A story I wrote for children a while back…

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away to the north, there was a penguin named Joel. Joel was a tiny penguin with a temper. He was picked on for his smaller than average size by the other penguins, and let his anger get ahold of him faster than he ought to. He had a very hard time making friends because of his anger, and therefore spent most of his day taking long walks in the wilderness on his own. Letting out his frustration against the other penguins in short and loud squeaks that he let out across the ice to nothing but the cold wind.

Joel was out for one of his walks in the wilderness when one day, he saw something that he had never seen before on his walking path: a flower. He lived in the snow and ice, far away from anything green. His world had been nothing but white and blue, but now had green and yellow popping into it from underneath the ice. A single yellow daisy had poked its way through the permafrost and stood alone against the vast stretch of familiar white.

Joel didn’t know what to do with it. He poked at it, he tasted it, and even honked at it. He didn’t know what he was supposed to do. He did know however, that he wanted to keep it.

Joel began to stack up blocks of ice around the daisy, a home for his lonely new friend. Block after block, he built up an igloo, and left a small doorway that was just big enough for him to squeeze his way into. His penguin body being smaller than that of his bird brothers, he felt the flower was safe from wandering eyes that might want to hurt his new friend. Joel felt that his new friend was finally safe. Tired from building up the igloo all by himself, Joel curled up next to the yellow daisy, and fell asleep.

Joel awoke to gusts of hot air blowing into his face and a large shiny and black ball poking through the doorway. Joel began to honk and squeak with fear for his new friend. He got up and ran at the large black and moist invader. He swung his flippers wildly at it, trying to force it out from where it came. Joel jumped up and grabbed onto the black ball as it began to retreat from the doorway of the igloo. It pulled back and exited the ice house, blowing more and more hot air towards Joel, who was hanging on with all his might. He shut his eyes for fear of what might happen next.

The black ball he gripped so firmly stopped moving and slowed down its blowing of hot air. Joel opened his eyes to see another set of ice blue eyes staring right back at him. Joel squeaked loudly and released, landing into the snow. It was a polar bear! Joel was terrified and attempted to scramble back into the igloo. The bear stretched out one of her long paws and picked Joel up before he could make it inside.

Dangling Joel just in front of her snout, she stared at him. She had never seen a penguin so small before. Joel did not like being held up like this, dangling with his feet so high above the ground. He crossed his flippers across his chest in protest of his treatment and glared at the giant blue eyes that were studying him so intensely. The bear gave a smile at the bird hanging from her grip and took a deep breath through her large black nose that Joel had recently grabbed onto. Something sweet was filling her nostrils. Something new. The smell was coming from inside of that little ice hut. She dropped Joel, who fell deep into the snow upside down, and followed her nose. The sweetest smell she had ever come across. What was it? It smelled slightly familiar…but from where did she recognize the aroma? She placed her nose inside of the ice hut once again and began to breathe deeply once again. It was coming from inside.

Joel finally pulled himself free of the snow. He turned to see the huge white and furry body of the polar bear clogging the entrance of his igloo. The flower! Joel scampered to the head of the polar bear and began squawking and honking and squeaking as loud as he could at her. He grabbed onto one of the bears massive ears and attempted to pull it out of his doorway. He was terrified that she wanted to steal his flower from him.

The polar bear felt its ear being tugged. She flicked her ear back as if swatting away a fly but the tugging continued. She retreated her face from the doorway and sat up straight. The penguin was the one pulling at her ear. She looked at him, confused. The penguin was honking very loudly, pointing at the inside of the igloo, and shaking his head at her. It didn’t look like he was happy with her following the smell that was so sweet coming from inside. The bear backed up a step, and laid down, resting its massive head on the ground so as to be at eye level with the penguin. Lying down, it looked over at the doorway and strained to see inside. In the dark little hut, it could see a small circle of yellow on a stem of green. So beautiful!

Joel was still honking at the massive bear when it stood up onto its four massive paws, softly growled at him, and nudged him with her snout. She turned and walked away, and disappeared into the white that surrounded his lonely igloo. He watched her as long as he could, and felt lonely once again as she vanished from sight. Joel turned and entered inside to look at his new friend again. He examined his house guest and saw that it was still perfect. Not a single petal was harmed. Maybe the bear wasn’t so much a danger to it as he thought. He sat there staring at his only friend for quite some time. So long he looked at it, that he fell asleep once again.

Joel was awakened to a roar outside. Startled, he jumped up, and peeked out the doorway. His gaze was met with a single giant blue eyeball looking back at him. It was the bear again. Joel sighed heavily, and crawled out of his igloo. The bear was sitting on its haunches with a smile on her face. She lowered her head and nudged the penguin with her nose, rolling the little penguin onto his back. Joel clambered back onto his feet and honked at the bear. The bear smiled, and reached a paw behind her back. Something was inside of her massive and balled up paw. She lowered it down to the ice in front of Joel, and spread her soft pad wide. Inside of the furry mit, was another yellow flower.

Joel’s beak dropped. Another one?! How great! Joel climbed up into the giant paw of the bear and picked up the yellow daisy. The bear raised up her paw in front of her nose, and breathed in deeply. The strong gust of wind pulled Joel towards her and he toppled onto her snout.

Instead of squawking and honking out of anger at the bear, Joel embraced her nose with his flippers, glad for the realization that she was not trying to take his new friend, but make a new one in him.



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