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Children's Stories
by Margo Fallis
Ian & Mac Bedtime Stories - I’m Tired of Being a Zebra

Night came and with it a full moon. Puffy gray clouds floated in front of it, darkening the woods. Ian and Mac sat in their tree, hoping it wouldn’t rain.

“You know, Mac, you really need to do something about those songs. I don’t think they’re real. I think you make them up.”

“What? Why do you think that?” Mac looked indignant.

“Well, first of all, they don’t always rhyme and there isn’t the same amount of words in each sentence. If it was a real song they’d make sure it sounded right. Come on. Tell me the truth. Are they real songs?” Ian turned to look at the other raccoon.

“Okay. I’ll admit it. I made them all up. I thought they were kind of a nice addition to the story.”

“They are. I’d just suggest if you’re going to sing that you make sure the words rhyme and all that. Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, I’m ready for my story.” Ian rolled onto his back.

“I thought about it earlier today. I’ve got a great story tonight. In the jungles of Africa, the darkest parts with lots of trees and monkeys and butterflies, there lived a zebra named Earl. Earl had stripes and was as big as all the other zebras. His problem was that he didn’t want to be a zebra any more. He hated the flies buzzing around his ears. He hated having stripes and most of all he hated being chased by lions.”

“I’d hate that too,” Ian said.

“One day Earl ran out of the jungle onto the savannah. That’s where there are rolling green hills and lots of grass to nibble on. He looked at some of the animals running around. He saw some gazelle. Earl thought he might want to be a gazelle until he saw a herd of them being chased by a cheetah. He saw some wildebeest. At first he thought he would like to be a wildebeest, but then he saw a pack of jackals chasing them. Earl didn’t know what he wanted to be. He ran down to the river. Hippos hid under the water. Now and then their ears would poke up. Earl thought he might like being a hippo, until he saw how many of them were all scrunched together in the water. Not only that, there were crocodiles in the water. No, Earl didn’t want to be a hippo.”

“He’d better make up his mind soon or a lion will find him,” Ian said.

“That’s right. Off in the distance Earl saw a bunch of elephants. They were walking in a line. No animals tried to eat them. No animals tried to attack them. Earl wanted to be an elephant. He ran up to the last elephant and was at the end of the line. The elephants marched across the savannah without looking back. There were a lot of mama elephants and their little ones. Earl didn’t see any daddy elephants, just some young boys. When the elephants stopped the one in front of Earl turned around. It ran up to the others and they gathered to talk. They didn’t want a zebra traveling with them. Lions eat zebras and they didn’t want the lions to try to eat their babies, so they chased Earl away.

“Earl was sad. He had to look for something else. He saw some giraffes nibbling on the branches of a tree. Earl wanted to be a giraffe. He didn’t have a long neck like a giraffe, or spots, but he did have stripes. He ran over to the tree and tried to eat the leaves. He couldn’t reach them. All he did was grab the branches and they slipped out of his mouth and hit the giraffe’s legs.  They didn’t want a zebra hanging around. Lions eat zebras and they didn’t want a lion to come along and try to eat them, so they chased him away.

“All day long Earl moved from one animal to another, but he didn’t fit in. Just before sunset he saw a girl zebra getting a drink from a wide river. He ran over to her. She moved aside so Earl could get a drink too. Her long eyelashes moved up and down as she flirted with him. Earl decided right then that he might enjoy being a zebra after all!”

“Is that it? No violence. No action. No song or poem? I’m disappointed; however, I am tired now. That story was so boring that it’s made me sleepy. Goodnight, Mac. I hope your story tomorrow is more exciting than that one.” Ian closed his eyes and fell asleep.

Mac stared at the stars. “I can’t win.” He let out a sigh and then went to sleep.

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