Thursday Tiny Tale 2 – A Pumpkin’s Wish

As promised, I’m sticking with my Thursday tales. If you follow my blog and read my post yesterday, you have already seen the image to inspire this tale. If you haven’t see it and don’t want to see my other post, I’ll let you see it here:

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Cute couple…maybe? It’s not Halloween but I really wanted to get this tale out so read on to see what story these two have for us today!

 

 

Thursday Tiny Tale 2 – A Pumpkin’s Wish

 

Doctor Simon L. Caldwell was a very friendly scientist in the cheap apartment building on West Market Road. He often wore a serious face but when a person approached him, he knew how to turn on his charm. A simple smile was a way to warm any woman’s heart. Standing tall demanded respect from other men. His easy talk even allowed his charm to dance over children. Yes, Dr. Caldwell was known to be the most appealing man in the building.

“Good morning, doctor!” little Sally McCormick called from the bus stop as she waved. Almost three weeks had passed since school had begun its new year. Sally’s happy face was nothing more than the foolish innocence of a young, kindergarten student. Simon returned her greeting and wave as his thoughts darkened to the truth the girl would face some day.

Simon worked hard through school to almost always be at the top of his class. He was smarter than most and he enjoyed it being that way. Answers seemed to pop into his mind before he even knew what question he was about to face. His mother called him gifted and his father called him a genius. All he called himself was a scientist. He truly believed if someone wanted an answer they would be able to find it. People only needed to work a little harder or search a little deeper. It didn’t make him any more brilliant than the next person if he simply knew the better way to find his answers.

As he approached the bus stop for his ride into work an elderly woman approached the stop. Her gray hair was thin, but still held slight waves to allow a sense of beauty to appear around her face. Eyes with such a rich shade of blue looked up to him as if they could read into his very soul. Not as if he believed in such foolish concepts.

“Good morning, ma’am,” he said with a polite nod of his head.

“Good morning, son,” she said and took his free hand. Inside her palm was a tiny charm resembling a pumpkin covered in tiny jewels. “Yes, yes. You will do.”

Simon raised an eyebrow at the charm in his hand. The piece was smaller than a penny and obviously an easy-to-lose charm. With Halloween a little over a month away he could only assume a pumpkin charm made sense with the time of year. He smiled up to the woman. But to his surprise the frail woman was no longer standing before him. As he looked around the stop, the bus pulled up to receive its passengers. It wasn’t a big deal and he knew old women sometimes liked giving silly gifts to strangers. At least is wasn’t some ad for some fair. Nothing more than a simple charm he would probably end up losing. He dropped said charm into his pocket with all the intentions of forgetting about it by the end of the day.

***

“Dr. Caldwell, the test results came in this morning!” Dr. Alex Brown said as he rushed into Simon’s office with a piece of paper. Simon rubbed the bridge of his nose as Dr. Brown waved the paper haphazardly in front of him. It would only be a matter of time before the foolish man lost an important piece because of his aloof behavior. He was more like a young teen than a freshly graduated adult.

“Well, let me see it,” Simon said and held out his hand. As the paper was placed in his hand he looked at the levels of the bars from the results. The percentage of iron shown in the results were the first sign of the experiment’s failure. His team was trying to find the best solution to creating a new type of chemical mix for cleaning medical instruments. The solution was slowly showing progress, but he couldn’t hand over a final product to use in an operating room if even a single trace of iron was apparent. “I guess we’ll have to adjust the mix a bit more. The percentage is still too high for my liking.”

“But it’s only at eight percent. That’s much better than most cleaning solutions we’ve developed,” Dr. Brown said with a dash of hope in his eyes. There is was. Another person with the foolish idea of something better in the world.

Simon shook his head and buried his eyes in his hands. “Try raising the heat about five degrees and see if that’s all we need to do. It’s very close to being almost eliminated. It would be ideal to knock the percentage to somewhere below five.”

“Yes, sir,” Dr. Brown said and rushed out of Simon’s office. He leaned back in his chair and closed his eyes. All through his years in college he dreamed of becoming some grand scientist with mountains of successful experiments to hold up his name. The only trouble with those foolish dreams were the amount of scientists trying to do the same thing. Test after test proved again and again how far behind the world was from where his dreams wanted them to be. Not to mention he was stuck in a lab studying chemicals to improve cleaning products. It wasn’t a job he held the courage to brag about.

Dr. Caldwell glanced at the digital clock on his desk and cursed softly under his breath. He would kill before he pulled another late night in the lab. It was Friday and he needed a break. He reached for his lab’s walky-talky and paged Dr. Brown before he started a single test. He told him to hold off until Monday so they could put more time into the tests without fear of running too late into the night. As a means of safety the entire building was to be emptied and shut down immediately at eleven o’clock at night. This was the best way to eliminate risky experiments done with tired eyes. It wasn’t a foolproof plan, but it kept stupid mistakes down to a rare number.

Simon grabbed his coat and headed out to catch the bus to get to his home. It would be just as easy for him to drive into work as it was to catch the bus. His use of the bus system was to eliminate the risk of driving home late one night with tired eyes. All of the factors in his life were planned as perfect as any human could make them. He didn’t want something foolish to screw up his simple, easy life. No fancy cars, no fancy home, no goofy friends, and no silly women. He got by day to day without much to complain about. There wasn’t a need to risk changing it up.

There weren’t many people on the bus that night and that made it feel as if the bus was moved directly towards the bus stop outside his apartment. The best time to ride the bus was in the later run because of its emptiness. It was also risky to try to catch a late ride because the last time of pick-up was at eleven. In order to not set off alarms at his workplace, he was always out of the building by that time. But some nights he cut the timing close.

Simon opened his apartment and let out a slow sigh. There was nothing like coming to a quiet and peaceful home. He understood he was one of the bigger men on his team, but the constant need for attention by some of the newer employees was enough to drive anyone insane. He poured himself a small shot of whisky. With a quick motion, the drink was shot down his throat in a matter of seconds. It wasn’t a very harsh drink, but the burn was still present. Simon leaned against the counter of his kitchen and looked across the way to his tiny, kitchen table. On top was the pumpkin charm the elderly woman had giving him that morning.

He approached the table to look closer at the pumpkin with confusion on his face. He would have sworn the charm was much smaller that morning. It appeared to be twice the size from when he was given the gift. Was it possible the trinket had grown? As he flipped the charm through his fingers he could only laugh. Maybe he was a bit more tired than he had thought. A long night’s rest was all he needed to clear his goofy mind.

***

A long night of rest was what he was given. Simon woke the next morning with enough energy to sail through his day with nothing more than a smile on his face. He could walk to the park and enjoy a warm cup of coffee from his favorite shop on the corner. It was going to be a grand plan to…a cough sounded from his living room.

Simon froze in his position outside his tiny closet and did his best to listen for more noises. Someone was in his house when they shouldn’t have been able to get through his locked door. The only person with access to his place other than himself was the owner of the apartment building. He knew the woman well. She would never simply walk into a person’s place without being invited or an already scheduled visit. Simon grabbed an umbrella he had positioned in the corner of his closet. It wasn’t much of a weapon, but he wasn’t a man confident enough to own a gun. He would never take the risk of killing another human simply because he was spooked. There was always a chance the mystery person held a logical reason for being in his home.

Simon held the umbrella over his shoulder as if he was carrying a blade. He opened his bedroom door to enter the short hallway which led into his living room. Everything appeared to be in order from what little amount his eyes could see. When he moved into his apartment he only made one request. He wanted an area with as little sunlight as possible. Not because he was against sunlight, but because as soon as the sun hit him he couldn’t sleep. It was some mental tick and made him love a darker than average space. Whoever was in his home hadn’t turned on any lights inside the darker area. Signs were showing the coming encounter to be something much larger than a friendly visitor.

“Whoever is in my house I must warn you I am armed!” he called out and glanced down at his weapon.

“As long as it isn’t a knife, that’s fine,” a woman’s voice said. “Knives freak me out.”

Simon’s face twisted in confusion to the innocence he could hear in the woman’s voice. He lowered the umbrella from his shoulder and stepped into the living room connected to the hallway. What he saw, he couldn’t believe.

Sitting across the living room he could see into his dining room, where a relatively cute woman sat as if in wait for him. She wore a pumpkin shade outfit with a pair of matching knee-high boots. Her hair was pin straight with a cute, green headband placed on top. It was hard to believe her skin could be so pale after the beautiful summer the area had seen. Apparently, Simon wasn’t the only one who kept a bit of distance from the sun.

“Who are you?” Simon asked. He casually dropped the umbrella from his hold to kick it gently against the wall. Whomever the woman was he figured she wasn’t there to hurt him.

“Well, I don’t have a name yet,” she said and smiled his way. “I take it Miss Witch didn’t give you any details when she gave you that charm, huh? That’s what I hate the most about witches these days. In the old days, they would at least give the human some sort of poem to drop a couple hints. Now it seems they’re willing to hand me off like a flower basket and disappear.”

“Witches? Is this some kind of Halloween prank?” Simon glanced at his calendar and shook his head. “It’s barely halfway through September. How did you get into my apartment?”

“You brought me in,” she said with a bit of a giggle. She stood and moved to stand closer to him and leaned her face forward. He moved back as any man would with such an approach from an unknown person. Then she turned her head to the side to show off the orange jewels in her ears. “Look familiar?”

“The pumpkin charm,” Simon said and glanced towards the table where he had left his gift the previous night. The charm was nowhere to be seen.

“Do you believe in magic, mister?” she asked with a bubbly smile. He shook his head as his only answer. “Well, you’re about to.”

***

Do you believe in magic in a young girl’s heart?

How the music can free her, whenever it starts?

And it’s magic, if the music is groovy

It makes you feel happy like an old-time movie

Simon fought off the urge to glare in response to the bubbly music sung by The Lovin’ Spoonful dancing through the coffee shop. The idea of magic was as ridiculous as a unicorn running through the streets. Or did unicorns fly in the air?

“Urgh,” Simon growled softly so the woman sitting at their tiny table for two was the only one able to hear him. She giggled in response to the noise he made. “You know you’re talking to a scientist, right? I can’t believe you’re a pumpkin only because the jewelry is conveniently missing and your earrings match. For all I know this is nothing but a silly prank a coworker is playing on me.”

“Yeah, I guess that makes sense,” the woman said with a smile. “Your tiny imagination couldn’t allow for this to be true. Oh, I was warned I would meet people like you from time to time.”

“From time to time?” Simon sipped his black coffee with his eyebrows raised. “How often do you do this?”

“I’m a lot older than I look,” she said with another smile. The happiness in the woman’s face was constant. In a way, he enjoyed the look.

“Alright, I’ll play along for now,” he said. He was totally punching someone in the face when he found out who started this game. “I can’t exactly call you the girl from the pumpkin charm, so what’s your name?”

“My name…hmmm…you can call me Natalie. I like that name,” she said with a serious look temporarily passing her face. “That was the name of the woman I last worked with. She needed a lot of help. Poor girl was a thirty-year-old afraid of ghosts.”

“How about that?” he said with a smile finally appearing on his face. If he wanted to get her out of his life all he needed to do was reach his goal. “What are you here to help me with?”

Natalie looked from side to side to see if anyone was listening in. Most people were either chatting away with their own friends or on their computers. Their interest in others was simply not there. They were safe to discuss his problem openly.

“You don’t know how to be happy,” she said simply and crossed her arms with a firm look in her eyes. “I have been thrown into your life to make you happy.”

“You don’t think I’m happy?” he asked and sat back in sudden silence. He had a pretty decent job which helped others make better products for their own companies. His home wasn’t the top of the line, but it was a nice place to go to at the end of the day. When he was free he walked around to keep his body healthy and when he was suited to do so he took a little trip for a short vacation. Everything in his life was pretty close to what he always dreamed of owning.

“You need a good friend, I think,” she said with an excited smile. “Based upon what I saw yesterday, it felt as if you only get through each day ordering others around and working. When you aren’t at work it seems like you just sit there.”

“No, I do stuff other than work.”

“But only by yourself,” Natalie said and finished her own coffee. She stood with her smile returning as she looked down to Simon. “Let’s go have a fun day together.”

“Are you volunteering yourself to be my friend?” he asked as he stood with her. Simon wasn’t usually one to admit someone was right about something he had no clue about, but maybe the pumpkin girl had a point. He hadn’t truly spent time with friends since his time in college. It was agonizing to think about how long ago that was.

“Your temporary friend,” she said with a shrug. “I am only a charm in reality.”

Simon took her words into his head as he followed her to the street. She waved down a cab for them to ride. Once they were in the back seat, she requested the driver to take them to a beautiful park. The driver smiled at Simon before he pulled away from the sidewalk. He obviously thought Simon was being dragged along by his girlfriend. Simon chuckled at the thought of him dating her. Not like she would be around long anyway.

When they reached the park Natalie ran towards a simple bench directly under the sunlight. The heat would probably kill him before a friend appeared if they sat there. But the chance of death before whatever plan she had in her head happened was almost more appealing.

“Simon, if you could have any friend in the world, who would you pick?” she asked as he sat backward on the picnic bench. He leaned backwards so he could rest against the table between the benches.

“Well, he or she would need to understand that I work a lot and free time isn’t always as easy for myself as it is for others,” he said and let out a sigh. “If you can find a person willing to accept that then I think that’s the biggest challenge you’ll overcome finding my new friend.”

“Do you really like your job so much?” she asked and began picking at a piece of wood slightly cracked on the bench in front of her.

“I guess,” Simon said while he continued to watch her pick at the same spot absentmindedly. “I always wanted to do positive work in this world. My team is only testing out theories to help make everyday products better, but finding one change has the possibility of changing someone’s world. I want to be a part of something like that.”

“That’s good,” she said and looked to him with a warm smile.

“How did you…,” he waved his hand at her to symbolize her, “become like this?”

“Good question. But if I was some other person that’s probably not a good question to make a friend with,” she said with a smart look in her eyes. “I also wanted to help people all my life. Of course, my life was limited because of a tumor I had forming in my lungs. I was knocking on death’s door when Claudia appeared at my bedside. She gave me an offer to help others for as long as I wished. All I had to do was stay by her side and talk to her when I wasn’t helping out another person. It was fun for a while and she even got some more charms created so I could have friends, in a way. But now things are starting to become a bit of a routine.”

“It kind of sounds like someone’s also questioning their love for their current situation,” Simon said smiling. He leaned back and looked towards the park where almost no kids were playing. It seemed foolish for her to think he would find a friend through children. “Why did we come to a park to find me a friend?”

“Because happiness makes me feel better,” she admitted and glanced over to a couple of girls playing tag. “Your gloom was beginning to tire me out and it hasn’t even been a full day yet.”

“What a pair we make,” he said and they both laughed. Then he looked over in her direction with a serious look in his eyes. He wasn’t sure if he believed in magic even at that moment, but a part of him was glad he was given the opportunity to play with the idea of a little bit. “Natalie, what do you think would happen if I chose you to be my new best friend?”

“Um…what?” she shook her head quickly. “That’s impossible! I am nothing more than a trinket to be handed off to help others.”

“No, I don’t think so.” Simon turned his entire body to face her and took her hand into his hands to hold it between them. When she finally met his eyes he continued to explain. “I don’t know how long you’ve been doing this and I don’t know how much I have to learn to believe your story, but maybe there’s more to it. I mean, the way you talk I think it’s safe to say you’ve been with your witch friend for a long time. Then suddenly she dropped you into my hands without explaining to either of us what’s going on. I imagine she usually doesn’t toss you off to a random person without including you in on the plan. What if she wasn’t using you to help other people find happiness but rather trying to find the happiness for you.”

“Why would you of all people say such a thing?” Natalie asked and shook her head. “You’re just saying what I want to hear.”

“Then that settles it!”

Natalie jumped in her seat and whipped around to look behind her. The witch she had spent so much time alongside managed to sneak up on them both. She sat on a stool that was floating in the air by her own spell.

“We’re in public!” Natalie yelled and jumped to her feet to stand in front of the woman floating as if her tiny body could hide the bigger witch.

“The adults aren’t paying attention and the children are young enough to have crazy imaginations,” she said and waved her hands at the little boy on the swing set with his mouth hanging open. “Natalie, I healed tumor in your lungs when I met you and I could have left you alone that day without a second thought. But I did put a bit more thought to it and figured out a better plan. You weren’t very happy because of home situations and didn’t have many friends because of your stubborn personality.” A cough sounded from Simon. When the women looked at him he was covering his mouth and looking away as his body moved in a jagged motion. He was laughing at her!

“Simon!” she hissed.

“I release you from your services and leave you to the care of this fine gentleman!” the witch waved her hand in their direction releasing a puff of smoke. In the puff she disappeared. Simon was going to have to sit back and rethink his views on the world. Everything was suddenly screwed up in less than a day’s time.

“Now what do we do?” Natalie asked as she flopped back onto the bench she had been sitting in. She twisted her face to the changes she was about to take on.

“Now we go and talk to the owner of my apartment building to see how much it’s going to cost me to move some pumpkin girl into my place,” he said. She snapped her head to face him with her eyes wide in shock. “Hey, I’m not the friendliest of men, but I’m not about to abandon some innocent woman on her own. I mean, you’ve already spent the night in my place once. The only difference is this time I’ll let you sleep in the guest room.” Natalie took his offered hand with a giggle and walked with him out of the park. “I think I could get used to that laugh of yours if given enough time.”

“With my time suddenly limited, I’m surprised how appealing that offer sounds,” she said and they walked off together. One man holding on to a suddenly mortal pumpkin. Well, she was an average woman now. He’d have to stop thinking about her as nothing more than a large fruit if their friendship was going to work out.

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