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The Golden Brick Road

A giant woolly mammoth and a young girl, both outcasts, become fast friends

In a small, secluded, quiet place lived a giant woolly mammoth. The mammoth was a huge, brown, fluffy thing. His tusks were big and grand. They were as white as clouds. He looked very brave, but in reality he was a big softie. Though his heart was in in the right place, his mind was in the abyss.

The mammoth lived in a petite school, where he was supposed to be raised as the guard animal. The headmaster, Mr. Krump, would try to train him, but it was useless considering he was not a smart beast. The school was an academy for the brilliant and only accepted those of high intellect. The school had no room for arts or creative thinking, just work. Inside the school, there were students who acted, talked, and did everything the same. They were bland. They only worked and never played. Their hearts were shriveled in despair.

But, as you would expect, they were smart. Every day when they came out for breaks, they would sit and study. The woolly mammoth would often come close to the children, hoping, wishing someone would want to play or talk with him, but day after day the children would pass him by. The mammoth would ask, “Will you play with me? I am ever so lonely.”

The children would always reply, “We have no time for play. We are too old for that. Leave us be!”

 It would forever be the same, he thought. Nothing would change.

*          *          *

Then one day a little girl came along. She was different from the rest. Her brown hair was smooth and shiny, and she wore a smile upon her pale, enlightened face. Her eyes glimmered with the color of the sea and changed depending on her mood. She was different, he could tell. She looked around instead of at her phone or her homework.

The other students teased her as she walked toward him. She ignored them, continued on her way, and stopped in front of him.

“Hello. How do you do?” she said cheerfully.

“Fine, and you?” the mammoth replied.

“I’m feeling yellow,” she exclaimed.

“Yellow? You can’t feel yellow,” the mammoth said, confused.

“Yellow is an adjective, so why can’t I be described by it? Yellow may mean a color to you, but it means an emotion to me,” she said.

“And that emotion would be . . . ?”

“Happy,” she said, “very happy.”

The mammoth was intrigued. He wanted to learn more about these color emotions that he had never sensed before. They chatted for a while about the different shades of colors and what they meant. On a page of the girl’s notebook, they jotted down what each color was to them. Finally, as the clock struck 12:30, it was time to go to class.

“We’ll meet tomorrow, yes?” she asked.

“For sure,” he replied.

As the girl faded out of sight, the mammoth knew that his life meant something.

*          *          *

As the girl walked away, on the depressing, wilting grass, she realized that she may not be lonely anymore. As the girl walked into the building, she noticed the headmaster staring at her darkly. Then he said, “You’re late. You weren’t talking to that beast of a mammoth? He’s very dangerous.”

“No, sir I was not.”

Then she shuffled to class with her head in her books. The headmaster, Mr. Krump, was a stern man with scrappy brown hair and a goatee. He wore very expensive glasses and a tuxedo. He often would stare at the young girl because he believed that, although she was smart, she could be a risk to the rest.

*          *          *

For the next few days, the new friends conversed during every break. They talked about the beautiful things they had seen, like the birds that played on the rooftop. The young girl impersonated her teachers and the kids who took their work way too seriously. She tried to make friends with them, but they would tell her they had no time. She would often tell the woolly mammoth jokes. There was one in particular he liked:

What smells like rotten eggs and has the hair of an 80-year-old man?

Mr. Krump.

He would laugh so hard that the ground shook as he stomped his feet.

*          *          *

One day, they decided to try meditation because the young girl had had a stressful day. She was being bullied by the other students for hanging out with the mammoth instead of working and studying. Also, a teacher had confiscated her headband and earrings, because of their creativeness. They started to concentrate but the girl got tired and fell asleep on his ginormous foot. When she awoke, everyone was gone. The courtyard was empty and quiet. Then she realized what must have happened. She said sleepily, “I have to go. I’m sorry. I’m going to be late.”

As she silently entered the building, she saw no sign of anyone, which meant she could go into class and say she was late because she had been in the bathroom.

What she did not know was that Mr. Krump was watching everything from his surveillance cams in his office. He had a grimace upon his face. Mr. Krump knew he had let this go too far. The headmaster had seen the way the girl did not take homework as seriously as the other students, and how she always hung out with that stupid softie of a beast. He needed to stop this at once.

The headmaster yelled through the open door to his secretary, “Call in Miss Herbert!”

Miss Herbert was known for punishing children—especially creative children. Children who were creative took time to look at things other than their work, and this was not okay in her eyes. She was a disciplinarian. She made sure every student studied hard, got good grades, and was never ever creative. She was short and stubby, with her messy gray hair in a bun and wrinkles mucking up her face. She wore huge glasses and carried a ruler around. Miss Herbert scoffed at the secretary as she trotted into the headmaster’s office on her short, stubby legs.

“Miss Herbert, please sit,” the headmaster ordered politely. “I think we have a problem with the mammoth.”

As the two were discussing the future of the little girl’s friend, she was listening. She had asked her teacher to get some water and had seen Miss Herbert entering the office, so, curious, she followed her. She slid in unnoticed and stood behind the office door. Then, after all the discussion, the final call was made. They had agreed to send the mammoth to the circus. The girl trembled sadly because she did not want to see her friend banished.

Then the headmaster said, “Now what of the girl? Secretary, will you call the little girl in?”

At this moment she knew her fate would be worse than his. She knew she would not be in class when they called her. Everything in her mind went blank. She said to herself, Think creatively. Without a moment’s thought, the little girl quickly launched her shoe at the headmaster while pushing open the door. She leaped out of the office, running for her life. She could hear the headmaster yelling and Miss Herbert shuffling to catch up to her. She dashed out into the courtyard and ran all the way to the mammoth.

“We have to leave now. They want to send you away and expel me,” she said hurriedly. The mammoth, without a word, scooped up the girl on his back and galloped as fast as he could.

They broke through the metal gates and ran across the city. The police were on their trail. Cars were honking and sirens were screaming.

“We have to make it to the dunes! We can create a sandstorm to deter them,” screamed the little girl.

They saw the dunes close ahead. Then with a mighty jump, they landed in the sand, which exploded all over the policemen and the teachers. They yelled as the sand came crashing down like waves upon the sea. Then everything was silent. The pair turned around to see the sand drowning their pursuers.

The mammoth and the girl traveled for days around the sand dunes, thirsty and hungry. Then the little girl exclaimed, “Look at that!” It was a bright gold door that shimmered in the desert sun. It was expansive and grand. It had many creative designs on it.

“Could it be a mirage?” the mammoth said. The little girl hopped off the giant woolly mammoth and opened it. The light from the interior blinded them. They walked in to see beautiful trees and blue skies. Everyone was happy, bright, and colorful. There were beautiful scenes with waterfalls and some breathtaking views. It was a town full of people, happy people. They stared in amazement. Then a young boy came up to them. His eyes were like the young girl’s and shone beautifully. He looked at the two and said, “How do you do?”

The girl, still shocked, said, “Fine . . . how about you?”

The boy smiled and replied, “I’m feeling very yellow today.”

Ava Bush author of The Woolly Mammoth
Ava Bush, 13
Baton Rouge, LA

Sage Millen artist of Free as a Bird
Sage Millen, 11
Vancouver, Canada