Moonbeam

 /   /  By Emma Birches
Stone Soup Magazine
May/June 2015

Carrie Merhout

What a beautiful day! Charlotte bounded home from school, eager to get back to their ranch. As usual, halfway there, her lady collie, Sunbeam, patiently waited for her. They traveled home together. When they reached the ranch house, Charlotte was greeted by the fragrant smell of blooming flowers, which was not unusual. “Welcome, spring!” she called, joyously scampering into the cabin built by her grandpa.

Charlotte was the only child living with the family. She had an older sister, named Meredith, but she was in college. Charlotte was very lonely and dreamed of having many pets. On their farm, they had goats, chickens, and pigs—but those weren’t her version of a pet. She meant cats, rabbits, hamsters, dogs, horses—things like that.

Charlotte set her bags down and raced to the barn to do her chores. Sunbeam followed, being protective like collies are. She worked diligently, hoping to beat her record time.

When she climbed the hayloft, a streak of silver ran past her! Too big for a mouse… too small to be a goat! Scared, she grabbed the nearest bundle and hauled it down. Quickly, she finished her job and went to the house for dinner.

*          *          *

The next morning was Saturday. Charlotte calmly ate her breakfast, not hurriedly at all. With Sunbeam at her heels, she went to the barn. Oh! That silver streak again! Charlotte shushed her collie and tried to follow it—with no success.

Moonbeam playing with the dog

She thought about the mysterious streak. Then, she decided to do something.

She disappointedly finished her chores and went back to the house.

“Anything I can do, Pa?”

“I’m fine. Go play with Sunbeam. I’m busy,” he said, rather gruffly.

Charlotte went outside with Sunbeam and played. In the pasture, the flowers were lush. She played all morning and afternoon. She thought about the mysterious streak. Then, she decided to do something.

She could wake up early in the morning, hide in the barn, and maybe get a glimpse of it. Just a small sight of it.

Charlotte heard her ma yelling, “Come in for dinner!”

She thought, My, am I hungry, and hastily ran to the house.

*          *          *

Early, at dawn, Charlotte heard her alarm clock ring. She quickly turned it off. After she dressed, she tiptoed downstairs, still waking Sunbeam, whom Charlotte immediately quieted, and walked out the door, with Sunbeam trailing behind. On the new, fresh grass both walked soundlessly.

She reached the barn, climbed into the hayloft, and waited for a few minutes. Finally, a lumpy form came and slowly shaped into a-a-a—cat! Poor thing! thought Charlotte. So thin! Even Sunbeam was lured into sympathy. She whined softly, barely enough to hear. The cat walked out of the barn.

Charlotte made up her mind to get something for the creature. She walked to the house, prepared a dish of milk from their goats, and carefully came back, trying not to spill any. She contentedly set it down and went back to bed, undressed, and tried to catch up on sleep.

When she woke up, Sunbeam was pawing at her covers, probably sent by her parents to wake her. She dressed and sped downstairs, smelling bacon, pancakes, and eggs.

“What’s up with you, sleepyhead?” Pa teased. She gobbled her food and ventured to the barn, greeted by an empty dish—licked clean.

You are hungry, she thought, and sneakily set the dish into the sink, just in time for church.

*          *          *

Waking up early and feeding her cat became a routine for Charlotte, and one Saturday, she saw the cat had changed.

You’re going to have babies! she thought in excitement. Good for you! I think you are healthy now. Good!

One day, the cat was not seen. Charlotte went on a search with Sunbeam, looking… looking. Eventually, they met a dark spot in an empty stall. There was the cat, looking sore with pain. Charlotte raced to Pa, and he was there, since it was his day off.

“Oh, Pa, there’s this cat and she is pregnant. She needs help giving birth! Please come!”
Once they had both seen her, Charlotte’s Pa allowed her to miss school. They called a nearby vet, telling of their arrival. They soon came, and the vet had a doctor ready—so they set off.

He asked some questions, and when they reached the stall, he asked them to wait. He went in alone. When the doctor came back, he told them to come in with him. She had kittens!

It turned out that she was a runaway from the vet’s animal shelter. And with Charlotte’s pleading, they kept the mother cat, who was very friendly. When the kittens were older, they would give them back to the vet.

After this was settled, Charlotte’s mother asked, “She is yours now. What will you name her?”

Having waited for this moment, Charlotte confidently answered, “Moonbeam. Also, it describes her color perfectly.”

*          *          *

One day, Charlotte ran home from school. As usual, halfway there, Sunbeam waited for her. But beside her, a silver-colored cat was sitting, watching for her patiently. Sunbeam ran up to Charlotte and happily licked her face. The silver cat came over and began making figure eights around her legs, purring.

“Hello, Sunbeam! You too, Moonbeam! Let’s go!” she cried. This time, all three traveled home together, never straying from the group.

Moonbeam Carrie Merhout

Carrie Merhout, 10
Liberty Township, Ohio

Moonbeam Elena G. Delzer

Elena G. Delzer, 11
Suamico, Wisconsin

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