Fireflies – Part 5

Last week, my two Owl City fanfiction characters, Arden and Ben, had just captured Queen Titania, the firefly that will help Ben cure his insomnia and fall asleep. Join me for the last part of their adventure!

“Are you ready for the potion?” Arden asked, looking very serious. “I can’t give it to you if you’re not ready.”

“I’m ready,” I told her. I knew there were no such things as potions. Then what was she planning on giving me? Maybe her “sleeping potion” was some sort of alien beverage. Maybe she was going to use it to knock me out and carry me off in her mother ship to her home planet. Maybe I wasn’t so ready for this drink after all. “Wait!”

“Here you go!” She cut off my protest as she unclipped the red thermos from her backpack.

I didn’t reach out for it right away, suspicious of alien intentions. “Arden, that’s the thermos you’ve been carrying around all night,” I pointed out. “Titania didn’t give you that.” Unless Titania was actually one of her alien agents, and the firefly was just a cover story.

“It was empty before. As soon as we caught Titania, it filled with her sleeping potion.” Arden explained, twisting off the lid and handing me the bottle.

I smelled it warily. I didn’t know what alien potions were supposed to smell like, but this certainly reminded me of something with earthly origins. I slowly lifted the thermos up to my mouth.

“Go on!” Arden said with a smile on her face.

I looked down into the thermos. If I took a sip, I might be kidnapped by aliens, but on the other hand, I might be able to fall asleep. The desire for sleep overcame my fear of aliens. With that thought in mind, I took a sip. “This isn’t sleeping potion at all. Just warm milk.”

“The potion tastes like whatever the person drinking it likes. It just tastes like warm milk to you.” Arden sat down on the grass and patted the space next to her.

I sat down still wondering if it was truly warm milk I was drinking.

“Now that Titania’s given you the sleeping potion, we have to let her go.” Arden gently picked up the jar. “I’m weird ‘cause I hate goodbyes.” She handed the jar to me. “You caught her Ben, you get to let her go.”

I peered into the jar and stared at the fireflies we collected. The funny thing was, I actually felt a little sad letting them go. I twisted open the lid, and they flew out blinking.

“They’re saying farewell, Ben!” Arden started waving to them. “Bye, fireflies! Bye!”

We watched them fly off and join the rest of their firefly friends. “I got misty eyes as they said farewell, didn’t you, Ben?” Arden asked. A couple tears fell from her eyes, and she brushed them away.

I looked down into the jar I was still holding. “Look, there are still several fireflies in here.”

“Quick! Put the lid back on!” Arden instructed. “Fireflies prevent bad dreams, did you know that, Ben? It’s from the Legend of the Firefly. Now if your dreams get real bizarre you’ll know where several are ‘cause you saved a few and kept them in a jar!”

“Arden, we’ve been over your legend,” I began, but stopped. Even if the legend wasn’t real, it was still a nice thought.

“Did you know that fireflies flash in a pattern, Ben? You can tell the species of firefly just by the way they flash.” Arden began instructing me in the science of fireflies. I just watched the fireflies lighting up the lake. My eyelids soon felt heavy, and I could feel my head nodding forward. I just needed to lean back in the cool grass while Arden lectured on. The potion must be working.

“Isn’t that great, Ben?” asked Arden. “Ben?” I didn’t bother to answer her. I was too tired. My eyes shut completely, and I fell asleep.

“Ben? Ben?” I groaned and felt someone shaking me. “Ben, wake up! We have to leave before the sun comes up, or Titania will curse us.”

“Leave me alone,” I mumbled. “I want to sleep.”

“Ben, you’ll be turned to stone if you sleep here! Come on!” Arden grabbed my hand and tried to yank me to my feet. She tugged and pulled at my arm, until I finally struggled up to my feet so she’d stop. My vision was all blurry, and I could barely see anything.

“Hurry, hurry! Queen Titania will curse us if we stay by her palace after dawn.” Arden yanked on my arm again, trying to pull me down the path.

I stumbled forward, tripping over one of the tree roots. I fell on my face for the second time that night.

“Are you okay, Ben?” Arden asked.

“Just leave me here,” I moaned. “I’ll risk the curse. I’ll stay right here in this nice comfy bed of leaves.”

Above me, I heard a scream. “AHHH! I’m turning into stone! SAVE YOURSELF!”

I looked up to see Arden frozen in place with a terrified look on her face. “I know you’re not stone, Arden,” I told her, about to put my head back down in the leaves.

Arden didn’t respond.

“Arden?”

She didn’t say anything. She just stood perfectly still with that look on her face. I knew she hadn’t been turned to stone. She couldn’t really be a statue. “Ohhhhhh. C’mon, Arden.”She was so frustrating sometimes. I couldn’t stand it. I had to check. Pulling myself up, I walked slowly over to her. “Arden?” Still, she didn’t move. She certainly didn’t look like stone. I thought I saw her breathing, but I wasn’t sure. I bet her skin would feel cold if she were really a statue. I reached out to touch her arm to test my theory.

“Boo!” The statue cried.

“AHHHH!” I screamed as the Arden statue came to life, making a face at me.

“Ha, ha! I got you, Ben!” Arden doubled over with laughter. “You…should…have…seen…your face…ha….ha!”

I just glared at her. Arden kept laughing.

Waiting for her to finish, I looked around me and realized the sky above the lake was lightening. I guessed I had been asleep for a while. “Arden, are you done yet?”

“I’m sorry, Ben. Your reaction was so funny, and I’m pretty sleep deprived. I always get silly when I haven’t had enough sleep. You were just going to sleep there unless I did something to make you get up. It worked. You’re up! Now, onward, brave knights, onto our gallant steeds, and we shall ride off into the dawn!” Arden pretended to mount a horse, and then “galloped” off. I just stood there, shaking my head, wondering how sleep-deprived Arden was any different than normal Arden and wondering how she still had any energy left. I know I didn’t.

We “galloped” up to the stairs of my front porch thirty minutes later. Arden chattered on about quests, fair ladies, and brave knights, but all I could think about was crawling into bed.

“Let’s go pretend it’s winter and welcome it back, put on warm fuzzy sweaters, and watch the snowflakes fall gently to the ground!” Arden announced, skipping up my front porch steps.

I looked up at the sky. The sun had risen over the horizon, and it was already hot out. It was going to be a scorching August day, and there was no way I was going to wear a sweater in this heat. Besides, I had no energy left whatsoever. If the stair railing hadn’t been there, I probably would have fallen over. “Arden, I think I need to go to bed. I’m exhausted,” I told her.

“Oh.” She actually sounded disappointed. “Do you think you’re tired enough to go to sleep?”

Was I tired enough to go to sleep? I had only been chasing fireflies all night, tracking down dragons, and galloping through the forest. Yep, I was tired. I yawned and nodded, my eyes already half-shutting.

“See, Ben? I told you I’d put you to sleep!”

I groaned and nodded. I was so tired I could barely keep my eyes open. Arden yanked open the door, and skipped inside, pulling me along with her. “Good-morning, Mrs. Sweet!” she called cheerfully.

“Hello, Arden. My, aren’t you cheerful this morning. What are you doing here so early?” Mom looked at me. “Benjamin, are you feeling okay? You look sick.”

“I’m fine, Mom. Just tired,” I mumbled.

“I was helping him fall asleep by catching fireflies and finding Queen Titania, the lightning bug that will help him not feel like such an insomniac,” Arden told my mom, who nodded politely. I was sure she was thinking that Arden was crazy.

“Good-night, Ben! Or should I say good-morning?” She giggled at the thought, following me down the hall to my room.

“Whatever you’d prefer,” I grumbled falling into bed.

Arden switched off my light.

“Leave my door open just a crack,” I muttered, shutting my eyes. In a moment, I was fast asleep.

Thanks for reading!

~ Kayla

Fireflies – Part 4

Over the past three weeks, Arden has been trying her hardest to help her friend Ben overcome his insomnia. Will she succeed? Find out in this week’s installment of my Owl City fanfiction, Fireflies!

“Arden!” I shouted. She didn’t respond. I ran as fast as I could through the underbrush of the woods. I dipped, dodged, and fought my way through the scrub. Stopping to untangle a branch from my shirt, I realized I wasn’t even sure I was running in the right direction. In my panic for Arden’s safety, I had just run. I should have looked for clues, like some broken branches or footprints. I pulled out my cell phone and using the flash light app, I started to examine the ground. Focused on my investigation, I forgot to look where I was going. My foot caught on a tree root, and I tumbled forward.

I groaned into the leaves. I wondered if I was paralyzed. I’d never be able to call for help now. I would never find Arden, and my body would just decompose into the ground, and I would never be found again. My thoughts were interrupted as I felt something touch the back of my neck. A triumphant roar followed. “I will slay you foul beast!! The victory is mine! …Oh, Ben, it’s you. Good thing I recognized you! I could have cut off your head with my sword.”

I looked up to see Arden, a long stick in her hand. I didn’t see any swords. “What happened to you?”

“What happened to me?” Arden giggled. “I was chasing a dragon, remember?”

“I heard your phone go dead when I was talking to you. I thought something had happened,” I explained, starting to become irritated. She had really scared me. Who knew what horrible things were lurking in the woods?

“My phone battery just died. Forgot to charge it.”

I stood up, my heart still pounding. Nothing had happened. Her phone battery had just died. No dragons, no kidnappers. Nothing. All my panic and paralyzation for nothing.

“Look, Ben, it’s the lake! Are you coming?” Arden called. “You’ve got to see this!” Blissfully unaware of my distress, Arden skipped away through the treeline.

I realized I had better follow her before I lost her again. I found her standing on the bank of the lake twirling around and around. When she saw me, she stopped. “Isn’t it amazing, Ben? It’s like there are ten thousand lightning bugs, and they are all giving me hugs. I can’t believe my eyes!” cried Arden. One of the little bugs landed on her finger. “Hello there!” she said, peering at it. “What’s that? Did you say you want to teach me how to dance?”

“Arden, fireflies don’t dance,” I told her. Not to mention they couldn’t talk either.

“Well, it certainly looks like they’re dancing. Use your imagination, Ben! I can see them doing a foxtrot above my head.”

I squinted my eyes and tried to see it, but I really, really couldn’t. “Arden, I don’t see them -”

Arden cut me off. “Oh, I bet the moon is their disco ball. It looks like it’s just hanging by a thread! Of course, it isn’t. The Earth’s gravity pulls on the moon and keeps it in its orbit. But I can always pretend it’s hanging by a thread. I’m going to check my room as soon as I get home. I bet those fireflies have sockhops beneath my bed.”

Fireflies flew about me, their lights glowing. I wasn’t sure if there were ten million fireflies or ten thousand, but there sure were a lot of them. If I really thought about it, I guess they did look like they were dancing.

“Oh! Oh!” Arden started hopping up and down. “I see her!”

“See who?” I asked blankly.

“Queen Titania, silly! See? She’s right there. The firefly with the little crown on her head.”

I looked in the direction her finger was pointing, but I could not see a royal lightning bug.

“Catch her, quick, Ben! Where’s your net? Oh, good. you have it. Swing your net!”

I swung my net and caught a few fireflies.

“Those aren’t Titania. They’re her ladies-in-waiting,” Arden told me, looking into my net.

I wasn’t sure how she could tell the difference. They all looked like the same glowing bugs.

“There she is! She’s right beside you!” Arden pointed to a firefly, and I swung again. She peered into my net. “Hmmm … ” she pretended to adjust imaginary glasses on her nose. “I’m the fireflyologist, and I believe that none of these fireflies are in fact the Queen. Swing again!”

I must have run from one end of the lake to the other, Arden running behind me, shouting that the Queen was here or there. Then after I swung, Arden would peer into my net and tell me I hadn’t caught the Queen yet. I handed her my net for the umpteenth time.

“Did I catch her?” I panted.

“There she is!” Arden gently cradled a glowing firefly. “Queen Titania.”

She placed the firefly in the jar and twisted on the lid. “Now that you’ve caught her, she can give you her sleeping potion!”

Thanks for reading! Part 5 is next week.

~ Kayla

Fireflies – Part 3

*Fireflies by Owl City plays* Welcome to this week’s installment of Fireflies, my Owl City fanfiction! Last time, Arden and Ben were setting off on their adventure to help Ben beat his insomnia by catching a special firefly. Will poor Ben ever get to sleep? Stay tuned!

Arden started marching off in the direction of the lake. “Queen Titania’s palace is right on the shores of the lake, Ben. It’s so beautiful! To get there we have to brave the cold mountains, the enchanted forest, and the hungry dragons. The fireflies will light the way for us. Come on, Ben! We must continue on!”

“The lake is about a mile and a half walk,” I protested trudging along behind her. “And the last time I looked there were no mountains, forest, or dragons in our town.” Not to mention fairies or fireflies named Titania.

“We’ll be back by morning, Ben, don’t worry,” Arden assured me. “Besides, it’s not like you can sleep.”

I swished my net in front of me making the air whistle around it. I wondered why I told her about my insomnia problem, and why I ever thought she would have a “normal” solution. Still it was a nice night for a walk, and Arden was right. I couldn’t sleep. “Okay, Arden. Are we getting close to the golden mountains yet?”

“They’re the cold mountains, and they aren’t too far away. We need a song to sing while we walk. Maybe an ol’ sea shanty, mate! Argh.” She did her best pirate impression. “Or maybe a song about fireflies! I’d get a thousand hugs from ten thousand lightning bugs …” she started to sing.

“I feel like I’ve heard that somewhere,” I told her.

“Me, too,” Arden said. “What else could we sing?”

“How about we don’t sing?” I suggested.

“You’re no fun, Ben! But, oh, if we don’t sing we can pretend we’re creeping through the forest, looking for the dragons so we can arrest them. Officer Hart calling Officer Sweet.” She said the words into her hand and made a clicking sound with her tongue like a radio clicking on and off. I stared at her, wondering how one girl could have so many strange ideas mixed up in her head.

“But, Arden. Police officers and dragons don’t have anything to do with each other.” This crossing of storylines was too much for me.

“Pst! You have to talk back in your radio, Ben!” Arden whispered, holding up her hand.

“Arden, really.”

“I can’t hear you.”

“C’mon, Arden.”

“I can’t hear you.”

“Officer Sweet calling Officer Hart,” I said, giving in to her demands.

“Officer Sweet, I think I see our dragon. I’m going in after him,” Arden said through her “radio.”

“Umm…Arden?”

“You mean Officer Hart. I can’t hear you if you don’t talk through your radio. You should have learned proper radio procedure in the academy.”

I sighed, looking up into the night sky, and held my hand up to my mouth. “Police don’t track down dragons. Dragons aren’t real. So you couldn’t possibly have seen a dragon. Right, Arden?” There was no answer. Looking around me, I realized Arden was nowhere to be seen. “Arden?” I called again. Still, there was no answer. It was just me and the fireflies. Maybe she’d gotten distracted and was chasing down another imaginary creature. “Arden!” I called, hoping she would appear. After a few more minutes of silence, I started getting worried. There was only one thing to do. I pulled out my cell phone and dialed Arden’s number.

“Hello, Ben! Where are you?” she answered, then yelled, “Back foul beast!”

“I’m where I was when you left me. Where are you, Arden? I thought I lost you,” I told her.

“I’m fighting a dragon and oh, look!” Arden squealed on the other end of the phone.

Then the phone went dead. “Arden?” I cried. “Arden?” Immediately, my mind flooded with a million horrible things that could have happened to her. Maybe a kidnapper got her, or she fell into a hole, or a bear attacked her. Maybe she could have even run into a dragon. If there really was a dragon, I decided I couldn’t leave her to fight it alone. With that thought, I dashed forward, calling her name.

Thanks for reading!

~ Kayla

Fireflies – Part 2

Last week, I posted the first part of Fireflies, my Owl City fanfiction. It’s a story based on the lyrics of the song “Fireflies.” You can read the first part here if you missed it last week. Enjoy!

11:00pm, Tuesday, August 6th – I was watching an episode of Star Trek, hoping to drift off to sleep to the familiar, soothing voice of Captain Picard. Arden had already called at 10:30pm and wished me a good night’s sleep. I didn’t think she really meant it, though. I knew she was standing by, ready to implement “The Plan.” If I couldn’t sleep, I was supposed to contact her immediately. How could I possibly relax knowing Arden was waiting for me to call. It was too much pressure. My ringing phone broke into my thoughts. I didn’t even have to look at the name. I knew who was calling.

“Are you asleep yet, Ben?” whispered Arden.

“No, I’m not,” I said. “Why are you whispering?”

“That way if you were asleep, I wouldn’t wake you up.”

“I answered your call. I’m awake. And even if I wasn’t, your call would have woken me up.”

“Oh. Right. Remember to call me if you can’t sleep, okay? Bye, Ben!”

I sat my phone back down on the nightstand and turned back to Star Trek. Commander Riker looked terrible. In this episode he couldn’t sleep either. Of course, he was being kidnapped and experimented on by aliens. I hadn’t considered alien interference before. Maybe aliens had been doing experiments on me my whole life by interrupting my sleep patterns. Perhaps, they had planted an alien observer just next door. I always had suspected Arden’s unearthly origins. My phone rang again. “Hello, Arden. No, I’m not asleep.”

“How did you know what I was going to ask? Are you psychic, Ben?”

“No. Are you an alien?”

She didn’t deny it, and just laughed. “Well, call me if you can’t sleep!” I hung up the phone and seriously thought about blocking her number. If she were an alien, though, it wouldn’t do any good.

12:00am, Wednesday, August 7th I couldn’t sleep. It had been an hour and a half since I climbed into bed, and the most I’d done was stare up at my ceiling. And answer the phone. The aliens had won. With a sigh, I grabbed my phone.

It only had a chance to ring once. Arden’s cheerful voice came on the other end. “Hello, Ben! You can’t sleep, can you?” She sounded way too happy about my problem.

“No, I can’t,” I said a bit sadly.

“Time for ‘The Plan.’ Grab your shoes and come outside.”

“I’ll be out in a few.”

“I can’t wait! You will not believe your eyes, Ben!”

I got dressed and slipped on my shoes. I crept through my house, careful not to wake any of my family. I left a note just in case my mom or dad noticed I wasn’t there. I opened the door and stepped out onto my porch. There was Arden with a large thermos, two nets, and a jar. She was wearing a safari hat.

“Isn’t it beautiful out here, Ben. Look at the fireflies!” Arden started spinning around, her safari hat flying off her head. “They fill the open air and leave their teardrops everywhere.” She stopped spinning, and looked concerned. “I hope they aren’t sad.” She stooped down and picked up her hat.

Maybe it was rude, but all I could do was stop and stare. Arden and I had been friends for a while now, but I still didn’t get her many times. “I think the fireflies are fine, Arden. I’m the one with the problem.”

Refocused on her mission, she smiled. “We’re going on a quest, Ben.” She handed me a net. “Take ye trusty ol’ net, and let us commence!” She ran out into the grass and followed one of the little yellow lights around, and swiped with her net. “Got it!” Arden let it go in her jar and put the top on. “That’s one! There are so many out here. I bet there are ten million fireflies lighting up the world when I fall asleep, and I never realized it. Isn’t that amazing, Ben?”

I didn’t answer. I was busy swinging my trusty ol’ net. I nabbed three fireflies in one swing.

“Good one!” Arden opened the jar and placed them inside. “That’s four! These are just our practice bugs. What we need to catch is Queen Titania, according to the Legend of the Firefly!”

“The Legend of the Firefly? I’ve never heard of that.”

“Well, you know, Ben, legends have to start somewhere. And I’ve decided this legend starts with me!”

“It doesn’t work like that Arden,” I told her.

“Why not? Just listen. Long ago … well, five minutes ago, there was a boy, and he couldn’t sleep. He was you, Ben! Isn’t that exciting? You’re part of a legend now!”

“But Arden, it isn’t a real -”

She cut me off, continuing her legend. “One night, a fairy came to him – I’m the fairy, by the way – and told him she could help him to fall asleep.”

Fairy? I knew Arden couldn’t be human. I hadn’t considered the possibility of a fairy, though.

“And then the fairy told him that if he wanted to fall asleep, he had to go on an epic quest.”

“Epic quest? It’s too late for epic quests.” I sighed, sure at this point I’d never get to sleep.

“But you’ll never fall asleep unless you go! See, you have to catch a very special firefly down by the lake. It’s Queen Titania, the ruler of the fireflies, and once you catch her, she’ll give you a potion to make you fall asleep! C’mon Ben! Let’s go!”

Well, I thought, what did I have to lose.

Thanks for reading!

~Kayla

Fireflies – Part 1

Where I live, every summer starting in June, the fireflies come out. Just as the sun goes down, these little beetles emerge from where they hid during the day and start blinking. Their yellow lights turn on and off as the flying males try to attract the females below in the grass.  I used to catch them when I was younger and stick them in a jar, though I always let them go at the end of the night. What I didn’t realize then was that there is another reason for catching fireflies other than just for fun. Apparently, it also helps you fall asleep. At least, according to Arden. In case you haven’t met them, Arden and Ben are my two Owl City fanfiction characters who first made an appearance on my blog last summer in a story based on Owl City’s song “Hot Air Balloon.” Today, they’re back for some more fun in another fanfiction I wrote based on the song “Fireflies.”

8:00am, Tuesday, August 6th  _ I dragged my eyes open. I moaned and reached for my cell phone and squinted at the bright screen. The name and phone number were so blurred I couldn’t even read who was calling. Not really caring, but wanting to stop the ringing, I slid the green icon across the screen and held the cold phone to my ear. “Hagrow?” My lips and tongue weren’t quite awake.

“Ben? You wouldn’t believe my totally awesome day yesterday!”

I dropped the phone on the bed and pulled the pillow over my head.

“Ben? Ben?”

I could still hear the voice calling. Why, oh why did she have to call, I grumbled to myself.

“Ben, I know you’re there. Ben. Ben. Ben. Ben.”

I knew she wouldn’t stop. Surrendering, I picked the phone up again.“Hello, Arden.”

“You sound tired.”

“Do I? I didn’t sleep well last night.” Didn’t sleep well? That was an understatement. I hadn’t fallen asleep until almost 6am.

Unaffected by my response, Arden started talking, telling me about something her family did yesterday, but I wasn’t listening. I was dozing off, lulled to sleep by the white noise of her chatter.

“Ben? Did you hear anything I just said?”

“Uhhh …” The break in her one-sided conversation pulled me out of my light sleep.

“Ben, are you listening to me?”

I paused for a moment and decided to confess. “Not really.”

“Can I come over?” I debated with myself. What I really wanted was to go back to sleep for a while. I was so tired. I was definitely not up for an Arden visit. But before I could say anything, Arden answered her own question. “Great! I’ll be over in a few.”

“What? Hold on! I didn’t say anything.” My protests didn’t matter because Arden had hung up. I groaned, knowing a knock was imminent. I pulled my feet from the tangled, barely-slept-in sheets. I wonder if she’d notice if I wore my pajamas, I thought. I ran my fingers through my dark blonde hair, trying to comb my crazy bangs into some sort of order and threw on my clothes. I quickly straightened the sheets and spread. I couldn’t start my day without making my bed.

I heard a knock downstairs and then, “Beeeeeen!” I turned around as Arden dashed into my room and dove onto my bed, undoing all my work.  Her flip flops toppled from her feet and now lay on my previously neat floor. Trying to ignore the disorder, I smiled slightly as she turned her green eyes on me.

“Hey,” I said lamely, and sat down on the corner of the bed. She glanced up and giggled when she saw my hair. I turned red. “I just woke up, Arden. Give me a break!”

“It’s not just your hair,” Arden noted, leaning close to me to peer at my face. “You are really pale. Your eyes are all red, and you have really dark circles under them. Ben, you look awful!”

I looked down, embarrassed. “Haven’t been sleeping well,” I mumbled.

“What did you say?”

“I haven’t been sleeping well,” I said more clearly this time. I leaned back on the messed up bed and shut my eyes. “And I am miserable. I haven’t really slept in five days. Most nights, I’m far too tired to fall asleep.” I never really liked telling people about my insomnia. My mom told me I once went through a stage when I was seven where I didn’t sleep at night for weeks. “I feel like such an insomniac,” I admitted.

“Mmmm. I’ve never really had too much trouble sleeping. Except on Christmas morning. You know how much I love Christmas! And, of course, my birthday. Then I’m too excited to sleep. And then sometimes I wish I could stay awake when I’m asleep ‘cause everything is never as it seems, and my dreams are bursting at the seams. Sometimes, too, when I’m falling asleep, I like to make myself believe that planet Earth turns slowly, but did you know it really spins at about 1000 miles per hour? My mom told me about that. Jupiter actually is the fastest spinning planet.”

I didn’t know how Arden could keep talking and never take a breath. Why didn’t she just pass out? I’d always thought she was an alien, and perhaps now I had proof. She didn’t need oxygen.

“Have you tried counting sheep?” Arden still hadn’t taken a breath. “I always count greater prairie chickens to fall asleep – you know my dad studies them – but I’ve heard sheep work pretty well, too. So, have you tried counting sheep?” She finally paused, waiting for my answer.

I looked over at her. “I am tired of counting sheep,” I sighed. “And I don’t think prairie chickens would make a difference.”

“I don’t know. The prairie chickens really help me.” Arden continued, “Why are you tired of counting sheep, Ben? Sheep and prairie chickens are fun to count! You can make them any color in your head. And they can jump over things like sliding boards and hot air balloons.”

“Why do I tire of counting sheep? Why? Because I count them every night!” I was really getting irritated at this point just thinking about all the hours of sleep I’d lost.

For a moment we were quiet, each of us contemplating my sleeplessness. “That’s it!” Arden burst out. “I’m going to help you get over your insomnia! You know, Ben, friends help each other out, and I’m going to help you through this bad time in your life!”

I groaned. Somehow, I just didn’t think energetic Arden would help me with my sleep problem. “I’m fine, really, Arden. Insomnia comes and goes. It’ll go away in a while.”

“I’m going to make sure it does!” Arden looked down at the clock. “What time do you usually go to bed, Ben?”

I figured three wasn’t an acceptable answer. “Around 10:30 most nights.”

“I better get started then!” Arden jumped up.

“Started with what?”

“Research! I have an idea, but I need some more information and supplies. And I have to get that recipe from my mom for warm milk. It’s from Iceland, you know.” Arden continued ticking off her to-do list. “I have to find my bug-catching jar and my net, and I have to check about the fireflies …”

Thanks for reading!

~ Kayla

Peppermint Winter – Part 5

Even though Christmas is over, there’s still one more part in my Owl City fanfiction, Peppermint Winter, to enjoy. Last week, Arden gave Ben his present, and now it’s time to see what Ben received from his family!

I started my walk home, the scarf Arden had made me keeping my neck toasty warm. What a shame it was so strange looking. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with it. I certainly couldn’t wear it in public. I stamped the snow off my boots and opened the door. “Hey.”

“Nice scarf,” my brother snickered sarcastically. Trevor couldn’t even be pleasant on Christmas.

My grandmother greeted me with a hug. “Benjamin! Where were you? You weren’t here to say hi to me. I was so disappointed. And where’s your coat, young man? It’s cold out there!”

“My coat!” I snapped my fingers and dug out my phone. I hit Arden’s name.

Hey, Arden?

My grandmother watched me. “Kids and their cell phones these days,” she sighed and sat back down next to a texting Trevor.

Hiya! When I said I wanted to talk later, I didn’t mean this soon! Lololololololololol

Arden tended to overuse the “LOLs.”

I left my coat.

Oh, yeah you did! That’s right, I took it. Lololol Do you want me to walk it over?

Could you?

No problem! See ya in a few lolololol

I locked my phone again and sat down on the floor, since my grandmother and brother were on the couch. I heard the doorbell ring, and I jumped back up.

“Here’s your coat, Ben!” Arden handed it to me.

“Thank you,” I said, relieved to have it back.

“Who’s at the door, Benjamin?” asked my grandmother.

“It’s just his little friend,” muttered Trevor. “She’s as cool as  -45, uhhh, whatever.”

“-459.67, actually,” Arden piped up. She walked through the door, saw my grandmother, and waved. “Hi! I’m Arden Hart!”

“Hello, young lady,” my grandmother greeted her. “Why don’t you come in and get warmed up?”

“Thanks!” grinned Arden as she walked into the living room. “I’m not cold though. All the joy in my heart is ablaze, and it’s keeping me warm.”

My grandmother looked at her suspiciously, wondering if Arden was being smart with her. “Well, that’s a nice thought.”

“Yes, I love all this holiday cheer!” affirmed Arden in her usual enthusiastic way. “Heaven knows where it goes but it returns every year, and I am so happy it does!” she declared.

“Want me to take your coat?” I broke into their conversation. I was feeling uneasy with Arden there, not knowing what she might say next.

Arden unzipped it and handed it to me. “There you go!”

“Thanks,” I said.

“You must be Ben’s grandmother,” she turned back to my grandmother with a smile.

“Yes, I am,” my grandmother said, still looking at her with suspicion.

“My grandmother is in Iceland, since that’s where my mom’s from.” Arden started to launch into a story.

Just then, my mom and dad walked in. “Hello. You’re Arden, right?” asked my mom.

“Yep, that’s me!” she said, twisting around to see them. “I was dropping off Ben’s coat. He left it at my house this morning. It’s nice to meet you, Mr. and Mrs. Sweet.”

“Nice to meet you, too, Arden,” my mom said pleasantly. “You can stay here while we open presents, if you’d like.”

“Sure!” said Arden sitting down on the arm of the sofa.

“Benjamin, start with this one.” My mother handed me an unwrapped brown box. “This is from your Aunt Kate.”

Opening the box, I found another wrapped package inside. I very carefully and gently ran my finger along the bottom of the package until I popped the tape loose. I slowly folded back the paper to reveal ten pairs of socks.

“Wasn’t that nice of Aunt Kate to get you socks. You know, Ben, you do need some new socks. Make sure you send her a thank you note.”

“Yes, Mom,” I replied, not as excited about the socks as she was.

“All right, then, here’s our gift.” My mom handed me a square-shaped package. Once again, I carefully tucked my fingers under the wrapping, popped the tape free, and started to slowly fold the wrapping paper back.

“You’re doing it all wrong, Ben!” Arden cried from her perch above me. “How can you stand to go so slow?” She slid down to the floor, leaned over, and ripped a section of paper free from the box. “You just have to rip it!”

At once I saw part of the word “Trek” on the box. I’d started collecting the DVDs of all the Star Trek series since I received my first set last year for Christmas. Usually I liked to carefully unwrap my gifts, but between seeing what it was and Arden’ urging me to rip it open, I quickly finished tearing off the wrapping. It was the entire series of Enterprise in a beautiful boxed set .“Thank you,” I told my parents gratefully.

“Here’s another one for you, Benjamin,” said my mom, handing me a soft-feeling present. I tore it open, now excited over what might be inside. “Socks?” I asked blankly, looking up at my mom as I held five pairs up.

“I saw you needed some more, Ben,” she explained. “so I thought I would wrap them up.”

“Thanks,” I said, sitting the socks to the side. I tried to feel grateful for the socks.

“Now you have to open my present, Benjamin,” my grandmother insisted from the couch. She handed me a box, one that could hold the complete set of Deep Space Nine. That would be a great gift. With that possibility in mind, I ripped off the wrapping and tore through the box. Inside were ten pairs of brand new socks. I just stared at them, trying to recover. Socks certainly weren’t as awesome as Deep Space Nine especially considering I had already gotten fifteen pairs of them. “Well, thank you,” I said to my grandmother, trying to be polite.

Arden startled everyone with an outburst. “Socks? I love socks! You can do so many things with socks. You are so lucky! You can wear them, of course, make sock puppets, use them as Christmas stockings, make a sock garden – which I did once, and it was really cool …” Arden chattered on about the usefulness of socks and the fate of her sock garden which she forgot to water.

“Here are some more socks for you, bro.” Trevor tossed his gift to me. “Mom told everyone you needed them. Guess you won’t anymore,” Trevor snorted with laughter. I unwrapped his gift and added five more pairs of socks to the pile.

“There’s another present for you, Benjamin! It’s from Grandma in Arizona.” Much like the package I opened before, it was a long box almost the exact same size as the previous one. Both grandmothers couldn’t have given me socks, could they? I couldn’t go slowly. I had to see if it was something different. I ripped off the wrapping and tore through the box to find ten more pairs of socks. Maybe I was still sleeping, and I was in some horrible nightmare. I pinched my arm hard to see if I was truly awake. Yes, it hurt and yes, I was awake.

“More socks!” cried Arden. “Can you imagine what we could make with all those socks? We could make a stuffed snowman, and I’ve always wanted to make those rice packs you heat up, ” continued an excited Arden. “You are so lucky!”

Forty pairs of socks. What in the world was I going to do with forty new pairs of socks? I was momentarily distracted as Arden’s phone dinged and vibrated.

She checked it and said, “Oops! I have to be getting home. My cousins are coming over. Thank you for letting me stay, Mrs. Sweet.”

I stood up, shaking off the bits of wrapping clinging to me and offered Arden her coat.

She yanked it on, and I walked her to the door. “Oh, Ben, I almost forgot.” She handed me something. “I told my grandmother in Iceland all about you, and she wanted to get you something for Christmas, too. Merry Christmas!” She skipped down the stairs and turned back towards me for a second, “Oh, and Ben?”

I nodded, “Yeah?”

“You should come over tomorrow. We can do something with all those socks!” She called as she ran across the snow back to her house.

“Sure,” I agreed with a sigh. At least I could get rid of some of those socks if I gave some to Arden to do whatever she wanted with them.

“Bye!” she called one last time before I heard the door to her house shut.

I looked down at the present in my hand. It was covered with red and white sparkly paper that looked like peppermint. I tore the paper, and crumbled it up and stuck it in my pocket. There, in my hand, lay five more pairs of socks, beautifully knitted by hand, I guessed. “Forty-five new pairs of socks. I ended up with forty-five new pairs of socks.” I muttered. I shook my head and sighed and walked back into my house.

Thanks for reading Peppermint Winter! Next week we’ll be taking a trip back in time to Victorian-era England so stick around! 🙂

~Kayla

Peppermint Winter – Part 4

Merry Christmas! Welcome to Part 4 of Peppermint Winter, my Owl City fanfiction. Arden and Ben’s Christmas Day is starting, and Ben is trying to find a last minute present for Arden (maybe you can relate! 🙂 ). Read on to find out what he gets her!

7:00am. Owl City sang out, “You would not believe your eyes if ten million fireflies lit up the world as I fell asleep.” I groaned and slowly opened my eyes, trying to figure out what was going on. I turned over and saw my phone light up and heard it vibrating. Finally realizing it was a call, I snatched at it, slid the green icon across the screen, and managed to hit the speaker button. I put the phone on the sheets beside me and muttered, “Hello?”

“MEROIRSGYB CHRISINMGOAS!” the voice at the other end screamed.

I winced at the sudden, sharp sound. Hmm. Must be an alien life form trying to make first contact. My still sleeping brain hadn’t beamed down to earth after the Star Trek episodes I’d watched last night. “What?” I attempted to communicate back.

“MERRY CHRISTMAS!” the alien yelled again. I realized it wasn’t an alien. It was actually Arden. Of course, it was very possible that she was an alien surgically altered to look human. “It’s you, Arden.”

“Did you open your presents yet, Ben?” questioned an excited Arden at the top of her lungs.

“Not exactly. I was sleeping,” I muttered, shaking my headphone cord free from my arm. Guess I fell asleep during that third episode. 

“Sleeping?!?!? On the most magical day of the YEAR? How could you?” came the screech.

I winced again as my ear rang. “Didn’t go to bed until almost 3am,” I sighed. “Couldn’t fall asleep.”

“Oh. I’ve been up since 3am. You should have called me!” she giggled.

“Should have,” I half-heartedly agreed.

“Are you going to open presents now?” she demanded.

“Actually, I’ll wait for my parents to get up first. They probably wouldn’t appreciate being woken up at 7:00am.”

“I want to give you my present!” I could almost hear her ear to ear grin over the phone.

“Your present?”

“Uh-huh. I made you something.”

“That’s … nice.” I now remembered our conversation last night at the park. Arden had a Christmas present for me. I didn’t have anything for her.

“Can I give it to you now?” she begged.

“Yeah … I guess. Do you want to come over … or should I come over to your house?”

“Come over to my house. My family’s already up, and we’ve opened presents. Besides, you can try some of our piparkökur. Mom’s making some for after lunch. I’m sure she won’t mind if we eat a few.”

“Uhhh … sure. I’ll be over in a couple minutes.” What did she say they were eating? Pippinsomething? I tossed on a shirt and jeans and grabbed my snow boots. What to get Arden, what to get Arden? I thought, trying to think up possibilities. Then I remembered the extra boxes of chocolate-filled mugs from our candy store in my dad’s office. Perfect! I dashed inside, grabbed a reindeer one out of a box, and paused by the kitchen counter to scribble down a note for my parents, promising I’d be back soon. I jogged next door to Arden’s.

Arden flung open the door, grinning. “Merry Christmas, Ben!”

“Merry Christmas,” I repeated her greeting. I handed her the reindeer mug.

Arden beamed. “OOOh, candy from your store, Ben! I love your chocolates. They are definitely the best around! Thanks so much!”

“Is that your friend, Arden?” asked a women from the kitchen.

“Yeah, mom. This is Benjamin Sweet.”

I nodded, “Nice to meet you, Mrs. Hart.”

“We’ve heard a lot about you.” Her voice was slightly accented, which was kinda of cool. I always liked accents.

“Arden, remember …” her mom motioned to my coat.

“Oh. Right. May I take your coat?”

I smiled slightly, and unzipped it.

She tossed it on the chair, and handed me a plate of something. “You have to try one. There’re amazing. They’re called piparkökur – Icelandic pepper cookies.”

They looked sort of like gingersnaps. I took a little nibble. Then a bite. They tasted a lot like gingersnaps. “These are really good,” I told Arden.

“And you have to try our eggnog!” Arden insisted, snatching at the glass bottle and a mug halfway across the counter. Her mom pushed it closer, and I breathed a sigh of relief at the averted disaster. “We don’t put any alcohol in it, but we do use a secret ingredient.” Arden lowered her voice at the word secret. “I love it. I think it’s like sipping on moonlight!” she announced, pouring some into a mug for me.

I took a drink and said, “It’s good.”

“Like moonlight, right?” giggled Arden.

I looked at the mug in my hand, and then to Arden. Moonlight? I really wasn’t sure what moonlight tasted like, but maybe Arden was right. Perhaps the light of the moon tasted like eggnog.

Arden grabbed my hand and dragged me over to her family’s Christmas tree. I didn’t even get to finish my moonlight eggnog or my pippin cookie.

She reached under the tree and handed me something. “Merry Christmas!”

I started pulling the bow that was tied on top.  The gift was wrapped Arden style, in an interesting patchwork of candy cane striped paper and tape. I slowly unwrapped it and pulled out a scarf. This was no ordinary scarf. It was half neon yellow and neon green striped on one end, black and white checks on the other with a strange blue-green color in the middle. And the shape. The scarf sort of “waved” down then up then down again, in an uneven pattern. I glanced from the thing in my hands to Arden’s expectant face and back down to the thing.

“Do ya like it? I made it myself!”

I opened my mouth to say something then looked at her again. Maybe the scarf wasn’t so bad. She obviously put a lot of time and work into it. “It’s wonderful, Arden. It really is.” I forced a smile.

“I was trying to create a winter scene. As you can see that really didn’t work out. But I thought it still looked cool enough to give to you!”

“Thanks, Arden,” I smiled at her. I started feeling  guilty for the gift I had given to her. She had really tried to make me something special, and I’d taken a whole five seconds to choose a mug. I took the scarf and wrapped in around my neck. “Look, it fits perfectly. It’s already keeping me warm”

Arden looked pleased. We stood in silence for a moment before I felt my phone vibrate. I dug it out.

Hi bro where u @

It was my brother. I winced. I couldn’t stand text speak. Why people couldn’t take an extra moment to use correct punctuation and spelling was beyond me. I texted back.

I’m over at Arden’s. I left a note.

The phone vibrated again.

K found it mom wants u home now

I locked my phone. “I have to go, Arden. My mom wants me home.”

She sighed, “All right, Ben. Maybe we can talk later!”

I nodded, as she walked me out. “Bye, Ben!”

Thanks for reading! The final part (the one with all the socks) will be up next week! 😀

In case you wanted to have a true Arden and Ben Christmas, here’s the recipe for Arden’s piparkökur cookies. Note: I’ve never made these, so I can’t tell you how good they are. So proceed at your own risk! 😉

http://icecook.blogspot.com/2006/11/spicy-gingersnaps-piparkkur.html

~ Kayla

Peppermint Winter – Part 3

Welcome to Part 3 of Peppermint Winter, my Owl City fanfiction. Last week, Arden, Ben, and the imaginary horse Sugar, trotted to the park. Read on to find out what happens as they sled down the hill!

“Sugar” galloped down the snowy hill with the bells on the sled jingling all the way. The wind whistled in my ears and cold snow pelted my face stinging my cheeks and forehead. This was a huge hill, the perfect height and incline for sledding. It was as if it had been created just for that purpose, except for the one small part slightly to the left of center. There was a big bump there, close to the bottom. And of course we were headed right toward it.

“This. Is. AWESOME!” cried Arden in front of me, throwing her hands up in the air as if she were on a rollercoaster.

I gripped the sides of the sled, tucked my head down, and prepared for impact. We hit the bump, the bells all jingled at once, and Arden and I flew out of the sled and tumbled into the snow. “Ow,” I moaned, after coming to a stop. “I think I’ve broken something.”

“That was great, wasn’t it?” giggled Arden, shaking her head from side to side, creating a mini snow shower around herself.

I struggled to my feet, wincing. “Yeah, just great, Arden.”

She didn’t notice my sarcasm as she giggled, “Ben! You should look at yourself. You look like a snowman!”

I felt like a snowman, cold and wet. I sniffed, and reached up to wipe my runny nose. “Arden. Can we go home? I have a runny nose and my frosty toes are getting cold,” I complained.

“But I feel so alive,” proclaimed Arden smiling wide. “Let’s do it again, Ben!”

Let’s do it again, Ben. Why do I think I’ll be hearing that a lot? I climbed back up the hill with a sigh, hoping we would have a less rough stop this time.

We sailed down the hill once again, hit the bump, went flying … and repeated the cycle again and again and again and again and again. Somewhere along the line I forgot my nose and toes. It really was a lot of fun. “Hey, Arden!” I called over to her, watching as she struggled up from our last ride down the hill and searched for the sled rope in the snow.

Arden looked up. “Yes?”

“Look, a snow angel!” I called, falling back in the snow and swishing my arms and legs back and forth. I carefully climbed out of my artwork and gestured for Arden to take a look.

She came over and admired my work, and then threw herself down and made her own. Getting up, she drew some hair on her angel with her finger, and sketched out a face. “I’m going to name her Adelaide! Doesn’t that seem like a great name for an angel? You should name your snow angel, too, Ben!”

“Haha! My little brother playing in the snow! You look like an idiot!” I heard a voice I knew all too well. It was my older brother, Trevor.

Arden walked right over to Trevor, who was taking the shortcut through the park on his way home, and introduced herself. “Hi! My name’s Arden. Who are you?” she asked in her ever cheerful manner.

This greeting stunned Trevor into semi-pleasantness. “Trevor,” he said with a little nod, brushing his hair out of his eyes.

“Nice to meet you!” Arden held out a gloved hand.

He didn’t take it and just stared at her. Trevor wasn’t big on manners.

Arden wasn’t deterred. “Are you Ben’s older brother?”

“Yeah,” he muttered.

“It must be awesome having Ben around all the time! Whenever he comes over, we always have such a blast!”

“You think my little brother is cool? Ha! He’s like so not cool.” Trevor glared over at me.

Oh, Arden. Please stop. Please, please, please, please, please stop. I mentally begged the girl. Unfortunately, she wasn’t telepathic (at least that I knew of) or if she was, she was ignoring my mental pleas.

Arden wasn’t the least bit discouraged by Trevor’s answer or my telepathic appeals. “Well, I think he’s really cool. Super cool, actually. Like -459.67 degrees Fahrenheit cool!” Arden’s answer came.

Trevor snorted, “-459.67 degrees cool?”

“That’s absolute zero. 0 K on the Kelvin scale. I’ll have to check with my mom, but I don’t think it’s possible that anything can be colder than that,” Arden informed us. “The coldest recorded natural temperature is 1 degree Kelvin, and that’s found in the Boomerang Nebula. So Ben is actually cooler than the nebula, and that’s pretty cool!”

Trevor and I just blinked. We had no clue what she had just said to us.

“Do you think you’re a scientist or something?” Trevor retorted, trying to make a smart comeback.

“My mom’s an astrophysicist. She was just discussing absolute zero and the Boomerang Nebula at dinner last night,” Arden shrugged.

Well, that explains the straight A’s she gets in science, I thought as I remembered catching a glimpse of her last test score.

“Well…eh…” Trevor stumbled over his words, obviously still feeling a bit shocked.  He finished lamely, “I guess that’s pretty cool.”

Arden nodded enthusiastically. “It really is! Want to go sledding with us?”

“Arden!” I tried to stop her. My brother wasn’t the nicest person to hang out with. Normally, I tried avoiding any contact with him.

“What, bro? Don’t want me to go sledding?” Trevor mocked.

Arden waved him over, “Come on.”

To my shock and horror and surprise, Trevor jogged over, and joined us. “So, where’s this sled?”

Arden pointed to the red sled.

“Bells?” he derisively kicked one.

“Yep! It’s to make it look like a sleigh,” Arden explained.

I was waiting for a nasty reply from my brother, but got nothing but, “Smart.”

Arden grabbed the rope and started running up the hill, looking over her shoulder and calling, “Come on, slowpokes!”

At the top, Trevor climbed in, and Arden gave the sled a kick, “Bon voyage!”

I’d never seen my brother smile except when he was teasing me, but he sure did when he hit the bump and went flying. “That was pretty sweet,” he smiled at Arden after climbing back to the top.

It was Arden’s turn. She climbed in the sled, and I gave her a push. I watched her sail away down the hill. It was so peaceful here, almost like a dream, especially with my brother acting like a normal human being. The moon had come out and the hill glistened and glowed with its light. The snowflakes started falling again, and I could feel myself start to float away in the moment. Suddenly, something cold and wet that felt disturbingly like absolute zero slid down my coat. I clenched my shoulders and danced around, trying to free my back from the freezing cold snow my mean older brother had just stuffed down it. So much for the dream.

“What are you doing?” asked Arden, as she appeared over the summit of the hill, curious as I continued my little dance.

Trevor was laughing maniacally in the background.

“Cold, cold, cold, COLD!” I screeched. With a couple more dance-like moves, I was finally able to remove the snow from my back.

Arden looked to Trevor, and then to me. I glared at Trevor, “That was cold!”

“Yeah, moron. It’s SNOW,” he reminded me. His know-it-all smirk suddenly change, though, to a look of horror. “COLD!” he danced around, just like I had done a few moments before.

I heard a giggle I knew well. “Gotcha!”

She filled her hands with snow and was about to pitch it at me, when I heard a cheerful ring from her pocket. Arden tossed the snow, and then dug in her pocket for her cell phone. She slid her finger across the screen and typed on it for a moment, before locking the screen again. “I have to go home for dinner,” she sighed, disappointed.  Arden grabbed the sled rope and started dragging it away, before turning to me and saying, “Hey, Ben?”

I looked back, “Yeah?”

“Tomorrow? I know it’s Christmas, but I thought you could come over for a bit so I can give you your present.”

I hadn’t thought of getting a present for Arden, but I agreed anyway. “Sure.”

As Trevor and I started to walk back to our house, Trevor turned to me and said, “You know, your friend … she’s kinda cool.”

I stumbled over my words, surprised, “You think Arden is cool?”

“Yeah. She’s pretty cool. I didn’t know all that stuff about absolute zero.” He scowled at me and muttered, “That doesn’t make you cool though. You’re still … anti-cool.” Trevor kicked the snow off his boots, jammed his hands in his pockets, and started down the street. I stared after him for a moment, and my thoughts drifted back to Arden. I wondered what she could have bought me for Christmas. Knowing Arden, it wouldn’t be a normal kind of gift.

Come back next week to celebrate an Arden and Ben Christmas! 🙂

~ Kayla

Peppermint Winter – Part 2

Last week, I posted part 1 of my Owl City fanfiction, Peppermint Winter. This week we get to find out if Arden has a snowball fight or not. 🙂 Enjoy!

“There’s only a fresh inch or two on the ground, Arden. We should probably wait until a little more snow has fallen,” I recommended, finally warm, and content to watch the snow from inside.

She settled her hat down on her hair and tossed me my blue coat. “Come on!” I hustled into my things and was dragged outside in classic Arden style. She left me on the porch and started running around the yard shouting, “Snow, snow, snow, SNOW!”

I winced as the pristine snow was trampled on. I much preferred to walk around the edges, so as not to disturb the unmarred whiteness. Suddenly, a blizzard of snowflakes hit me in the face. I blinked and wiped my face of the powdery snow. I saw a repentant, giggling Arden sheepishly grinning at me, another snowball in hand. “Oops! I meant to hit your coat.”

I leaned down and scooped up a pile of snow and threw it at her, nailing her shoulder. She shrieked, pretending to be injured, and then shot her snowball at me, hitting my back as I tried to dodge out of the way. I rolled another and chucked it at her, but she retreated behind the car, and I missed. Soon, we had the snowball fight of the century going. My yard was my territory to defend and her yard, her territory. Intruders were sure to be shot with our snowy ammunition.

I’d never really cared much for playing in the snow, but Arden made everything fun. She was a good aim, too. I found myself running for fear of getting hit, in a chase that went around our houses a few times. “Time out, Arden!” I begged, trying to catch my breath.

She nodded, collapsing in the snow. “Feel free to cross the border!” she called over.

I crossed the driveway and flopped down next to her, still panting. We lay silently letting our breathing slow for a few minutes, and then Arden jumped back up. She spun around and around until she fell back down into the snow with a giggle. Standing up again, she started twirling down her driveway. “Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!” she sang.

I pushed myself up on my elbow and watched. It kind of looked like fun. I decided to try it. I twirled through the driveway with angelic grace, until I met the sidewalk. I slipped on the slick sidewalk, and BOOM, I fell on my face. My head ached, and I thought I saw stars. Or maybe it was snowflakes.

The first thing I heard was, “Are you okay?” I slowly rolled over and blinked a few times. Arden was standing over me, just staring. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen somebody fall on their face before, ” she commented. “At least there is a nice layer of snow that cushioned your fall.”

“My face hurts,” I moaned, not convinced of any cushion. Maybe Arden should call an ambulance, and they should bring a backboard in case I had a spinal injury. Arden reached down, grabbed my hand, and started hauling me up. I realized the ambulance wouldn’t be necessary.  

“You okay?” Arden asked me again.

“Yeah,” I rubbed my sore nose. “Can we not twirl anymore?”

She grinned, “Sure. Want some hot chocolate?” I agreed, and we trooped inside.

Arden left a trail of coat, gloves, hat, and scarf behind her as I followed her into the kitchen. Opening a cabinet door, she started rifling through it until she found what she wanted. “Here it is! Peppermint Winter! This is my favorite hot chocolate.” She found two mugs and filled them to the brim with milk and stuck the first one into the microwave. The microwave dinged, and I watched as she stirred the powder into the steaming mug and sat it before me.

“Thanks.” I said. I didn’t need to taste to believe. The wonderful, warm minty scent filled my nose as I lifted the cup in front of my face. I finally took a sip. This Peppermint Winter was so sugar sweet.

“Good?” asked Arden.

I nodded.

“Awesome!” She sat, taking the stool beside me, and we drank our hot chocolates in companionable silence.

“I wish we could go on a sleigh ride,” sighed Arden wistfully.

“Sounds chilly.”

“It’d be sooooooooooooo great!” she dreamed. “We could pretend we’re taking a sleigh ride,” she suggested.

“We could,” I agreed half-heartedly. I wasn’t big on pretending. I tended to prefer reality.

I looked over and saw that Arden’s seat was unoccupied. Turning around, I found her already dressed in her coat, and making motions for the door. “Come on!”

I barely had enough time to scramble back into my coat before I was dragged out the door. I stood on the front porch for the third time that day, this time feeling a bit confused. I heard her garage slowly creak open, and wondered about what could be coming out of that door. If she had a hot air balloon in her basement, I thought, remembering our adventure in the spring, what might she have in the garage. Arden emerged, not with a sleigh, but with a plastic sled.

“Our sleigh has arrived!” Arden announced.

I stared at it. It was red, as I’d always seen sleighs pictured, and, strangely enough, it had bells hanging all around the edge. It was lacking a few things, though. “You need a horse, and runners, and …”

She cut me off, “Use your imagination, Ben!”

I looked at it, and tried to picture what it would look like with a horse hitched to the front. I even shut my eyes super tight. It didn’t work. “I don’t see it.”

Arden just stared at me. “How can you not see it, Ben?”

“I…I…” I started to say. “I don’t know what to say. I mean there is no sleigh here. There’s definitely no horse.”

“What! You don’t see Sugar?” She grabbed the sled rope, and made a clicking sound. “C’mon, Sugar.”

“Sugar? Who’s Sugar?” I looked blankly around for “Sugar.”

“The horse, silly. I was helping complete your mental picture.”

“Oh,” I said, not sure what else to say. It really hadn’t helped my mental picture at all.

“What are you waiting for?” cried Arden, and she trotted down the driveway.

“Um, Arden, where are you going?” I asked, realizing she was leaving me.

Arden didn’t respond, but continued trotting down the street, occasionally nickering like a horse. I started down the driveway after her, yelling, “Arden! Where are you going? Arden!”

“Sugar” was a fast horse, and I had to run down the street after her to keep up. “Arden!” I called again, but got no response from her. I hoped no one saw me. “Arden!”

I still got no response from her as she turned a corner at the end of the street. “Arden!” I paused for a second to catch my breath, and wondered why she wouldn’t answer. I suddenly realized what I was doing wrong. “Sugar!” I called at the top of my lungs, recalling the horse’s name. “Sugar!” I REALLY hoped no one saw- or heard- me. “Sugar” stopped in front of the park just down the street. This park had a huge hill that everyone used for sledding.

“Sugar?” I gasped, running up to the “horse.”

She turned and neighed. “Did I complete your mental picture yet, Ben?” Arden questioned, turning back into a human for the moment.

The only mental picture I had was of the embarrassment I would face if anyone had seen me running down the street calling Arden, “Sugar.” However, I thought it better just to nod.

Walking through the park to where the big sledding hill was, she continued. “Oh, good, because Sugar,” she paused for a moment, patting the air as if it was a horse’s side, “is ready to take us on a sleigh ride! So, hop in the sleigh and we’ll glide away!”

Arden sat down in the front of the sled and patted the seat behind her. “C’mon, Ben!” I sighed, and complied, taking a seat behind her. She leaned out of the sled and pushed along the ground, slowly approaching the edge of the hill. The sled teetered at the top for a moment, then tipped forward, and we sped away.

“Go,  Sugar, go!” Arden screamed at the top of her lungs as we sailed down the hill.

Thanks for reading. Come back next week to see what happens to these two!

~ Kayla

Peppermint Winter – Part 1

Over the summer, I posted “Hot Air Balloon,” an Owl City song fanfiction featuring the characters Arden and Ben. Well, today, they’re back for some holiday fun in this fanfiction based on Owl City’s song, “Peppermint Winter.”

December 24th. The day before the most wonderful day of the year. What’s December without it? And I was spending it with Arden. I stepped up on the porch, rubbed my gloved, but still chilly hands together, and pushed the doorbell. I stood there waiting. I pushed the bell again and stood waiting. I sighed, my breath producing a cloud in front of me, and wondered what could be taking her so long. I looked around taking in all the decorations. Arranged in the yard were hand-made, wooden figures, sort of like miniature Santa Clauses, except each held something different in its hands; one a spoon, another a sheep, another a string of sausage. There were thirteen in all. The figure to the left of the porch had fallen over, and I stepped off to straighten him up. He was holding a stack of pots. At this point Arden still hadn’t come to the door. Breathing in the cold, snow-fragranced air, I glanced up at the grey sky and wondered if I should just go home. A white flake hit me square in the face.

The door was suddenly ripped open. Arden was standing there, dressed in a sparkly green sweater, red leggings, and reindeer antlers. Bits of wrapping paper and tape hung from her like ornaments on a Christmas tree. “BEN! You came!” Her eyes, almost as sparkly green as her sweater, glowed with excitement at seeing me. Her excitement soon tripled when she saw the snow falling. “Is that SNOW?!?!? I loooooooooooove snow!!!!!”

I looked up as more white flakes hit my head, “Yep. There’s the snow.” Really, it’s Minnesota. Winters do nothing but storm here.

Arden stepped out of the house and tossed her arms upwards, “Snow, snow, SNOW! I hope it never stops! Look out below!”

“Arden, you’re going to get sick if you just wear that sweater out here. You better bundle up, ’cause … ” I started to say before I was interrupted.

“Here it comes!!!!” she shrieked happily, running outside, starry eyed.

“Arden! You don’t even have shoes on.” I sighed. “Do you want to catch a cold?”

She stopped jumping around. “No.”

“Then go inside and put on a jacket.”

She marched up the stairs, saluting at the top. “Sir, yes, sir! Right away sir!”

She walked inside her house, and I followed her. Brushing the snow off her hair, she gestured to the disaster zone, also known as the living room, in front of us. “I’m wrapping presents while my mom is doing some last minute shopping,” she explained.

Wrapping paper, bits and pieces and whole sheets, were flung from the couch in front of the big window to the Christmas tree on the other side of the room. Tape stuck to every surface imaginable. “I love Christmas. It’s so festive and fun, and there’s so much to do!” declared Arden happily.

I hated the holidays. They created messes and general chaos for a month or two. I would be thrilled once Christmas was over. My parents’ store, Sweet Shop, was filled with customers from Thanksgiving on, and none of us got a break until after the holidays were over. Except for me, this afternoon. Which I was spending with Arden.

“Don’t you just love the holidays, Ben?” she grinned at me, throwing herself on the couch in front of the window to watch the snow fall. “Hey, you want to help me with something?”

Guessing we were done with the outdoors for the moment, I unzipped my blue parka, folded it, and placed it on the couch arm. I added my matching hat, scarf, and gloves neatly on top. Past experience advised that I should proceed with caution when answering an Arden question. “With what?” I asked.

Arden scrambled up into a standing position on the couch, and before I could protest, did a less-than-graceful leap onto the floor and into the pile of wrapping paper, her arm knocking off my neatly folded pile. “Wee!” She giggled. “Can you help me finish wrapping presents, Ben?”

Refolding my coat, I sighed, and glanced around at the chaotic mess. “Yeah, I can help. Do you think we should clean …”

“Great! This is for my cousin.” She dug a book out of a large bag and placed it on the floor. She grinned and motioned for me to sit down beside her.

I joined her amidst the paper. Snatching at a half-destroyed roll of wrapping paper, she dragged it over to where she sat, spreading the brightly decorated paper out. “Wanna wrap the book? I’ll wrap this one!” She grabbed another box and another roll of wrapping paper.

I agreed and started to look around for a ruler. I didn’t see one. “Arden?” I asked.

“Mm-hmm?” she answered, trying to tape an edge down.

“Do you have the ruler?”

She looked up from the mountain of wrapping paper she was buried in. “A what? Why do you need a ruler for wrapping presents?”

“For measuring the paper and the present,” I explained, patiently.

She cocked her head at me, “You don’t use a ruler, silly. You guess.”

“How do you know if you have enough paper?” I asked puzzled.

“I don’t know until I try it. I’ll get you a ruler, though.”

Arden stood up and went into the kitchen to look for one. Then suddenly she was standing over me, the ruler pointed at my neck, as if it were a weapon. “You are now my subject!” she commanded in a surprisingly scary voice, though its terrorizing effect was broken by a giggle. “Bow before me, subject!”

I blinked. Did she really want me to bow? Were we already moving on to something else other than wrapping presents? Arden was hard to keep up with.

When she saw my confused look, she laughed. “I was joking! Here,” she tossed her “sword” in front of me, before settling back down on the cream colored carpet, squishing more wrapping paper beneath her.

I cringed at the destruction, but there was nothing I could do to save that sheet. I focused my attention on the job in front of me. Now that I had the right tools, I could wrap the present. I started by measuring how deep and how wide the gift was. Then, I measured exactly 4 inches extra on the wrapping paper.

Arden looked at me with a sort of amazed wonderment, “You do all that just to wrap a gift? How long does it take in your house? Days?”

“Only a few hours,” I commented, using the ruler to cut a straight line in the paper.

She added a few more pieces of tape on the gift she’d wrapped. “Now it’ll stay in place, at least until Christmas!”

I glanced over at her wrapping job. The paper was wrinkled and had been pieced together with tape, and there were a few rips.

“Isn’t it great? It looks kind of like a quilt!”

“That it does,” I kindly agreed with her, adding in my mind, maybe an old quilt that had been dragged behind a car. I turned back to my wrapping job, and gently folded the sides and taped them down.

Arden stared at me. “It’s….it’s…perfect!”

“Well, I don’t know about perfect. We still need some ribbon and bows. Want me to teach you … ”

Arden’s admiration of my gift-wrapping skills abruptly ended when she noticed the accumulation of snow on the ground. “It looks like a blizzard. There’s enough for a,” Arden interrupted herself, rushed out of the room, and dashed back a few seconds later, her arms full of a purple and green coat, orange hat, pink gloves, and a bright blue scarf. She dumped the rainbow of winter gear on the carpet. “Snowball fight!” she yelled, finishing her original sentence. As she tugged on her pale yellow snow boots she proclaimed, “Winter has finally begun!”

Stay tuned next week for part 2 of Arden and Ben’s winter tale.

If you’re curious about the rather unique Christmas decorations in Arden’s yard, they’re based on an Icelandic Christmas tradition. Here’s a link to a picture of them and some more information:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yule_Lads

http://www.iceland.is/images/the-icelandic-yule-lads.jpg

The song I based this fanfiction off of is “Peppermint Winter” by Owl City. In case you’ve never heard it, here you go!

~ Kayla