Magic Racing Car
was more than two weeks since Chuck broke his leg. What a
summer! He couldn't go swimming. He couldn't go out and play
ball. All he could do was hobble around the house on crutches,
or sit outside on the front porch and watch the other kids
It wasn't too bad at first. His mother fixed special treats
for him and played games with him during the day. In the evenings
his father always had something interesting to do. But then
his father went away on a business trip, and his mother was
too busy to spend much time with Chuck any more. Watching
TV and reading all day got boring after a while.
Chuck's father was coming home at last, that afternoon. When
he came in the door, he was loaded with packages. "Look what
I've brought you," he said.
There were puzzles and games and books. But what Chuck liked
best was a set of little model racing cars hardly bigger than
a matchbox. They had tiny motors that could be charged up.
There were things for Chuck's mother, too -- a robe and some
scarves made of real silk from China. "Oh, what a shame!"
she exclaimed suddenly. "One of the scarves has a tear in
it." She held up a purple scarf to the light, and a jagged
rip could be seen, streaking across one end.
I have that one, Mom?" Chuck asked.
course," his mother replied. So Chuck took all his new toys
and the purple scarf to his room. The afternoon sun was shining
in through the window. Chuck spread the scarf out in front
of the window. Everything in the room was covered with a strange
that looks neat," Chuck thought. So he got out some thumbtacks
and tacked the scarf up in place over the window.
Chuck had a great time all that evening, playing with his
new toys -- especially the racing cars. As he watched them
zoom across the floor, he could imagine that he was riding
in one of them, speeding to the finish line. It would be great
to be able to go racing along, instead of hobbling around
That night, just on the dot of midnight, Chuck awoke suddenly.
Moonlight was shining in through the scarf over the window,
and the room was filled with purple light. In a pool of light
on the floor was one of the racing cars. Something was moving
beside it. It was a large cricket, tapping the hood of the
car with its feelers.
Chuck slid out of bed as quietly as he could and moved closer.
The purple moonlight beamed down on him. Suddenly Chuck cried
out. He felt as though he was falling. Then -- he blinked
in surprise. The racing car was beside him, and it was just
the right size for him to ride in. And the cricket -- it was
a monster! How had they grown so big?
Chuck looked up at the roam around him and stumbled backward
with a startled yelp. The bed and the chest of drawers were
like cliffs, towering above him. The window looked a mile
away. The car and the cricket hadn't grown at all. It was
Chuck who had shrunk!
The cricket tapped chuck lightly on the arm with one if its
feelers. Then it tapped the seat of the car and nodded at
climbed into the car and reached over to flip on the switch.
Zoom! The car shot out along the floor. The cricket leaped
along beside it - it wanted to race! Air rushed past Chuck's
face. He felt as if he was going a hundred miles an hour!
Watch out! Chuck spun the wheel just in time to steer around
the chair leg. Now the wall was looming up ahead. Chuck turned
the wheel hard, and the car swung around, missing the wall
with just a quarter of an inch to spare. Now the car zoomed
back across the floor.
Chuck was pulling ahead now. And when he reached the end of
the bed and switched off the motor, he had beaten the cricket
by a full two lengths.
The cricket stopped by the car to rest. Then, after a few
minutes, he tapped Chuck on the shoulder with his feelers
want another race?" Chuck asked. "Look," he pointed. "Let's
start over there by the door and go all the way around the
room by the walls."
The cricket nodded, and hopped over to take his position at
the starting point. Chuck drove over to join him. Then he
yelled, "GO!" and started up his motor again. On they went
around the room. First Chuck was in the lead. Then the cricket
put on a burst of speed and leaped over Chuck's head.
the cricket stopped short. He chirped in alarm. A mouse had
popped out of a crack in the woodwork. It was towering over
Chuck and the cricket. It opened its mouth, and moonlight
glittered on its teeth. It was going to eat the cricket!
yelled Chuck. He zoomed ahead and crashed straight into the
mouse. The mouse squeaked and leaped into the air. Then it
dove down into its hole and disappeared.
The cricket looked at Chuck for a moment and touched him gently
with both its feelers. Then it turned, and with a nod that
seemed to say. "Come on!" it bounded off again.
Chuck and the cricket raced on. Sometimes the cricket won,
and sometimes Chuck won. But then the room began to grow dark.
The moon was setting. Suddenly the seat of the car seemed
tight to Chuck. He climbed out and bent over to look at it.
He blinked in surprise. The car looked so tiny. Chuck was
big again. And the cricket was gone. Rubbing his eyes, Chuck
stumbled back to his bed. In a minute he was asleep.
The next day Chuck was sure it was all a dream. But that night,
he awoke again, just as the moon was rising. Sure enough,
the cricket was waiting for him. In an instant, Chuck was
just the right size for the racing car. They had an exciting
time, but again it ended when the moon went down.
Each night for the next three weeks, Chuck was careful to
charge up the motor of his racing car before he went to bed
and leave it on the floor. And each night he met the cricket
in the moonlight. Sometimes they raced. Sometimes they slipped
under the door and explored the rest of the house. It was
like a new world for Chuck.
But then one evening, when Chuck went up to his room, he noticed
that the purple scarf was gone from the window. "Hey, Mom,"
he called. "What happened to the scarf?"
it was filthy!" his mother replied. "I washed it this afternoon.
But I'm afraid the dye ran a bit."
She handed Chuck the clean scarf. It was faded and dull. He
tacked it up over the window again. But when he woke in the
moonlight that night, the strange purple glow was gone. And
though he waited and waited, the cricket never came to meet
The next morning Chuck woke up with the midmorning sun streaming
in the window. "Wake up, sleepyhead," his mother was calling.
"Have you forgotten? Today Dr. Peters is going to take the
cast off your leg!"
2013 The Silversteins