Molly finished wiping away the crumbs left behind from lunch and looked over at Harper who was keeping her little hands busy by coloring big loose circles on paper on the floor.
“What shall we do this afternoon, kiddo?” Molly asked.
Harper shrugged and swapped a red crayon for a blue one.
“We could put on our suits and swim?” Harper shook her head. “How about going for a walk to the playground.” Harper scowled. “It’s beautiful outside, maybe we swap in the crayons for some chalk and we can draw a flower field in the driveway.” Harper sighed. Pulling her legs to her chest and resting her chin on her knees, she glared at Molly.
Molly had been tasked with getting the pale little girl outside today. Her mom hadn’t been successful all weekend and had begged Molly to find something that would get the five-year old interested in being in the sun. Harper had been stung by a bee two weeks prior, and ever since, had stubbornly refused to play in the open air.
Staring out the window to the expansive backyard, Molly had an idea.
“Harper, look!” She exclaimed in animated excitement, pressing her hands and nose into the sliding glass door to stare in awe.
“What?” Harper leaped up and joined Molly at the glass.
Tapping on the window, Molly asked, “Do you see that rocket ship? It’s boarding now and I just so happen to have two tickets. But we better hurry! We don’t want to be late.” And before Harper could doubt the story or ask questions, Molly began to scramble about getting her own shoes on and tossing Harper her own set. “Hurry, hurry.” Molly encouraged. Reaching over she helped Harper tie the pink laces and pulled her up off the floor.
“Grab Tigey and let’s go!” Harper hugged her tiger-headed blanket to her chest and took Molly’s extended hand and walked outside into the blinding sun.
Once they crossed the threshold, Harper tugged on Molly’s hand. “What if the bumble finds me?”
Molly pointed to the giant oak tree at the far end of the yard. “Mr. Bumblebee can’t catch us on a rocket ship, and we have to hurry, do you hear them counting down?” Raising a hand to her ear as if listening for the numbers in the far off distance, Molly made a face of panic. “Run!”
With a death grip on Molly’s hand, Harper ran with all her might, Molly matched her stride, and they darted across the green grass till they got to the tree.
Both girls were out of breath by the time they hugged the rough trunk of the massive tree. Cupping her hands together, Molly boosted Harper into a low hanging limb and climbed up after her.
“Sit right there, and strap on your seat belt. We only have two more seconds before blast off; we just made it, Harper!” Showing Harper how to buckle her imaginary seatbelt she let out an exaggerated sigh and slumped back against the main trunk. After one second more, Molly began to bounce on the branch, making it sway just enough to make Harper giggle. “Here we go, hold on tight!”
“Where we going, Molly?” Harper gleefully asked while holding onto Tigey and the shaking branch.
“I don’t know! I didn’t ask the pilot!” Molly slowed her bouncing down and then stopped. “Phew, finally in orbit. You have the window seat, Harper, what do you see?”
Harper looked around on all sides and then pointed off into the distance at the wheelbarrow with a rake sticking out of it. “Dinosaurs!”
Molly gripped Harper’s shoulders, “Dinosaurs? Oh my, I hope we don’t land there.” With her hands guiding Harper’s frame, she leaned them both to the right. “Good, the pilot is turning, what do you see now?”
Harper thought for a little while and pointed towards the shimmering pool. “Mermaids!”
“Mermaids! How fantastic, shall we ask to get off here and visit with them?”
After signaling to the pilot that they needed to land and making the required limb-shaking of a rocket ship settling to the ground, Harper and Molly disembarked into the Land of the Mermaids. Splashing water with their bare feet and using the pool noodles to shoot water like fountains, a good hour passed before Mrs. Barnes returned home. Delighted to see Harper outside in the sun she offered to dish up some ice cream sundaes.
“No, Mommy, you can’t be here, you didn’t come on the rocket!” Confusion crossed over the mother’s face as she looked to Molly for help in understanding why her daughter was turning down ice cream.
Picking up one of Harper’s abandoned shoes, Molly took a “call” from Mrs. Barnes and informed Harper they needed to get on the rocket and head home for a treat.
“Ok!” Harper beamed and ran to the various pool chairs saying good-bye and hugging the mermaids she had proclaimed were sunning themselves. When all the mermaids had been bid farewell, and with her shoes firmly on again, Harper raced Molly back to the tree.
Mrs. Barnes looked on as the two girls climbed into the tree and directed the pilot to take them home.
When they had safely arrived back on earth, Harper carried Tigey to the patio and accepted her dish of chocolate ice cream.
“Well, now, what was that all about?” Mrs. Barnes asked.
“I’ll let Harper tell you about the rocket ship.” Molly winked at Harper as she pocketed the cash Mrs. Barnes had offered her. As Molly was leaving, she heard Harper excitedly telling her mom about the dinosaurs, and the aliens, and the asteroid that had almost hit their rocket ship.
That tree was now their passageway for many future adventures to come. Where would it take them on Molly’s next visit with Harper? Only a little girl’s imagination could limit the options.