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Children's Stories
by Margo Fallis
The Village On the Hill

Savannah sat in the grass, gazing at the fields of red poppies growing in the valley. When she turned the other way, she saw nothing but rolling green hills. She sat down and looked at the houses. “I wonder who lives in that village on top of the hill. Mama said I should stay here and never wander over the hills. What would happen if I did?”

Seven houses stood by themselves, surrounded by trees. Savannah couldn't see any school, or church, or shop. “I think I'll go and see for myself.”

A dirt road wound through the hills. Savannah ran down to the pebbly path and walked up and down and around bends. She saw mice running through the grasses and butterflies fluttering over the wildflowers. The air smelled of violets and sunflowers and roses. With only one more hill to climb, Savannah stopped. “Mama said I shouldn't come here.” She thought about it for a few moments and then ran up the hill to the village.

That night Mama looked out her window. “I wonder where Savannah is. She knows better than to come home after sunset.” Mama stirred the pot of spaghetti and then went back to the window. She stroked her kitten, Ballogia. “Where's Savannah?”

When darkness filled the night sky, Mama wrapped a shawl around her shoulders and headed down the path through the hills. “I hope Savannah didn't go to the village on the hill. I told her not to.” But Mama knew that is exactly where her daughter had gone. She saw lights in the windows of the houses and smelled supper cooking on the stoves. Thinking about her ruined spaghetti, Mama marched onward. She came to the first house.

An elderly lady with gray hair pulled back in a bun opened the door. “Who are you? You aren't from this village,” she said.

“I'm looking for my daughter. We come from the village over there, on the other side of the valley. Have you seen her?” Mama pulled her shawl tighter. A chill was in the air.

“No,” said the woman and shut the door in Mama's face.

Mama went to the next house. As she neared the front door she heard singing and smelled chicken soup with garlic. Lifting her hand to the knob, she knocked.

The door swung open and a man stood smiling at her. “You must be Mama. Come in. Savannah came to visit and she told us all about you. Please don't be angry with her.”

Mama went into the house and Savannah ran up to her and gave her a hug. “Mama, this is Giovanni and Rosa and their baby, Nick. They just moved here and they have a piano, Mama.”

Mama smiled a pleasant smile, trying to hide her anger with Savannah. “We should go home now. It's dark outside.” She headed toward the door.

“Wait, Mama. Rosa invited me to stay for dinner and play with Nick,” Savannah said.

“You are welcome to stay and have supper with us too, Mama,” said Rosa.

Mama hesitated, but said yes.

They feasted on chicken soup, garlic bread, pies, cakes and pastas. Mama was so full she could hardly move. After they finished eating, Mama held Nick and played games with him. When it was time to leave, Giovanni walked both of them home.

“Come and visit again, Savannah and Mama. You are welcome any time,” Giovanni said and then rushed back down the path.

“Mama, why did you say I should never go to the village on the hill?”

“I was wrong. I think that tomorrow we shall visit there again and take Nick some biscotti. I'd like to stop by the first house and get to know the lady who lives there.”

“That's Senora Melina. Rosa told me she's sort of cranky, but can make delicious bread.” Savannah laughed.

The next day and every day after that, Mama and Savannah were regular visitors to the village on the hill.

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