Category Archives: Writing

Pecky Greenleg: Chapter 6

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“I don’t understand. Why do you need to go back to the hatchery? We just bought chick feed last week.”

Jake shifted uncomfortably and tried to look his mom in the eyes.

“Well, I just want to ask a few questions…find out how a hatchery is run. For-for a-a paper, er, a story I’m writing.”

His mom looked at him oddly. He knew it was a lame reason when they’d just been there last week.

He sighed. “Ok, it’s like this Mom-“.

“Alright dear,” she said suddenly, turning to get the car keys. “I need to pick a few things up in town anyway, so I’ll just drop you by the hatchery first.”

Jake couldn’t believe his luck. Now, how was he going to get Pecky in the car without her noticing?

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An hour later, Jake’s mom pulled into the parking lot at the hatchery.

“I’ll be back in a half hour or so to pick you up, ok?”

Jake nodded as he climbed out of the car, carefully pulling a rather large, bulky backpack out after him.

He waved nervously at his mom and waited for the car to disappear around the corner before walking inside.

“Hi, I’m looking for Gilbert,” he said to the smiling woman at the front desk.

“Well hi there sweetie! Gilbert you say?”

“Y-yes. I have a few q-questions for him. For a-a story I’m writing about chickens.”

The woman smiled at him brightly and picked up the phone.

“Hold on there just a minute and I’ll see if he’s busy right now.”

Jake felt Pecky move slightly.

“Alright dear, Gilbert is just three doors down that way,” she said, pointing down the dimly lit hall.

“Thank you.”

Windows lined one side of the hallway. Jake looked out and saw row after row of chick brooders. Some were stacked in fives, others as long as a pool table.

Workers in white lab coats walked about, checking on the fuzzy yellow, brown and white chicks. A soft glow filled the room from the heat lights keeping the chicks warm.  It smelled like musty hay and ammonia.

When he reached the third door, he knocked timidly.

The man he’d talked to the week before opened the door.

Gilbert.

He looked at Jake with surprise and then resignation. “Oh. You’re back. Well, you’d better come inside. I’m sure you have a lot of questions.”

Pecky shifted in the bag, poking Jake in the shoulder with his beak.

Hmm. Well isn’t this interesting. He definitely knows something.

“Yes,” said Gilbert, glancing at the bag. “I do know something. Something about where your bird came from and why you mustn’t tell anyone about him. For his own safety…as well as yours.”

 

Pecky Greenleg: Chapter 5

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Jake wasn’t sure what to do next. The lead the postmaster gave them, while interesting, seemed like a big, fat dead end.

He’d already talked to Gilbert at the hatchery and had gotten nowhere.

You have to go back.

Jake shook his head, glaring at Pecky.

“Go back? How? Even if I could convince Mom we needed more chicks, there’s nothing more Gilbert will tell me.”

Pecky strutted back and forth in the pen, frustration simmering around him.

Use me.

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Jake looked at Pecky doubtfully.

No, really. Use me. Tell your mom that I’m not well. I’ll even act sick. 

“I don’t know…Mom already suspects something and I don’t like keeping things from her…”

Then tell her.

Jake snorted and looked at the determined glint in Pecky’s eyes.

“Tell her that the chicken I named Pecky Greenleg is actually a rooster who can talk? Tell her that I’ve already talked to Gilbert at the hatchery and the postmaster? Tell her–“

Ok, ok! I get it. But we have to come up with something. I don’t belong here. 

Jake looked down at Pecky and felt a twinge of sadness for him. How awful would it be not to know where you came from?

“Ok. I’ll figure out a way for us to get back to the hatchery.”

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Pecky Greenleg: Chapter 4

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Jake set out for the post office, a backpack slung over his shoulder.

Did you tell your mom where we, er, you were going?

“Of course I didn’t,” he whispered to the bag. “I just told her I was going for a bike ride to town.”

Pecky moved around in the bag, making Jake jiggle on the bike.

“Stay still! You are going to make me fall off.”

Sorry, I don’t have a lot of room in here you know.

Pecky had doubled in size in just a few days. Jake had to take everything out of the backpack just so he would fit.

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“We’re almost there. Just try not to move until I get off the bike.”

Jake parked his bike outside the door and walked into the building.

“Hello young man. What can I do for you today?”

Jake studied the jolly postmaster behind the counter. He looked friendly enough.

“Hello sir,” he said nervously. “I wanted to ask about a package we received a few weeks ago. I have the label right here.”

Jake pulled a crumpled piece of paper from his pocket.

The postmaster took the label and looked at Jake expectantly.

“What would you like to know? Was there a problem with the package?”

Clearing his throat, Jake recited the speech he and Pecky had agreed on.

“No…I mean yes. There was an extra chick in the package and I was just wondering where it came from.”

He glanced at the label and then back at Jake.

“It says here it came from McDougal Hatchery. Isn’t that where you ordered the chicks from?”

A flush crept up Jake’s neck. He didn’t want the man to know too much about Pecky, but he needed information.

“Yes, but I think we may have gotten the wrong package. We ordered 25 Leghorns and they sent an extra that doesn’t look like the rest.”

“Hmmm,” he said looking down at the label.

“Do you remember who delivered the package? Maybe I could ask if the boxes got mixed up or something.”

The man scratched his head and tapped his chin.

“Yes, there were several boxes of chicks. I remember because they chirped and peeped all day long,” he chuckled.

Jake’s heart plummeted. With so many packages arriving that day, it would be next to impossible to find out if any boxes were switched up.

“Oh!” exclaimed the postmaster. “Yes, I remember now. After the driver delivered all of the chicks, he ran back in with another box and said that he needed to switch it out. Said he made a mistake.”

“And it was this package?”

“It very well could have been, but I can’t be completely sure. The driver seemed very concerned about the swap.”

“And do you remember his name?”

The postmaster scratched his head.

“Sorry, I can’t remember. Wish I could—Oh yes! It was Gilbert! Gilbert from McDougal Hatchery.”

“Thank you sir!” Jake smiled.

“No problem young man. I hope you find what you are looking for.”

After Jake left the post office and was safely out of sight, he unzipped the backpack and looked down at Pecky.

Well? Does that name mean anything to you?

“Yes. Yes it does.”

And?

“Gilbert is who I talked to at the hatchery.”

Pecky Greenleg: Chapter 3

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Listen here.

Pecky and the rest of the chicks were growing at an alarming rate. They were outgrowing their first home so they’d been moved to new, larger pen.

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“You’ll be more comfortable out here,” Jake said as he watched the flock race around in their new pen.

I guess. Did you have any luck at the hatchery?

“Not really.”

What does that mean?

Jake sighed, remembering the rude man he tried to talk to about Pecky when he and his mom went to pick up more chick food at the hatchery.

“Well…I asked if they had any other gray chicks with green legs. Told them that we were thinking of getting a few more.”

And? What did they say?

That’s the strange part. The guy seemed…uncomfortable.”

Hmmm. That’s interesting.

That’s what I thought. He told me he didn’t know what I was talking about. That I must be mistaken.”

Mistaken? Didn’t you tell him you ordered from that hatchery?

“That’s just it. He insisted that I was wrong. Said I must have ordered it from another hatchery. Before I could ask any more questions, he turned and said he had to get some work done and I should just forget about ‘those chicks’.”

Pecky let out a frustrated squawk, startling the other chicks. They all ran to a corner of the pen and seemed to glare indignantly at him.

“So I guess that’s it.”

Pecky ruffled his feathers and looked up at Jake with angry eyes. Of course, thought Jake, chickens always looked angry.

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What do you mean ‘that’s it’? One dead end and you are ready to give up?

I don’t see what else we can do,” Jake said defensively.

Pacing, Pecky let out a series of cheeps and chirps.

Wait! What about the shipping company? 

“Shipping company? What would they know?

They’d know if the chicks came from that hatchery. And, if they didn’t, they’d know where they came from.

Jake went into the garage and rummaged through the recycling, looking for the box the chicks came in. When he found it, he could hardly believe they were ever small enough to fit in the little box. He took it back to the pen to show Pecky.

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“Here it is. They were shipped through the post office. I remember Mom going to pick them up.”

That’s it then. We have to go to the post office.

Pecky Greenleg: Chapter One

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“What should we name this one, Jake?”

Jake studied the small chick with a thoughtful expression.

It’s gray feathers stood out in the sea of fuzzy yellow.

“Hmmm,” he murmured. “How about Pecky?”

“That’s a great name for a chicken,” his mom said with a smile.

“Wait,” said Jake. “Look at its legs.”

Jake’s mom peered at the tiny legs and noticed green feathers. “How odd,” she said.

“Her name is Pecky Greenleg!” crowed Jake.

His mom grinned and headed for the kitchen door.

“Are you coming in? It’s about time to eat lunch.”

Jake held the tiny chick in his hands, careful not to squeeze.

“In a little bit, I need to talk to Pecky Greenleg.”

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The chick stared up at the little boy, not sure he liked the name he had been given.

I don’t have green legs! And…I am not a hen!

“Not a hen?” said Jake with surprise written on his face.

The chick stared at the boy. The boy stared at the chick.

“Ha,” Jake said with a shake of his head. “I must be imag–“

You can hear me?

Jake gaped, wide-eyed at the chick.

“Y-you can talk?”

Well of course not!

B-but, I can hear you!”

Jake’s mom peeked out the door. “What was that sweetie?”

Startled, Jake nearly dropped Pecky Greenleg.

“N-nothing Mom.”

His voice was hoarse and shaking. His mom looked at him with concern.

“Are you sure? You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”

He looked at Pecky and could have sworn the bird shook his head.

“Ha,” he laughed nervously. “No really, I’m ok.”

“Ok, if you’re sure.”

“Yep, I’m fine.”

“Well, why don’t you come in and wash your hands. It’s time to eat. “

“Ok, be right there.”

When his mom shut the door, he looked back at the chick.

They stared at each other for so long that Jake thought he’d imagined the whole thing.

You’d better go in for lunch.

Mischief Makers Day 19: Breakfast Bonanza

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“But, it’s Joe’s birthday! We have to at least try!”

Pixie, Figgy, Nim and Lil sat around the table in the Elfeteria eating a midnight snack of Sugary Frosted Syrup Bites and trying to figure out how to be in two places at once. 

“We could split up,” said Figgy. “Pixie and I could go to Joe and Jake’s and you two could go to the Malloy’s.”

Nim huffed. “And let you guys have all the fun setting up the pancake breakfast for Joe’s birthday? I don’t think so!”

Lil nodded in agreement. “They were our first assignment.”

Pixie scowled. “They were our first assignment too! And what’s more…I’M the Birthday Elf!”

“Listen here…”.

“Don’t you dare…”.

“If you say that again…”.

“Ho, Ho, HO!” The bickering elves did not hear Santa until he stood at the head of the table. He looked at each elf in turn. “There is a solution where all of you can go wish Joe a Happy Birthday.”

“There is?” they asked in unison.

“Yes. Drop by the Malloy’s and leave a note explaining your absence. Leave them a special craft or movie or treat. Then, you can all go to Joe and Jake’s for the traditional birthday breakfast.”

The elves were silent. 

“I guess that could work,” said Nim.

Lil rolled her eyes. “Now why didn’t we think of that!” 

* * *

“Shhh!” 

“Ouch! Get OFF my feet Figgy!”

“Guys, be quiet!”

“Yeah, we’re going to wake them up and ruin the surprise!”

After a quick stop by the Malloy’s to drop off a note, a treat and The Christmas Story for the kids to watch, the Mischief Makers zipped to their old stomping grounds to set up the world’s best pancake breakfast. 

Lil pulled out a clipboard. “Ok gang! Pancake batter?”

“Check!” said Pixie.

“Maple syrup?”

“Check!” said Figgy.

“Chocolate syrup?”

“Check!” said Nim.

“Hot sauce and lemon pepper?”

“Er…are you sure about those, Figgy?” asked Nim. “They don’t really go with pancakes and sausage.”

Figgy squinted at Nim. “We all agreed to put Joe’s favorite things on the pancakes, didn’t we?”

“Yes, but—”.

“That means all his favorite things.”

“Oookay. I’m pretty sure we have everything then.” Pixie interrupted. 

“Alright! Places everyone!”

Each elf wrapped around the light fixture holding balloons and a birthday banner with big smiles on their faces. They’d made it in time to help Joe celebrate his 11th birthday.”

“I hope the Malloy’s aren’t too upset,” said Nim.

“Nah, we left them a movie and lots of snacks. I’m sure they’re fine. Right, Pixie?”

“Er, yeah.” But Pixie had a sick feeling in the pit of her stomach. Somehow, she didn’t think they were fine with them missing a night. 

Not at all.

Mischief Makers Day 18: Christmas Car Ride

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“Well,” asked Figgy. “Were there any complaints?”

“Nope, not a peep,” said Lil in a bright and overly cheerful tone. “Santa wanted to discuss…something else with us. No new complaints from Burt and Carol.” 

Nim and Lil had just left a private meeting in Santa’s Toy Shop. Figgy and Pixie had worried that their camping stunt from the night before had angered the Malloys, but all seemed well. Almost.

“Lil,” said Pixie. “Did something else happen with the Malloys?”

“No!” Lil and Nim said at once, then looked guiltily away.

Figgy and Pixie frowned.

“He-he,” laughed Nim nervously. “I think everyone’s just a little frayed around the edges. This season has been a doozy!”

“But we’ve gotten the Malloy kids straightened around. Back on the Nice List even,” said Pixie. 

“Oh yes, you both have done such a great job with the Malloys,” said Lil. “But there are other families who are…not so lucky.”

“Is that what the meeting was all about?” asked Figgy. “These other families?”

“Oh don’t you two worry about that meeting,” said Nim as he rushed them on their way. 

“You just get on back to the Malloys and finish out this season with pizzazz!” 

With that, Nim and Lil shut the door in their faces. A few moments later, the light in the Santa’s Toy Shop went out.  

“Well that was weird,” said Pixie.

* * *

Dear Pixie and Figgy,

Thank you for making us such an awesome indoor campsite! To show our appreciation, we built this little car for you. Stay under the speed limit! 

Have fun!

Xoxo

Gabe, Gertie, Molly, Heidi, Tom, Tim, Mary, Felix, Terry Jr., Willy, Julie and Alex

Figgy and Pixie looked in awe at the small vehicle big enough for two elves. “I guess they weren’t upset about the mess of pillows and blankets,” said Figgy.

But Pixie wasn’t so sure. “I don’t know, Figgy. Something seems a little fishy.”

“But Pixie…the car! It’s so sleek….so shiny!”

Figgy slowly approached the car and gently opened the driver’s side door. 

“Figgy, are you sure this is a good idea?”

“It’s fine, Pixie! You read the note, they are just rewarding us.”

Pixie shook her head. In their short time with the Malloy children, Pixie had learned to be cautious when things appeared too good to be true. 

“Come on,” Figgy coaxed. “You can drive.”

With a shrug and a sigh, Pixie hopped in and buckled up. Figgy got in the passenger side and struggled with his seat belt until Pixie huffed in exasperation and yanked the belt free, buckling him in. 

“Ok, ready!” he cried. 

Pixie was just looking for the gear shift when she noticed the thread. “What’s tha..?” 

But before she could finish her question, the car had taken off and they were careering through the living room, down the hallway, up the stairs, all around the house at breakneck speeds. 

“Fiiiiigg-gggeeee!”

“Piiiiixx-xxeeeee!”

THWOMP! The car hit a soft hill and came to an abrupt stop. 

Finally, the ride was over. 

“Plllll…what is this?”

“Sand,” said Pixie as she slowly got out of the car. 

“Sand?? How did sa–oh.” Figgy looked around at the scene. The Malloy children had created a small beach scene complete with sun, sand and shade. 

“Are those…Elftinis?” 

Mischief Makers Day 16: Perfect Picture

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“I’m afraid I have some bad news,” Santa began gravely.

Pixie, Figgy, Nim and Lil stood silently in Santa’s office. The last few nights had been a disaster. First…drums, followed by messes of confetti and glitter. Last night’s slime sledding must have been the star that bent the tree, because Burt and Carol Malloy were NOT happy.

Figgy and Pixie gulped in unison, unable to speak. 

“What is it, Santa? Not…a twelfth letter?” asked Lil.

“Yes.”

“B-but we’ve been so good! We made cookies!”

“I agree with Figgy,” said Pixie. “Sure, the glitter bombs were messy, but we did our best to contain it to the hallway.”

“It’s not really about you two, per se. It seems the Malloy parents have discovered that it has been their children, and not you two, making such a mess.” 

Santa handed them the letter.

Dear Santa,

First, we would like to apologize. It seems that catastrophes of late were not, in fact, the work of your “Mischief Makers”, but of our children. They confessed all last night after we threatened to have the two elves banned from the house. Permanently. 

As such, we feel that a suitable punishment would be for Figgy and Pixie not to return for the rest of the season. It is nothing against them. Not really at least. But, it may be the only way to get through to the children and make them stop their disastrous shenanigans. We cannot, nor will we, tolerate any more mischief.

Figgy and Pixie may, of course, say their goodbyes by one last night of fun, but we would appreciate them not returning after that. At least until next year, maybe longer.

With sincere thanks,

Carol and Burt Malloy

Pixie and Figgy were speechless. While it was true that it had been the Malloy children who had made the majority of this season’s messes, the past few nights had been all Pixie and Figgy’s doing.

“Wait just a minute, Santa,” said Nim. “Can they do that? Is it really up to them?”

“I’m afraid so. If we ignore their request, they have every right to file a formal complaint with the Bureau of Malicious Mischief.”

“And even if they don’t file a formal complaint,” said Lil. “It is the 12th letter. You remember what The Book said.”

“But,” said Pixie. “Does that mean our fun is…over?”

No one said a word.

* * *

Glumly, Pixie and Figgy slumped on the couch. Nim and Lil had come along for moral support while Glitter stayed behind, too distraught to face the last night. 

“I guess we should…do something,” sighed Pixie. 

“Yeah,” Figgy agreed morosely. 

“Ok you two,” said Lil. “Enough moping. If this is your last night, you need to go out with a bang.”

“And not a messy bang,” added Nim. “A ‘look-how-helpful-we-are’ bang. If you are going to convince the parents you should stay for the rest of the season, it’s going to have to be good.”

“How can we do that?” asked Figgy. “You heard the letter.”

“Pish-posh,” said Lil. “Just because it looks hopeless, doesn’t mean it is hopeless. Remember the footnote?”

Pixie and Figgy tried hard, but they couldn’t hold back the giggles. 

“Pish?” said Pixie.

“Posh?” said Figgy. 

Lil smiled. “Now let’s get started.”

Over the next five hours, the four elves cleaned with all their might. They scrubbed and scoured. Dusted and dried. Wiped and washed. Every surface sparkled…and not with glitter.

“Hey guys, look what I found.” Lil flew over to the table with a photo in her hands.

It was an old picture of the whole Malloy family. Alex was just a teeny, tiny baby. Everyone was smiling, a Christmas tree in the background.

“Are you thinking what I’m thinking, Nim?”

“That we should scrub the toilet one last time?”

“No, but that’s a good idea. I’m thinking it’s time to write the poem.”

Pixie shot up. “Yes! Oh Lil, that is a wonderful idea!”

The group sat and wrote a poem together. Once done, they placed it under the tree with a beautiful ornament. 

“There,” said Figgy. “That should do it.”

Long ago on Christmas Eve, 
You gathered ‘round this tree.
Your smiles were big, your eyes were bright,
Your hearts were filled with glee.

But since that day, you’ve lost a bit
Of spark and family cheer
Perhaps by this reminder
You’ll discover it this year.

Each of you must take a piece
Of loving, sound advice
Relax and smile, enjoy this time
You cannot live it twice.

Mischief Makers Day 15: Slippery Slopes

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Figgy, Pixie, Nim and Lil sat around the tree. Nim and Figgy quietly seething and Lil and Pixie suppressing laughter.

Pixie was the first to break the silence. “Ok you guys. This is getting ridiculous.”

Nim and Figgy glared at her.

“Seriously?? You two are still mad?” asked Lil.

“First of all,” said Figgy. “We didn’t throw the first snowball.”

“And second,” added Nim. “We were outnumbered!”

Pixie and Lil glanced at each other blankly. Outnumbered?

“How do your figure that?” asked Lil, hiding a small smile.

“Yeah, it was only Lil and I…that’s two, against you and Figgy…that’s also two.”

“Well, you had a secret weapon, didn’t you? Someone waiting in the trees to gallop to your rescue!”

Lil and Pixie tried to keep a straight face. They had hoped the boys would not notice Glitter who waited in the woods outside Santa’s workshop for a signal to join in the snowball fight. The snowball fight that they started.

Lil laughed first. Pixie followed with a giggle. Soon, Figgy and Nim forgot their anger and joined in the merriment. They couldn’t stay angry with their partners for too long. All it took were chuckles and chortles to bring them around. 

When they had all caught their breath and settled down, Nim asked, “So…what’s on the agenda for tonight?”

“We-ell,” said Pixie. “Since Figgy and I didn’t really have anything planned for much beyond the middle of the month, Lil and I took the liberty of coming up with a fun…activity.”

“I don’t like the way you said ‘activity’, Pixie,” said Figgy. “It sounds like trouble.”

“Oh don’t be a spoilsport Figgy,” said Lil. “It’s just a little harmless fun. We thought we could set up a sledding hill in the living room.”

Nim looked around the room. “Maybe you haven’t noticed, Lil…there’s no snow in here.”

“True, but we can build hills with toilet paper rolls and use this to make them slippery.”

With a flourish, Pixie revealed a ‘make-your-own-slime’ kit.

Nim’s eyes bulged. “You have got to be kidding!  If we do this—”.

“We’ll have the best sledding hill EVER!” Figgy shouted.

While Nim looked on in disbelief and doubt, the other three elves poured and mixed and stirred until they had several colors of slime. 

“Come on Nim! Join in and help us construct the big hill,” coaxed Figgy. 

With some poking and prodding, the elves managed to convince Nim to help with the hill. Once they were all done, Pixie poured some of the slime down, coating the slope with slippery goo. 

Lil cupped her hands and called up to Pixie. “No more slime, Pixie!” 

“More? Ok!” Pixie poured another bowl down the hill.

“No! No more slime!” Nim yelled.

“OK! Here’s another bowl!” 

“NOOOOO!” 

But Pixie had already started to pour. As the goopy goo streamed down, the cardboard slide buckled and slime went everywhere, coating the floor. Nim, Lil and Figgy raced to clean it up, but ended up slipping and sliding and sloshing in the sticky pool. 

“Too much?” asked Pixie.

Mischief Makers Day 13: Confetti Chaos

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“Don’t spill it, Figgy!”

Figgy grunted. “You try carrying a giant, heavy bag of confetti and see how you do, Pixie!”

Glitter cantered behind them, pulling two small boxes along. “Oh you two. Stop arguing!”

It was the first night after leaving the threatening poem for the Malloy children to find. They were pleased to see that the kids had not left a mess behind for them to clean up. 

“Maybe they’re worried about what we are going to do now that we know that they know that we know how they figured out our plan,” said Figgy. 

Glitter and Pixie looked at each other then at Figgy in confusion. “What?”

“Well…we know that they know that we know—.”

“We heard you the first time, Figgy,” said Pixie. “But you’re not making any sense. They didn’t do anything because we only had the first 12 days of Christmas planned.”

“Oh.”

Glitter snorted. 

“Are we sure this is a good idea?” asked Pixie as she filled one of the boxes with confetti. “I mean, the parents are not going to be happy with yet another mess to clean up.”

“It’s fiiine,” said Figgy. 

Glitter snorted. “Sure. It’s fine. Famous last words.”

Figgy scowled and threw a fuzzy pom pom at Glitter. She caught it in her antlers and lobbed it back at him. Unfortunately, Figgy ducked and it hit Pixie square in the face. 

“Oops, sorry Pixie. That was meant for Figgy.” Glitter made a sound somewhere between a bray and a laugh. 

Pixie narrowed her eyes, picked up the offending ball and lobbed it back at Glitter. 

After that, chaos ensued. Confetti and pom poms flew fast and furiously down the hall. The confetti fight continued throughout the house until, breathless, the trio collapsed on the couch, laughing.

“Thanks team,” said Figgy through huffs and puffs. “I needed that.”

Pixie looked at the clock and popped up. “We’d better get the confetti traps set up! We’ve got a lot to do if we want one on each bedroom door.”

They worked frantically over the next hour filling boxes and rigging them to pour out when the kids opened their doors in the morning. They had planned to sweep up some of the mess, but by the time they were done with the boxes, the sun was coming up and the just had time to get into place before the first door opened. 

“I hope Carol and Burt aren’t too upset,” said Glitter.

Pixie looked around at the mess and gulped. “Me too.”