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The Adventures of Olli

Misplaced, Once Upon a Time

By Mary K BrackettPublished 5 months ago 14 min read
CJ Introduces Olli to Coco September 2018 Mary K. Brackett

Once upon a time, a child loved me.

My child’s mom always started her stories with those first four words, and I would listen and hang on every word. I learned the beauty of words that way, as mom told her stories and my child babbled back to her in answer. My child usually fell asleep, dreaming deep, by page ten, yet mom would continue reading until the end. Perhaps she knew I was listening, tucked against my child’s chest, feeling her heartbeat against me. I would listen raptly and watch the way mom’s lips formed each word. Until she would say those dreaded final words and it was lights out until morning.

Each day after the book closed and mom left my child’s room, she would leave a small blue light glowing beside the bed and I would wait, impatiently patient through the night, watching the window across the wide space. Until, at last, the first bright beam of morning peeked through the crack in the window blinds. It was always exciting to meet the day and see what new words it would bring.

As days passed, my child and I discovered the joys and pains of teething. At which point, I also learned about washing machines and soap and…a magical thing called water. After the momentary terror of being thrown into a gigantic pit onto a mountain of fabric, I watched in wonder as a mighty waterfall of water rushed in to fill the pit and flooded the mountain. I soon found myself floating, bobbing along the top of the water as bubbles of bitter soap formed and finally enveloped me in their airy wonder. Then the water began to churn gently, and I knew at once that mom had fashioned an ocean for me. The waves washed me gently, but being made of fabric and stuffing, I soon found myself pulled under the surface, surrounded by the broken mountain of fabric, and bombarded by tiny grains of soap rushing through the moving waters like dust motes.

Time seemed to stand still as I tumbled and floated through that watery world until I began to imagine the masses of fabric were forests of multihued kelp. The grains of soap rushing past and through me became tiny plankton filling me with their sustenance. In my thoughts I was magically transported to the warm waters of the islands and transformed into a real whale. Fear and worry melted away and I began to look forward to laundry day, for I knew the freedom of the ocean would follow.

As my child grew and began to crawl, then walk, both the stories and the sojourns to the laundry grew fewer and farther between. Eventually, my child began to set me aside for other friends and I began to spend time alone on the table with the little blue light. One day mom left us with a stranger called babysitter, who unceremoniously tossed me into the toybox despite my protests that I was not a toy but a special friend. I’d never spent a minute of time in the toybox. My place was either with my child, on her bed, or on the little table with the blue light. Yet there I was, despairing that I’d never be found amongst all the blocks and such. Soon I heard my child calling for me and I did my best to answer back. It seemed an eternity before I heard them rummaging through the suffocating weight of toys above me. Finally, there was light again, and my child lifted me out and to her cheek for a hug.

I was overjoyed until they began talking about leaving the house to visit the park. I had never left the house before. Mom had always warned my child that taking her special friends from the house could cause them to become lost. I wasn’t sure what lost was exactly, but my child had always left me safe on the table or on her bed, so I was certain it wasn’t anything I’d enjoy. I had once consoled her for days after one of her newer friends had been lost. She’d cried and cried, heartbroken, and the new friend had never returned, but at least I’d been there to dry her tears.

I tried to tell babysitter of my concerns. I even tried to reason with my child, reminding her of her lost friend. They both ignored me and so, gripped tightly by my child, babysitter strapped us both into a wheeled carriage and pushed us out of the house into the bright sun. The light was dazzling, and the new sounds and smells thrilled me as we adventured to the park.

I forgot my fears for a moment when an orange and black creature flew close, its veined wings soft and soundless in the air as it hovered above my child, taking us in. “Fly!” My child giggled and I decided the creature must be a bird. I could hear them calling out to each other all around us, though I couldn’t decipher what they were saying. I snuggled into the rhythm of my child’s heartbeat and the wonderful sounds of the outside, feeling content to be in her arms again.

As I lay there safe in her grip, I began to think about the stories mom had told of parks. There was one about dogs who had run, playing through the grass, and splashed in the pond. Before long I began to dream that I was floating in the pond, talking with a shaggy, gray dog as he splashed after frogs at the edge of the pond. All was well with the world until the water seemed to give a shudder. I looked around but found no source for the disturbance and my furry friend continued to play without concern.

I opened my eyes sleepily as there was another shudder and watched as my child’s hand slowly loosened from me and fell away. I sighed, finding my child sleeping peacefully, her pink, rose-bud lips pulled into a gentle smile as she dreamed. The pond called to me, beckoning me back to dreams of the park, but the next bump of the carriage left me startled, fully awake as I began to slip down my child’s chest. I cried out, hoping she would notice and pull me back, but she remained asleep and did not hear me nor notice me falling away from her. I called out to babysitter, begging her not to let me get lost, and yet again she ignored me. Down I slid until at last I found myself coming to rest at the edge of the carriage, sand, and stone rushing past below me, inches away as I cried in terror.

The carriage stopped then at the edge of a great expanse of black earth and just beyond, I could see the green grass that must surely be the park. The black earth looked smooth, and I prayed that without another jostle of the carriage, I might find myself safely reaching the park with my child and babysitter. Surely, they’d realize I wasn’t where I should be and would look beneath the carriage, finding me and returning me to the safety of my child’s arms. We could play then, make friends with dogs, and explore all that park had to offer.

Just then a great beast roared towards us and passed. A great gust of wind hit me in its wake and must have surprised babysitter as well because she pulled back on the carriage suddenly. The combination of wind and the sudden backward motion of the carriage threw me airborne. Time stood still for a breathless moment as I hung suspended in space, nothing but rock and sand beneath me. Then both rushed together as I fell. Tumbling down, down, into the dirt I went just as babysitter and the carriage with my child rolled over me, neither aware that they left me behind as they crossed that wide open sea of hard, black ground.

I watched, utterly heartbroken, as they disappeared into the park. At first, I tried to reassure myself that I was merely misplaced. They would realize I was missing just as soon as my child woke up. They would come looking for me and as I was on the path home, they would find me easily. It was only a matter of time until I returned to my child, to our bedroom, and my table beside the blue light. I only had to be patient and wait.

So, I watched the distant grass for their return. More great beasts roared by on the wide black ground, but I ignored them, though the wind from their passage threw sand in my eyes and occasionally rolled stones like boulders against me. I ignored the heat beating down on me from the sun that dried all moisture from the earth around me until it burned from below as much as from above. I ignored the spider that crawled by, leering at me with its many eyes as it clicked its mandibles in warning or greeting. I ignored the huge griffon that flew down from the sky to stare at me with its red eyes, even when it pecked at me with its sharp beak and stinking breath and threatened to eat me. I barely noticed when another beast roared by, scared the griffon away and saved me from certain death.

I watched the distance until shadows began to creep across the shimmering, black ground and the burning from the sun was replaced by a steadily growing chill.

I watched until day turned into night.

The nights brought new terrors, with a cold so deep that it burned me as much as the sun burned during the days. Creatures with breath smelling of spoiled meat and feet the size of me sniffed at me and rolled me around in the sand as if I might be some tasty morsel. They growled and howled and fought in the distance, calling to each other in a guttural language that was as vulgar in the dark of night as the birds’ voices were melodies in the light of day. Another creature with eyes that gleamed at me like black pools swallowing the stars slunk passed trailing a long, wormy tail.

Still, I waited, sure that rescue was just over the far horizon, just beyond the sand and the stone, the blistering black and the beckoning green.

Then the water came.

It fell from the sky. Refreshing drop by drop, I soaked it in joyfully as it quenched an unbearable thirst. It washed away the pain from the burning sun and the numbing cold. Washed away the dirt and sand until I was clean again. It rolled me over and I lifted my face to the sky full of gray clouds and watched the drops as they fell to clean me all over again.

I forgot about the park.

I watched instead as the clouds churned in the heavens and grew black as the ground.

I forgot about the carriage and babysitter.

Instead, I watched as the drops of sky water grew and grew until one drop would fill me and I could hold no more. I lay there and began to dread the fall of the next, but they grew still, becoming a torrent of drops larger than the nearby stones, drowning me until even the ground around me could no longer drink it up.

A roar began in the distance, and I worried that it was one of the great beasts. I imagined it would send up a tsunami of sky water as it roared by, and I would truly drown there beside the black sea. The sound was low at first. As it grew louder, and closer, the ground beneath me began to tremble and worry turned to terror.

I learned a moment later that not all oceans are tranquil.

The front of the churning water hit me so hard it tossed me into the air with every stone that had surrounded me. The sand-filled water blasted through me and burned my stuffing in a way the sun hadn’t been able through my fabric skin. Sharp boulders were tempest-tossed against me, beating and bruising and tearing. Over and over, I rolled until I couldn’t tell which way was ground and which was air. I fell through earth and water until no shred of hope of survival, let alone rescue, remained. I tumbled in that flood until mom, her stories, the beautiful words I had learned, and my child were at last forgotten.

I wasn’t just misplaced, I realized.

I had become lost.

After the rain and all the water of the flood finally dried away, the sun returned in all its blazing glory, and I finally understood what desert meant. It became my only word for a time as the relentlessness of the lonely dirt filled me in place of the evaporating water. The giant, roaring beasts returned en masse, buffeting me in a hurricane of wind and heat. People came and passed by, the first I’d seen in eons, but there was no strength in me to cry out to them.

One cool morning, soon after yet another flood, as I dreamed of a gentle ocean I’d once known in a far-off time, I heard a voice soft as an angel’s. “What are you doing here, little friend?”

I tried to open my eyes, tried to answer, but as warmth wrapped around me, I fell back into my dream ocean and floated down, down into its black depths.

“What’s that?”

“Someone misplaced their little baby.”

“Is that supposed to be a whale? It’s in rough shape.”

“Yeah. A blue whale, I think. He just needs to be cleaned up is all.”

I opened one eye and blinked in the bright sun. A deep, gentle beat pulsed beneath me trying to lull me back to sleep. The smells were different and there was a steady rumbling in the background that reminded me of the beasts on the great black sea. Had one come to stay a while? Had it eaten me? The beat pulsing against me was familiar, like a heartbeat with an unsteady rhythm. Had the beast fallen asleep too? Something began to stroke my head gently, and I closed my eye again with a contented sigh as it massaged all my aches away.

Sometime later, I felt myself floating again and fought to open my eyes. I was moving across the black sea away from a great yellow beast. Somehow, I’d been inside it with the one carrying me, she waited beside its gaping mouth as other young people poured out of its stomach. I watched in horrified wonder that none of them seemed harmed by the experience and instead all were chatting gaily, some in words I didn’t recognize. It was a symphony of sound, percussioned by sporadic laughter, and I found myself enjoying the happy music of their noise.

We turned and the black sea opened around us, filled with a multitude of young people, some of them emerging from other beasts, both large and small. A few of the beasts growled loudly at the loss of their meal while others purred softly, and others slumbered. They glistened in the sun in a rainbow of colors and all the fear I’d had of them melted away to awe.

I breathed in the scent of dirt and growing things and sighed. Though I didn’t know where I was, I was no longer lost. Perhaps this young woman knew babysitter, I suddenly thought, though I only vaguely recalled who babysitter might be and I was oddly certain she’d been the one to lose me. Could someone in this gigantic house know mom or my child? Yet even as I thought of them, their faces eluded me, and I knew that returning to them might be impossible.

The young woman took me into a place where she drew a gentle waterfall into existence from a sparkling pipe. She washed me clean and massaged me until the sand was drawn from my stuffing. Then she turned me to face her and smiled down on me with dark purple eyes. “There now. Doesn’t that feel better, little one?”

Surely, she was an angel and I smiled back at her with all the strength I could muster.

I slept then and dreamed of riding in the belly of a beast, of my beautiful angel, and of the adventures she might introduce to me. I dreamt of oceans and kelp forests of fabric and soapy plankton only to wake to find I was in a washing machine. After I finished swimming through my soapy sea and all the water had melted away, my angel dried me gently with a large piece of fabric instead of cooking me in the dryer.

Thoughts of the dryer reminded me of the desert, and I shuddered.

“It’s okay little one, you’re home now,” my angel said softly and placed me on a table beside her bed. She turned me so that I might see her as she moved around the bedroom. “I think I’ll call you Olli, if that’s okay with you,” she added, to which of course I agreed. I’d never had a name before, and the sound pleased me.

“Good. Glad that’s settled,” she replied to my surprise. “Of course, I can hear you,” she laughed, “don’t look so surprised. I was just thinking that I need a new friend, someone I can talk to, and won’t be judgy. Then I saw you and you certainly looked like you needed a friend too. So… What’s that? Oh? Well, thank you. I’m happy to be your friend too.”

I was extremely excited to have a special friend again, especially one who seemed able to understand me. After she changed her fabric skin, we went to another table where I was excited to watch her pull out book after book. She read to me, but they were strange stories and I struggled to understand them. While she worked on something called homework, my angel told me about a friend from the place called school. They didn’t sound like a particularly good friend in my opinion, and I told her so.

My angel sighed. “Yeah. I guess she hasn’t been a particularly good friend, has she?”

I smiled and added “you deserve better.”

She nodded sadly, then lifted her head, and squared her shoulders. “Right,“ she said, then added slowly, “I deserve better. Thanks, Olli. I’ll talk to her about it tomorrow.”

The days passed happily after that as I watched my angel grow. We’d talk together for hours while she did her homework and she taught me new stories, and with them, new words.

Then one night, there was a strange, sad sound coming from another room, full of loneliness and confusion. My angel tossed and turned, struggling to fall asleep. “Shh, Coco, s’okay,” she mumbled softly.

“Should we go check on her?” I suggested and she rose from the bed, taking me with her to a little gated area where a small creature was crying to itself. It was covered from nose to tail in fuzzy brown fabric and its dark eyes were so sad when we came near, it broke my heart. “I think she’s lonely,” I said, and my angel gave a heavy sigh.

She knelt beside the creature and whispered. “This is Olli, Coco. Olli, this is Coco.”

Coco was a baby dog, I realized as her warm, heart-shaped nose sniffed me. “Want to be friends?” I asked.

She nuzzled her nose into me and then licked me as her tail began to thump against the floor.

My angel sighed, “okay then. That looks like a yes.” She nestled me down beside the puppy and Coco, without another sound, wrapped her long body around me and finally fell asleep contentedly by my side.

I sighed as I drifted into my own dreams.

Once upon a time, the story didn’t end. No longer misplaced, no longer lost. I’m still loved by my angel and by a little dog named Coco.


About the Creator

Mary K Brackett

Mary Brackett is a novelist, poet, & award-winning short story author. She has authored and co-authored articles for magazines with her husband and is currently writing a series of novels with her talented daughters.

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Comments (2)

  • Mary K Brackett (Author)5 months ago

    Based on a True Story.

  • Toby Heward5 months ago

    Very fun

Mary K BrackettWritten by Mary K Brackett

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