Michael and his wife, Gretchen had been looking forward to this day for a long time. They had listened to the queen’s tales for many years now of the other world, where Cameron lived. They wondered what it must be like, in Cameron’s world so far away. It seemed a strange thing that there was something called daylight there. They could only imagine what daylight was.
The queen had explained that the light came from an enormous star in their sky called the sun. She told them that in Cameron’s world the children played in the daylight but at night, they slept, the moon providing them a dim nightlight and casting a pleasant glow.
Gretchen scurried about, tidying up their toadstool home and getting the dough carefully rolled out for her delicious gooseberry tarts. The men were outside brewing fresh batches of root beer and picking the gooseberries that Gretchen needed to fill the tart crusts she had carefully rolled out into little tartlet plates.
The town’s produce store was sending over some crisp crab apples for the cider that she would brew on their pot-bellied stove just before the guests arrived. She wanted the house to smell warm and spicy-sweet when the queen came with Cameron that night.
Gretchen hoped that the apples would be there soon. She had so much to do, and Mr. Kringle was late. Gretchen knew that the entire town was abuzz with activity. The townsfolk had been out tidying up their storefronts and hanging decorative garlands over their store’s windows.
Timmy and Lola had left to get flowers for the table over an hour ago. They had cleaned their rooms and scampered out to the flower gardens in the middle of town, where all the children in the village played, and she hoped that they had not forgotten her. “Oh, My!” How the time was flying by.
Michael ran home quickly to the village after meeting Cameron. He couldn’t wait to tell Gretchen about his meeting the boy from another world. He ran through the town and up the hill to his brightly colored mushroom house. Barging through the door and slamming it shut with a loud bang.
Michael bellowed, “Gretchen, he’s here, He’s here!”
Gretchen almost jumped out of her skin. “Michael, settle down and tell me about the boy.” She had to laugh at Michael’s enthusiasm.
“Oh, dear Gretchen, he is a strapping boy! “His skin is brown, and his hair is a golden color like the queen’s hair. His eyes are the most beautiful shade of blue, and they sparkle like emeralds. He is such a gentle and kind boy. The queen was so happy when she arrived at the castle with him on Cheyenne’s back. He so wanted to come to our village, but the queen told me that she needed to bring him into the castle first for a meal. I must get back to the castle! I will be serving the royal family in the dining room, Oh, I must hurry!”
Gretchen giggled and handed him a gooseberry tart for the road. Gretchen had never seen Michael as excited as he was tonight. She could hardly wait to meet Cameron.
“Oh my, I must get busy, the young lad will be here soon. Where are those children with the flowers for my table?” wondered Gretchen. She was starting to worry.
Timmy and Lola were in the garden that grew in the center of the village. It was their favorite place to play. The fireflies were everywhere, which gave the children a lovely light in which to play. That’s where Twinkie lived with all her firefly friends that watched over the village children as they played.
“Timmy, Lola! Your Mother is looking for you! Do you have the flowers picked for your Mothers table?” Twinkie asked with a tone of impatience in her shrill little voice.
Timmy and Lola had been playing for at least an hour now. They knew that they must hurry. Mother had told them to be quick. They knew that they were to pick the flowers for the table and get back to help their Mother.
They couldn’t resist playing with the other children on the swinging vines that hung from the bright star flowers that grew up the trees on the sturdy green, trailing vines. The star flowers gave them a bright light in which to play. They swung so high that they felt like they could touch the stars above with their little toes.
“Oh Twinkie, we have lost track of time. We have the flowers picked for Mothers table now. Please fly home and let Mother know that we are on our way back to the house.”
Timmy and Lola hoped that they would not be in too much trouble as they scampered quickly toward home.
Timmy and Lola couldn’t wait to meet Cameron. They had so many questions about the strange land where he lived. They wondered what it was like in his village.
Where did he play? Did he have a garden like them? What was it like living under the light of a giant star? They hoped that they would get home before he arrived, they didn’t want to waste a minute with Cameron.
Cameron held tight as the queen snapped Cheyenne’s reins and led her gracefully onto the shore of Toadstool Village, across the pond from the castle walls. He could not wait to get a closer look at the toadstool village and all the toadstool houses.
The queen and Cameron continued to walk down the cobblestone path and through the rows of quaint houses in all sorts of vivid colors and patterns. Some of them looked stripped. Some seemed spotted, there was even a checkered toadstool house.
Little trees lined the path where they walked with millions of fireflies in their branches, casting light, so that they could see the area very well. The elves of Toadstool Village stood outside their homes, bowing to the queen as she passed. They were waving and shouting out to Cameron to welcome him to their village. Cameron felt himself blushing from all the attention.
They soon came to the center of town where the little shops circled the large garden where the children played happily. The windows of the shops were aglow from lantern lights hung next to their small doors. There was a candy shop, a bakery, and a boutique with tiny dresses in the window. There was a vegetable market with shiny crab apples and mounds of gooseberries.
The people of the village traveled in quaint little carriages pulled by white unicorns. There was a stable at the end of one of the small cobblestone roads where he caught a glimpse of Cheyenne, the beautiful unicorn that they had ridden to the village that night. She was getting fed and groomed for the trip back later that night. It was such an adorable village.
“can we go into the candy shop?” Cameron asked the queen.
“No, my dear, we must get to Michael’s house. He is quite anxious for you to meet his family we mustn’t keep them waiting.” answered the Queen.
Soon they came to A rather large toadstool along the path. The bottom was white and had A little red door with windows on either side. There were bright white polka dots in different sizes speckled over the red top. The windows glowed with a warm golden light. Cameron thought It very cute.
The queen swung the gate opened so she could continue up the little cobblestone path that led up to the round wooden door. Cameron was excited. He had never seen the inside of a toadstool before.
The queen had no sooner rapped on the door when it swung open, and there was Michael, A big wide grin across his face, he was shaking with excitement. Behind him stood his wife, Gretchen and behind her skirt, Cameron could see a little boy and girl looking at him with their big eyes. Cameron thought their little-pointed ears were adorable.
Michaels wife, Gretchen was a chubby woman with short curly hair. Her cheeks were plump and round. She had a big toothy grin that was warm and welcoming. Her dress was long and flowed over her ample hips and down to the floor. She wore a tidy little apron, and, in her hands, she held a small kitchen towel that she nervously twisted into a tight ball.
“Come in. Come in! “Michael exclaimed, As the queen and Cameron ducked under the small door of the tidy little house.
The smell of gooseberry tarts gave them a warm, welcoming feeling. They didn’t want to tell them how full they were from the hot dogs they had consumed earlier that night. They would have to make some room in their stuffed bellies.
Inside the charming toadstool, it was a bit cramped for Cameron. He could only imagine that the Queen would feel more so as she was very used to her grand surrounding in the castle. Cameron scanned the little one-room house with its simple furnishings.
There was a sitting area on one side with a couple of chairs for the adults and two smaller chairs for the children. On the other side of the room, there was a small kitchen with a pot-bellied stove and a chimney that rose up and poked through the toadstool cap above.
On the stove sat a pot that steamed with crab apple cider. There was a basin for washing and above the bowl was a little window draped in red checked curtains.
The small kitchen table lay set with simple little plates and cups made of wood. In the center of the table sat a lovely bowl of colorful flowers that the children had picked earlier that night. Around the table sat six wooden chairs with little carefully sewn red checked cushions that matched the curtains.
A winding staircase in the center of the house wound up to the underside of the toadstool cap, where Cameron could see little beds on the floor above where the family slept. The house was enchanting. Cameron felt cozy and warm from the pot-bellied stove and the spicy sweet smell of cider.
Queen Kaylyn hugged the children as they ran to her. The children loved the queen and were fascinated by her wings. They delighted in stroking them.
“Cameron, this is Timmy and Lola and their Mother, Gretchen.” Queen Kaylyn said.
Cameron smiled sweetly and waved to them. The children couldn’t contain their excitement as they ran toward Cameron and hugged him tightly. They giggled loudly at the sight of Cameron’s silly pajamas. Cameron blushed and hugged them back kissing them on top of their curly little heads.
Cameron reached out and shook Michael and Gretchen’s hands still blushing brightly. He was still wondering to himself about how and why all these strangers knew him. They were treating him like a famous rock star. Maybe the queen could shed some light on all of this when they talked later. He had many questions for her.
Everyone sat around the lovely table in the kitchen to sip cider and nibble on gooseberry tarts. Michael told the most fabulous tales of when he was a seaman on a ship named “The Dreamer.” He was a ships steward and sailed to far-away places. Of course, this was before Michael married Gretchen and had his children. He was a young lad and was anxious to see the world.
He knew Gretchen from school in the village. Somehow, they always knew that they would someday marry. As they grew and finished school, Michael knew the day had come for him to see the world and earn some gold for his future life with Gretchen.
Michael kissed Gretchen goodbye and headed out to sea. Gretchen waved goodbye at the end of the dock by the seashore. Tears ran down her face as she watched the rugged ship sail out into the sea and fade into the dark starry night. She could barely see the lamp at the stern of the vessel as it disappeared into the darkness and was gone.
Michael was sad to leave Gretchen and his home in Dreamland, but this is what he had always wanted. He remembered the tales his Grandfather told him when he was just a lad.
Michael’s Grandfather became a seaman when he was a mere boy. Michael loved His stories of new and strange lands. He told of pirates on scary ships, flying their black skull and crossbones flags. They were the scavengers of the sea, and every ship at sea was on high alert when they saw these flags in the distance.
Michael spoke of the beautiful mermaids that lounged gracefully on rocks along the seashore, which brought about a long glare from Gretchen and a raised eyebrow.
He spoke of the exotic islands where they would stop to stock up on supplies. The crew was always excited to get shore leave and visit the local pubs along the seashore.
The crew enjoyed meeting the friendly villagers while on shore. Michael had always been fascinated by his Grandfather’s stories, and young Michael knew that one day, he would be at sea too.
Cameron leaned forward at the table. Michaels stories wholly engrossed him. “Michael, did you see pirates and mermaids on your adventures at sea like your grandfather did?” Cameron asked, his voice pitched high with excitement.
“Oh yes! I was at sea for a year, and in that time, I saw many amazing things, but the time came for me to travel back to dreamland, back to my home, back to my love, Gretchen. I was no sooner back here when I asked this lovely lady to marry me.”
Lola chimed in, “Is that when I was born, Papa?”
Everyone chuckled, and with that, Gretchen excused herself to tuck Lola and Timmy into bed. Lola was ready for bed. She was worn out from all the excitement of the busy day. Timmy, on the other hand, was a bit riled up after listening to the exciting stories of Papa’s time at sea.
It was time for the queen to get Cameron back to the castle. The queen stood up and waved to Gretchen and the children as they made their way up the winding staircase to their cozy little beds.
“Good night my dear friends” Queen Kaylyn called out.
Michael walked with them to the door and reminded them to duck their heads as they exited the little house.
Queen Kaylyn and Cameron had a wonderful time, and as they walked along the cobblestone path back toward the castle, they saw Twinkie flying toward them.
“Hello!” Twinkie chirped brightly.
“Let me escort you to the stables to pick up Cheyenne, and I will lead you home. Follow my tail light!”
They walked briskly behind Twinkie toward the stable where Cheyenne was resting up for her trip back over the large pond. She was happy to see them coming for her. The Queen hopped up on Cheyenne’s back and pulled Cameron up after her, then off they flew Twinkie in the lead.
The air was warm and smelled of gooseberry tarts from the aroma bellowing out of the chimneys below. Cameron could see the tops of the Toadstool houses below. The houses looked so much smaller from up here on Cheyenne’s back.