Heyyy, y’all! I’m here to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving. Go out there and spend time with family and friends. Today’s the day to get together and have some fun! Enjoy it, and don’t forget to give thanks to the world for everything good it’s given you.

I wrote up a Thanksgiving story for y’all. Enjoy!

“Hey! Robby, give that back!”

“Mom? Aggie needs a diaper change again.”

“Dad! Manu stole my book again!”

“Manu, give Emma her book back.”

“But I want to read it!”

“Tag! You’re it!”


Jenna winced as there was a tremendous crash at the bottom of the large staircase. A loud wail rose up as she hurried down with the bandage roll from the bathroom.

She knelt beside her cousin James and checked him over. The five-year-old was bruised badly, but there was no external bleeding or broken bones. Jenna helped him stand, then hurried back upstairs as her other cousin Emma began yelling at Manu.

“Manu, give Emma the book back,” Jenna ordered as she came into the room.

“Aww, but I want to read it too,” he whined.

“Then you can both read it, but there’s no point fighting over it.”


Jenna interrupted Manu’s protest. “If you can’t agree on something, I’ll take it away and neither of you can read it.”

“Fine,” the younger boy grumbled, sitting next to Emma, and they both began reading.

Jenna looked up. The Trouble Twins, as four-year-olds Sally and Sara were notoriously nicknamed, were playing tag with Jenna’s little sister Julia. Jenna darted over, placing everything fragile on the top shelf near the ceiling and shoving the larger objects into the closet.

“Robby, give it back!” came a scream from the next room. Jenna hurried into the other guest bedroom, shared by Robby, Jenna’s older cousin, and Laura, who was a year younger than Jenna.

Jenna sighed. Even though Robby was the oldest child in the family by two years, he only added to the chaos of the family, and it was even worse when everyone gathered for Thanksgiving. Therefore, all the burden of looking after the younger children fell upon the adults, who were often busy chatting and not paying attention to what was up. The responsibility had then turned to Jenna, the next oldest child.

Now she pushed open the door. Fifteen-year-old Robby held a stuffed teddy bear high above nine-year-old Laura’s head, dangling it just out of her reach. A seam was already torn, and he was busy pulling out stuffing. “Give it back!” Laura squealed, jumping again.

Jenna crossed the room and snatched the bear from Robby before he could react. She bent over and gave it to Laura, who ran into the hallway, clutching it tightly.

“Do you have to be so mean to everyone?” Jenna scolded. “This is why all the little kids are scared of you.”

“So?” Robby snorted. “At least I have friends.”

“They’re probably bullies, like you.”

Robby rolled his eyes. “Like I care what you think.”

“Just leave the little kids alone,” Jenna snapped, stooping over to gather the spilled stuffing. “I wish that just once you’d be a kind and compassionate person, but I guess that’s never going to happen.”

Robby snorted again, pushing past Jenna on his way outside. Jenna left too, carrying the stuffing to her room, which she shared with Julia and the visiting Emma.

A shout came from the other room. “Jenna!”

With a sigh, she went back to the other room. “Yes, Sally?” she asked wearily.

“Play with us, please!” Sally put on her best doll eyes.

Jenna hesitated, looking back. Manu and Emma were sitting together quietly, reading the book. Robby had likely gone downstairs. James was still with the adults. Laura was sitting with her little sister Aggie, playing with some dolls; Jenna was glad to see that someone had changed the baby’s diaper. All seemed to be in order for once, and Jenna figured the twins would be the ones she needed to keep an eye on.

“Okay,” she conceded. “What are we playing?”

“Pie!” Sara yelled.

“How do you play that?” Jenna frowned in puzzlement.

“Like this.” Sally held up a bowl covered with a napkin so Jenna could not see the contents. “Put your hand inside.”

“Uh, okay.” Jenna complied, although she had a nagging suspicion that there was smushed pie inside. It would explain what happened to the missing one from yesterday’s feast preparations.

She was right. As she lifted the napkin and plunged her hand into the bowl, her fingers felt the sticky mess of the pie’s gooey insides. She drew her hand out before it could get too sticky.

“So you’re the culprits!” she chided. “You shouldn’t steal pies like that, and you must certainly not waste them like this.”

“We weren’t going to waste them,” Julia explained. “We were going to eat it after.”

“That’s not any good either.” Jenna took the bowl from Sally. “Find a game that doesn’t involve stealing, hurting, damaging things, or using someone else’s stuff without permission.”

“But then it’s no fun!” Sara whined.

“You were playing tag earlier,” Jenna reminded her. “You can play that again as long as you don’t break anything or hurt yourselves while running.”

“But we were playing that with the bowl of pie.”

“Then you can figure out how to play without the pie,” Jenna said sternly. “I’m taking this downstairs.”

“Aww,” the three girls groaned.

Jenna traipsed down the stairs with a sigh. How great it would be to grow up in a normal family, she thought as she emptied the contents of the bowl into the trash can and began washing the bowl. No responsibility whatsoever.

The doorbell chimed loudly as she set the bowl on the drying rack. “I got it,” she yelled, making her way to the front door.

She swung it open. Standing before her was a man dressed in a long black trench coat with a fedora pulled low over his eyes. He was the perfect image of shadiness, and Jenna stared at him uneasily. “Hello, can I help you?”

He spoke in a deep, gravelly voice. “Your wish is my command.”

“What?” she asked, confused.

“Your wish is my command,” he repeated. “I am here to help you with the problem of the children.” His gaze lingered past Jenna to the staircase.

Jenna winced as there was a crash from upstairs and the sound of glass breaking. She knew she shouldn’t accept help from this total stranger, and that doing so would be a big mistake, but she was desperate. “Wh-what would you do to them?” she stammered.

“Just instill in them some discipline. For a small fee, of course.” She thought she could detect a hint of amusement in his voice.

“O-okay. What do you want?”

The man shrugged. “The biggest flower on your oldest plant, the tiniest plastic bead you have, and a can of Diet Coke.”

Jenna stepped aside to let him in, closing the front door behind him. She crossed the foyer to the grand spiral staircase, pointing up. “First room on your right. Can’t miss it, but you might have to duck after you open the door. I think the Trouble Twins are still throwing stuff around.”

“I’ll soon put a stop to that,” the man said ominously, climbing the stairs. A pale hand slipped out of his pocket, gripping the wooden banister.

Jenna hurried to the kitchen and grabbed the soda can first; she knew that however vile Robby could be, he wouldn’t let the stranger harm the children. A few moments after the man disappeared into the room, there fell a stunned silence; Jenna guessed that the kids had noticed the man at last. She ducked into the garden her mom tended in the backyard – the orchids were the oldest, being a gift to her mother for her birthday, after which she started the garden. She plucked the largest flower she could find and returned to the foyer, bending down in front of a little side table. She slid open the drawer and drew out a box full of beads in all shapes and sizes, picking out the smallest plastic bead she could find.

She waited at the bottom of the stairs with these three requested items, realizing how strange the stillness was to her now. She shuddered.

A few minutes of this echoing silence convinced Jenna to go upstairs; even the soft murmur of the adults’ conversation was no longer present. As she came up to the room, however, the man stepped out. “My work is done. I’ll let myself out.”

He took the flower, bead, and soda can from Jenna and continued down the stairs, and Jenna could hear the front door slam shut. She pushed open the bedroom door, almost dreading what she’d find.


They were everywhere. Among Laura’s toys were two of them, rag dolls that sat propped up against the wall. Two sat on the bed next to Emma’s open book, while two more laid next to an upside-down bowl of something Jenna was reluctant to get near. A third lay halfway under the bowl, its legs sticking out from under the rim. The biggest one was in the middle of the room, wearing a scowl instead of the shock portrayed on the faces of the others.

“Mom!” Jenna hollered.

She got no response.

She bent over and gathered all the dolls together around the middle doll. Laura, Aggie, Emma, Manu, Julia, Sara, and Sally, she realized, horrified. And the biggest one must be Robby.

She hurried downstairs, trying not to trip on the staircase in her haste. “Mom! Dad!” she yelled, bursting into the kitchen.

More dolls.

She bit back the urge to scream. These were even bigger than Robby the doll, except for little James, who had black and blue smears all over the pale rags that Jenna assumed was supposed to be his bruises from riding the skateboard down the stairs. She collected them and set them on the table.

The police! She leapt for the phone, her shaking fingers dialing 911, but all she got was the dial tone. She hurried back to the door, jiggling the handle, but it did not open. “Help!” she screeched, pounding her fists against the door, then stopped; for all she knew, her neighbors could be dolls too.

“What do I do?” she moaned, sinking to the ground with her back against the door. “I should never have let him in. I knew he wasn’t good. Mom always told me not to accept help from suspicious strangers! Why didn’t I listen?”

She began to sob, huddled in a ball. “This is all my fault!”

Something slid under the door.

Jenna jumped up, pounding on the door again. “Help!” she screeched, hoping the mailman could hear her. “Help!”

There was an alarmed shout from the other side. “Ma’am, what’s wrong?”

“I’m trapped inside!” she cried. “Some mysterious stranger came inside and turned my family into dolls. Now the phone won’t work and I can’t open the door!”

“Is this a prank?” the mailman asked angrily. “People can’t turn other people into dolls.”

“This isn’t a joke!” Jenna screamed. “Please, just call the police.”

She could hear the mailman run back to his van. “Wait!” she called desperately. “Please! I need your help!”

The van drove off.

She sat down again, trying to calm herself; she was no good if she kept panicking. She could think of no solution to this problem, though, and arbitrarily grabbed the mail lying on the floor.

She rifled through the envelopes. Bills, bills, a postcard from Uncle Jack and Aunt Jill, an ominous red envelope, bills, the weekly coupon book, Julia’s monthly magazine, an advertisement for-

She froze, then shuffled back to the red envelope. It was heavy in her hands, and she wondered what it could possibly contain. Slitting open the black seal with her finger, she slid out the card-paper inside.

It was blank.

She hissed in annoyance, casting the envelope aside. “Useless.”

Two words appeared on the pale card-paper. Not so.

She gaped as more writing appeared. Dolls are more normal than that old family of yours, do you not agree? it continued. You can’t deny that it is certainly quieter in your household now.

“I don’t care!” Jenna yelled, her eyes tearing up again. “Whoever you are, give me my family back!”

No can do.

“Why not?” she demanded.

I have not the spell for undoing, only the spell for doing.

Jenna let out a low growl. “Is there any way to fix it?”

Do you really want to?

“Yes!” she screamed.

Two feathers from a red turkey. A diamond key to a metal city. Two dashes of cinnamon. A can of Diet Coke.

“That’s all?” Jenna asked at first, then paused as she reread the writing. “Wait.”

Go upstairs, young one. The attic door will show you what you need. Be careful.

“Why are you helping me?” she asked the paper, who she assumed was a connection to the stranger. “You caused the problem.”

There was no answer.

She tucked the card-paper back in the envelope and stood up, looking around. Grabbing a random string bag from the shoe closet, she went to the kitchen and grabbed the cinnamon can. She was about to leave when she paused for a moment, then grabbed an apple from the counter and tucked it into the bag’s pocket.

Two feathers from a red turkey and a diamond key to a metal city, she thought, turning over the words in her mind. What does that even mean?

She snagged a flashlight and a notebook from her room, tucking them into the bag as well. She debated whether or not to bring her pocketknife, but know that she knew what the mysterious stranger was capable of, she wasn’t sure what would be behind the attic door, because it sure wouldn’t be the attic.

Finally, ten minutes later, she stood under the attic door, about to pull down the ladder. She hesitated, then made her decision and yanked firmly on the cord.

The ladder crashed down, and she looked up, but she could see nothing but darkness above. She turned on her flashlight, but it could not penetrate the pitch black.

Jenna stepped on the bottom rung, then boosted herself up. Better get this over with.

Everything changed.

“We will not know the worth of water ’til the well is dry.” ~Fortune cookie from pandawarrior