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Children's Stories
by Margo Fallis
Pepper, the Snow Flea

Pepper was a snow flea. She lived at the bottom of a tree that was bare of leaves, as it was wintertime. Many other snow fleas lived with Pepper. When the sun came out and shone down on the tree, Pepper and all the others came springing out from under the decaying leaves and jumped about on top of the crunchy snow. BOING! BOING! BOING! Most of the snow fleas were able to control where they were going to bounce, but not Pepper. When she tried to spring through the air to land somewhere, sheíd end up right back in the same spot.

Pepper sat on the snow and watched. All around her the other snow fleas were going BOING! BOING! BOING! Some were bouncing as high as the tree branches, others were jumping across the snow to a clump of dead grass, and others were springing all the way to the frozen pond.

Pepper decided to give it another try. She tucked her tiny legs under her and pushed away. BOING! She flew through the air, high up. "Wheeeee!" she called out as she went soaring through the chilly air. When she landed back on the ground, she saw that sheíd landed in the same spot again. She felt sad. How would she get to see all the things that were around her if she couldnít move an inch?

Just then her friend, Ash, came springing over to where she was sitting. BOING!! BOING! BOING! "Letís go over to the lake. They say itís beautiful when the sun shines," Ash invited.

"I want to go, but I canít. You see, when I try to jump, I end up right back here. What should I do?" Pepper asked her friend.

"Well, what I do is tuck my back in and push really hard. I look at where I want to go and I just go there. Give it a try," Ash urged.

Pepper did just that. She looked toward the lake and pushed off as hard as she could. "BOING!" Wheeeeeeeee! She flew through the air, but when she landed she found herself standing next to Ash again. "See, I canít do it," she said, feeling very bad.

The sun was moving through the sky. The days were short in winter. About that time, a swarm of winter craneflies came flying in from the lake. They landed near Pepper and Ash. "Hey, snow fleas, what are you doing?" Cera, the cranefly asked.

"Iím trying to help Pepper to bounce," Ash told him.

"Youíre a snow flea and you canít bounce? Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!" Cera laughed. "Hey fellas, weíve got a snow flea that canít bounce. What a joke!"

The other craneflies began to laugh at Pepper and then, finding the fleas too boring, the swarm flew off. "I can too bounce," Pepper said. "Watch!" She sprang up into the air. BOING! When she landed next to Ash again, she said, "I just canít go anywhere!" She sat down and put her chin on one of her bent legs. She sighed sadly.

A little while later a snowshoe hare came hopping by. He saw Pepper sitting on the snow looking glum. "Whatís the matter?" he asked.

Ash answered, "She canít spring anywhere."

"I can spring. I can show you how. Just push with your back legs and you can go anywhere you want," the gray hare said. "Watch me." Pepper lifted her head and watched. The hare hopped around the tree and back. "See, itís not hard. Give it a try."

Pepper stood up, folder her legs under her and pushed with all her might. She went flying through the air. BOING! But, as usual, she landed right back next to the hare and Ash. "Oh well, keep trying," the hare said and hopped into the woods.

"I will never do it. Never," Pepper cried. She sat back down and pouted.

During the day a coyote came running by. He tried to help Pepper bounce, but she couldnít do it. A moose came wandering by. She offered Pepper some encouragement, but Pepper wouldnít even try anymore.

As the sun was beginning to set, a grouse flew down from the sky and landed near Pepper and Ash. "Aha, whatís this?" she asked. She was feeling rather hungry and the grouse liked to eat bugs. She began pecking away at some of the snow fleas that were hiding under the leaves at the bottom of the tree.

Pepper looked over and saw the grouse moving towards her. Ash saw it too. "Pepper, weíve got to get out of here or the grouse will eat us!" Ash said frantically. "Here it comes!" she cried and bounced away. BOING! BOING! BOING!

Pepper found herself alone. What was she going to do? The grouse was coming closer and closer. Making up her mind to do it, Pepper pushed off with her back legs as hard as she could. She went flying through the air. BOING! This time, when she landed, she was near a clump of dead grass. "I did it! I did it!" she called out proudly. The grouse spotted her and ran towards her; itís tail feathers sticking straight up in back. Pepper pushed off again. BOING! She flew further. Again, BOING! Finally, she got the hang of it. She hopped all over the woods. BOING! BOING! BOING! After a few minutes she was far enough from the grouse to be safe.

She sat back and felt relief. Never again would she have to worry about being teased or made fun of. Never again would she have to worry about being eaten by a grouse. Sheíd done it! She knew how to be a springtail! From then on, when the sun came out and warmed up the wintry day, Pepper could be seen, happily hopping about on top of the snow with all the other snow fleas.

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