Share Button

A Job for the Friendly Flame

Freddy was a friendly flame. He came from a family of good flames. The Flame family worked hard to help people -- cooking and baking, driving cars and planes. But Freddy was too small to have a job of his own. His mother always told him, "Eat plenty of logs and soon you'll be big enough." But Freddy didn't want to wait. He was always going out looking for things he could do to help people.

Very early one morning, just as the sun was rising, Freddy hopped onto a dry leaf lying on the ground. He was such a tiny flame that he did not burn the leaf. Instead, it just smoldered. A puff of wind lifted the leaf into the air. Freddy held on tight and looked out eagerly over the edge of the leaf. He had found that he could travel to interesting places riding on the wind. He had learned how to steer in the wind by twisting and bending the leaf. But he had to be careful not to be blown out.

The wind carried Freddy up over a mountain. The mountain was covered with snow. Down below, he saw a cabin. Next to it was a mound of snow that was shaped like a car. But there was no smoke coming out of the chimney.

Freddy decided to go down for a closer look. He made the leaf curl into a rocket shape. Down, down he dove, straight for the cabin. A few feet above the cabin, he opened the leaf and fluttered down like a parachute, straight through the chimney. He landed on a pile of ashes in the fireplace.

Brrr! It was cold. Freddy looked around the room. In bunks against the wall, he saw three people sleeping -- a man, a woman, and a boy. They hardly seemed to be breathing. Their lips were blue with cold. If something was not done, they would surely freeze to death!

Freddy tried to warm the boy. He flitted from the boy's head to his feet. He even crept under the blanket. Soon a little color returned to the boy's face.

Now Freddy leaped over to the boy's mother and warmed her for a few minutes. Then he streaked over to the father. But when he returned to the boy, he had already turned blue again.

What could Freddy do? He was too little to restart the fire in the fireplace. And he couldn't keep all three people warm by himself.

Suddenly Freddy had an idea. He raced to the boy's foot. He stayed there and kept flickering. The boy's foot grew warmer and warmer.

Suddenly -- "0uch!" The boy leaped out of bed. He huddled inside his blanket, shivering. "Hey, Dad! The fire is out." He shook his parents until they woke up. Together they started the fire again. Soon the cabin was warm.

"It was sure lucky you woke up when you did," said the man to his son as they piled more logs in the fireplace. "We could have frozen to death!"

The boy sat still for a moment, thinking. "You know, Dad," he said, "I had a 'funny dream just before I woke up. There was this little flame burning my foot. This one." He lifted his left foot, and his father looked at it in surprise. There, on the sole of the boy's bare foot, was a small red mark.

"I wonder how you got this," the boy's father said. "There certainly wasn't any fire in here this morning!" They both laughed.

Freddy watched from a corner of the cabin. He was glad that he had saved the people's lives. There were things that even a little flame could do! But now he had a problem. His leaf had burned up in the fireplace. How was he going to get home again!

After a while, the woman went outside to get a bucket of snow to boil for coffee, and the man went out to look at his car. The boy was alone in the cabin. Suddenly he noticed a tiny flickering in the corner. "Is that a spark from the fireplace?" he thought. He went closer to look. It was a tiny flame. He remembered his dream and wondered.

Still watching the little flame, the boy took a notebook off the shelf and tore out a page. He held it out gently, and Freddy leaped onto the paper. Smiling, the boy took the smoldering paper to the fireplace and held it in the draft above the fire. Then he let go, and Freddy sailed up the chimney and out, riding the winds back home.


©1972, 2013 The Silversteins