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Children's Stories
by Margo Fallis
Ian & Mac Stories - An Odd Diet

"Ian, I think its time you and I went on a diet!" announced Mac. "Weíre getting far too fat. I donít know about you, but Iím having trouble climbing trees these days. Starting today, we are dieting."

"Just because your tummy is too fat doesnít mean mine is," Ian pouted. He looked down at his round, plump tummy. "Hmm, maybe you are right, but I canít give up all my favorite foods. Tonight is pizza night. Canít we start tomorrow?" Ian pleaded.

"Pizza night, tonight? WellÖ" Mac started thinking about the delicious pizza crust and toppings he always found in young Keith Buchananís garbage every Monday night. "No, no, no. We must start today," he said, trying to be strong. "We need to keep our mind off food. Why donít we go for a wee hike up to the loch and back? Itís lovely up there. The rhododendrons are in bloom."

Ian thought about it for a few moments. "Oh, all right; a hike it is then."

The two raccoons climbed down from the top of the pine tree and walked down the trail. "Maybe we could go for a wee dip in the loch," Mac suggested.

"Are you crazy? That water is freezing," Ian announced.

"All right then, just a wee hike," Mac said, walking ahead. As the raccoons walked through the woods they saw ferns, bigger than they were, squirrels out gathering berries and nuts, and they heard many birds singing in the trees.

Soon they came to a wider path that led to a cottage. "Thatís a pretty cottage," Ian commented. "Look at all the lovely flowers. I see hollyhocks, pansies, and daisies. Look at all the rose bushes. Arenít they beautiful." Ian headed towards it. "You go on if you want, Mac. I want to see the flowers."

Mac reluctantly followed. They spent a few minutes admiring the blooms. When Mac turned around to talk to Ian, he wasnít there. "Hmmm, I wonder where he went off to?" He couldnít see him anywhere, "Oh well. Heís probably gone round back to see the roses." Mac stayed where he was. In fact, the flowers were so pretty that he couldnít resist curling up in a ball and closing his eyes so he could smell them better. Of course it didnít take him long to fall asleep.

Ian had gone to the back of the cottage. A window was wide open. It had light green shutters around it with daisies painted on them. Ian jumped up onto the window ledge and went inside. Sitting on a heavy wooden table were jars of orange marmalade. Ian could smell the marmalade right through the jars. The pot that cooked the marmalade sat in the sink. Ian climbed onto the counter and crawled into the huge pot. He used his paws to scrape off the leftover marmalade and then he licked them clean. His tongue moved up and down around the sides of the pot until heíd gotten every last drop. When he climbed out onto the counter, he was covered with sticky orange goo. It was then that he remembered that he was supposed to be on a diet. "I only had a little bit," he muttered to himself.

Ian explored the house. In the living room sat a big dish of toffee. "Ah, toffee!" he exclaimed. He tore the wrappers off and gobbled them down. By the time he was finished, he had toffee all over his fur. "Uh oh," he said, "Iím not supposed to eat toffee either. Iím on a diet. Oh well, it was only a little bit of toffee."

Heíd just finished looking in the bedroom when he heard Mac calling, "Ian, where are you?"

Panic overcame him. What if Mac found out heíd come into the house? What if Mac found out heíd eaten the toffee and marmalade? He quickly ran over to the window and climbed out on the grass. He was still covered with sticky marmalade and toffee. He ran over to a leaf and tried to wipe his paws off. The leaf stuck to him. He pulled and pulled but it wouldnít come off. He spotted a long wooden box. He discovered it was a horseís watering trough. He leapt onto the edge and stuck his paws in. He was splashing water on his sticky fur when Mac called out, "Ian, where are you?" Ian was so surprised by the noise that he fell right into the water. It was then that Mac came into the back garden. "Oh, there you are," he said, seeing Ian in the water. "What are you doing? Taking a bath?"

Ian, glad to get rid of the evidence, agreed. "Yeah, right. Thatís what Iím doing. Iím taking a bath," he said, lying to his friend. He pulled himself out of the trough onto the grass. He shook his fur. At least he wasnít sticky any more.

"I think weíd better get back to the hike. Iíve seen enough flowers, havenít you?" Mac asked.

Ian nodded. The two raccoons headed back down the path. After a long walk they came to a huge tree. Growing all around it were mushrooms. "Mushrooms! What a delight," said Mac. "Mushrooms arenít fattening. Letís have some, should we?" He picked several with nice umbrella-like caps. He took a big bite. They didnít taste very good. Mac handed his to Ian, "Here you go, eat this. Itís delicious."

Ian took a bite. The mushroom tasted horrible. "Do we have to eat things like mushrooms and berries now that we are on a diet? I donít like these," Ian said, throwing it away.

"To be honest, I donít either. No more mushrooms," Mac said. They continued their walk. They walked, and walked, and walked. Finally they reached the loch. There was a blanket spread out on the grass at the edge of the loch. "Look," Mac whispered, "a picnic." He was looking at the wicker basket, imagining it filled with delicious foods, like biscuits and bannocks, cucumber and tomato sandwiches, cheese, and maybe some shortbread. He was very hungry after the long walk. "You know, Ian, Iíve been thinking; maybe we donít need to diet after all. We are healthy. We get plenty of exercise. I say we forget about this diet. Do you agree?"

Ian had the same thoughts as Mac. He didnít want to diet. He didnít want to eat mushrooms. He wanted to see what was in the picnic basket. The two raccoons ran over to the basket and peered inside. "What luck," Mac cried out. "Cheese and pickle sandwiches, my favorite. And look, there are some prawns and some toffee." Mac took all the food out of the basket. "Weíd better take this somewhere else and eat it before the picnickers come back," he suggested.

They sat under a tree eating the prawns. Ian had never tasted anything so delicious before. They were succulent and fleshy and oh so fresh. Mac nibbled on the cheese and pickle sandwiches, savoring every bite. All that was left was the toffee. "Iím full," Mac said. "You can have the toffee."

Ian didnít want the toffee. Heíd already had toffee earlier. "No thank you, Mac. You can have it."

Mac was about to say something when he heard some screaming. "There they are! Raccoons! They stole our picnic!" A man and woman came running towards them with sticks in their hands. Mac and Ian jumped up, leaving the toffee behind. They ran as fast as they could and didnít stop until they were back at the pine tree. Macís heart was racing.

"Whew, that was a close one," Ian said, panting and puffing.

"I think weíve had enough exercise for today, donít you?" Mac asked. He collapsed onto a pile of leaves and went to sleep.

Ian lay down next to him. He dreamed a sweet dream of creamy toffees, prawns, and orange marmalade.

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