The Girl at the End of the World

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Picture provided by Caleigh Tautges

 

Once upon a time there was a girl who lived at the end of the world. The end of the world looks a lot like you might expect. There is a massive, rocky cliff that stretches out over a deep, dark ocean. The distance from the top of the cliff to the top of the ocean is almost as tall as a skyscraper. At the top of the cliff there is a flat stretch of land where the wizard lives. No, the girl isn’t the wizard, but she is his apprentice. The wizard lives in a tall, stone tower that stretches from the top of the cliff almost all the way up to the clouds. From any of the numerous windows in the tower you can see out across the dark ocean at the end of the world, down to the bottom of the sea or back the other direction out across the great expanse of the world. It’s quite a sight to behold, but very few are allowed inside the tower besides the wizard and his apprentice.

The wizard’s job is to keep an eye on the ocean at the end of the world. You see, there are lots of very nasty monsters that live in the ocean, like wombats and snarlies and sharks. If it weren’t for the wizard and his tower, all sorts of evil creatures would crawl out of the ocean and come and get you at night while you’re sleeping. The wizard’s job is very important and requires a lot of his time and attention. So, he always has an apprentice with him who helps keep the tower tidy and also helps him with his wizardly duties.

The apprentice’s name was Caleigh, and she loved her job, even though she spent a lot of time cleaning and straightening up after the wizard. She was ten years old and had been living in the tower for the last two years, learning all about being a wizard, what sorts creatures live in the ocean and, of course, how to clean. She didn’t mind the cleaning because when she was all done she got to use magic. Magic, as you probably know, is a lot of fun, but it’s very hard to use and takes a lot of practice. Since Caleigh was only an apprentice, she still had lots to learn about magic and needed a ton more practice before she could become a wizard herself. But she always tried to do her best, and that made the wizard happy.

One day the wizard decided to visit some friends in the city and left Caleigh alone in the tower. It was Opposite Day at the end of the world, so the birds were swimming in the ocean while the fish were flying up to the top of the cliff. Oh, and the ocean was on fire, but that’s normal on Opposite Day. Opposite Day was usually a very quiet day in the tower since even the nastiest of snalies and sharks in the ocean preferred to fly through the air and play rather than try to get past the wizard. The wizard was sure that Caleigh could handle anything that might happen while he was away.

Unfortunately it was also the day Caleigh decided to wash and cut her brownish hair. Caleigh spent so much time cleaning the tower and practicing her magic that she rarely had time to cut her hair. She had let her hair grow out very, very long. Plus, her hair was very, very curly. So, by the time Opposite Day rolled around, her hair was very long and very curly. Since it was going to be a quiet day and the wizard was away from the tower, Caleigh decided to use magic to cut her hair.

She sat down in a chair on the bottom floor of the tower and gazed into a mirror that hung on the wall next to one of the windows. It was a dark, cloudy day outside, and it looked like it might rain. With a flick of her wrist, she cast a spell that called a pair of scissors to come to her from a nearby desk. She drew a circle in the air with her finger, and the scissors spun in a circle in mid-air. Then she split her fingers open and shut a couple of times, and the scissors open and shut along with them. She nodded, satisfied that her spell was working fine. She whistled and pointed to her hair. The scissors bowed and then peeled straight for her hair, opened up and began to cut.

Caleigh watched in the mirror as the enchanted scissors hovered and flittered around her head, trimming off curls and long, thick, brown locks of hair on each side of her head. She giggled as the scissors danced and twirled about and then snipped a nearby curl that fell softly to the floor. She whistled again and a comb flew through the air and joined the scissors in the dance around her hair. They worked together in perfect harmony, the comb pulling the curl out straight while the scissors cut through the lock with a gentle snip. Round and round they went as more and more hair fell to the floor, and her hair grew less and less curly. But then she realized the needed to wash her hair to help get rid of the last bits of extra hair and curls.

She held her hand up to stop the scissors and comb and stood up. Instead of using the sink in the room to wash her hair, she decided to try a new spell she’d learned. When she opened the door to the tower, she could hear the snarls and cries of the snarlies and sharks happily flying below the cliff down by the ocean’s waves. She saw a couple of eagles nose dive towards the ocean, most likely ready to take their turn to swim like fish underwater. Caleigh looked up and pointed to a small cloud nearby and cast her spell. The cloud turned darker and moved down towards her as she stepped out and away from the tower, the door closing behind her. The cloud stopped right above her head, and with a soft rumble of thunder, the little cloud began to rain down onto her head. She laughed as the warm rain shower washed over her face, matting down the remaining curls in her hair and washing away the small bits of hair left behind from the haircut. She pointed again to the cloud and cast a new spell to make it rain a little bit harder.

Like I said, Caleigh still needed practice to get better with her magic, and this was a spell she had just learned. So when she cast the spell to make it rain a little bit more, she forgot that it was Opposite Day outside of the tower. Instead of a small rain shower, her spell turned the cloud into a huge thunderstorm. The rain blasted down onto her head while the wind and thunder from the cloud grew louder and stronger. Caleigh yelped and ran back towards the tower door, but the cloud followed her, obeying her spell’s instructions to keep raining on her hair. A small bolt of lightning streaked down from the cloud and struck the doorknob just as she tried to go back inside. She yelped again and backed away from the door, and the torrential rain started to block her eyes. The thunder from the cloud grew louder and louder.

Caleigh kept backing up away from the tower towards the edge of the cliff, waving her arms over her head as she tried to block the rain and cast a counterspell to destroy the cloud. She cried as the thunder rumbled and small lightning bolts nipped at her skin. She got so distracted that her counterspell went wrong too, turning a couple of small clouds nearby into full-fledged tornadoes. The clouds spun and spun closer to the ground as the fierce tornadoes formed and started barreling towards her. The blusterous wind blew through her hair, blinding her and scaring her. There was no way that she could see that she was getting closer and closer to the edge of the cliff. Caleigh cried out for help, but knew that no one could hear her over the roaring wind and tornadoes. She was all alone on the edge of the world, and the tornadoes were closing in.

Then suddenly she heard a loud screech from behind her. She turned and looked down over the side of the cliff. Even in the dark light of the day she could see the bright white teeth of a shark that was flying up straight towards her. The shark was gigantic with an open maw that could swallow her whole and then chew her up with its razor sharp teeth. She screamed again, fighting against her fear and trying desperately to remember the anti-shark spell the wizard had taught her. But she was too scared, too wet, and the wind from the tornadoes blew too hard against her for her to remember the spell. She watched helplessly as the shark flew closer and closer to her, its mouth opening wider and wider.

But then the shark flew right past her, up above her head, and with a loud gulp swallowed the storm cloud whole. Caleigh wiped the rain from her eyes and watched as the shark smiled, a small bolt of lightning breaking through its clenched teeth, and it fell down onto the ground. The shark had saved her from the storm cloud, but now the tornadoes were almost on top of it. The shark kept smiling, flapping its fins in the hopes of trying to fly again. But Caleigh knew the magic that let him fly was blocked by the tower, and now he was just a shark again. The shark waddled on the ground trying to inch away from the tornadoes and get to the edge of the cliff.

Caleigh brushed her hair and gathered all her courage. She back took a deep breath and calmed her mind, just like the wizard had taught her. Then she stretched her arms out towards the tornadoes and cast another spell. It was a spell she had used to clean the tower many times, even though the wizard told her she wasn’t allowed to use it. It was a vacuum spell that would suck up all the dirt and junk from the tower floor, just like a tornado. But, since it was Opposite Day, when the spell hit the tornadoes it turned them inside out. With a loud, screeching snarl, the tornadoes stopped rotating and collapsed back up into the clouds. The noise of the wind and the thunderstorms vanished, and Caleigh could hear her heavy breathing again. She could also hear the shark flapping on the ground, desperate to get back over the cliff and back into the water.

She hurried around to the other side of the shark and began to push it towards the edge of the cliff. She pushed and pushed but the shark barely moved. Then she pushed at the same time as the shark flopped and found she could get it much closer to the edge. She nodded to the shark who winked back. Together she pushed while he flopped and slowly they moved the shark back towards the edge of the cliff. With one last, big shove and flop, the shark slipped over the edge of the cliff and fell down towards the ocean below. She watched the shark fall along the side of the cliff and then swoop up into the air, the magic allowing him to fly taking effect once again. She laughed and cheered as she watched the shark loop over and over again in the air.

With a loud burp, the shark belched what was left of the storm cloud out of his mouth, and the cloud gently floated out to sea. Caleigh waved and yelled, “Thank you!” back to the shark, but he only smiled and went back to his flying. “And thank goodness for Opposite Day,” Caleigh said, squeezing the rainwater out of her shirt sleeve. “Even flying sharks can be good on Opposite Day.”

Her soaked slippers squeaked as she walked back to the tower, and she tried to figure out a way to explain all the damage the tornadoes and rain had done to the tower’s lawn. For some reason, she thought she might try to blame it on a mummy or flying Christmas trees. They’re rare, but stranger things have happened here at the end of the world, and the wizard might just believe her.

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This story is written for and dedicated to Caleigh Tautges who drew the pictures that inspired this story.  Merry Christmas 2014, Caleigh!  You rock!  Keep drawing these awesome pictures!