FOOFER WANDERED THROUGH his backyard leisurely, pausing every so often, until he came to the foot of his favorite tree, an oak that was in the corner of the yard. As he stood under the shade of the tree, he thought he could hear a rusting noise in the branches. He looked up and sure enough, one of the branches was moving in jerky fashion, the leaves shifting to and fro.
Then all of a sudden a dark blur fell from the tree, falling on the ground with a thump. With a growl forming in his throat, Foofer crept closer to the object and was surprised to find himself staring eye-to-eye with a squirrel.
Foofer loved squirrels, and thought they were quite lovely, but they were always running away from him, never wanting to play. Squirrels usually had dark, shiny hair and little bodies with long tails. But the sight he beheld in front of him took his breath away because it was simply the most beautiful squirrel he had ever seen. It had blue-black hair, shiny and thick around its body, with long, elegant legs and nails, and a silver streak running down the length of its back. Perhaps the most striking thing about the squirrel was its violet-colored eyes, with long black lashes. All of the squirrels Foofer had seen before always had dark brown eyes, but not this one.
Foofer lowered his head and started his nose inspection. Her scent was unlike that of the other squirrels. She had an air of rose-sweetness that was refreshing, but somehow disturbing at the same time. Foofer nudged the squirrel with his nose, and she at once made a mewling sound. Then she reached out with her clawed-paw and swiped him on the leg.
"Steady on!" Foofer barked. "Who are you?"
"Mischa." The word came in a whisper, almost as if said on the end of a wisp of wind.
"Are you okay?" Foofer asked. "Are you hurt?"
Mischa was still as she watched Foofer. It was almost as if the squirrel was a statue, so still she was. She said nothing in return, and kept regarding Foofer with her violet-colored stare.
Foofer was becoming a bit cranky by Mischa's lack of response. "I asked, are you hurt?"
"No, I just had the breath knocked out of me," Mischa finally replied in a soft voice, although she had not moved from her position on the ground. Foofer still stood over her defensively, as if waiting for her to make a mad dash. Mischa deferred to his dominance and waited patiently. "I was scurrying along one of the branches in the tree and it gave way. Before I could get my balance, I fell to the ground."
Foofer nosed Mischa again, this time licking the side of her face just to make sure she was all right. "You don't look like a normal squirrel. Are you a normal squirrel?" he muttered.
"I told you, I'm a Mischa," the squirrel said in a whispery voice. "I'm from the squirrel family, yes, but I'm oh-so-different than a normal squirrel."
Foofer wagged his tail and nudged Mischa with his nose again. At least she was talking! Mischa stood up, and slowly shook out her long, badger-like tail.
"How are you different from other squirrels?" Foofer wanted to know.
Mischa regarded Foofer with her violet eyes, and continued to speak in her whispery voice: "I was tenderly raised by Genies, and they have sent me out into the world to grant people - and animals - their most heartfelt wishes."
Foofer was dumfounded. "What in the world are Genies?" he asked.
Mischa sighed with a touch of impatience, as if Foofer should know the answer to his own question. Then she told him: "Genies are spirits created from fire and a smokeless flame. Genies are moistly invisible, but can also appear in the form of humans or animals. Genies live in miniature houses of their own construction, confined by a magic vase. Anyone who has the vase can control the Genie and their magic powers. One of these Genies, by the name of Jin, was a free spirit and took an entire race of squirrels and bestowed upon them his magical powers. I am descended from this race of squirrels, and as such, have inherited the magic powers."
Foofer wasn't sure if he believed the Mischa. Who had ever heard of a magic squirrel? The look of disbelief must have been evident on Foofer's face because the Mischa continued: "Jin was a very kind and gentle Genie who sought to do only good deeds for people all over the world. Jin thought the squirrel population was so plentiful that we would make excellent messengers to spread his goodwill as he desired."
Foofer was full of questions, but wasn't sure where to begin. Then he blurted out: "Where is this Genie Jin now?"
"Jin is very old and lives in Arabia," the Mischa answered, a sadness creeping into her voice.
"If he has magic powers, why can't he stop himself from getting old?" Foofer wanted to know, his tone skeptical.
"Jin is more than four centuries old," Mischa replied. "Even Genies are susceptible to the ravages of time after that long."
"But why are you here in my backyard? Are you here by accident?" Foofer asked.
Mischa made a hissing sound, almost like a cat, and said: "In case you haven't noticed, you're a special dog, Foofer. I don't like pointing that out, because it's obvious you're reluctant to believe what I have to say, but it's true. I was destined to help you from the start."
"Help me?" Foofer asked, puzzled again by this creature. "What are you talking about?"
Mischa let out a big sigh, another hissing sound. Then she said patiently: "I was sent out into the world to grant wishes for special people and animals."
"But why me?" Foofer persisted. "You still haven't answered my question."
"I'm beginning to wonder that myself," Mischa replied, irritated that Foofer was asking so many questions. "I told you, for some unknown reason you have a special gift and insight to people. You can see things other dogs will never see, and you possess many human traits - such as compassion and intelligence. This has earned you three of your most heartfelt wishes."
Foofer was not convinced. "I'm still not sure I understand what you mean," he said. "But I'll let it go for now."
"Thank you," Mischa hissed, but she was smiling because Foofer could see her teeth. "Now, tell me, if you had three wishes, what would they be?"
Foofer laughed. "Three wishes? This is silly!"
Mischa made a hissing sound again, barring her teeth. She did not appreciate Foofer's casual regard for what she considered a serious matter. Mischa wondered if Jin had made a mistake by sending her to Foofer.
Foofer saw the irritation in Mischa's face and decided to play nicely. "Okay, okay. Three wishes, eh? Let me think." He paused and thought hard. What did he really want that he didn't already have? He had a happy home, he loved his Mummy and Wilbert, and he had a best friend in Frizbee. That was it! Frizbee! One of Foofer's wishes was that Frizbee be allowed to go to the park with him.
"My first wish is that Frizbee be able to go to the park anytime he wants," Foofer blurted out. "With me."
"Who or what is Frizbee?" Mischa asked, perplexed. "A toy?"
"No, no," Foofer replied, surprised Mischa didn't know who Frizbee was by way of her supposed magical powers. "Frizbee is my best friend. He lives next door. His mother never lets him out of her sight, so he never gets to go to the park with me."
Mischa nodded. "Very well. Wish granted."
Foofer tilted his head to one side. "How will I know my wish has been granted?"
"All of the wishes I grant take one day to come true," Mischa replied. "I'm not as powerful as Jin, so this time tomorrow your wish will be true." Mischa stared at Foofer, her violet eyes bright. "Next wish?"
Foofer thought long and hard again. He thought of all his toys and treats. He liked his house the way it was and had no wish to change that, either. Then he thought about his favorite food, and - for lack of a better idea - told Mischa: "I wish I had one million pieces of chicken."
Mischa's eyes widened. "Are you sure?"
"Wish granted," Mischa said.
Foofer looked hopeful. "I still have one more wish?"
Mischa nodded slowly. "Yes, you do, but I need to warn you about your last wish. If tomorrow comes and you find you do not like any of the wishes you've made, you will
not be able to change them. My advice to you is to keep the third wish in case you want to reverse any of your previous wishes."
Foofer was uncertain. "Do I have to decide today?"
"No. I'll be here until tomorrow. You will have to decide before I leave, though."
Foofer was happy. "Wonderful! I'm sure I won't regret either one of my wishes, but just to be safe I'll keep the third one in reserve."
"A very wise decision, Foofer. And very intelligent," Mischa said gravely.
"Can I tell Frizbee about his good fortune?" Foofer asked, hopeful.
Mischa's violet eyes were wide in surprise. "No, you can't. If you tell anyone about me, especially those connected with a wish you've made, all you have asked for will simply disappear in a wisp of smoke."
"How can my wish about Frizbee disappear?"
Mischa was losing her patience with Foofer. He was a smart dog and she expected better from him. "The wish will disappear, Foofer. The wish."
Foofer seemed satisfied with the answer. Then he said: "But where will you sleep while you're here?"
Mischa looked up at the tree from which she had fallen a short time before. "Up in that tree, or another. Never fear. You will see me again." With that, the Mischa turned around and skittered up the tree trunk, soon swallowed up by the green leaves and long thin branches.
Foofer sighed, turning away from the small tree and the beautiful squirrel. As he walked toward his house - suddenly hungry for his breakfast - he decided to take one last look at the oak tree. As he glanced over his shoulder, he saw the beautiful squirrel in midair as it jumped from the oak into a bigger tree ten feet away. Foofer had to blink his eyes to make sure he wasn't seeing things, but sure enough the beautiful squirrel found its way to the bigger tree and soon disappeared up into the top branches.
FOOFER & THE MAGIC MISCHA ©2011-2017 Deborah O'Toole. All rights reserved.
"Foofer & the Magic Mischa" may not be reproduced in whole or in part without written permission from the author. "Foofer & the Magic Mischa" is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead is purely coincidental.