We all get a little lost sometimes. It happens to the best of us. I still remember one Shamrock Day when we were visiting our home that wasn’t a home, meaning the retro-futuristic, UFO-shaped house in Cratersville where our father sometimes stayed, not the brightly painted, gypsy-style starwagon in the Grove where Travelers like our mom lived.
Our mom, dressed in her usual eclectic mix of long, flowing skirt and floral-patterned tunic, was sitting in a pool of early morning sunlight, her bangles and beads flashing blindingly as she tinkered with one of the clockwork creatures that kept the house in order (though we were never there long enough to disorder it). She was polishing a tarnished pile of springs and sprockets with a rag woven of spells when she happened to glance out the clear glass wall to the balcony where her prized roses were kept.
At this point, her vigorous burnishing came to an abrupt stop. This was unfortunate timing on her part for the creature having its bits polished was never quite the same since. It was even worse timing on our part, for my sister and I had to spend several anxious moments nibbling on our toast and jam as she went to investigate the highly unusual infestation plaguing her ever-blooming desert garden.
When she returned, she crossed her arms and waited. Our mom knew that something was up. There was always something up in our house. How could it be any other way with a Magician for a father and a Traveler for a mother?
We were the progeny of odd circumstances, two born rebels who found a legendary Magic even more potent than ones our parents used. We played with this strange and secret Magic as if it were a paint set, and we covered our antics with a series of fibs, half-truths and misdirections. We were good at our game, even if that game involved staying silent until we could think of a good story. We were good at that too.
Our mom, realizing her inquisitor’s stare wasn’t working, spoke first, “Mind telling me where all the lovely shamrocks came from?”
Of course, our mom wasn’t asking about the shamrock plague per se. In Cratersville—a theatrical world built on a mixture of technology and magic—shamrocks appeared on March 17 like snow appeared on December 25. What our mom was really asking about was why the usually green shamrocks were colored a kaleidoscope of vivid colors as well. It was like a rainbow had melted all over the balcony.
She knew the rainbow invasion was our doing. We knew the rainbow invasion was our doing. But we couldn’t tell her about the Magic that had made our rainbow wish come true, so we told a story about a little creature who became lost in the middle of the night who desperately needed a rainbow to find his way home.
Our mom raised an eyebrow as we told our tale. It was clear she didn’t believe us, but she let us scamper off after our tale was told without questioning us any further. Perhaps, she gave us credit for originality. Perhaps, she really didn’t want to know. Either way, we were happy to go off to play, though it did cross my mind that our half-baked story would surely take on a life of its own—if the Magic had its way.
Later that day, as the long shadows of afternoon started to creep across the balcony where my sister and I were having tea in our citadel of thorns, we were surprised to spy the little creature of our story as he frantically vanquished the last of the emerald green shamrocks.
When we asked him why he was still painting shamrocks when the sun had come up hours ago, he politely informed us that though the sun had indeed come up, the rainbow he sought had never appeared.
We told him that if he needed a rainbow this was not the day to find one, for a Shamrock Day rainbow is as rare as a pot of gold. He said he had found many pots of gold during his journeys and would gladly trade them all for the sight of a single rainbow, for by nightfall he would lose all of his magic and never see his home again if he failed to make it back in time.
We knew from his answer, that his heart already knew how to get where he wanted to go, he just needed the right words—the part of the story we had failed to provide. We told him a simple formula to recite, a tried and true string of words that under the right circumstances would deliver the desired result.
The little creature repeated the words in a voice almost too light to hear, and on the third click of his heels, the power of the painted shamrocks—the pinks, the yellows, the blues, the greens, the oranges, the violets and the reds—all melded together, transmuting the vibrant gemlike leaves into a shimmering celestial bow of candy colors.
Gleefully, the little creature skipped, jumped and summersaulted his way across the magical ribbon of light that spanned the deep blue desert sky away from us. When he finally vanished from view, Poppy and I made a wish for the little creature to visit again next year. After all, he knew the way home now.
Later that night, back at the Gypsy Grove, as we lay underneath an expanse of glittering stars, my sister and I wondered if our mom had seen what happened when a simple wish, touched by magic, turned a balcony of shamrocks into a glittering skyway home. Our mom never said a word if she did. But I know that she, like us, kept a few of those wish-touched shamrocks in a memory orb. I still have them to this day.
And now, when I look at those orbs that we created, I know that no matter how lost I may feel, I can always be found if I keep love in my heart, a rainbow at my feet and those magical words on my lips: There’s no place like home.
—Jellybean Reds, Creator of Little Creatures