Sunday, May 5, 2013

The Misunderstood Dragon

There once was a young dragon named Jahil. And his parents loved him with all their might. They told Jahil, "You can be anything you want to be." They urged him to not give up on his dreams, to believe in himself and his abilities. But Jahil had only one dream, and he felt it with a fierceness that could -- and often did, when he let his fire lash out -- burn down forests. This was his dream: Jahil wanted only to be a unicorn.

Jahil's parents, being as supportive as they could be, went to the local costume shop and bought him a horn and a unicorn's mane and tail. But Jahil did not want to dress like a unicorn, he did not want to pretend to be a unicorn, he wanted to be a unicorn. He wanted it so badly, that it was as if he was a unicorn on the inside already, but his body just didn't match. 

When he was breathing fire, he really thought he was moving the horn on his unicorn head with a forward thrust. When his wings lifted him into sky, he felt the bounce of a gallop instead of the soar of a flight. Though he was well-liked among his peers, he always felt like something was not right, like they knew he was not right, like they knew his secret. He was both afraid of and relieved by the idea that someone might think he was more like a unicorn than like a dragon. 

And he was majorly flunking out of Scare Tactics class in school. He was just too plan gentle to even want to scare anyone. In order not to feel completely foolish, he acted like the class clown, kind of making fun of himself, and making it okay when kids laughed at him, as if he was too cool to try to do the assignments in Scare Tactics class and was just giving the opposite of what the teacher was looking forward just to be funny and cool. But deep inside, Jahil was suffering. He felt so alone and didn't know what to do with his feelings.

Jahil found a place at the outskirts of the school grounds, where the forest started and the ball fields ended. He began to walk into the forest, feeling the awkwardness of his clawed feet, a body made more for flying than running. Inside, he yearned for the leanness and gracefulness of a unicorn's form. Jahil curled up beneath a pine tree, imagining that he was indeed a unicorn, resting under his claimed tree. He imagined that he no longer had to sleep in a cave, but could sleep in the great outdoors, cushioned by a bed of pine needles.

Falling into a deep, happy sleep, out here where he believed he could, as his parents had said, be what he truly wished to be, Jahil dreamed of galloping as a unicorn through a great meadow, peppered with yellow wildflowers. In his dream, he came upon a beautiful young girl, with long blonde hair, who helped tame him and wove a crown of wildflowers to put on his head. This young girl sang to him the sweetest songs, full of curious words, putting him into a kind of trance. He became enchanted with the girl and even let her climb upon him and ride him. When he woke up, the very girl he dreamed of was standing in front of him.

Jahil closed his eyes again, thinking he was still asleep. But when he opened his eyes again, once again the young girl was standing above him. He knew he was still in his dragon form, so he was surprised at her courage.

"Hello," said the young girl.

"Hello," said Jahil, blinking himself awake. "You aren't scared of me?"

"Why would I be scared of you?" asked the girl. "You are one of the gentlest beasts."

"Aren't you afraid I'm going to burn you with a roar of fire?"

The girl started giggling uncontrollably.

"What's so funny?" asked Jahil.

"You think you are a dragon!" she exclaimed, pointing at Jahil and smiling.

"Aren't I?" asked Jahil.

"Silly, unicorn!" she said, shaking her head.

"Don't you see my scales?" asked Jahil, looking at his belly, red and black and scaly.

"Unicorns don't have scales!"

"Who are you?" asked Jahil.

"I am Maggie, girl of the forest," said Maggie.

"Well, you must be blind," said Jahil.

"Do you not see my eyes can see as well as yours?" she asked, pointing to her eyes.

"Well, you can't see me for the hideous creature I am."

"Because you are beautiful, Unicorn!"

Jahil hung his head. "How I wish I were a unicorn."

"But you are!" said Maggie, determined.

"What are you, to fool with me that way?"

"Don't you know, I am the girl of the forest. And I can see and sense everyone's true self. No matter what you think you look like on the outside, I see the truth, and the truth is. . .you are a Unicorn!"

"Really?" asked Jahil. "I always thought I was more like a unicorn than a dragon on the inside, but my stupid body doesn't match."

"I can help you with that! That must be why you came to the forest, to find me. For it is my job to help people match their outsides with their insides," said Maggie.

"You can do that?" asked Jahil.

"Yes. I cannot and would not lie to you. But are you ready to give up your suffering? So many people think they want to change, but they've really become attached to their suffering selves," she explained.

"I no longer want to suffer," said Jahil.

"Well, if you do, it won't work anyhow," said Maggie.

"Believe me, I want nothing more than to be the unicorn I feel I am in my deepest heart," said Jahil, standing up, and suddenly feeling a strength and leanness in his limbs that he hadn't felt before.

"Then, I deem you transformed!" Maggie exclaimed, gesturing towards him.

Suddenly, Jahil felt a change overcome him, and he looked down at himself, and saw the horse body and felt the weight of his single horn.

"Would you like to go for a ride?" he asked Maggie.

"I'd love to. I know a meadow not far from here, full of yellow wildflowers," she said, climbing onto Jahil, the unicorn's back.

And Jahil ran and ran. And Maggie crowned him with a crown of wildflowers while they rested in the meadow.

Finally, it came time for Jahil to go home and face his parents.

"Don't worry," said Maggie, "Your parents knew all along. They will be happy for you."

And it was true. Jahil's dragon's parents embraced him the same way as if he was in the dragon body he was born into. In fact, they held him a little more tightly, delighted that Jahil's dream of becoming a unicorn had finally come true.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

The Butterfly Bomber--part 2

Her grandmother, Jezebel, thought Jessie was ready to take her butterfly harnessing skills to the test and adventure of seeking the creatures that had been creating havoc on the Land. The plan was to drop a giant net over their lair and carry them to a distant place where they could no longer take over the ladybugs or destroy the plants.

The worker ants were busy piecing together the giant net that Jessie would carry on her butterfly to the creatures' home. While they worked, Jessie was getting a pep talk from her grandmother.

Jessie said, "But grandmother, I'm scared."

Her grandmother said, "You wouldn't be a fairy worth your goodness if you weren't a bit scared. But remember, you can turn that fear to excitement with a little oxygen. Just keep taking deep breaths." And Jessie inhaled, filling her chest with air. It was true; she felt better as soon as she started to let the air out of her chest. That felt so good that she took another deep breath. She realized she was no longer scared; in fact, Jessie was becoming a bit excited about the adventure ahead.

After carefully fastening the booby trap of a net to her butterfly, who was called Melanie but who she called "Mel" for short, Jessie went on a trial flight, to see how it felt to work the harness with the added weight of the net and whether she could accurately "bomb" a targeted area with the net. For fun, because she was so excited, she took Mel straight up into the air for a length and then hovered high over the Land. Everything looked so tiny from up above. The flowers were tiny specks of color and most of the insects weren't visible at all. She could make out the ants who'd just made her net, as they were watching her in one big mass, so she saw the splash of black on the ground and figured it was them. Then she shuddered as she imagined the creatures she was meant to capture on this flight who apparently looked smaller than the ants looked from this great height even up close.

For her practice net drop, the fairies had asked the permission of a small group of yellow dandelions if they would be willing to be dropped on. Dandelions were hearty flowers and the fairies thought they'd appreciate offering their strength to the mission. Jessie slowly descended over the meadow where the dandelions were located. She took a wide circle around them, getting her bearings, as she would for the actual drop, and sort of spiraled in to the center, hovering over the small bed of yellow blossoms amongst the sweet green grass of meadow. She pulled the cord on the net and watched it float like a parachute over the dandelions. The weighted edges billowed out and the whole net fell beautifully on top of the group of flowers. At this point, during the real drop, was when Jessie's real courage would be tested. She'd have to fly down to the net and pull the string to tighten it around the tiny creatures. However, no one wanted to damage the flowers any more than they might be by a falling net, so Jessie would have to trust that the ants, fine craftspeople that they were, had done their job and made a functional drawstring.

Another army of ants, on the ready, came and promptly collected the net, folding it back up, while Jessie found a place to land so the net could be re-attached to Mel. "Good job Mel," she said, encouragingly. Mel was a trusty friend, more than a pet, and she couldn't do this important work without Mel feeling her best.

Once the ants had hitched the net back onto Mel, Jessie wasted no time in lofting into the air again to begin the mission. She'd memorized the route to the creatures lair. After passing over the meadow, she flew over the human's flower garden, full of foxgloves and irises. Then, she took a sharp right along the creek and followed it up to the row of cottonwood trees. It was here, under the cottonwood trees, that the tiny evil creatures lived. She lighted on a high branch of one of the cottonwoods, taking a break and several deep breaths to give her courage for the final stretch of her flight. For a moment, she thought about turning back, about telling her grandmother she was too young and scared for work like this, but by the fifth breath, she began to feel her strength return, and she thought of all the ladybugs who could be saved by her work. With this thought, she wasted no time in diving right down to the darkest part of the creatures' lair.

There they were, the tiniest, most hideous beings she'd ever seen, small white eyes popping off the top of their heads could see her coming and they almost looked like they were panicking. She found the center of this mass and hovered very briefly to make sure she was steady before pulling the cord to drop the net. It fell before the creatures knew what had happened, and she swooped down to the bright red cord which had landed on the North side of the lair. This was the cord she had to pull to capture the beings. As she grew closer to the creatures, she saw their little faces looking so scared. But still, she pulled the cord tight, tied it back to the hook below her saddle, and made a long slow loping flight back home, where her grandmother and all the fairies and leaders of all the insects waited for her delivery. The flight was slow because even though the creatures were tiny, there were so many of them that they added a lot of extra weight to Mel.

"Come on, Mel," she said, "You can make it." She worried she was pushing Mel too hard, and she promised herself that Mel could rest for a week or longer and that she'd bring her all kinds of sweet flower treats after this flight.

When she arrived at the center of the Land, and saw the leaders of all the insects and all the fairies, she slowly flew closer to the ground and delivered the package as if she was offering up the most precious thing one could imagine. The fairy knights unhooked the net from Mel's saddle and Jessie flew on a bit father, to put some distance between herself and the tiny evil creatures. Mel and Jessie sat in the grass, Mel slowly flapping her wings, and Jessie breathing and leaning over in relief.

The fairy knights confronted the tiny creatures and asked them what they had to say for themselves.

Their story turned out to be an unexpected one.

"Please!" They all shouted in unison. "We are so small. And we know we are ugly. So please do not look at us! But please listen!"

Everyone grew very still and listened as the creatures continued.

"We know it is wrong, what we are doing. But we are so small and so ugly and we only wanted to be loved like all of you are. This is why we decided to take the form of ladybugs, which are so well loved in the Land and among humans. We only wanted to be noticed and loved."

And with that, Jezebel and her kingdom grew sympathetic, for what creature and flower hadn't been overlooked or even despised by someone at sometime.

Jezebel made a proclamation that all creatures must learn to love these tiny beings, even if they didn't look particularly pretty to everyone. "We must learn a new way of seeing!" she proclaimed. "And! Creatures! You must learn to see yourselves differently. To that end, the ant seamstresses will sew you colored hats, so that you can always feel beautiful and a part of the colorful Land."

The ants, delighted to have a new sewing project to keep them busy, cheered, and got right to work.

And so it is, to this day, that the tiniest of creatures in the Land of flowers and insects now wear the prettiest of hats and walk proudly amongst the ladybugs and roses, without the least bit of shame.

And Jessie continues to ride Mel--but for pleasure's sake. You might see a small brave fairy atop that pink butterfly that's landed on your fencepost this afternoon.

Friday, May 3, 2013

The Butterfly Bomber

Part 1.

In the Land of flowers and insects, there lived the toughest of fairies, Jessie, otherwise known as the 'Butterfly Bomber." She'd been riding butterflies practically since birth, when her grandmother, Jezebel, lifted her up, set her on a resting Monarch, and then slapped the backside of that butterfly, causing it to take off with a jerk before soaring. Jessie had riding instincts, though, and from her very first surprise ride, she knew to clutch the tiniest bunches of butterfly fur in her tiniest of fists. It didn't take her very long before she became too lazy to move anywhere with her own wings--her own wings were small and she moved, she thought, at practically a snail's pace compared to butterflies. Besides, the ride was a lot smoother.

For her fourteenth birthday, Jessie received her very own butterfly--a beautiful pink one with enormous wings. Now, pink butterflies were rare, even in the magical world where Jessie lived, but her grandmother had high hopes for Jessie. Jessie was about to embark on an intense training to learn how to become one of the elite force of Butterfly Bombers.

Most people assume that all is harmony in the Land of flowers and insects--but no! Though nature takes its course and certain insects eat certain plants and certain insects even eat other insects, and this is the way of nature that no one can change, there was evil beginning to invade the Land. What could only be described as an alien presence was starting to take over the bodies of ladybugs and forcing massive numbers of ladybugs to take down a whole rosebush in a single day. Ladybugs--who used to be the friend to the rosebush--had now become the enemy. And even ladybugs who weren't taken over by the alien forces were considered suspicious. There was uproar in the Land of flowers and insects, as one of the most gentlest and kindest of insects was being used in a mean, destructive manner.

Jezebel, Jessie's grandmother, had by this time inherited the kingdom. She'd been crowned Queen of all the Land, and her first job was to get to the bottom of the ladybug takeover. She stayed up for days on end, watching a seemingly unharmed ladybug family go about their business of herding aphids and basically being the cutest and most lovable of all insects. Then--and it happened without warning--one of the ladybugs in this particularly family turned mean. It started bossing the other ladybugs around, shouting and calling out orders that were quite contrary to the ladybugs' normal routines. The ladybugs were flustered and afraid. What they had feared was upon them.

Jezebel watched more closely. The second infected ladybug seem to transform after drinking water from a droplet in the well of a foxglove flower. She left the ladybug family to fend for themselves and decided to go into the flower. She carefully peered into the flower, just barely peeking her head over the part that cascades down to the stem. She saw the tiniest, ugliest creatures she had ever seen. If, in fact, she didn't have supervision, they probably would've been invisible to her. They were nearly specks, flea like, but with jagged front legs that were holding up a thin pipe from which emitted a liquid. This liquid must be the substance that was changing the ladybugs.

But how to destroy these evil insects without destroying the lovely foxglove? This troubled Jezebel. She didn't want any other beings in the Land to be felled due to these creatures. But there must be a central nest of these pinpoint-sized evil things, and it was her task to find it.

She sent her sentries to search the Land far and wide, and finally reports came in as to a very damp, hideous place that no insects, no matter how dark they may seem, would normally tread. There was not a flower or blade of grass in sight, just a vast pool of dark mud. And this pool was filled with millions, her sentry reported, of the tiny pinprick creatures. "They are smaller than flea dirt!" he cried, "And infinitely more disgusting!"

Jessie was working hard on her training exercises, and she'd begun to master the harnessing of her butterfly's flight. But was she ready, at the young age of fourteen, to lead an attack on the creatures that lived in the blackest part of the Land?

*****Stay tuned for Part 2*******

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Cashel Saves the Earth

Cashel was ready for a new sewing project, one bigger and better than he'd ever attempted before. He'd just completed designing and sewing costumes for a full production of "The Wizard of Oz" which took place at his school. Glinda the Good had never looked more beautiful, her tulle dress shimmered with about five thousand sequins that had been stitched on by hand. Though Cashel preferred to make every stitch for every design himself since he started sewing five years before, at the young age of five, for Oz, he'd had to make a concession and take on a small crew, comprised mainly of monkeys--or, he should say, the youth who played the flying monkeys in the play. However, since his school advocated method-style acting, his crew insisted on being treated like and being referred to as monkeys for the entire rehearsal and run of the show.

One might think Cashel would be exhausted after a sewing project of that scope; instead, he was energized. This time, however, he had a bigger goal in mind. He did not want to simply create beauty with his work. Cashel was determined to design and create a sewing project that would change the world as we knew it. He'd already spent all last summer sewing clothes for the homeless women and children at the shelter his friend's mother worked at. He'd knitted 273 scarves and pairs of mittens last winter for those who needed them. But these he counted as average tasks in the life of a nine year old and he wanted to make his mark as someone above average. He wanted to be someone extraordinary.

"Mother," he started over dinner one night, a dinner of green peas and macaroni, one of his favorite meals, "What do you think is the biggest problem facing our world today?"

While mother was considering this important question, his eldest brother Gabriel piped up, "Racism!"

Then his second eldest brother voiced his opinion on the matter. "Bullying!"

Cashel fretted over these issues. He had friends at school who were bullied, and friends at school who often heard racist comments thrown in their direction. Cashel furrowed his brow because as hard as he tried, he could not think of a sewing project that would solve the problems of racism or bullying. He turned to his mother again. "What do you think, mother?"

"Well, racism and bullying are huge problems in this world. In fact, it's hard to choose one problem and call it the worst. There's so many things that need addressing in our society," she said.

"Yes, I know," said Cashel, "But please, not just in our society--in our city or on the playgrounds. What's something that's a problem bigger than all that." Cashel lifted his arms into the air and swooped them down as if he was touching the outline of a giant beach ball. "What's the biggest problem in our whole WORLD?"

His father, walking in late to the conversation after an afternoon nap, just caught that last question and as he slipped into his seat at the table, answered, "Global warming."

Cashel's mouth turned into a giant grin and his small hand slapped the table, causing the green peas on his plate to hop up off the plate with a little jump in the air. "Global warming!" said Cashel. "That's it!" He started to stand up before finishing his supper and then quickly thought better of it and sat down. "May I please be excused?"

His mother said, "Not until you eat three more bites of your peas and two more bites of your macaroni." Because this was Cashel's favorite meal, once he started taking the bites, he soon ended up clearing his plate. Though he knew there was no time to waste, that global warming was--right now--causing disasters and weather changes all over the country--he reasoned with himself that if he wasn't fully fed, he wouldn't be able to work through the night to accomplish the monumental task ahead of him.

First, he was going to sew giant quilts to patch up the holes in the ozone. Because Cashel was an artist and not a scientist, he didn't know exactly how the holes in the ozone were related to global warming, but he thought that if he was going to work on repairing the Earth's atmosphere through seamsterstry (a word he'd invented himself).

He quilted and quilted together yards turning into miles of blue fabric. He chose all varieties of blue, baby blue, deep blue, cyan, indigo, steel blue, sapphire, powder blue, electric blue, and—his favorite—true blue. It was a melody—no, a symphony—of blues. Even though he had to make quilts that were miles long, he couldn’t shake his vision to make the quilts with small squares that were only two inches by two inches. On top of this miniature square pattern, he sewed swirls and spirals, avoiding a definite pattern. He did his best to create a sky—made air molecules (represented by the blue squares) and clouds (represented by the overstitching of swirls and spirals, of which no two were alike). Again, because time was urgent, and the holes in the ozone were causing problems at an alarming rate, he enlisted the help of hundreds of helpers. He found his helpers through a flyer that he fastened up all over the City. It was amazing how many people who knew how to use a needle and thread or a sewing machine were also concerned about Global Warming. He soon built a fast network of seamsters and seamstresses, of quilters young and old.

After the quilts were made, he called NASA and imploring them to help with this important matter. Once he explained to NASA the project, they were happy to help and sent couriers to come to New York City to pick up the miles of quilts. A caravan of moving trucks pulled up on his block and stretched for blocks and blocks. All his crew helped load the quilts into the trucks. The caravan headed down to Cape Canaveral, where NASA launched a special rocket that flew the quilts to the holes in the ozone layer, and specially trained astronauts floated out of their vessel to pin the quilts to the atmosphere.

While the astronauts were busy positioning the quilts over the holes in the ozone, Cashel had already moved onto his next task—reducing global warming. He made patterns for these long long cloth tubes that would be attached to all smokestacks and car exhaust pipes. The tubes were to be sewn from a specially manufactured cloth that would absorb all the carbon and other toxins that are usually emitted from smokestacks and exhaust pipes. The cloth also had to withstand great heat. He decided, for this project, to sew the tubes out of all the colors of the rainbow, so that one car may end up with a green and a yellow tube on it, while the next would wearing red and orange. He was looking forward to seeing the whole world with cloth tubes blowing into the sky and from the backs of cars, so that the whole world looked like it was always on parade.

In order to fulfill this plan, because the people who owned the cars and the smokestacks didn’t necessarily like the idea of flying colored tubes off their pipes, he called every Congressman and woman in office and gave an impassioned plea as to the dangers of Global Warming and the loveliness of a world filled with colorful billowing cloth tubes as opposed to the steel and black of pipes. With every call, he believed more and more in the project, so that by the end, his own plea moved himself to tears, and, in fact, his mother and father and brother and brother, who were all listening in by the end of his over five hundred phone calls, were weeping so pitifully on the couch that no one had the energy to make dinner and they had to phone out for a pizza that night, which pleased Cashel, as it was his second favorite dinner.

After convincing the United States government to issue mandatory “socks” on all smokestacks and exhaust pipes (and replenishing his energy with an anchovy and onion pizza), he started phoning other countries’ government officials, and soon the whole world bloomed full of color and people were able to color coordinate their car paint with their exhaust pipe socks.

And this is how the world was saved by one young boy who happened to be an expert with a needle and thread. 

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Martha's Mission

Ronan's Tortoise, Martha, was fretting. She'd been fretting every day from the Tuesday after school started until today, which is not as long as some people fret (because some people spend their entire lives fretting and we know where that gets them) but long enough to cause Ronan, in turn, to fret, over Martha.

Because Martha was a tortoise, and not a talking one, Ronan was at a loss about what was causing this distress. He tried every imaginable means to soothe his dear pet. He walked the High Line and furtively plucked flowers from the landscaping--taking a purple flower that looked like a small firework, frozen at the full bloom of firing. He found some sweet and juicy yellow dandelions, which he knew most people considered weeds, but which he felt badly for taking before they turned to seed, when a boy, or even a young man, as he was becoming, could blow wishes on. He put all these flowers in his jacket pocket and took them home, offering them to poor Martha. However, Martha only seemed to hang her head nearer to the ground, and if a tortoise could sigh, she surely was sighing. And if Martha had a brow, surely she'd be furrowing it. 

That night, at the dinner table, Ronan brought up the topic of Martha's mood again to his family. His parents and his brothers were not unsympathetic, but they didn't have any answers that gave Ronan the hope he was looking for. His mother smiled at him in that way mother's are prone to do when they are humoring their children while trying to be sincere at the same time. She said, "Remember, dear, Martha is still relatively new to this family and she's still getting acclimated to her life here. Remember when we moved to the City from the Country, how long it took us to get used to it? And how your father is still getting used to it?" She said that last part grinning playfully at Ronan's father, a joyful man who wasn't unaccustomed to the City but who preferred the quiet of their Country home. Ronan's younger brother, Cashel, decided that perhaps Martha needed a proper welcome, and he started planning a recital that the whole family would participate in later in the evening. Cashel would sing a song, Ronan would tell a story, mother and father would do a dance, and their eldest brother, Gabriel, would add a martial arts demonstration. Ronan grew excited about the recital and began sketching out plans for it during dinner, continuing late into the evening, until his mother had to nag him about his homework--and his mother was not particularly fond of nagging. 

The recital was held the next evening, right after dinner. Cashel had sewn a big red bow for Martha to wear on her back as the guest of honor, and the whole family poured their heart out. Cashel sang "Singing in the Rain" while Mother and Father did their best Gene Kelly imitation. Ronan read his best story, the one that had won him a blue ribbon at the creative writing contest held by the entire school district. The recital ended with Gabriel's Taekwondo demonstration, because there was a spiritual element to the martial art, and the whole family was starting to thing that Martha's ailment was primarily a spiritual one. 

Though Martha seemed to perk up during the recital, after the performances and demonstrations were over, the cake was eaten by Ronan and his family, and delicious shredded varietal greens were offered and nibbled at by Martha, Martha again began fretting. Ronan was at his wit's end. 

While Ronan was in bed, tossing and turning in his worry over Martha, Mother and Father watched a bit of the news. Fact was, they were a bit concerned about the goings on in South America. Great habitats were being destroyed at an alarming rate and the United States President was about to issue a boycott on all goods coming from this area. This would be a great battle in the government, as many United States companies raked in huge sums of cash, in part, by tearing apart many native habitats around the Amazon. Though neither Mother nor Father found it a particularly happy practice to watch the news, they were deeply compassionate people and unwilling to stay ignorant for their own pleasure. Because they were concerned about Martha (who at this point, seemed to have stop sleeping as well as looking altogether glum), they put Martha on the coffee table. 

When the segment on the Amazon came on, and the threatened habitats, Martha lifted her head for the first time in weeks. Though this time, instead of looking glum, she seem to have taken on a gesture of alarm. Mother and Father were glued to the news program, but their eldest, Gabriel, who was still working on a research essay at the dining table was just looking away from his paper for a little reprieve from the intensity of the writing, when he noticed Martha. 

"Hey!" he shouted. "Look at Martha. She's listening." He stood up from his chair while Mother and Father crouched down to get a better look at the tortoise. 

Father suddenly had a thought. "Where is Martha from?" 

Mother said, "Pet Central." 

"No." Father shook his head. "Before that?" 

It dawned on all three of them, Mother, Father, and Gabriel, that Martha was probably from the Amazon Forest and was worried for her family who were still there. Gabriel did a quick Google search to confirm this fact. 

The next day, Mother called the President and expressed her concern on a personal level. The President asked if the family could bring Martha to Washington D.C. to put a personal face on the tragedies occurring on a daily basis in the Amazon. Though Martha didn't know what was happening, she seemed to register a sense of hope. Ronan, Cashel, and Gabriel all took the day off school and the whole family drove to the Capital to see the President and to introduce him to Martha. 

"Martha," said the President to the tortoise when they met, "Nice to meet you. I promise I am going to do everything in my power to help save the tortoise habitat." Martha didn't have any fur, but she looked like she fluffed up a little bit after she heard that. 

Ronan told the President, because he'd been pondering over solutions to this gigantic problem as they were driving down for the meeting, "Martha should be the spokesperson for the 'Save the Amazon' campaign--because look, she is very beautiful and obviously very sad. You should put her photos on billboards all over the country and put her on television on every single channel during every single show so everyone can see her and the effect the evil corporations are having in the Amazon on the little creatures--like Martha!" 

The President thought that was a great idea. So it was that Martha the Tortoise had a new Mission in life, to help save the Amazon habitats. Though her signature pout was her greatest strength when she was being photographed, at home, the whole family thought that if tortoises smiled, that surely was a satisfied and relieved smile on Martha's face.