shouted. “Calm down!” But she groaned to herself, we will never get home in time! Where will we find shelter?
Just then, Mr. Squirrel scampered by. His own family was warm and safe in his nest. He couldn’t leave these poor mice in the rain!
“Come into my nest with me!” He shouted over the howling of the wind.
He then scampered ahead with the mice following him through the wet grass. But Mr. Squirrel’s nest was a hollow high up in the trees. Mr. Squirrel scampered up the branches into the hollow. He then stuck his head out.
“What are you waiting for? Come up!”
“Umm… your nest is awfully high up. It could be dangerous for us.” said Charlotte nervously, tilting her head up.
Just then, Harvest Mouse Marry poked her head out of the tall grass.
“You can stay with me.” Harvest Mouse Marry said in a small but kind voice. “I have a warm nest full of twigs.” Harvest Mouse Marry scuttled to her woven home, but Charlotte and her brothers and sisters did not follow. They could all see that her nest was far too small.
“Err… your nest seems very nice to me, but I’m afraid it is a tad too small.” said Charlotte, groaning as she did.
Just then, Rabbit Joe found the mice.
“You can come to my place and enjoy the warmth of our burrow with my baby brothers and sisters.” he said.
The mice followed the rabbit to his burrow. It was a very big burrow, but it was already stuffed with rabbits that were squirming and wriggling.
“Well… I would have stayed at your burrow, but it seems like it is already doing its job.” said Charlotte, peering inside.
With that, they all walked into the shelter of a small tree, but it was awfully stuffed and a few droplets of water could reach their muzzles. By now, Charlotte and her six brothers and six sisters were drenched and cold. They were also very tired and hungry, though they where glad to get a rest.
Then, one of Charlotte’s sisters exclaimed, “Is that Mom calling us?”
Then suddenly, as if in a dream, everyone heard, “Children! It’s your mother! Come here!”
Charlotte’s ears perked up. “It’s her!”
Charlotte and her siblings ran toward the sound and, sure enough, found their mother.
“Oh, sweeties, I thought I’d never see you again!” cried her mother.
She gave each of them a wet hug, and continued, “I found us a warm burrow in an old oak tree closer than our home. You will be snugly and warm there. We can stay there for the night. Follow me!”
All the little mice ran after their mother into the burrow. Very soon, everyone fell fast asleep.
Well, everyone except Charlotte. She stayed awake listening to the roaring of the wind and the pounding of the rain. She could not go to sleep. She was worried about her new friends.
Rabbit Joe’s burrow could be flooded! Mr. Squirrel’s nest could get blown away! Harvest Mouse Marry’s nest could get destroyed!
Charlotte thought and thought, and finally made up her mind.
She skidded outside the wet rain. The rain drops were pouring down from the sky and falling onto the ground sharply and shattered like pearls. The ground was soaked; there was no sign of dryness. Immediately, her fur became soggy. Her tail drooped from all the pressure of the rain. The rain blurred her vision and she rubbed her eyes hard. Then she squinted them so hard her eyes were streaming.
She hesitated, wanting to go into the burrow.
But if I go back, the others will wake up and I will have to tell them what I had intended to do. And, Mr. Squirrel, Rabbit Joe, and Harvest Mouse Marry could be out in the rain like I am, and they ought to be helped, thought Charlotte.
She looked down on to the ground. Faint suggestions of her six brothers’, her six sisters’, her mother’s, and her footsteps were still there, about to be overwhelmed by the mud.
There’s no time to waste, she thought.
She hurried as fast as she could through the rain. Her footsteps followed the steady pitter patter of the rain as she hurried along the footsteps. Her whole body ached, her eyes hurt, and she was freezing and wet, but she still hurried through the mud.
Charlotte soon reached the same tree she and her six brothers and six sisters had used as shelter before her mother had found them. The rabbits were cowering under the same tree.
“What happened?” Charlotte asked.
“We all couldn’t fall asleep in our burrow because of the sound of the loud rain, which made me annoyed. Then, the wind changed direction and blew the rain into our burrow, which made me really annoyed. Finally, our burrow got so flooded that we had to come out here to squish under this little measly tree, which made me so annoyed that I want to kick up this tree!” shouted a rabbit.
“I advise you not to be so annoyed,” replied Charlotte, “And I also advise you to follow those footsteps and you will find a huge dry burrow with 13 mice. You can all sleep in there.”
“Can I come to?” Harvest Mouse Marry asked, poking her head out of the tall grass and looking tired and messy.
“I couldn’t sleep and my nest was destroyed. I had to jump and cling onto a piece of tall grass. I was slipping and noticed a sharp piece of rock. I jumped onto it and landed a bit harder than I meant to.”
Phew! Two down! I’m making progress, thought Charlotte.
She instantly felt better. After that, she followed her footsteps to Mr. Squirrel’s nest. Mr. Squirrel and his family were huddling under a bush. Charlotte discovered that Mr. Squirrel’s nest had been blown away.
“Just follow these footsteps, and you will reach the burrow!”
“Oh thank you!” Mrs. Squirrel cried. “Bless you little mouse. How can I ever repay you? Oh thank you, thank you!”
“You’re welcome! Anytime!”
Charlotte watched the squirrel family walk away, and she devoured her moment of glory. She’d done it. She felt like whooping and dancing a jig. She padded on her way home. It was too good to be true! She could only hear the sound of the rain, and wait, was that a caw? She strained her ears. Suddenly, she could hear it clearly. Caw, caw! She started running as her eyes widened. But it was too late. She screamed as she was lifted up into the dark sky…
Then, she landed on something wet and prickly. She screamed louder.
“Shut up.” A voice croaked. “I am hungry!”
Charlotte stopped screaming. She opened her eyes. And in front of her was a large brown owl.
Charlotte was scared, but she was a smart mouse.
“You eat something without me.” she said, trying to sound brave.
Then she ran. Through the owl’s short yellow legs, she ran. Down the tree, she ran.
The owl squawked in frustration. Quickly, she calculated the speed of Charlotte and where she was heading. Silently, she swooped down. Charlotte sensed the owl coming. Then, at just the right moment, she jumped. She also screamed. She landed on a rotten log with black marks. She quickly climbed over it.
The owl, in the meantime, wasn’t prepared for Charlotte to jump, and quickly attempted to pull himself back. But it was too late. The owl smashed against the wet floor, snagged a claw, broke a wing, and at the same time, died.
Charlotte widened her eyes, and fled to the burrow. She flung herself in. “There was… an owl and… he…”
“Charlotte,” her mother said gently, “I am glad you are home.”
“I can explain.” Charlotte gasped. “I was-”
“First, take a rest.” Her mother interrupted. She led Charlotte through the burrow, where the squirrel family, the rabbit family, and Charlotte’s brothers and sisters were waiting.
“We were so worried!” Charlotte’s brother exclaimed.
Everyone crowded around her.
“Are you OK?”
“She needs to rest.” Charlotte’s mother instructed. Then she was laid down on a grass bed.
Soon, the rabbits, the squirrels and the mice were all inside the burrow. There, they all became snuggly and warm. They all fell asleep.
Outside, the wind battered the trees and flattened the flowers. But inside, everyone was safe and dry. By morning, the rain had stopped. The flowers and the trees straightened again. The sun crept into the sky. Charlotte and her friends walked outside. Charlotte told her story, and everyone gasped when she mentioned the owl.
Right then, a huge, bright, and brilliant rainbow appeared in the sky.
“It’s a present for you.” Harvest Mouse Marry whispered to her, “For saving us.” Charlotte smiled, surrounded in the warmth of the bright sun and the warmth of her friends.