“Just the Way It Is,” Friend, Mar. 1989, 40
The wind rattled the windows, and the rain sounded like hundreds of pebbles falling on the house. Billie was glad that she didn’t have to go to school that day.
Mother was baking in the kitchen, and sweet, spicy smells filled the house. Billie decided to stay by the stove and play with her special toy, an old wooden stool. She turned it upside down and climbed inside.
“Where are you going?” Mother asked.
“Up into space,” Billie answered. Suddenly there was a noise like a roaring engine, the wooden “rocket” shook, and Billie zoomed away. She flew past the moon, circled the planets, and headed for the twinkling stars. She waved to other spaceships and laughed at funny faces in the clouds below. After a while she steered her rocket back to earth.
“Did you have a good trip?” Father asked.
“Yes, but I have to leave again,” Billie answered.
“Where are you going this time?”
“Out to sea.” Billie took an old broom handle and tied it to one of the legs of the stool. After she hung a big towel at the top, she waved good-bye and sailed away.
For a long time her ship moved through gentle waters.
Then a fierce storm arose. Winds howled, and giant waves rolled and rocked the ship. Billie was tossed from side to side and almost fell into the sea, where huge whales, hungry sharks, and strange fish with bright, flashing tails darted to and fro. The sea was wild, but Billie was strong and finally steered the ship back to port.
“Was the ocean rough?” Mother asked.
“It sure was!” Billie answered.
“Maybe you need a cookie and some milk after your long trip.”
Mother has some good ideas! Billie thought.
“One of these days,” Father said, “we’ll have to take that old stool apart and make you a real toy.”
A worried look crossed Billie’s face. “But I like my stool just the way it is, thanks,” she said.
Mother and Father looked at each other and smiled. “And we love you just the way you are,” they told her.
Billie finished her milk and climbed back into the upturned stool. “Goodbye,” she called. Then a mighty whistle blew, and a silver train sped along an invisible track. It climbed a mountain where eagles nest, roared through a long, dark tunnel, and raced the wind on another magic journey.