Copyright © 2013 Kim at Mogillow Arts
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Kim at Mogillow Arts
“Gotcha!” Angelina yelped, as she pounced on her sister, Teeny.
Teeny, lay in the whelping box and squirmed and squealed in delight “No, Angelina, no, stop, that tickles!”
Angelina smiled as she burrowed her nose deeper into her sister’s belly and, like a pig, snorted, “Snort, snort, snort, snort!”
Angelina, an eight-week-old beagle puppy, was beautiful. With round, expressive eyes, large floppy brown ears, the color of milk chocolates, and a white mouth dusted in fawn colored freckles. The fur that covered her tiny beagle puppy body was the color of coal, with a brown patch, the color of tree trunks that ran straight down her back. With a chubby, white belly and paws suggestive of vanilla ice cream, Angelina’s personality, just like that ice cream, was sweet and delightful. Yet, despite all of this, what stood out most on the beagle puppy was her tail. The color of tar tipped in white it stood straight and tall and looked like some mischievous child had dipped it in icing sugar.
“Ha, ha, gotcha!” Angelina cried, as Teeny struggled beneath her.
Angelina loosened her grip on her sister’s fur and sat back on her hind paws. Teeny had bumped into their brother, Skippy, and even while he slept, his brows wrinkled together and he’d grumbled as he rolled over. The two girls held their breath. Skippy, the serious one of the litter, would not like being woken up.
As Angelina moved away from her brother, she looked over at her seven other siblings, all fast asleep. She sighed. “Come on Teeny, we better try to catch a nap too.”
She yawned as she stared at the pile of puppies that slept around her; it looked as if she had fallen into a bowl of chocolate and caramel sundae with marshmallows on top: a mix of black, brown, fawn, and white all swirled together!
Angelina stretched out her legs and yawned as she settled down next to Teeny, who had already fallen asleep. Just as she too was about to shut her eyes though, Angelina noticed Grandpa Beagle as he waddled towards them. She was quiet as she peeled herself away from the others, and ran to where her grandfather now stood.
Although Grandpa Beagle’s first name was Herbert, no one ever called him that. Instead, everyone, even the cows, the horses, the chickens, the pigs, and even the sheep, called him Grandpa Beagle. He had short, stumpy legs and a gigantic, round belly that almost touched the ground. Tired and stiff, he waddled a lot more these days when he walked. His fur, once the same the colors as Angelina’s, was faded, dusted, in white, and his brows caught in such a deep furrow, many layers of wrinkles covered his face. Grandpa Beagle’s tail had the same white tip as Angelina’s, yet over the years had begun to wilt.
Angelina’s eyes lit up as she reached where her grandfather stood. “Hi Grandpa Beagle,” Angelina whispered, so wouldn’t wake up her siblings.
“Hi Angelina, how are you, sweetie?” Grandpa Beagle whispered back.
“I’m good, Grandpa Beagle. How are you?” she asked as she gave him a quick hug.
“Oh,” he said, with a sigh, “not so good today. I’m tired from all the rains and my bones are achy and sore.” Grandpa Beagle’s brows crinkled tighter as he continued. “I can’t help but wish that the sun would smile again and warm up my body, like it used to when I was a boy.” Grandpa Beagle distant gaze now fell back onto his granddaughter.
Angelina noticed the sag in Grandpa Beagle’s shoulders. The sight shocked her. She’d never seen her grandpa look so sad. She was puzzled too, worried that her grandpa might be ill. Everyone knew that the sun didn’t smile.
“You know, Grandpa Beagle,” Angelina said in a soft voice, “I think you must be tired, the sun doesn’t smile. Maybe I should take you home so you can get some rest. Come on now.
Grandpa Beagle smiled as another far away look spread across his face. “When I was a puppy,” he began, “my favorite days were spent on my back, with my feet in the air as the sun shone upon my belly. I loved the warmth of the summer sun as it shone down upon me.” Grandpa Beagle’s eyes were glazed over now, lost in another time.
What, a sun that shone and now summer? Angelina’s mind raced could her grandpa be right, or should she get her momma to talk to him.
“Grandpa Beagle, I do remember the time the old barn cat Harry said something about summer and that the sun used to smile, but I never believed him. I just thought he said that because he was a cat.”
The sight of his granddaughter’s face made Grandpa Beagle chuckle. “Yes, Angelina, cats can be tricky,” he said, “but this time, Harry told you the truth.
“He did,” Angelina whispered. She was thoughtful. “Grandpa, can we go sit by the cherry tree and you tell me the story about summer and how the sun lost its smile? Please?” Her voice was hopeful.
“Of course, Angelina,” Grandpa Beagle said. He stood as his body creaked. He moved towards cherry tree with his granddaughter. Once there he bent his back legs, and sat down. “Now, how did it go? Hmm, let me think.” Grandpa Beagle sat silent for what seemed like eternity, but at last, he began to speak. “Like I said earlier, a long time ago the sun shone its sunny smile down upon us almost every day. Each morning it woke up the roosters to crow the day in and each night was swallowed up into the nighttime sky, so that we could all go to sleep. Some days if the sun was too tired, it pulled a blanket of white or stormy grey and black clouds over its eyes and hid. On these days, we too hid under our blankets in bed and slept in extra late!” He paused for a moment lost in thought. “Most of the time though the sun was happy, and shone its cheerful smile down upon us; pleased to help all of the humans and animals thrive and help the plants, trees and flowers grow greener and greener with big, bright, beautiful flowers. The sun even helped the moon keep all the waters in lakes, rivers and oceans all over the world at the proper levels and temperatures. It made sure that big, beautiful flowers grew everywhere – lilies, tulips, and pansies here where we are; yucca trees, cactus plants and milkweed in the deserts; and beautiful blue orchid in the rain forests. I remember the yummy smells of all the different flowers that grew each season like it was yesterday.”
Angelina stared up at her Grandpa Beagle, dumbfounded by every word he said. As she shook her head, her ears flapped back and forth. “Seasons, Grandpa Beagle, what are seasons?”
“Well of course,” he said with a smile, “you wouldn’t know about seasons would you?” he said. He was thoughtful before he spoke. “Well, back then, Angelina, we used to have four seasons each year – spring, summer, autumn and winter.”
“You did?” Angelina interrupted. She found it hard to believe that the year could be split into four parts.
“Yes,” said Grandpa Beagle, “but one day, the sun got so sad that its heart just shriveled up like the skin of an old piece of fruit and the seasons just disappeared. Rumors are that maybe the wind blew a little too hard that day and blew out the fire that lights the sun’s smile. Then, because one ever figured out how to re-light it, later on with no vitamins from the sun, people and animals started to feel weaker and the land became, as it is today, drab and lifeless. The flowers everyone loved so much shrank down into the ground as they tried to find a shred of warmth to try to keep alive and leaves fell away from the bushes and trees and became skeletons of their former selves.” Grandpa Beagle shook his head from side to side, a breath of air escaped from his body with a shudder.
“Wait,” Angelina said, no longer confused, “I do understand now! This answers so many questions I’ve always had.” Angelina looked up at her Grandpa Beagle. She noticed the mist in his eyes.
Grandpa Beagle shook his head as he tried to focus on his granddaughter’s face. “Angelina, that day was a long time ago. Drab and gray is all that surrounds us now.” He tried to look as though it didn’t bother him. “Please, just ignore me and my complaints today. I’m just being silly; old and senile you know!” He laughed as he tried not to look bothered.
Angelina could see he was though, yet decided it was better right now to remain quiet.
Well, enough said. We can’t look backwards can we – work with what we have, not with what we had,” Grandpa Beagle said; he tried to look hopeful.
Angelina stared at her grandfather as ideas began to bubble inside her. “I know what I’ll do, I’ll save summer and bring back the sun’s smile!” she thought. She was excited, eager to scream this out loud, but as though an imaginary hand was placed in front of her mouth, she fell silent. She made her face as expressionless as possible, so she wouldn’t tip her grandfather off with her thoughts. Happy feelings of hope and adventure filled Angelina’s body as she realized that if only she could get the sun to shine its smile once more, she might just be able to take away the aches and pains from Grandpa’s Beagle body. He would be limber just like he used to be a long, long time ago . . .
Angelina stood up now and kissed her grandfather. She pretended she was going to return to the whelping box to sleep. She turned and waved as she watched her grandfather, stiff, waddle away.
As soon as she was certain her grandfather had left the area, Angelina ran and grabbed a napkin that sat with her lunch leftovers; beside the pear tree. She then tiptoed back to the whelping box and grabbed from a drawer inside: her favorite bone, a flea comb, her favorite red chewy toy, and her dog bowl with some puppy kibbles in a baggy. She was silent as she walked around to the other side of the whelping box and took scissors from a secret drawer hidden within. She pulled at a corner of the blanket that her siblings were fast asleep on. She cut a tiny a piece off, held it to her nose and inhaled deep into her lungs; the scent of home and of her momma, Daisy. She then tucked the cloth into the small napkin bundle, slipped the scissors back into the secret drawer and tiptoed away.
In a swift motion, Angelina moved to a nearby apple tree, she grabbed a twig, held it down and bit it off. She then tied it onto the small bundle and held the twig over her shoulder so the small bundle dangled from its end. Content that all was secure, Angelina returned to the whelping box.
Once there, she balanced on her haunches and peered inside. Her siblings were fast asleep. Angelina whispered goodbye. She knew that when her siblings awoke, they would be frantic with worry and that Daisy, who was away at the vet now, would cry. Yet, armed with the belief inside that she was going to save summer and bring back the sun’s smile, she felt certain that any tears of sadness would soon turn to joy. She also knew that it would make her Grandpa Beagle happy and, without a doubt, she wanted nothing more than for this happen. Angelina didn’t know what challenges lay ahead of her but she knew one thing – she would do everything she could to save summer and bring back the sun’s smile.
Angelina ran through the grasses manicured by the goats and other animals on the farm. She knew if she just reach the tall grasses it would be difficult to track her scent. Angelina’s worries were understandable too as; after all, beagles’ specialties were scent trackers! Angelina knew that if her brother, Skippy, who had an exceptional sniffer picked up her scent, her mission would be doomed.
She turned now, and took one last look at the farm that had been getting smaller and smaller as she ran. The whelping box, which she called home, had almost disappeared now from sight. Her beagle puppy legs flew straight out in front of her now and her ears flapped up and down. Any sadness she had felt escaped from her body and excitement rumbled deep inside her tummy.
Angelina almost bit her tongue as she heard a loud Bam! And hit something hard. She tumbled to the ground and let out an “Ouch!” She reached up her paw and began to rub a lump that had formed on the side of her head.
“Hey, watch where you’re going!” Angelina heard a voice shriek.
She turned to the left now and stared face-to-face with a large white and black rabbit. The rabbit glared as it rubbed its forehead.
Oh, I’m so sorry,” said Angelina, “I’m going to save summer and bring back the sun’s smile and I guess in my excitement, I didn’t see you in front of me. Are you okay?” Angelina asked her eyes filled with concern.
“Save summer, the sun’s smile . . . what?” the rabbit said, his eyes narrowed in distrust. “What’s your name?” He asked.
“Angelina Beaglina,” Angelina said. She puffed out her chest and tried to look important. “Who are you?” She asked.
“Borris the Rabbit,” said the rabbit as he stood on his tippy toes, in an attempt to look tall.
“Borris,” Angelina said with a chuckle, “that’s a strange name.”
“Hmmph,” said Borris in a huff, “I like my name.” The rabbit stared at Angelina, his face clouded with suspicion.
Before Angelina could apologize, the rabbit continued to speak. “You may laugh at my name, but what about your name – Angelina Beaglina – what kind of name is that?” He rolled his eyes and before Angelina could again respond, the rabbit continued, “And you’re here to save summer and bring back the sun’s smile?”
Angelina’s head spun; she realized that there was a good chance that she would never convince the rabbit that she did not laugh at him, so she ignored his first question and instead shared with him the story of the sun and its smile that Grandpa Beagle had told her. Angelina also told Borris of her fears that her brother, Skippy, might foil her plans and track her scent before she could even get started.
Borris’ ears stood tall and erect as he listened to what the beagle puppy said. “Well,” the rabbit said as he rubbed his paw over his chin, thoughtful, “I know one thing. You need to get away from these short grasses and to the tall grasses beyond. Then once past the tall grasses, there’s a meadow where you can relax for a bit and make your plans to save summer and bring back the sun’s smile. You must get there fast though before your brother tracks you!
Angelina body tensed at the thought of Skippy. “Yes, you’re right, Borris, I do need to get going.” She looked at the rabbit, “Will you help me get there?” she asked. She tried to appear brave.
“Sure, come on,” Borris said as he waved the beagle puppy closer to him. He put his ears back and motioned for Angelina to reach forward and grab his ears, as if they were handles.
Angelina did just as Borris asked her and jumped on the rabbit’s back. She felt her fear melt. She could not believe her luck; this rabbit was going to piggyback her! A new determination swelled inside of her.
As Borris started to hop, Angelina hung on tight. She was impressed at how well the rabbit knew the grasses; he moved through them with ease. She held tight as she Angelina watched the grasses got taller and taller with each hop.
“Hold on Angelina,” Borris yelled, “I’m going to remove your scent.”
Angelina lifted her feet and beamed as her tiny body trembled. Her adventure had begun! She felt frightened, but she knew that she had to try to focus on the big smile that was going to light up Grandpa Beagle’s face, as well as everyone else’s, when she saved summer and brought back the sun’s smile.
Borris felt Angelina’s tremble. “Are you cold?” he asked.
“No.” Angelina said, “I’m just excited.”
“Well you should be!” Borris said. “I’m honored to help you out.”
Angelina felt as Borris’ ears fall back a little as the corners of his mouth turned upwards into a grin.
“All right, here you go, Angelina,” Borris said as he tapped back left foot beside him to do a drum roll, “I present to you the meadow.”
Angelina looked around and smiled. She could not believe it. They were through all the grasses and had arrived at the meadow. Angelina let out a deep sigh of relief.
“So, Angelina, you’ve had time to think on my back. How is it that you plan to save summer and bring back the sun’s smile?” Borris asked.
“Um, I’m still not sure, Borris.” Angelina’s voice was tentative. “Oh Borris, maybe I’m just being silly.” Her head hung low, her former excitement began to fade.
Borris realized that now might be a good time to keep his true thoughts to himself. “I guess there’s no time like the present to figure things out then is there, Angelina. Like I said earlier, you know what you want to do you just need to figure out a way to get it done.” Borris’ face softened as he spoke. “At least you won’t have to worry about Skippy. He won’t pick up your scent anymore.” He stared at Angelina trying not to discourage the beagle puppy’s courageous efforts.
Angelina straightened her shoulders, just a bit.
“You know,” Borris encouraged “if you’re serious that you want to save summer and bring back the sun’s smile, I think you should go to the Great Plains in Africa, and talk to Abu, the Great Lion. He is smart, and I’m sure Abu remembers the sun’s smile. He’s older, so I’m positive he’ll be able to help you.”
Angelina looked up at Borris and tilted her head.
“First Angelina, you’ll have to meet my friend, Baron the Camel in the SaharaDesert. He’ll tell you where to find Abu in the Great Plains.” Borris thought now of the sun’s smile that his momma had spoken of when he was a baby. He still could not believe that a mere beagle puppy wanted to attempt to bring the sun’s smile back. No animal had ever been brave enough to try.
Angelina giggled, “Africa, the SaharaDesert? Me, go to the Great Plains to see Abu, the Great Lion?” Angelina’s voice was filled with doubt as she pictured the places she’d seen in the book Skippy had been reading. “Nice joke, Borris! Ha, ha! Where would I get money to go to Africa? I am only a puppy you know.”
Borris leaned his head to one side and looked at the beagle puppy. He smiled as he realized now that she had no idea of the secrets of the animal world.
Angelina looked up at Borris, her face puzzled.
“Angelina” he said as his smile widened, “we’re animals, we have magical powers! Don’t worry!” His eyes were filled with delight as he realized her hopes to save summer and bring back the sun’s smile might work. “We don’t have to go on planes or trains or in automobiles to get to different parts of the world. That’s what the magical tunnels do. They take animals from forests to meadows, to icebergs and igloos, to deserts and grass plains! Anywhere we want to go and it happens in just the blink of an eye.”
“Tunnels?” Angelina said her voice filled with disbelief.
The beagle puppy’s face made Borris laugh. He shook his head up and down now, “Yes, tunnels,” he said.
“You mean if I go down a tunnel, I can get to the Great Plains?” Angelina asked. She wondered if the rabbit might just try to trick her.
“Yes,” Borris said, “of course! It’s not something we animals advertise, but we can travel anywhere we want to go.”
Angelina’s mouth fell open in shock. For a moment, she was unable to say anything. She’d never left the farm she lived at on Vancouver Island in Victoria until today. Little by little though, an idea began to form. “Borris, can we make a magical tunnel, please? ‘Cause I know if we did, I’m sure I could save summer and bring back the sun’s smile!” Angelina ran out of breath as she spoke as a bunch of thoughts and ideas came to her mind.
“Okay, okay, Angelina, slow down and take a deep breath,” Borris said, entertained by the beagle puppy’s excitement.
Angelina shut her eyes as tight as she could and sucked air deep into her lungs. She let it out slow.
“Okay,” said the rabbit, “turn around in a circle three times, blink your eyes twice, wiggle your beagle puppy nose three times and sit pretty.”
Angelina noticed that Borris’ requests were specific. She balanced her little body on her hind legs, extra careful not to wobble too much. She opened her eyes and saw it; straight in front of her was a black hole that spun. Angelina stepped forward and peeked inside. She stepped back. “It’s black and it’s dark, Borris!” Angelina exclaimed, anxious.
“Don’t worry Angelina, it’s always black at first because black is all the colors of the rainbow. The tunnel’s magic paintbrush will begin to paint specific colors for you as soon as you start to use it.” He reassured her with a grin. “Go ahead, Angelina, jump inside so you can go to the Great Plains. Keep in mind that although the tunnel won’t figure out what it is you need to do to save summer and bring back the sun’s smile it will take you to wherever it is you need to go. Just remember the special sequence and then tell the tunnel where you want to go.” A contented expression spread across the rabbit’s face.
“Borris,” said Angelina, “this is so cool! Thanks so much for your help!”
“No problem, Angelina,” Borris said with a smile. “I’m as anxious as you are now to have a summer and bring back the sun’s smile. After all, I know it’ll help all the vegetables in the garden grow much healthier and bigger, and we rabbits have a real soft spot for big and tasty carrots!” he said as he smacked his lips together in delight.
“Wow,” Angelina thought to herself. “Not only will I save summer and put a much deserved smile back on the sun’s face and other faces too, but I’ll also restore the growth of healthy food.” Angelina stood taller. She felt important, aware now just how significant her mission was.
She turned to the tunnel now, Angelina cried to Borris, “Remember to look up!” She jumped into the darkness then as she yelled, “To the Sahara Desert!” Angelina heard Borris’ goodbyes as she fell into nothingness . . .
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