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Children's Stories
by Margo Fallis
Through the Eyes of a Child

Towering puffy white clouds filled the sky, casting shadows on the ground below. The sun's rays burst through them like darts of golden light, spreading warmth and cheer on those they fell upon.

Papa wrapped the leftover picnic food in a red and white checked napkin. “Did you have enough to eat, Olivia?”

A pair of peacock green eyes gazed up at him. “Yes, Papa. That was the best cheese and pickle sandwich I've ever had.” An amused grin accented the dimples on her cheeks. Olivia lay back on the blanket. “Papa, the clouds look like white cotton balls boiling in the sky.”

Papa followed her gaze. “You're right, Olivia. What do you see in the clouds?”

“See that cloud with the silver around the edges? It looks like a jelly-belly rhinoceros.” Giggles escaped her lip.

“It does? I can't see it.” Papa shaded his eyes.

“There's a horn and two poky ears and a long tail. How come you can't see it, Papa? It's right there.” Her chubby fingers pointed to the shapes.

Papa sighed and shook his head back and forth.

“Oh look, Papa. That cloud over there looks like penguin.” She turned to her Papa. “The gray clouds are his wings. See how they hang down the sides of the body? That pointy cloud is its beak and when it moves it looks like it's waddling across the sky.”

“Maybe I could see better if I lay down next to you. Now, where is that penguin?” Papa moved his head in alignment with the finger. “Ah! I see it now. It's quite a plump little penguin there, Olivia.”

She rolled onto her side for a different view. “See where the hills meet the sky?”

“That's called a horizon.”

“Look at the 'rizon. There's a woolly lamb. I'd like to fly up there and pick some of the wool off and cuddle to it. It looks soft and fluffy.” Olivia reached for a dandelion. “Do you think if I blew hard, the dandelion helicopters would fly that high?”

Papa watched her lips pucker. “There's only one way to find out. Try. Blow as hard as you can and we'll see how high they go.”

Olivia's warm breath fanned the dandelion seeds. They soared into the sky, dancing across the blanket of azure blue. “Look how high they're going, Papa. They're going to land in the cloud.” Her hands clapped with childish excitement.

After a few minutes they disappeared, melding with the background of white clouds.

“Do you see any animals in the clouds, Papa?” Olivia stroked his whiskered cheeks. “You need to shave, Papa. Your face is scratchy and rough.”

Papa rubbed his cheeks. “You're right. I do need a shave. As for the clouds, I see a podgy turkey with a butterball tummy. I wouldn't be surprised if it didn't start gobbling.” His sinewy fingers tickled Olivia's ribs.

“Stop it, Papa. I can't look at the clouds if you tickle me.”

“Sorry. Ah! I see a zaftig woman up there.” Papa winked at his daughter.

“A what, Papa? A woman?”

“Zaftig means, well, let me show you.” Papa used his hands to form a shapely figure.

Olivia chortled. “When we get home, I'm going to tell Mama she's zaftig and that I saw her in the clouds.”

Papa grabbed her in his ample hands and pulled her closer. “One could say there is a menagerie in the clouds.”

“That's a big word, Papa. You can see a m'angrie if you want, but I see a lion, a giraffe and a flying parrot. Do pirates really have parrots on their shoulders?” Olivia slid her body around to face him.

“Pirates? Argh, matey. I'll make ye walk the plank if ye ask any more questions.” Papa reached for the picnic basket. “I'm sorry to stop our fun, but it looks like rain. Clouds don't get big and puffy unless they're going to drop rain on us.”

A raindrop splattered on Olivia's forehead. “You're right, Papa. I'll grab the blanket.”

The two scooped up their things and rushed for the car. On the drive home Olivia stared out the window. “Is the sky always that beautiful before a storm, Papa?”

“There's a saying I want you to always remember, my little angel. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. There are some people who would never have seen a rhinoceros, or a turkey in the clouds. Some see the storm approaching. Through the eyes of a child, Olivia, the world has a freshness each day. Thank you for coming on the picnic with me.”

Olivia watched the raindrops splatter on the windshield. “Look, Papa. That raindrop looks like a long-necked goose, coming in for a landing on a mountain lake. And that one here,” she pointed at a droplet on the glass, “looks like a wiggly worm.”

Papa's heart swelled with tenderness for the girl sitting next to him. “Through the eyes of a child,” he whispered, wiping the tear of love from his cheek.

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