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Rollie Pollie Circus
“Grandma, there’s nothing to do today!” six-year-old MaCall wailed, peering out the dusty window into the sunlit garden and sulking.
“Oh, but there’s always something to do,” Grandma said, smiling so that the crinkled corners of her eyes leapt up to her temples. “We could bake cookies,” she offered.
“We just made cookies yesterday,” MaCall said dully, fiddling with the window hatch.
“We could go up in the attic and tell scary stories,” she suggested.
“But that’s not fun unless it’s dark,” MaCall said, letting a spider crawl over her fingers.
“Well, honey, why don’t you just go out there in the tomato garden and you’ll think of something. It’s magical,” Grandma said with a wink.
MaCall grabbed her little yellow rain-boots and sighing, danced out the door. She always wore the rain-boots, even when it was sunny. Her grandma looked after her for a moment, then looked back down at her broom, shaking her head and smiling.
The tomatoes seemed like they were always perfectly ripe as they sunbathed on the green vines, plump and shiny as Santa’s cheeks. In fact, the tomatoes were so ripe MaCall plucked one right off the vine and chomped into it, then flopped on the grass under her grandma’s shady willow tree to think about what to do.
Suddenly, MaCall felt a small tickling sensation on her forearm. She gave a little shriek, and just as she was about to whack the mysterious offender, she saw that it was a baby rollie pollie.
“Hey there, little guy. Where are you going?” MaCall asked, scooping the rollie pollie into her hand.
The rollie pollie curled into a tiny ball of armor and somersaulted off her arm like a circus acrobat.
“Hey that was quite good!” MaCall exclaimed, watching as the rollie pollie disappeared under a rock. “I think I’ll call you Georgie.”
MaCall lifted the slab of rock with all her might, and to her surprise, saw that the entire underbelly of the rock was completely covered with tiny black rollie pollie critters.
“Huh,” she said thoughtfully, propping up the slab of rock with stones so that it lay at an angle to the ground just like a stadium.
“Get ready, you guys, ‘cause the MaCall’s Critter Circus is coming to town!”
After smoothing the dirt in front of the “bleachers,” MaCall gathered pebbles in her dirt-smeared hands and created three rings.
Then, she took a sharp stick and carved into the first rock:
Stadium arena seating
Frowning in concentration, MaCall drew little squares around the rollie pollies crawling on the rock so it looked like each pollie had a seat.
“Stay in your seat, mister,” she chided one of the rollie pollies who had the temerity to crawl away from his designated spot.
MaCall’s face lit up.
“I have an idea!” she exclaimed, quickly hopping up and dashing into her grandma’s house and whizzing by her grandmother.
“Whoa there, sweetheart, who’s on your back?” cried Grandma.
“No one, Grandma. I found something to do!” exclaimed MaCall, snatching up her finger paints and a discarded Chinese take-out box.
“What on Earth—?” Grandma began, but MaCall had already whirred out the door.
When MaCall returned to her spot, she hand-picked the largest rollie pollies and placed them in the first ring the circus.
“Hmm,” she frowned. “The ferocious lions don’t look ferocious in their gray suits!”
MaCall took her paint-brush and slapped a little dark gold paint on each of the big rollie pollies’ shells. Then, she picked out the smallest rollie pollies and stuck them in the opposite ring.
“For my beautiful ballerinas!” she smiled, dabbing a dot of pink paint on each of their glistening black shells.
Then she took the rest of the rollie pollies on the slab of rock and lined them up on a line of skinny pebbles that served as the tight rope, dabbing a bit of silver paint onto their shells like the leotards the acrobats on the tight rope usually wear.
After MaCall had cut little windows out of the Chinese takeout box and glued some red construction paper all over the box, she plucked some more rollie pollies off the ground and plopped them in.
“Every circus needs a traveling crew!” she exclaimed, propping the takeout box up on some circular stones that looked like wheels.
Then, MaCall took Georgie and stuck him in the middle ring.
“And you, my little Georgie, can be the Ringleader!” she cried.
And as she watched her ballerina-pollies twirling upon the backs of dancing elephants and the lions roared as Georgie the Ringleader cracked his fiery whip, she wasn’t bored in the least.