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Children's Stories
by Margo Fallis
Ian & Mac Stories - Madam Fionaís Crystal Ball

The wooden sign that hung from the roof of the old shop blew back and forth as the wind howled down the street. It bumped against the gutters with little thuds. "Itís freezing today," Ian said, rubbing his furry arms. "There must be a winter storm blowing in from the east," he added.

As Ian and Mac walked down the street, flakes of snow began to fall from the gray, dismal sky. "Och no. Itís snowing now. Letís go inside one of these shops and warm up," Mac suggested. The two raccoons looked up and saw the wooden sign. "Letís go in here, Madam Fionaís Palm Reading," Mac read. "Sounds good to me," he said and turned the knob on the door. The wind blew in behind them.

"Shut the door," someone shouted from the back room. "Take a seat. Iíll be with you in a moment."

Ian and Mac climbed onto the chairs and looked out the window. "Itís snowing hard now," Ian whined. "Letís let Madam Fiona read our palms. At least weíll be warm."

Just then a woman came walking through a bright purple curtain. She looked at the raccoons. "Animals? What are you two raccoons doing in my shop?" she asked.

Ian and Mac looked at each other. Madam Fiona was a sight. She had on a lime green skirt with a lemon yellow blouse, an orange scarf was tied around her head and long, straggly black hair poked out from below it. She wore bright red lipstick and had dark brown eyes. The raccoons didnít say a word.

Madam Fiona walked over to the window and looked outside. "I see. Youíve come in to get warm. Well, since youíre here, I might as well tell your future. Come and sit over here at this table," she said, pointing to it, "and Iíll get my crystal ball." She pushed the purple curtain aside and disappeared into the back room.

"She seems nice enough," Ian said. "What did she say though? Sheís going to look in a crystal ball and tell our future?" He gulped and swallowed hard.

"Itís not real, Ian. She just does this to get money from people. Donít believe a word she says," Mac whispered.

Madam Fiona came back through carrying a large glass ball. She set it on a stand in the center of the table. "All right. Letís see what the ball tells us." She sat down on a chair and rubbed her hands together. Ian and Mac leaned over to get a better look at the ball. It was the size of a bowling ball, clear and crystal and very shiny. Suddenly a fog or mist began to appear inside the ball. Ian gulped. "I see two raccoons," Madam Fiona mumbled.

Ian and Mac looked at each other. "Us?" Ian mouthed silently. Ian nodded his head.

"The two raccoons live in the woods," she continued.

"How did she know that?" Ian whispered very softly.

"The raccoons live in a tree, high up in the branches." Mac didnít fall for it but Ian did.

"I see the biggest raccoon, you, having an accident and getting hurt," she said pointing to Mac. Ian looked at Mac and put his paw on his arm to comfort him. Mac looked annoyed. "I see the smaller raccoon finding a treasure, a golden treasure." She nodded to Ian. His eyes lit up with excitement. "I see love, a lassie raccoon who loves both of you, causing a quarrel between you two, who are best of friends and last, as my vision is fading, I can see the two of you sitting down, eating a feast and friends once more." She stood up and carried the crystal ball into the back room.

"Och, no, Mac. Youíre going to get hurt in an accident and weíre going to fight over a lassie, but the good thing is that I find a treasure and weíre going to eat a feast and be friends again," Ian smiled.

"Sheís making it all up, Ian. Sheís a fake!" Mac said.

Madam Fiona came back through and walked over to the window. "I see the snow has let up. I think you two better head back to the woods before a paying customer comes in." She opened the door and they ran out.

"Be careful, Mac. I donít want you to get into an accident on the way home," Ian sighed.

Mac kept on walking down the street. When they neared the end of the road and were about to walk into the woods, Mac tripped on a stone and fell flat on his face. "Aha! Och, no. Youíve had an accident, Mac, just like Madam Fiona said you would. Are you all right? Are you dead? Are you alive?" Ian said, fussing all about the fallen raccoon.

Mac lay still. He hadnít been paying attention and hadnít seen the stone and that is why he tripped. "I simply tripped. It wasnít an accident caused by Madam Fiona," Mac said. The ground was wet and muddy from the earlier snow. Mac was a mess.

"She said youíd be in an accident and you fell. She was right, Mac. That means that next, Iím going to find something golden. Iím going to find a treasure!" Ian was so excited.

Mac sat up and brushed as much of the mud off his fur as he could and then stood tall. He walked right into the woods and ignored Ianís nonsense. "Iím going home. If you want to waste your time looking for a treasure, then you go right ahead." He marched on.

Ian kicked the snow with his paws. He was feeling rather foolish but wanted so badly to believe in Madam Fiona. Deciding not to go back to the tree right away, Ian brushed the quickly melting snow away and lay down against a large stone. He looked up at the sky and watched the clouds float by. He tried to see shapes in their forms. He was about to get up when he noticed something lying behind a stingy nettle. "Whatís that?" he wondered. It seemed to be golden color and when the sun came out from behind the clouds it sparkled. "Gold! Itís my golden treasure!" he shouted. He jumped up and ran over to see what it was. There lay a gold colored tin. He picked it up. It was shiny and had a label on it. Ian read it out loud, "Mrs. Mackintoshís Chocolate Treasures." Ian started to laugh. It wasnít a treasure like he thought it would be but it was golden and it was treasure. He ran into the woods to show Mac. "Mac! Mac! I found my golden treasure!" he shouted.

Mac was in the tree taking a nap. He was awakened by Ianís shouting and looked down. Ian was climbing the tree with the golden tin in his paws. "I found it, Mac. Itís golden and itís a treasure!"

For just a moment Mac was surprised. He saw the golden box held tightly in Ianís paw, but when Ian showed it to him, he burst out laughing. "What a fake Madam Fiona is! You really donít believe this is a treasure, do you?"

"It says treasure on it, Mac and it is golden!" Ian pouted. Seeing that Mac was only going to make fun of him, he sat down on the branch and began to nibble on the chocolates inside the golden tin. The sun was out now and it was warming up. Ian let the sunís rays dry his fur.

After a few minutes the two raccoons heard, "Uncle Mac. Uncle Ian. Iíve come to play with you." It was Molly. "Mumís got to go see Gran. Can I stay with you?" she asked.

Ian looked down and saw her mum standing there and waved at her.

Mac helped Molly climb to their branch. "Sheíll be fine with us. Cheerio for now," he shouted down to Mollyís mum and off she went. "Well, Molly, youíve come for a visit have you. What would you like to do?" he asked.

"Uncle Mac, I want to go swimming in the loch," she smiled.

"Och no, Molly. Itís far too cold for that. It just got done snowing this morning. Youíll catch your death of cold," Mac answered.

Ian, who was listening said, "Iíll take her. I donít think itís too cold. Itís not snowing any more and the sun is out now." He was angry with Mac. "Come on, Molly. Uncle Ian will take you swimming."

"Ian, itís far too cold. Sheís just a wee lass. The waterís like ice," Mac warned.

Ian ignored him. "Molly and I will be just fine," he snarled at his friend. He put Molly on his back, climbed down the tree and off they went.

Mac sat in the tree, angry with Ian. After about half an hour, the two of them came back. Molly was coughing and shivering and so was Ian. Mac said, "Molly, you pure wee thing. Uncle Macís going to go and find some big leaves to wrap you in. Iíll be right back," he said, glaring at Ian. He came back a few moments later with some big leaves. "Come here, Molly and let me wrap you in these." She then climbed onto Macís lap and he held her until she was warm again. Ian sat on the tree branch shivering and sneezing. "Serves you right. I told you not to take her, but no you wouldnít listen."

Soon Molly was sound asleep. Ian searched for some large leaves and wrapped himself in him. All day long the two raccoons ignored each other. Mac started to think about Madam Fionaís words. He and Ian were fighting and not speaking to each other, just like she had predicted. When Molly woke up she was feeling much better, but Ian was sick all day long and never could get warm. Mac and Molly played down on the ground all afternoon. As the sun was about to go down, Mollyís mum came to pick Molly up. Mac noticed she was carrying a bundle in her arms. "These are for you and Ian," she said, handing Mac a bag. "Mollyís gran made them for you. You could say it was a feast. There are all kinds of sweets and savories for you. Enjoy them," she said. Molly hugged Mac and they left.

Mac looked at the food and then thought of Ian up in the tree, cold and miserable. He climbed up the tree and sat right next to Ian. "Sorry to hear youíre not feeling well, but I think this should cheer you up," Mac said. Ian sat up and looked at the bag. Mac pulled out some licorice, black current drops, buttery biscuits, Cornish pasties, two bags of chicken flavored potato crisps, a steak and kidney pie and five sausages.

Ianís eyes bulged. "Mac, itís a feast!" The two of them gobbled down every last crumb. Ian wiped his paws on one of the leaves and said to Mac, "Iím sorry for taking Molly to the loch. I should have listened to you."

"Thatís all right, Ian. You learned your lesson. Iím just glad Molly didnít get sick. You do realize that Madam Fionaís last prediction just came true, donít you? First I was in an accident, when I fell, and then you found the box of Mrs. Mackintoshís Chocolate Treasures, like she said.

"Then we got into a fight over a wee lass, Molly and now we are friends again and enjoyed a feast," Ian continued. "Madam Fiona was right," he laughed.

"I do admit she got it right. It wasnít like I thought it would be, but she was right. Iím sorry for making fun of you, Ian, but letís just stay away from Madam Fiona from now on. I donít think I like knowing whatís going to happen. Life is much more fun being surprised," Mac said.

Ian nodded in agreement and then the two raccoons ran down to the stream to wash their paws off. After that, they lay in a patch of soft green clover, their tummies filled, and took a long nap.

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