The heat made it hard to breath. Charlie sat on his tricycle gazing off into nowhere, seeing nothing, really. It was too hot to think. He was by himself that morning. All the neighborhood kids were in school. Even his older brothers were inside studying with their mother who taught them at home. Everyone else stayed inside, but Charlie couldn’t. Sometimes, he just had to be outside. Slowly, his head began to droop until his hair tickled against the handlebars.
He jerked his eyes open. “What was that?” he gasped. A bright flash of light is what he thought he saw. “Maybe I just dreamed it,” he thought. “No, There it is again!” It was no dream and not just a flash, either. Charlie watched as a bright golden light streaked across the sky just over the rooftops across the street. It traveled to the far end of the block, turned and came to rest gracefully on the sidewalk a few doors down form his house.
Charlie was surprised, but not afraid, as he studied the glowing form. It was about the size of a lion and seemed as bright as the sun, but looking at it didn’t hurt his eyes. He was sure it was studying him, too! Then it started toward him, slowly. The hair on the back of Charlie’s neck began to rise. Then, suddenly, he leaped off his tricycle and cried, “It’s a Magic Puppy!”
Charlie and the puppy ran toward each other as if they were life long friends. They played tag, hide and seek, and all the kinds of games boys and dogs play. Charlie had always wanted a puppy of his own.
Then, as they sat beneath the liquidambar tree in Charlie’s front yard, the puppy asked Charlie, “Would you like to go for a ride with me?” Magic Puppy motioned to the sky with his head.
Charlie’s eyes got really big. What fun that would be! Then, a sad look came over his face and he replied, “I have to go ask my mom, first.” Charlie didn’t see the look of deep love on Magid Puppy’s face as he plodded back into the house. He knew for sure his mom wouldn’t let him go. “After all,” he said to himself, “it’s lunch time, then I’ll have to take a nap… and then the puppy will be gone.”
But, she said, “Yes!” His mom said yes as though there was nothing unusual about a magic puppy, or going without lunch or a nap; like it was the most natural thing in the world. Charlie couldn’t get over it. He ran back outside and shouted, “I can! My mom said I can!”
“Then climb on my back,” barked Magic Puppy and in the blink of an eye, Charlie was aboard!
Just at that moment, a little girl came out of the house at the corner. Charlie saw her and waved. He asked, “Can my friend Kristin come, too?” The puppy nodded, so Charlie called out to her, “Kristin, go ask if you can ride on Magic Puppy,”
A moment later, she ran out and climbed on behind Charlie. “My papa said it’s all right,” she said smiling.
Hang on tight, Magic Puppy cried. Then, with one giant leap, they cleared the houses and trees and headed into the sky.
“The sky is so blue!” exclaimed Kristen, as she held on to Charlie’s waist. They were already so high, the cars and houses looked like toys. Still higher they flew, until the children noticed little wisps of vapor whizzing by their arms and feet.
“We’re in the clouds!” gasped Charlie. “Look, can you see the mountains down there?” Kristen just hugged him tighter and giggled with delight. It wasn’t scary to be up that high with Magic Puppy. Both the children knew they were safe no matter where they went. They weren’t sure why, but being with him made them feel like no harm could ever come to them.
On and on they flew over mountains, over the desert, out over the plains and across the whole country until the reached the eastern shoreline and flew out over the Atlantic Ocean! The view below them soon turned to a vast blanket of deep blue. They were in the very middle of the ocean, now.
Charlie thought to himself, “Where is Magic Puppy taking us? Can I really trust him? I just met him this morning.” Just as Charlie began to doubt they were as safe as he first thought, Magic Puppy tuned his head and shouted over the noise of the wind, “Are you two hungry?”
There in front of them, still some way off, a mountain top poked up through a puffy white cloud. Right at the top, with a hedge around it, was what looked like an orchard. In the middle of the orchard stood a particularly big and beautiful tree. Magic Puppy flew closer and made a graceful circle around the garden.
“Apples!” whispered Charlie, “Look how beautiful they are.” Those were the most wonderful looking apples Charlie had ever seen. Shining red and bigger than softballs, they seemed ready to burst with sweetness. Magic Puppy landed in the grass under the boughs of that magnificent tree.
The children slipped off his back and, while they stretched the stiffness from their limbs, Magic Puppy asked, “Do you think you can find the very best apple on that tree, Charlie?” Charlie shot back a look that said he didn’t need to be asked twice. As quick as a wink, he climbed up onto Magic Puppy’s head. Then, the puppy lifted Charlie up into the branches so that he could reach the apple he wanted. Higher and higher he lifted the boy, placing first one enormous paw against the trunk and then the other, until Charlie was among the tiny twigs at the top.
“I think I see the one I want, Charlie called down, “it’s a little to the right.” He reached as far toward it as he could and Magic Puppy leaned just enough to the side so that, at last, Charlie picked the sweetest, juiciest, biggest red apple he’d ever seen. He grinned from ear to ear, as the puppy gently lowered him to the ground. Charlie loved apples more than anything else, and this was the most perfect apple in all the world. He looked at Magic Puppy with a glint in his eye. “This has to be the best apple of all,” he said, not hiding his excitement.
Just as he was about to take his first bite, he stopped and looked over at his friend, Kristen. She stood swaying silently with her hands behind her back, looking at him. Charlie realized that, in his excitement, he had completely forgotten she was there. He looked at the apple in his hand. It truly was the biggest, reddest, juiciest, most perfect apple he’d ever seen. He really did like apples more than just about anything. He looked back at Kristen and asked, “Would you like this apple?”
She took that apple and immediately began eating it. Charlie held his breath as he watched her. He wondered if she liked it as much as he would have. Then, he heard Magic Puppy, in a low voice, speak his name. “Charlie, I have something for you.”
Tingles went up and down his spine, as Magic Puppy spoke. That voice seemed to reach right down into his heart. Charlie turned around and saw that somehow the puppy looked bigger than before and seemed to be deeply happy.
“Climb up on my head,” he said and Charlie obeyed. Once more, the puppy lifted him high into the tree. There, Charlie saw a most unexpected thing! It was a perfectly white apple. Not yellow or pale green, but completely pure white. “I have saved that one for you, Charlie. Pick it,” Magic Puppy said, “Eat it.”
Charlie shook as he reached to pick the apple. He knew it was more than just a normal piece of fruit, but he was too afraid to ask what it really was. Yet, he trusted Magic Puppy, so he took hold of that apple for his very own. Each bite was cool and sweet in his mouth, but gave him a wonderful warm feeling inside. It was as if each bite he took somehow set him free. He didn’t understand it, but he felt he was becoming…more. As Charlie sat down under the tree next to Kristen, who had fallen asleep, Magic Puppy explained.
“The white apple is the Apple of a Pure Heart. The warm feeling you have inside is of Love and a Clear Conscience. Because you listened to me and gave away the apple of your choosing, I have given you the apple of my choosing. If you always choose to love others, you will always deep your conscience clear, because you do what pleases me.”
But, Magic Puppy,” Charlie said, “I didn’t hear you tell me to give my apple away. I gave it to Kristen because I knew she was hungry and I knew you would be happy if did.”
Magic Puppy smiled and answered, “That is how I know you listen to me, when you choose to love others in order to please me.” The two of them sat quietly looking into each other’s eyes, not needing to say more.
“It’s time to go,” the puppy said, finally.
Slowly, Charlie got to his feet. He felt a little sleepy. After all, he had missed his afternoon nap and it was getting on to evening, now. He gently reached to awaken Kristen, who stretched and yawned a bit before they both climbed up on Magic Puppy’s back for the trip home. With the strength of a lion and the gracefulness of a deer, the puppy leaped into the sky.
Soon, boy and girl were fast asleep on the puppy’s back, as he streaked across the evening sky towards home. Charlie awoke to se his house beneath them, as Magic Puppy flew down to land right in the driveway.
“My dad’s home!” shouted Charlie, “See, there’s his truck.” He helped Kristen down off Magic Puppy’s back, said good-bye to her and ran in to tell his father and mother all that had happened that afternoon.
“Well, son, that’s quite a story,” his dad said, after Charlie had finished. “Can we meet Magic Puppy?”
Oh, no!” cried Charlie, for he realized that he hadn’t said good-bye to him. He ran outside, but Magic Puppy was already gone.
“He’ll be back, I bet,” his father said, as he walked up behind Charlie, who was earnestly searching the sky for his new friend.
“Did it really happen, Dad?” is what Charlie was about to ask when, suddenly, his dad pointed to the sky and shouted, “Look!” A bright golden streak lit up the twilight sky for just that moment.
“That’s was my friend, Dad,” said Charlie, “the Magic Puppy!”