“Love you sweet B. Now stay there, I’m goin’ up a little higher.”
Smiley Betty looked up at her sweet girl. She wagged her tail and stayed right next to the tree ready to spring into action if Carina started falling. Carina smiled back down at Betty. “Gosh, I have the prettiest dog ever,” she thought to herself. Then she looked back at the oak tree–her favorite place in the back yard. Determined and careful, she took her tree climbin’ seriously. She considered which branch to grab onto next while hearing her grandfather’s voice in her head.
“Tree climbin’s serious business, Carina. You don’t want to make a mistake and put your weight on a dead branch ready to snap. Then you might fall. A young wiry shoot of a branch is stronger than a dead one.”
With his wisdom in mind and her two feet standing on the same branch, she chose a supple tree limb to her left and grabbed it with her left hand. Then she raised her left foot to another healthy branch full of leaves hoisting herself up. Satisfied with her spot, she sat down on a thick branch, startling two mourning doves who cooed in unison as they flew higher up the tree. There was another branch near her chest that she held onto while leaning back into the tree trunk. Carina was finally able to relax feeling far away from her life on the ground.
The tree’s leaves encased her. Young, green acorns were growing in bunches here and there. She began smiling at the sun’s rays dancing on the leaves all around her. The tree canopy almost looked like a rippling pond as the wind and clouds constantly changed how the sunshine hit the leaves. Still smiling, she stared at the leaves, lost in their beauty. Mesmerized by their ever changing shades of green, feeling peaceful and safe, she just kept staring at the leaves as time seemed to slow down. All of the colors appeared brighter…richer. Everything became quiet except for a soft and soothing buzz that seemed to come from the tree.
Suddenly, she was able to see immaculate details of the leaves she hadn’t noticed before. It was as if her eyes had become magnifying glasses. She studied the pores and lines in the leaves. This tree canopy world felt perfect. Then, as fast as the perfect moment emerged, Carina slid back into real time. She heard the distant sound of a neighbor mowing his lawn and Betty began barking for her to come back down. The buzzing sound from the tree disappeared and the leaves looked normal again.
“Betty, stop being ridiculous,” snarked Billie the cat while peering at her sleeping girl.
“Carina’s having a dream about how she used to tree climb at the old house before she got sick. She’s happy in this dream. You’re gonna wake her up!”
But Betty kept up, whipping around in circles like only silly dogs with too much energy can do.
“And the scream bark? You’re a German shepherd, dog. Where’s your nobility?” hissed Billie.
“I just can’t help it Billie, I can’t, and I’m spunky, so spunky so I just gotta whip and scream bark sometimes. Barking doesn’t always do the trick,” replied a breathless, still spinning Betty.
“Ohhh, yes you can help it dog. Self-control, have ya’ ever heard of it? Do ya’ know what it means? You’re gonna wake up our girl and she’s happy in her dream, now stop it,” seethed a growling Billie. “Stop the circus. You've been warned.”
Betty finally realized how mad Billie was getting, stopped, and sat down. “Ok, ok, I’ll stop. I just wanna go outside ya’ know,” she said, panting heavily with a goofy grin on her face.
“Oh I know. Why don’t you go outside and get lost for a while,” shot back Billie sarcastically.
Betty, ignoring Billie’s nasty remark, replied, “Nope, gotta watch our Carina. She’s afraid of the dark and gets scared if she wakes up in the middle of the night and I’m not here –you know that. I’ll stay here. It’s ok. I’m good. I’m good. I’m not gonna spin anymore. You’re right. It’s beneath me. My kind has fought in wars for centuries. And here I am spinnin’ like a goof.”
Billie’s frown softened and even though she was completely annoyed with Betty, she understood. You see, their Carina was quite sick and almost always inside. As a result, Betty did not get outside enough. “Now, come lay back down, dog, so we can resume the love-fest.”
“Ok, you’re right Billie. Lemme get a drink of water first.”
Betty went out to the kitchen. And Billie, finally convinced that Betty had calmed down, sashayed from the edge of the bed to Carina’s pillow. She snuggled next to Carina’s head, lovingly studying her face, making sure she was still contently sleeping.
Ten-year-old Carina is disabled, and her odd-couple best friends are a noble yet spastic German shepherd named Betty and a self-described ninja-cat named Billie. Since her carousing mother is barely home, they're also her true guardians.
Betty and Billie’s plans to improve Carina’s life take off when Betty conjures a dream for Carina’s doctor. Like a wizard in a trance, he crafts medicine that soothes her pain enough for her to walk. Betty whisks Carina outside and arranges for her to befriend Meili, a talking hawk. Charmed by Meili’s gentle strength and radiant autumn-toned plumage, Carina follows her into the woods where Meili teaches her how to fly, breathe underwater, and most importantly… how to face her fears.
While flying, Meili tests Carina by directing her to send love to a despicable man below attempting to set fire to an eagle. Her effort compels him to run away! They then land at a beaver lodge party where Billie promptly begins break-dancing on Betty’s back. Meanwhile, Carina meets other powerful children and feels jealous that she isn’t the only exceptional child. She shakes it off and realizes everyone’s new mission. After the party, they fly around town, spreading love to everyone --even bullies. Once home, the biggest bully of all, her mother, attempts to hide Carina in the house forever, but the now dauntless and healthy Carina breaks free from her control, empowering the whole troupe to begin anew.
Children's Literature - Magical Realism, Nature, Spirituality, Qi Gong #ownvoices.