Makayla's Birthday Wishes
a story for children
(June 2, 2010)
Makayla had two birthday wishes. First, she wanted everyone to spell her name with a Y. Some people spelled her name exactly right:
M A K A Y L A
A lot of people, however, spelled her name without a Y. They would write:
M A K A L A
In fact, last year, on her birthday cake, her name was spelled without a Y. As you can imagine, Makayla did not like that at all.
You might wonder why spelling her name exactly right was so important to Makayla. After all, Makala (without a Y) was a fine name. Even Makayla would admit that. As far as she was concerned, people all over the world could be named Makala (without a Y) and that would be alright with her. However, there was a reason why Makayla insisted that people spell her name correctly, and it was a very important reason indeed.
It all started one month before her 7th birthday. Makayla had been waiting and waiting for her birthday. Every day she asked her mother, "How many days until I am 7 years old?" and every day her mother told her how many days she had to wait for her birthday. That day, her mother said, "You have to wait 30 more days until your birthday."
"30 days!" said Makayla. "That's a very long time. I wish I didn't have to wait that long."
It's not that Makayla minded being 6 years old. She told herself, 6 is a good age, but 7 is better. So I had better be 7 as soon as I can. Anyone, she thought, could be 6, but to be 7 you had to be very special.
She remembered that her older sister Kalissa used to be 7, but that was a long time ago. In fact, almost two years ago. It was, she felt, time for someone else in the family to be 7, and Makayla was ready. But 30 days — a whole month — was a very long time to wait. Indeed, Makayla was feeling so impatient, she decided she would try to do something about the situation. So she went to the Playhouse, climbed the ladder to the loft, and sat down.
Maybe if I think very hard, she said to herself, I can think of a way to make my birthday arrive sooner.
Makayla loved her Playhouse. It was in her backyard behind the house. Her father had built it all by himself just for Makayla and her sister. It was exactly the right type of Playhouse for a girl who was almost 7 years old: not too big and not too small; not too hot and not too cold; not too close to the house and not too far away.
Whenever Makayla had something important to think about, she went to the Playhouse. The Playhouse had a small loft that Makayla could climb up to using a ladder her father had built. Right now, Makayla was sitting in the loft. And as she sat, she thought. And then she thought some more. And some more. But as hard as she could think, she couldn't come up with a way to make her birthday come sooner.
Makayla became discouraged. At this rate, she said to herself, I'll never be 7 years old. Makayla was not only discouraged, she was tired. All this thinking is wearing me out, she said to herself. Maybe if I lay down and close my eyes, it will be easier to come up with an idea.
So Makayla lay down, closed her eyes, and started to imagine what it would be like to be 7 years old. She had just got to the part where she was opening all her birthday presents when, all of a sudden, she heard a strange sound, a bit like a snap, crackle and pop all at the same time.
Makayla's eyes opened wide. Right in front of her were two little people who were like nothing she had ever seen before. They were green with blue spots and had pointy ears and long whiskers but, although they were very unusual, Makayla was not a bit afraid.
"Are you Makayla?" said one of the little people.
Makayla nodded. "Yes," she said, "that's me."
"My name is Pixie and this is Dixie. We came here because we were hoping you would help us."
"I am very pleased to meet you," said Makayla, "but I'm not sure I can help you. I'm still very young. Perhaps you can come back in a month. I'll be 7 years old then, and I'll be able to do anything you need."
"Oh no," said Pixie, "we can't wait that long."
"Very true," said Dixie. "That would be much too long to wait."
"Besides," said Pixie, "in a month you will be too old to help us."
"That's true," said Dixie, "in a month you will be too old."
Makayla thought about that. "How can that be?" she asked. "Are you saying that when I'm 7, I'll be too old to help you?"
"Yes," said Pixie, "that's exactly what I am saying. For a job like this, it's important that we find just the right person."
"That's why we are here," said Dixie, "to check if you are qualified to help us."
"Qualified?" asked Makayla. "What do you mean?"
"What Dixie means," said Pixie, "is that before we ask you for help, we must make sure you fulfill specific criteria."
"And what does that mean?" said Makayla.
"It means," said Dixie, "that we must ask you certain questions to make sure that you are the right person to help us. So first, I must ask you, is your favorite color pink?"
"Yes," said Makayla, "it is."
"Good," said Pixie, "very good. Now I need to ask you another question. Suppose you were in charge of choosing ice cream for a group of people. What flavor would you choose?"
"That's easy," said Makayla, "I would choose half vanilla and half chocolate."
"Correct," cried Dixie, "that's the perfect answer. Now we must ask you, can you ride a bicycle?"
"Of course I can ride a bicycle." Makayla had had her own bike for some time, and she was very proud of how well should could ride. "I love riding my bicycle."
"Wonderful," said Pixie. "We have only two more questions, and they are the most important ones. First, will you be 6 years old for at least another month?"
"Oh yes," said Makayla, "I'm 6 years old, and my birthday is one month from now."
"Perfect!" said Pixie and Dixie at the same time.
"And your name is Makayla, right?" asked Dixie.
"That's right," said Makayla.
"In that case," said Pixie, "will you please spell it for us?"
"Of course," said Makayla who was always very polite except when she wasn't.
"M A K A Y L A"
"You are just the person we need," said Dixie.
"Yes," said Pixie, "you are just the person we need. You can come with us to Elimeno Land and help us. All you have to do is close your eyes and count to 10."
"Elimeno Land?" said Makayla. "What's an Elimeno?"
"What's an Elimeno?" said Dixie as if she couldn't believe her ears. "Why, we're Elimenos. Pixie and me, and there's lots more where we live. Now close your eyes and count to 10."
So Makayla closed her eyes and began to count. "1, 2, 3, 4..." When she got to 10, she opened her eyes and said "Wow!"
She couldn't believe what she saw.
Makayla had never been to Elimeno Land before. As a matter of fact, until a few minutes ago, she had never even met an Elimeno. So as you would imagine, everything looked strange to her.
Actually, not everything. In a funny sort of way, Makayla felt right at home. It is true, she had never been anyplace where the trees were purple and yellow with bright orange leaves. And she had certainly never visited a place filled with small people, just her size, who were green with blue spots and had pointy ears and long whiskers. That was true.
On the other hand, most places she went seemed a bit strange to her anyway. She spent a lot of time at school and playing with her friends and being with her family and, the truth was, she never really felt like she fit in completely, no matter where she was. But now she was in a place with very unusual trees and very unusual people and, for some reason, she felt comfortable.
As Dixie had told her, there were a lot of Elimenos here and, as far as she could see, she was the only person who looked like a little girl. And yet, somehow, she felt as if she belonged.
"I wonder," she said to herself, "how could that be? Where I come from, everyone looks like me, at least a bit, and sometimes I wonder if I really belong. Here in Elimeno Land, no one looks like me, but I feel as if I have been here before and I fit right in."
Before she could figure it out, however, she noticed she was surrounded by a large group of Elimenos who were sitting around her in a big circle.
She could tell they were trying to be polite and not interrupt her thinking. However, she could hear them talk to one another.
"Is that her?" she heard one of the Elimenos whisper to another Elimeno.
"I think so," said the second Elimeno.
"Are you sure?" said the first one quietly. "She looks so tall."
"True," answered the second Elimeno, "but then wouldn't that be better? Perhaps she can run really, really fast. That would be good for us wouldn't it?"
Makayla couldn't make any sense out of this and, besides, her mother had told her it wasn't polite to listen to other people's private conversations. Makayla wondered if maybe she shouldn't even be listening to what the two Elimenos were saying. But then, if they didn't want her to overhear them, why were they talking in front of her?
All of this made everything even more confusing, but she didn't have a chance to make sense out of it because, all at once, the quiet was broken by another Elimeno who came bustling towards her. He looked a lot like the other Elimenos, except he was fatter and wore a large pointed top hat.
Makayla could tell by the way he walked that he was someone important, so she decided she should use her very best manners.
"Good afternoon," she said politely, "my name is Makayla. Who are you?"
"Who am I?" asked the Elimeno. "Who am I? Why, I'm the Mayor of Elimeno Land. You do know what a Mayor is, don't you?"
Makayla looked at him closely, squinting one eye and holding her head sideways. "No," she said, "I'm afraid I don't. Perhaps you might explain it to me." Makayla could be very polite when she wanted to.
"Well, I never heard of such a thing," said the Mayor. "I thought everyone knew about me. I can see I'm going to have to explain everything. To start, I should tell you that I am a Very Important Person. That, at the very least, should be obvious."
Makayla couldn't see why this Elimeno should be more important than any of the others. Perhaps it was because he had a top hat. Still, she was a guest and her mother had taught her and her sister that guests must always have good manners, so she just nodded her head politely and didn't say anything.
The Mayor seemed pleased. "As one of the Very Important People in Elimeno Land," he continued, "it is my distinct privilege and honor to welcome you and to invite you to join our team."
"Your team?" said Makayla. "What do you mean? I don't understand"
"I don't see what's not to understand. Didn't Pixie and Dixie explain it all to you?" asked the Mayor. "My, my, this is most unusual."
He took off his top hat and placed it carefully on the ground. Makayla was surprised to see that, unlike the other Elimenos, he had no hair at all. Perhaps that was why he was the Mayor.
He reached into his pocket and, with a grand flourish, extracted a large green handkerchief which he used to wipe the top of his bald head. He then carefully folded the handkerchief, put it back in his pocket, picked up the hat, replaced on his head, and said, "Yes, yes, this is most unusual."
"Well," he continued, "when you come right down to it, I suppose it really doesn't matter. The important thing is that at least you understand that I am the Mayor and what that means."
"Excuse me, Mr. Mayor," said Makayla, "but I don't really understand it at all."
"I don't see what's not to understand," said the Mayor impatiently. "Still that's not important now. What's important now is that the game is about to begin and you aren't even dressed."
"Well, you can't play soccer dressed like that, at least not in Elimeno Land," explained the Mayor.
"Now I really don't understand," said Makayla. "What are you talking about?"
"I don't see what's not to understand," said the Mayor. "You are Makayla, aren't you?"
"And you are almost 7 years old, aren't you?"
"Yes," said Makayla.
"And you do play soccer, don't you?"
"Well then," said the Mayor, "what could be more clear than that. We must be off."
Then all of a sudden, Makayla heard a strange sound, a bit like a snap, crackle and pop all at the same time. The sky became dark and then light again.
Makayla looked up and saw one of the strangest things she had ever seen in her whole life.
What Makayla saw was a gigantic field of grass with a funny gray area in the middle. The field was surrounded by rows and rows of seats, and there was a soccer goal at each end. However, the goals were floating above the field. Makayla ran down to one end of the field and stood underneath the floating goal. She jumped up as high as she could, but she was still a long way from touching the bottom bar. Makayla thought to herself, this was, without a doubt, most unusual.
However, before she had time to think things through, there was a loud sound similar to a trumpet, and Makayla noticed the Mayor and Pixie and Dixie and all the other Elimenos in front of her.
"Put on these clothes," said the Mayor, handling her a funny-looking bundle, "and get ready to start playing soccer. What we need from you, Makayla, is simple. All you need to do is score one point and we win the championship."
"Yes," said Pixie, "all we need as one point."
"And we win the championship," said Dixie.
All the other Elimenos nodded their heads in agreement, and Makayla thought that this was getting stranger and stranger. However, she loved playing soccer, so she opened the bundle and started to put on the clothes. What she found was a green shirt with blue spots. There was also a hat that went over her head and around the sides of her face, with pointy ears and long whiskers. Someone in the crowd held up a tiny mirror and when Makayla saw herself she laughed: she looked just like an Elimeno!
"In order to play for the Elimeno team," said the Mayor who seemed to guess her thoughts, "you must look like an Elimeno. So with the power vested in me by the Great Wazoo, I declare you to be an honorary Elimeno."
Makayla wondered what "vested" meant and who the Great Wazoo was, but she had no time to figure it out. There was another loud trumpet sound and Makayla looked up to see lots and lots of creatures moving towards the rows of seats. In less than two minutes, all the seats were filled. Makayla had never seen such strange beings before. All she could tell is that some of the were Elimenos and some of them were not.
The Mayor continued his speech as if nothing had happened. "You see, Makayla," he said, "every 1,000 years, there is a very, very important soccer match between Elimeno Land and Mxyzptlk Land."
"What was that name again?" asked Makayla?
"Mxyzptlk," answered the Mayor. "Listen carefully, because we don't have much time. It's important that we win the game," explained the Mayor."
"Very important," said Pixie.
"Very, very important," echoed Dixie.
"Very, very, very important," said all the Elimenos standing behind them.
"And," said the Mayor, "if you help us win the game, we will make your two wishes come true."
"My wishes?" said Makayla. "What wishes?"
"Usually, the game lasts only 30 days," continued the Mayor without answering her question. (If he had a fault, it was that he was not a very good listener.) "However, yesterday was the last day of the game and the score was tied 12,314½ to 12,314½. So to break the tie, each team takes turns trying to score a goal. You get to go first. If we score a goal before one of the Kltpzyxms, we win the game. Otherwise we lose."
"Kltpzyxm?" said Makayla. "What's a Kltpzyxm?"
"A Kltpzyxm is someone who lives in Mxyzptlk Land," said the Mayor a little brusquely. "Everybody knows that. Don't you go to school? Anyway, don't worry about that now. What you need to worry about is scoring a goal as quickly as you can."
"Here's the ball." He placed a rainbow-colored soccer ball on the ground in front of Makayla. "When the trumpet sounds, you will be all by yourself with exactly 6 minutes to score one point. If you don't, the Kltpzyxms will get a chance. They have some very good players on their team and they're bound to score a point on their first try. If this happens, Mxyzptlk Land will win the game and Elimeno Land will lose. Do you understand?"
Not really, thought Makayla to herself. Even if she were alone on the field, how could she score a point when the goals were floating far above the surface of the field?
But she had no time to think. For the third time, Makayla heard a trumpet sound. Then everything become quite quiet, and she found herself alone at one end of the field with the rainbow-colored ball in front of her, dressed in a green shirt with blue spots, and with pointy ears and long whiskers. She looked up. Thousands of pairs of strange eyes were looking down at her, expecting her to do something.
She then saw a large clock that began to count down: 6 minutes, 5 minutes 59 seconds, 5 minutes 58 seconds...
Well, thought Makayla, since I don't know what to do, I might as well do something fun, so she started to kick the rainbow-colored ball to the other end of the field. She began to enjoy herself. She really did like soccer, and it wasn't very often that she could kick the ball all by herself without someone else trying to take it away from her.
After a while, she stopped and looked up at the clock. It was still counting down: 4 minutes 17 seconds, 4 minutes 16 seconds, 4 minutes 15 seconds...
She very much wanted to score a point and win the game for the Elimenos, but how could she kick the ball into a goal that was floating above the field? She could, of course, kick the ball a bit off the ground if she tried hard, but that wouldn't be nearly high enough to reach the goal.
Oh well, she thought, I might as well enjoy the game while I can, and she continued to kick the ball down the field. Before long, she found herself in the middle of the field staring at the funny gray area. It looked like a large square of canvas pulled tightly over a deep hole. She stopped for a moment, thinking it was familiar and wondering what it was. Suddenly she figured out it out: she was looking at a trampoline!
But what was a trampoline doing in the middle of a soccer field? Makayla had no idea, but she loved trampolines so she stopped kicking the ball, walked onto the trampoline and starting jumping up and down. She was having so much fun that for a minute or two she forgot all about the soccer ball and the Elimenos and the clock.
Then she looked up and saw a most remarkable sight. The goal at the Mxyzptlk end of the field wasn't as high as it had been just a few minutes before.
How could this be? Makayla asked herself. She had an idea.
She started jumping up and down again and noticed that, each time she jumped on the trampoline, the Mxyzptlk goal moved down a tiny bit towards the ground. She looked up at the clock which had reached 3 minutes and 32 seconds. Now she knew what she had to do, but was there enough time?
Makayla began to jump up and down on the trampoline as fast as she could. Every now and then she would stop and look at the Mxyzptlk goal, which was getting lower and lower. Then she would look at the numbers on the clock which were getting smaller and smaller.
Finally, she could see that the goal was resting on the ground. She looked up at the clock. There were only 47 seconds left. Then 46, 45, 44...
Makayla jumped off the trampoline and ran over to the rainbow-colored soccer ball. But as good as she was, there was no way she could kick the ball all the way to the end of the field in 44 seconds.
Then she noticed something. Lying on the ground next to the trampoline was a bicycle. A pink bicycle. She ran over and picked it up. It was just her size. She got on the bike and, while kicking the rainbow-colored ball with one foot, managed to ride the bike with the other foot. (And if you don't think that is hard, try doing it some time.)
Makayla began riding the pink bike and kicking the ball towards the Mxyzptlk goal as fast as she could. Kick, ride, kick, ride, kick, ride. She looked at the clock. There were only 7 seconds left.
Makayla realized she wouldn't have time to get all the way to the goal. There was only one thing to do. She jumped off the bike and gave the ball one last kick, the biggest kick she had ever made in her whole life. She aimed at the Mxyzptlk goal. But would it be good enough?
Makayla held her breath as the ball flew towards the end of the field. It bounced twice and rolled across the line into the Mxyzptlk goal just as Makayla looked up to see the clock change from 1 second to 0.
With all the noise the Elimenos were making, thought Makayla, you would have thought I had done something really important and not just kicked a soccer ball into an empty goal. Still, she said to herself, it's easy to see that winning this game was important to the Elimenos and she did score the final point.
The Elimenos, including the Mayor and Pixie and Dixie, surrounded her and picked her up and carried her off the field to a large tent, where there was a big sign that said "Hooray for Makayla". The tent had rows and rows of tables with rows and rows of chairs, and on the tables, in front of each chair, was a bowl, a spoon, and two containers with lids, one white and one brown.
"And now," proclaimed the Mayor at the top of his voice, "it is time to celebrate our great victory and honor our hero, the Great Makayla."
For a moment, Makayla was afraid she might be called upon to make a speech, and she had no idea what she would say. However, the Mayor of Elimeno Land was not in the habit of inviting other people to speak.
She listened as the Mayor described the history of the Elimenos and how important it was they that were able to win the game against the Kltpzyxms. Makayla's goal, he explained, would forever be remembered as the greatest victory of Elimeno Land over Mxyzptlk Land. He talked on and on, and Makayla started to get a bit bored. The rest of the Elimenos sat quietly, listening patiently to the Mayor. Apparently, they were used to his speeches.
Finally, the Mayor finished talking and announced, "And now, it is time to honor the Great Makayla."
He took a deep breath. "From now on," said the Mayor, "in honor of your great achievement, everyone, everywhere must be sure to spell your name with a Y. And every time they do, you will remember how important you are, because you were the one who scored the final goal for Elimeno Land."
He handed her a small box which she opened. In it was a gold necklace with her name spelled out in tiny gold letters:
M A K A Y L A
"This necklace is for you," said the Mayor, "so everyone will always know how to spell your name."
"And now," said the Mayor, "let the feast begin."
Hundreds of Elimenos reached for their spoons and started scooping out the contents of the brown and white containers into their bowls. Makayla lifted the lids off her containers and looked inside. They were filled with ice cream! The white container had chocolate ice cream. The brown one had vanilla. This was the opposite to what she might have expected, but she was in a strange place. Anyway, what did that matter? Ice cream was ice cream, and chocolate and vanilla were Makayla's favorite flavors.
She looked around and noticed that every Elimeno had put some of each flavor into his or her own bowl and was using the spoon to mix it around. This was exactly how Makayla liked to eat ice cream, so she did the same thing. In fact, she did it over and over again, and ate and ate and ate, until her tummy was so full she couldn't eat even a drop more of ice cream. In fact, she was so full she started to feel a little sleepy.
She then heard the Mayor's voice, "And now Makayla, you have had one wish come true. It is now time, just as we promised, for you to have the other wish come true."
And Makayla looked up to find herself back in her Playhouse. She was still wearing the green shirt with blue spots and the hat that went over her head and around the sides of her face, with pointy ears and long whiskers. She was sitting in the loft and, in front of her, were Pixie and Dixie.
"It's time for us to say good bye," said Pixie.
"Quite right," said Dixie, "we must be saying goodbye."
"But do you have to go right away?" said Makayla, who was already starting to miss Elimeno Land and the Elimenos. "Couldn't you stay for a while? You could sleep here in the Playhouse. My parents wouldn't mind."
"Oh we can't stay," said Pixie. "It's time for your birthday party."
"Yes it is," said Dixie, "and we certainly don't want to interfere with that."
"My birthday party?" said Makayla. "But my birthday won't be for 30 days."
"Oh no," said Pixie, "don't you remember your second wish?"
"That's right," said Dixie, "you wished for your birthday to come right away. Don't you remember?"
"But will I ever see you again?" asked Makayla sadly. "You will come back and visit me some time, won't you? Maybe I can go back to Elimeno Land and we can play games and eat ice cream."
"I don't think so," said Pixie. "After all, today you will be 7 years old and you'll be too old to see us anymore, just like your sister Kalissa and your parents are too old to see us.
"Very true," said Dixie, "just like your sister and parents. In fact, you won't even remember us once you turn 7."
"Once you are 7," explained Pixie, "you will be almost grown up. You will be very busy with school and friends and homework and soccer and gymnastics and your family and, one day, you will be a mother yourself with children of your own. Oh my, you won't have time for Elimenos anymore."
"That's right," said Dixie, "no time for Elimenos."
Makayla looked down at the ground. She felt herself starting to cry. That's not true, she wanted to say, I'll always have time for Elimenos, and I'll never forget you and the Mayor and Elimeno Land and the soccer game and the ice cream feast. But when she looked up Pixie and Dixie were gone. Makayla felt so sad, she curled up in a ball and went to sleep.
The next thing she knew, Makayla was wide awake with a big smile on her face. She was happy and for a moment she couldn't remember why.
Then it came back to her. Today was her birthday. Today she was 7 years old. Finally she was growing up. And because it was her birthday and she was almost grown up, her parents had let her spend the night in the Playhouse all by herself.
Makayla looked down and noticed she was dressed in a green shirt with blue spots and a hat that went over her head and around the sides of her face with pointy ears and long whiskers.
The door opened and her mother came in. "I'm glad to see you're already wearing your birthday clothes," said her mother. "Wasn't it a great idea to have a costume party? And I see you are wearing the necklace with your name on it that your father and I gave you. I hope you like it."
Makayla looked down at the gold necklace with her name spelled out in tiny gold letters:
M A K A Y L A
"Oh it's lovely Mom," said Makayla. "It really is. You know, I had the strangest dream— at least I think I did."
"Tell me about it later. It's getting late and your guests are starting to arrive."
"And guess what?" said her mother. "I told the bakery to be extra careful and, this year, your name is going to spelled correctly on the top of your cake. I made sure myself that they spelled your name with a Y. I also made sure we have plenty of chocolate and vanilla ice cream, just like you wanted."
"Oh boy," said Makayla jumping up. "This is going to be the best birthday party ever."
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