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Children's Stories
by Margo Fallis
Ian & Mac Stories - "Thatís What Friends Are For"

"Ian, hold this fish," Mac said, handing Ian one of the trout that heíd just caught. "Hold this one too." Soon Ianís arms were full of wriggling, slimy fish. "One more," Mac said, flopping another on top of the pile.

"Mac, I canít see a thing. Youíve got me carrying so many fish. Please, donít catch any more. Youíve got enough now to last us all night," Ian pleaded.

Mac stuck his paw into the water. "Just one more, Ian and then Iíll stop. Iím feeling a wee bit hungry tonight." He grabbed the fish from the stream and added it to the pile. The fish wiggled about, arching itself and stuck its tail in Ianís mouth.

"Mac, I canít hold all these fish. Theyíre too wiggly," Ian shouted. Just then all the fish started jumping about and Ian couldnít hold them. He fought to keep them in his arms and fell backwards. "YIKES!" he shouted.

The fish went flying into the air. Some of them landed back in the stream and others in the mud. Ian landed right on his back, twisting his leg. "OUCH!"

Mac stood watching, angry that Ian and dropped the fish. "Ian! Youíve lost our supper. Why didnít you hold them tighter?"

"I hurt my leg, Mac. Ouch. It hurts. I canít move it," Ian cried, rubbing it carefully.

Mac bent down to have a look. "Och, it does look swollen," he sighed, feeling bad for shouting at Ian. "Here, lean on me and Iíll help you get up."

"What about the fish?" Ian whined.

"Weíll just have to do with berries and nuts for supper again tonight," Mac pouted. "Come on, get up and weíll go back to the tree." Ian struggled to stand and leaned against Mac all the way back to the woods.

"I canít climb the tree," Ian said, looking up at its height.

"Weíll have to stay on the ground for a few days then, until youíre better. Now, you lie down and Iíll prop your foot up," Mac said, pulling a pile of dried grass over. "Does that feel better?" he asked, setting Ianís swollen leg down on it.

"Yes, Mac, thatís much better. What about supper?" Ian asked.

Mac took a deep breath. "Iíll go and fetch us some nuts and berries. Theyíre not as delicious as fish, but will have to do. You just close your eyes and rest and Iíll be back in a while." Mac ran into the woods to search for food.

Ian lay quietly, looking around. Heíd never had to stay on the ground before. "I hope there arenít any bears or wolves in this part of the woods," he shivered, feeling a bit frightened.

Mac came back a while later. "Here you go, Ian. Iíve got some nice, juicy raspberries for you, a few blackberries and some hazelnuts. Eat up and then you can rest again." Mac let Ian eat first, until he was full and then finished the rest off. "It will be dark soon. Why donít you try to get to sleep?"

That night Ian tossed and turned. He cried out several times, when he accidentally bumped his foot on the ground. Mac lay awake most of the night, worried about his friend. The next morning he got up bright and early and ran down to the stream. He brought back two fish. "Here you go," he said to Ian, handing him one. "I caught these this morning. Eat up."

Ian gobbled down the fish. Just when Mac was about to eat his, Ian said, "Iím still hungry, Mac. I wish youíd brought me back two fish. If only Iíd not slipped, then I could have helped you catch more." He let out a loud sigh.

Mac, feeling guilty, gave Ian his fish, which he devoured without a second thought. "Are you feeling better now?" Mac asked.

"Much. Iíll take a wee nap now, if you donít mind," Ian smiled and dozed off. So it went all day long. Ian asked for berries, nuts, acorns, and even had Mac lift stones to find bugs to eat. Mac ran around all day catering to Ian. That night Ian tossed and turned again. By the next morning, Mac was exhausted, but still Ian was full of demands. While Mac was off at the stream catching some more fish, Ian tried to stand up. "Well, well, well, my leg is much better," he said, putting his weight on his foot. "I can walk." He was about to take a few steps when he heard Mac coming back. Quickly he lay back down and propped his foot up. He even moaned a few times for effect.

"Your foot still bothering you?" Mac asked, handing Ian two plump fish. "These will make you feel better. Say, Ian, Iím sorry that I piled all those fish on you the other day. It was my fault that you fell. Next time weíll both carry them. Now, just lie back and take it easy. Iím going to try to take a wee nap now, if youíre all set."

Ian gobbled the fish down and spit out the bones. "Go ahead, Mac. Iíll just lie here and enjoy listening to the birds chirp."

Mac shut his eyes and fell asleep. Ian waited a while until Mac was sound asleep and then tried to stand up. "I think Iíll not tell Mac that I can walk. Itís kind of nice having someone fetch me fish and berries and nuts." Ian took a few steps and realized his foot felt nearly perfect once again.

He was walking about when Mac opened one of his eyes and saw Ian walking about, smiling. He tried very hard not to growl. "Iíll let him think I am still asleep," he whispered to himself, though he was seething with anger. A while later he pretended to wake up. Ian had sat back down by then. "That was a nice nap. Did you manage to get a wee rest?" he asked Ian.

"Och, aye, Mac. I listened to the birds sing and watched a few butterflies fluttering past. I wish my leg didnít hurt and that I could walk so I could go and get another fish. Iím feeling very puckish right now."

Mac burned with anger inside, but didnít let Ian know. He put a smile on his face and said, "Poor Ian. Your leg is so sore and youíre in so much pain. You just lie there and rest and Iíll go down to the stream and catch you some more fish. Poor Ian."

Mac jumped up and ran off. Ian started to giggle. He thought it was pretty funny that heíd tricked Mac, though a wave of guilt ran through him for taking advantage. When he was sure Mac was out of the way, he stood up. His leg was normal once again. He climbed up the tree and came back down, ran around, jumping over logs and bushes. Mac came back and hid, watching his friend. "Well, letís see what I can do about this," he whispered to himself. He broke a few twigs to alert Ian that he was coming back. "Ian! Ian! Just lie still. Iíve got an armful of fish for you."

Ian ran over to the bottom of the tree and propped his leg up. "Ouch. Ouch. Ouch. My poor leg," he moaned.

Mac came back carrying the fish. He walked up to Ian and stood in front of him. "Hereís your fish," he said and started hitting Ian with them. "Youíve been taking advantage of me, Ian." He hit him with another fish. "You let me wait on you and fuss over you and your leg feels better again. Do you know how cold the water is? Iíve been standing in it for hours catching fish for you and you have been able to walk and run! I never want to speak to you again!" Mac shouted. He threw all the fish at Ian and walked off into the woods.

Ian sat on the grass. A fish was on his head. Another fish was sticking out of his ear. One was on his tummy and five of them were on his legs, wriggling about. Now heíd done it! Suddenly he felt very bad. He had taken advantage of his friend. It hadnít even been Macís fault that heíd fallen. It had just been an accident and heíd let him think it was his fault. Ian felt very sad. He started to cry. He sat near the bottom of the tree all day long sobbing. When the sun began to set, he stood up. "Iíd better go and find Mac," he pouted. With head hanging low, he walked into the woods. "Mac! Mac!" he shouted. There was no answer.

He walked for hours. The mood came up and was high in the sky. Stars twinkled above him and owls hooted all around. "Mac! Mac!"

Mac heard Ian calling him but was still feeling rather annoyed, so he didnít answer. A few minutes later he heard some twigs snap behind him. He turned to look. "Oh, itís you. What do you want? Iím not going to get you any more fish," he said to Ian.

Ian came and sat next to him. "Iím sorry, Mac. I did hurt my leg, but I got so used to you doing things for me and I enjoyed it. I liked not having to hunt for my own berries and nuts and fish. Iím sorry though. Will you forgive me?"

Mac didnít answer for a while. He stared at the stars.

"Mac, Iím sorry," Ian said again.

This time Mac answered. "Itís all right, Ian. I forgive you."

"Thank you Mac," Ian laughed. "What can I do to make it up to you?"

"Nothing, Ian; nothing at all. Donít worry about it. Thatís what friends are for. We forgive. Now, letís just go home," Mac sighed.

Mac fell asleep quickly. When he woke up, much to his surprise, Ian was sitting on the branch holding four fish. "Here you go, my friend. These are for you," Ian said, handing Mac two of the fish. "I got up early and caught them. Youíre right, the water is cold."

Mac started to laugh. Ian started to laugh. Together, once again friends, they gobbled down their fish.

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