Pika’s Journey Home

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I wrote this children’s story for my French class (and made some not so excellent sketches too). It’s originally in French, but I haven’t decided which language it sounds better in yet. I’d really appreciate any feedback you might have on it- especially if you have some kids you can read it to since this was my first attempt at a children’s story.

Once upon a time there was a little pika who lived in the mountain talus. She had a great big house sculpted in the rock. The entryway was large so the sunlight could come in. There was a kitchen so she could make her soups and a marble bathroom where she could wash up.  There was a room with a big bookcase full of books and a big straw bed for her to sleep comfortably. She had spent several years building this beautiful house.

She was sleeping soundly one night when a big thunderstorm arrived.  Pika hid under the covers of her big straw bed. The thunder roared and grumbled. Pika trembled with fear. All of a sudden, the lightning hit the talus. The roof collapsed onto her shelf and her books were crushed beneath the rock. Pika ran outside and hid under a big boulder. She saw her house crumble behind her.

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Morning arrived. Pika was very cold and soaking wet even if the sun was now starting to shine. Pika was shivering when a marmot found her.

“Hello Ms. Pika! But… oh my! You are soaked!” said Marmot.

“Yes, I’m very very cold. And I’ve lost my beautiful home that took me so long to build” replied Pika.

Pika and Marmot went to Marmot’s burrow. Marmot made her some tea and gave her a towel to dry herself with.

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Pika warmed up quickly and exclaimed, “What a beautiful home you have Marmot! I especially love the big bathtub with the golden faucet.”

“Thank you! I made it myself out of porcelain. Would you like to take a warm bath?”

“Yes! Yes! I’d love to. Can it be a bubbly bath?”

“Why of course, if you so desire. I have some lavender soap!”

“Mmmmm… that is going to smell sooo good! Thank you Ms. Marmot!”  And so Marmot ran a warm bath.

Pika dipped her little paws. “Ow! Ow! It’s too hot!”

“Patience, my little one!”

After the bath, Pika and Marmot went to gather plants so they could make a salad for diner. They ran up and down the fields picking plenty of delicious herbs and flowers.

Some clouds arrived in the afternoon and Pika and Marmot decided to go home. One by one and two by two, the drops began to fall. Rain!

“It’s raining very hard!” exclaimed Pika.

“Well let’s make sure to close the door!” replied Marmot.

They ate their salad as the rain fell. The drops were getting bigger and bigger.

After finishing their diner with some tea and they went to sleep in Marmot’s little wooden bed.

In the middle of the night a drop fell on Marmot’s snoring nose. The drops fell from the roof and water started to come in underneath the door. Bit by bit, the level of the water rose.

“Wake up Ms. Pika! And quick! To the bathtub!” exclaimed Marmot.

They stumbled through the water to the bathroom and found refuge in the bathtub that was now starting to float. Little by little the roof crumbled. Marmot took a broom and began to row. As they passed out of the door the bathtub was immediately carried away by a stream of mud. They floated all the way to the base of the mountain and through the woods where the stream joined a great river. They completely lost control of the bathtub which was being tossed about in every direction by the fury of the river. Pika and Marmot sheltered themselves against the bottom of the bathtub which was beginning to fill with water.

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All of a sudden the bathtub slowed down. Pika and Marmot looked in front of them and saw a big dam.

“We’re saved! We’re saved!” they exclaimed.

A beaver saw them from the shore. He swam towards the bathtub and said: “Come! Jump in the water. I’ll bring you back to my place. You have to swim a little, but don’t worry, you can dry yourself off inside.”

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Pika and Marmot, tired and already soaked through because of the rain, did not hesitate to jump in the water and follow Beaver. He brought them to his shelter in the dam, made of mud and wood. The inside was quite warm and dry. There was a big stove-top with a beautiful oven that Beaver filled with wood to start a fire. There were wooden shelves filled with porcelain plates and cups, iron pots and pans, brilliant silverware, and plenty of food: breads, cakes, jams, cheeses, and of course some tea.

“What a beautiful kitchen!” exclaimed Marmot.

“Why thank you, I spent several years putting it together. Why don’t you dry yourselves off in front of my oven?”

Pike and Marmot dried themselves in front of the oven while Beaver made them a soup on the stove-top. They each drank three bowls and went to bed with full and warm stomachs.

In the middle of the night Pika, Marmot, and Beaver felt their shelter shake. All of a sudden an enormous wave arrived and swept away everything- the dam and the shelter (including the beautiful kitchen!). The three friends found themselves once again in the water.

“It’s a tsunami!” cried Pika.

“It’s a hurricane!” yelled Marmot.

“My kitchen!” screamed Beaver.

The level of the water rose and the three friends fought to swim. Beaver took Marmot and Pika on his back and swam to the nearest tree.

Pika climbed up onto a branch and helped the other two animals to climb into the tree. They jumped from branch to branch until they found a beautiful window in the trunk of the tree. They knocked at the window. An owl opened it and said “Come in! Come in! What are you doing outside in this dreadful weather?”

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The three friends told him what had happened and how they had all lost their homes.

“What a horrible misfortune!” said Owl. “But, don’t you worry, you can all stay with me in my nest. I will make you some hot chocolate and cookies.” Owl prepared their afternoon snack while Pika, Marmot, and Beaver warmed themselves under his down blankets. The sun came back and a beautiful clearing appeared outside. The light entered through Owl’s big window.

“What a beautiful window!” exclaimed Beaver.

“But, wait a minute, owls like light?” asked Pika.

“I am not a normal owl. I like seeing the day and the beauty of the landscape, and to have light illuminate my home. So I build this great window to observe the world. It took me all of two years!”

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After the hot chocolate and cookies Owl wrapped Pika, Marmot, and Beaver in his great owl wings and the four friends fell asleep in the warm light of the nest.

They awoke suddenly in the middle of the night when a branch thumped against the tree trunk.

“Whoooos there?” asked Owl.

A great wind responded, thumping branches against the trunk again and again.  Owl sheltered the three little animals with his great owl wings. The wind blew harder and harder. The tree swayed from side to side.

All of a sudden a branch, ripped and carried by the wind, broke through the beautiful window. The four friends took shelter against the back wall of the nest. The tree started to crack.

“Quick, get on my back!” yelled Owl. Pika, Marmot, and Beaver climbed onto his back. *Crrrraaaaaaaackkk* Owl flew off just as the tree split in two.

Owl yelled, “My beautiful nest! My beautiful window!”

Owl flew in the wind all through the night with the three little ones on his back. They all cried for the loss of Owl’s nest.  And they cried for their homes too, which now only existed in memory.

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When the sun finally rose, the wind calmed down and Owl landed on a boulder in the middle of a glowing alpine prairie.

“Without a nest, without a window… What are we going to do now?” asked Owl.

“Without a kitchen…” moaned Beaver.

“Without a bathtub…” grumbled Marmot.

“Without a bed…” whimpered Pika.

The four animals contemplated the landscape in silence. They looked to the majestic mountains climbing into the blue expanse of the sky, the rivers and lakes shimmering in the new light of day, and the dense and mysterious forests rooted in the foothill shadows. They sighed for their sadness and at the relief of a new day.

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“This view is so beautiful!” exclaimed Marmot. “We should build a home here.”

“What a great idea!” replied Beaver.

“With huge windows and down blankets!” exclaimed Owl.

“With a large kitchen and plenty of snacks!” exclaimed Beaver.

“With a big porcelain bathtub!” exclaimed Marmot.

“With a big… but, wait!” exclaimed Pika. She furrowed her brow and appeared deep in thought.

“What is it Pika?” asked Owl.

“Well, it is very sad that we lost our homes… but is it worth the trouble to re-build all of that? So that another storm can take them away? Yes, I’ve lost my home, but at least I am here, now, with you. And I am very happy to have met you. Why don’t we live simply – together?” replied Pika.

“Well now! That’s a great idea!” said Owl.

“We can use pine needles to make our beds!” exclaimed Marmot.

“We can take our baths in the great river!” suggested Beaver.

“We can make fire with dead wood. And watch the stars together every night!” added Pika.

“And we can move whenever we like!” said Owl.

“All the landscapes will be ours to explore!” exclaimed Marmot.

“I sure don’t know where tomorrow will bring me, but I know that my home is with you” said a smiling Pika.

The four friends walked out into the prairie, happy to have found each other and to share all the landscapes of life together.

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Published by Johanne Boulat

Johanne Boulat was born in French-speaking Switzerland, where she lives again now, but she grew up under the resplendent California sun. For 21 years she basked in the spirit of the Wilderness, which she discovered on hiking as well as literary paths. She received her Bachelor of Science in Animal Biology from the University of California, Davis in 2012 and since then has worked as a scientific field aid, a translator, a sales specialist, and a running coach. In 2018, she completed her master’s degree in English Literature at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland. She now teaches English and Science at a local elementary school and dedicates her free time to the three “R”s: Running, Reading, and Writing.

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