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Children's Stories
by Margo Fallis
Oliver Picklenose

Oliver Picklenose lived in a meadow full of daisies, tulips, daffodils and pansies. Every day he'd see butterflies, bumblebees, dragonflies and birds. His home was a large, spotted mushroom. He was called Picklenose because his nose was wrinkled and scrunched up. He preferred to be called Oliver, which is what his friends called him.

A stream flowed through the meadow. It wound about like a snake, from one side to the other. Frogs, lizards, fish and bugs lived in the stream. Sometimes Oliver sat on a stone and watched all the animals at play, wishing he could swim.

Being such a small elf, he didn't dare go in the water and risk being washed downstream, away from the meadow.

As he sat with his legs dangling over the side of the stone, one of the other elves ran up to him. “Hey Picklenose, I don't like you. I want you to leave the meadow.” The elf pushed Oliver into the stream.

He fell under the water and then bobbed to the surface gasping for breath.”I can't swim. Help me!” An oak leaf floated past and he grabbed onto it and pulled himself up. The leaf carried him down the stream, past the willow and aspen trees, past the fields of buttercups and poppies and past the oak trees that were so familiar to him.

When the leaf bumped into a branch that stuck out over the water, Oliver was knocked off. He grabbed the branch and pulled himself to the banks of the stream. His clothes were dripping and he shivered with the cold. “I want to go home.” He sat on a clump of grass and cried. Something behind him moved. “Who's there?” Oliver stood and looked around. “Where am I?”

Huge blue flowers, clustered and fragrant shot up from the ground on long green stems. Wild roses blossomed, carnations, begonias and nasturtiums grew around him. “This is pretty.” He wandered between the vines and leaves, pushing them out of the way. “This is even prettier than the meadow.”

A furry brown mouse ran across the path. It saw Oliver and stopped. “Who are you? What are you doing in Bluebird Woods?”

“Bluebird Woods? I fell in the stream and it carried me here,” Oliver said.

“You'd better come with me. These woods are filled with bluebirds and there's nothing they'd like more than to eat something as small and tasty as you.”

Oliver ran after the mouse, following it into its burrow. “My name is Oliver Picklenose,” the elf said.

“I'm Gerania and I'm a mouse as you can see. That's an odd name.” The mouse looked at Oliver's nose. “Though I can see why they call you that.”

“I'd rather you just called me Oliver, thank you.”

“Oliver it is. Are you hungry, Oliver? I've got some toadstools and rose hips to nibble on,” Gerania said, showing the elf the pile of food.

“I'd love something to eat, but I only eat honey and daffodil pollen,” Oliver said.

“You'll not find any of that here. You'll have to make your way back to your own meadow. You'd better hurry on your way and be careful of the bluebirds,” Gerania said. She pushed Oliver out of her burrow. “Goodbye now.”

Oliver looked up at the trees. They were much taller than the oak trees and willows and aspen in his meadow. He made his way down to the stream. “I might as well make my way back along the banks. At least I won't get too lost.”

He walked all day long, climbing over tree roots and stones. A dark shadow fell on him and when he looked up, he saw a bluebird. It flew down and grabbed him with its claws, carrying him high into the air. “Let me go! Let me go!” Oliver squirmed and wiggled and finally the bluebird let go of him. He fell through the air and landed on top of a fluffy dandelion. “That was close.”

Oliver looked around. “I'm back home in my own meadow. Hurrah!” He ran through the poppies and tulips and climbed up the branch of a flowering bush. He sat among the leaves and blossoms, happy to be home again. Butterflies flew past. Bumblebees buzzed him and dragonflies zipped by. “There's no place like home.” Even though the other elves didn't like him and called him Picklenose, Oliver was happy to be there.

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