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The Toy Store - A Story A Day Challenge - January, 2021

Updated: Mar 12, 2021

Day 1 - “A powerful connection can spark excitement in the loneliest of souls.”

As Alec walked down a cavernous aisle, his mother's words rang in his head. “Pick out a toy for yourself,” she had said before leaving him in a world of wonder.

Alec strolled along and looked around with wonder, his eyes catching the packaged action figures and toy trucks lined up on the shelves. He reached the end and made a turn, walking into an aisle that was empty. The wood on the shelves was barren and dust-laden. Alec turned to walk away when a sound caught his attention.

“Hey there,” a voice came.

Alec whipped around but found no one.

“Right here,” the voice said and Alec turned to the sound which seemed to come from the bottom shelf. This section of the shelf was too low for most people to notice, but Alec was small. When he knelt, he came face to face with an antique action figure of a farmer in a dusty package.

Alec wrinkled his nose curiously. “Did you just talk to me?”

“Yes!” the farmer responded, the smile on his face widening.

Alec stumbled and fell back, his eyes widening.

The farmer knocked on the plastic casing. “Open this package and let’s play!”

A grin broke on Alec’s face as exhilaration bubbled in his chest. He reached out and pulled the box. Gripping the corner, he ripped the plastic casing.

The farmer leapt out and landed on Alec’s knee. “This is going to be so much fun!” He started waving his hands in the air and leaping gleefully. “We have so much exploring to do. I’ve never seen anything beyond the bottom shelf.”

Alec chuckled, watching the little toy dance about. “You’re really alive!”

The farmer leapt off Alec’s knee and climbed onto his shoulder. “Of course I am! I still can’t believe you actually picked me. I’ve never had a friend before.”

Alec looked around at the empty shelves and held himself back from telling the farmer that he was the only toy left in the aisle. Then, his mind took him back to his own birthday, the day he had spent all alone and had made one wish: a friend he could connect with. Now, looking at the toy's face, Alec understood the farmer's loneliness and his desperation for a connection. He felt more connected to the farmer than he did to anyone else. “I don’t have any friends either.”

The farmer met Alec's gaze and offered an understanding smile. “I’ll be your friend!”

A grin broke on Alec’s face, replacing his frown. He never thought he'd hear anyone say that. Those, even coming from an old toy, were like honey to Alec's ears. They filled his heart with warmth and made his pulse race. An emotion stronger than joy surged through Alec's veins, it was excitement. It ignited every nerve in its wake, making the young boy's heart pound like a drum. Alec put his hand to his chest. “What is this feeling?”

The farmer looked at Alec with a wise twinkle in his painted eyes. “A powerful connection can spark excitement in the loneliest of souls.”

“What does that mean?” Alec asked.

“It means that you just found something you've been looking for, and so have I.”

Alec pushed himself to his feet, head buzzing with exhilaration. “What do we do now?”

The farmer moved his tiny arm about, pointing at the route to the next aisle with his gardening fork. “We have a whole world to explore.”

A spark ignited in Alec’s eyes and heart. “Let’s go!”


Day 2 - “Only trust can see you through the tunnel of bewilderment.”

Alec turned the corner, the toy farmer on his shoulder cheering him on, and stopped before a new aisle, his eyebrows furrowing. Much like the aisle he had found the farmer in, this new aisle was empty too. Assuming he must’ve walked back to the same aisle in excitement, Alec walked on to the next aisle. To his surprise, it was empty as well, and so was the next one, as was the one after it.

“Are we walking in a circle?” Alec turned to the farmer.

“I...I don’t know,” the farmer said, looking around. He pointed in another direction. “Let’s try that way.”

Alec followed the farmer’s finger only to be greeted by more empty shelves. “Are we lost?”

“How did you get here?” the farmer asked.

Alec racked his brain, hunting for clues that would help him retrace his steps, but his mind only flashed an image of his mother leaving him at the entrance to the store. Everything else was mystified. The more Alec tried to remember, the more confused he felt. “I don’t know.”

“Has the store always been empty?” The farmer asked.

“No,” Alec said. He clearly remembered gazing longingly at the flashy toys that filled other shelves before he had mysteriously found his way to the farmer.

“Hmm.” The farmer scratched his wooden chin. “What if we run around the entire place. I’m sure we’ll find something.”

“Alright,” Alec agreed, taking the farmer off his shoulder and holding him tight in his hands. Then, with a burst of speed, Alec darted off. He zipped past rows and rows of empty shelves till he reached a wall that stood tall, blocking his path ahead. “This is the end of the store,” Alec panted slightly.

“That can’t be,” the farmer whispered, his eyes widening with uncertainty.

“This makes no sense,” Alec said, the frustration growing in his voice. He was so confused he felt like his head might just spin-off his shoulder like a toppling boulder. He struggled for clarity through the ever-expanding fog of puzzlement in his mind as he looked around, studying his surroundings carefully. If he had found a way in, there was a way out; he just had to find it. He marched down the rows of worn-out shelves scanning each corner carefully. Then, his eye caught a glint in the corner of one shelf. It looked like light was creeping through a crack. “Look there!”

The farmer’s gaze followed Alec’s finger, and his face lit up. “You found a way!”

“I hope so,” Alec said as he approached the crack and knelt before it. He tried to peep through, but blinding lights on the other side prevented him from catching any sight. “There’s something on the other side, but I can’t see anything.”

The farmer climbed back up Alec’s shoulder and studied the crack. “I think I can slip through,” he said after a moment.

Alec whipped around to look at the farmer. “What if something dangerous is on the other side and you can’t come back? I’ll be left here all alone.”

The farmer smiled and put his hand to Alec’s cheek. “Only trust can see you through the tunnel of bewilderment.”

“I…” Alec started.

“I need you to trust me,” the farmer said with sincerity in his painted eyes.

Alec looked back at the crack, hoping to see something through the blinding light, but coming up empty-handed. He thought back to the moment he’d felt a connection with the farmer and focused on it. The fog in his brain started to lift, and he found himself do something strange; he somehow trusted the farmer, and that trust seemed like a beacon, guiding him out of his confusion. Alec bit his lower lip and nodded slightly. “I trust you, but I’m still afraid to lose you.”

The farmer patted Alec on the back of his neck and leapt towards the crack. “You won’t.” The toy then squeezed his body sideways and slipped through, vanishing into the light.

Instantly, fear gripped Alec, but he focused on the farmer’s words. “Only trust can see you through the tunnel of bewilderment.”

Then, the crack started to expand, getting wider by the second. As more light poured through, Alec felt the bewilderment leave his body like a spirit finding peace. Then, the crack became a wide gash, offering enough space for a child to squeeze through. Alec beamed and crawled ahead, leaving the mystery of the empty shelves behind.


Day 3 - “Optimism is my beacon.”

Alec crawled towards the warm light, hoping to see the wonders of the megastore, but to his dismay, only emptiness greeted him. Alec got to his feet, looking around, but his eyes couldn’t catch anything. The bubble of light that enveloped him and the farmer was small, and everything beyond it was shrouded in a darkness so deep that it made Alec feel like he was trapped in an endless void.

“Is this the store?” the farmer asked.

“No,” Alec whispered, a slight shiver in his voice. He swallowed hard against the dryness in his throat as tears welled in his dark eyes. “We’re still lost.”

The farmer climbed up on Alec’s shoulder. “Hey, we’re not lost. We just have to go out there and find a way.”

“I can’t do that,” Alec’s voice cracked. He felt fear rise in his chest, accompanied by an intense feeling that threatened to implode in his body; it was dread, as dark as the void awaiting him outside the bubble of light. “I can’t go out there.”

“Why?” the farmer asked.

Alec turned to look at the farmer. “I…” He wanted to tell the farmer about the time he got locked in a dark basement and how he’d had to spend the night cowering in fear. He wanted to tell him how he’d wandered off on a camping trip and had to spend a couple of hours in the dark before his parents found him. He wanted to tell the toy that in his life, darkness was a source of dread that he needed to avoid, but words failed him as a sense of foreboding sent a chill down his spine.

The farmer wiped a tear that ran down Alec’s cheek, “We will find a way out. Believe me.”

“Aren’t you scared of the dark?” Alec asked.

The farmer nodded, “I am.”

Alec turned to gaze into the haunting blackness. “Then how can you find the strength to walk into that void?”

“Because I don’t need strength to do that.”

“What do you need?”

The farmer jumped off Alec’s shoulder and walked up to the edge of the light. “Optimism is my beacon.”

“What is optimism?” Alec asked.

The farmer took a deep breath and peered into the darkness. “It’s an attitude, a way of finding light in a sea of blackness.”

Alec looked down at the hopeful farmer and then back at the void. He couldn’t understand how the little toy could summon all that optimism when an endless world of darkness awaited him, how he could find the light. Yet, in some ways, he admired it. He wanted the hope that the little toy had, the courage he could muster. As Alec admired the farmer, he felt the fear dissipate from his body, leaving a comforting lightness behind. He understood what the farmer’s words meant. For Alec, the farmer was a voice of optimism. He was the beacon that could help Alec navigate the terrifying darkness.

Alec stepped up beside the farmer and pulled the toy up to his shoulder. “Optimism is my beacon.”

The farmer smiled back, and Alec took a step into the darkness, leaving the comfort of the light behind.


Day 4 - “On the inside, we all want the same thing.”

Alec walked into the blackness, hoping to pick up something with his other senses, when he felt a tug on his ear.

“To your left,” the farmer’s voice came, and Alec turned.

In the distance, he saw something. He saw a black light flickering in a doorway. With hurried steps, he marched towards it and was soon no longer in the darkness. Instead, he was in a peculiar corridor. The shelves lined on the walls were vertical instead of the horizontal ones that Alec was used to. The lights kept flickering, dancing to an odd rhythm. However, the most peculiar sight was the toys that were attached to the vertical shelves.

They weren’t like any toys Alec had ever seen. They were made up of odd combinations of peculiar shapes. Parts of them jutted out in odd angles, forming what Alec guessed were limbs, and most of them had no faces.

“What are these?” Alec asked, narrowing his eyes at the columns of objects.

“They’re so...unusual,” the farmer whispered like he was afraid of waking the objects from a mystical slumber.

Alec stopped in his tracks, eyes fixing on one of the objects. It was circular with a broken triangle jutting out of one of its edges. It was buzzing slightly, almost as if it were trying to communicate with him.

“What do you want?” Alec asked.

The object kept buzzing.

It wasn’t a buzz, Alec realized. It was a shiver, an uneasiness. He looked around and saw the same uneasiness in the other objects. Their shiver was slight, but Alec could easily identify it. He had felt it, that shiver of excitement at the possibility of freedom and play.

As odd as these objects were, Alec somehow understood their plight. He reached out and started detaching all the toys from the walls. They fell to the floor like gentle rain, and their buzz became cheers of gratitude. They started leaping around with uncontrollable joy.

Alec grinned, the happiness from the toys seeping into his soul.

“They can talk!” the farmer chuckled. “How did you know that they wanted to be free?”

“Just because they’re unusual, that doesn’t mean their problems are foreign,” Alec said. “On the inside, we all want the same thing.”

The farmer smiled and looked down at the swarming toys. “How do we get to the megastore?” he shouted.

“Walk straight down the corridor,” one of the toys squealed.

“Thank you,” Alec smiled.

“No, thank you,” the circular toy by Alec’s foot said.

Alec picked up the toy. “Do you want to come with me?”

The toy didn’t have a face, so Alec couldn’t read its expression, but its body buzzed with excitement, almost vibrating like a phone kept on silent.

Alec chuckled. “Let’s go.” He placed the circular toy over his other shoulder and marched down the corridor, leaving the celebrating toys behind and finally making his way back to the megastore.


Day 5 - “Life is always better with a bit of humour in it.”

Alec reached the end of the corridor and found a giant teddy bear blocking the path ahead. It had white fur across its extremely huggable body and wore a soft brown shirt. Its eyes were black as the night sky, and a playful grin danced on its face.

“We’re looking to get to the megastore,” the farmer said.

“Ah, the toy store,” the bear said in a deep voice. “It’s right through the door behind me. However, to pass by me, you must make me laugh.”

“Why?” Alec asked.

The bear smiled, “Because life is always better with a bit of humour in it.”

“Do you know any good jokes?” the farmer asked Alec.

Alec nodded and looked up at the bear. “Knock knock.”

“I like knock-knock jokes,” the bear smiled. “Who’s there?”

“Boo,” Alec said.

“Boo who?”

Alec scrunched up his nose. “Why are you crying?”

There was a moment of silence, and then the bear grinned, a breathy chuckle escaping its lips. “That was good, but not good enough.”

“I have another one,” Alec said.

“Go for it,” the bear replied.

Alec tried joke after joke, but the bear only smiled at him each time. Soon, he had no more jokes to tell; he was all out.

“I’ve got nothing left,” Alec turned to the farmer, his forehead creasing.

“Let me try something,” the farmer said, turning to the bear and studying its massive face. “Let me tell you a story.”

The bear grinned.

“Imagine that you and I go camping in the mountains,” the farmer started.

The bear clapped with its massive paws. “I love camping.” “After we eat a good meal by the bonfire, we set up the tent and go to sleep.” the farmer continued. “In the middle of the night, I wake you up. As you open your eyes, you are greeted by the night sky. Million and millions of pinpricks of light called stars fill the sight before you, creating a scene of pure magic.”

The bear’s smile deepened as he pictured the farmer’s description.

“Tell me,” the farmer said, “What do you think that sight means?”

“It means beauty,” the bear beamed, looking up at the dark ceiling as if it were the night sky. “It shows how tiny we are in a world so big, and how astronomical bodies, far beyond our comprehension, lie millions of miles away. It means that the world is much bigger than we’ll ever be able to imagine.”

“No,” the farmer said. “It means our tent was stolen.”

A rumbling boom filled the corridor as the bear fell to his back, laughing hysterically with tears forming in its eyes. “That was so good,” It said in between bouts of laughter. “Go on!”

Chuckling, Alec sidestepped past the bear and walked up to the door at the end. “That was a good joke!”

“I heard it from another toy,” the farmer grinned. “Now, let’s get to the megastore!”


Day 6 - “Sadness is just a moment away from joy.”

Alec walked through the door and was finally greeted by the lights, music and grandeur of an aisle in the megastore that he’d been carving. Shelves lined on both sides were filled with plush toys in bright colours. From bears to horses to even hearts, every imaginable plush toy was in this section.

Alec felt alive. Even the farmer on his shoulder perked up, and the circular toy started buzzing with excitement.

“We’re here,” Alec gasped, looking around with wonder.

The circular toy buzzed once more and jumped off Alec’s shoulder, landing on the back of a teddy bear. It then rolled off the bear and fell on a bright yellow duck earning a squeak from the plush bird. Then it went on rolling, bounding over various toys.

Alec chuckled, walking forward to follow the excited toy. “What are you doing?”

The toy rolled on to the back of the shelf and then stopped before a plush panda. As Alec stopped by the circular object, he heard a whimper; It came from the shadows at the back of the shelf. Alec pushed aside the panda in the front and saw a cat at the very back. She was white with black spots on her body, and a red collar with a golden bell around her neck. The cat was weeping with her face hidden behind her soft paws.

“Are you alright?” Alec asked.

The cat looked up at him with tears streaming down her dark eyes. “I’m broken. No child will want me,” she sobbed.

“You’re not broken,” Alec tried to comfort her.

The cat lifted her neck, revealing an empty loop in her collar. “My chew toy used to be here. Now it’s gone.” She lowered her neck. “I’m broken.”

Alec could feel the cat’s sorrow, the way her heart felt heavy, the way her soul ached. “We need to help her.” He turned to the farmer, tears forming in his own eyes.

“I…” The farmer lowered his head. “I don’t know how.”

“We have to do something,” Alec said, his voice cracking slightly. “Sadness is just a moment away from joy. We need to give her that moment.”

The circular toy started buzzing, and Alec understood its unspoken suggestion.

“Are you sure?” Alec asked the toy.

The toy buzzed again, and Alec smiled. He picked up the circular object and extended his arm towards the cat. “You can have this.”

The cat looked up at the circular object, and a sparkle ignited in her dark eyes. She saw the broken triangle and noticed how it would fit perfectly in her collar loop. She gasped and reached out for the circular toy. “Thank you!”

Alec grinned, joy filling his heart. “It was his idea.” he pointed at the circular toy.

The toy in the cat’s paws buzzed with excitement.

The cat hugged the toy lovingly and then attached it to her collar. She stood up and extended her neck, showing off her new chew toy with pride.

Alec chuckled, now feeling the sorrow vanish from the cat’s heart. “You look amazing. Any moment, a child will come along and be very lucky to have you.”

The cat leapt into Alec’s arms and snuggled against his neck. “Thank you again.”

Alec hugged the cat back and then placed her back on the shelf. “Take care of yourself.” He pointed at the circular object. “Take care of him too.”

The cat meowed gleefully and the circular toy on her neck buzzed. Alec smiled and waved them goodbye as he walked away with the toy farmer perched on his shoulder.


Day 7 - “Yes, captain!”

“I’m going to miss it, but I’m glad the cat’s happy,” Alec smiled as he walked into the neighbouring aisle.

“You’re a good kid,” the farmer smiled.

Alec drew a sharp breath and stopped in his tracks, his eyes bulging as his gaze took in the toys that filled this aisle. From action figures on spaceships to robots and odd creatures, this aisle was filled with toys from various sci-fi franchises.

“Wha—” Before the farmer could complete his statement, Alec darted forward, his eyes hunting through all the toys and rockets.

“She’s here!” Alec yelped with joy as he reached for a packaged action figure of a woman in a black spacesuit. She had dark hair with a green streak to the side and was armed with a dark crossbow loaded with an emerald arrow.

“Who is she?” the farmer asked.

Alec’s jaw fell in shock as he turned to the farmer. “You really don’t know her? She’s Valtor, the fearless warrior from Space War.” He turned back to the package, his eyes bright with wonder. “She’s amazing!” Joy, unlike anything he’d ever experienced, swelled in Alec’s heart as he hugged the package tight. “When I grow up, I want to be just like her. Then, no one will dare make fun of me.”

“She’ll make a great addition to our team,” the farmer said.

The package in Alec’s hand rattled, and his heart dropped, his breathing intensified, and his pulse raced. His favourite character of all time was knocking on the plastic. With a shivering hand, Alec ripped the plastic, and his hero leapt out of the box and landed on the shelf.

Delight, which could rival the most profound sense of pleasure, swelled in Alec’s chest as Valtor looked up at him and said, “We’re on a mission, soldier. I need you to be sharp. Can you do that?”

Tears of joy flooded Alec’s eyes as he stomped into attention and saluted the toy. “Yes, captain!”

The farmer on Alec’s shoulder mirrored Alec’s pose, getting the salute very wrong and looking awkward.

“Good!” Valtor smiled. “We need to find the dolrathan and destroy them before they take over this planet.”

“Yes, captain!” Alec said, his voice shaking with excitement. He’d dreamed of being in Valtor’s team and working with her. Finally, his dreams were coming true.

The space warrior jumped off her shelf and darted down the aisle, signalling for Alec to follow. Alec grinned and darted after her, his little heart filled with a sense of happiness that felt perfect, even blissful.


Day 8 - “She's beautiful. Ain’t she?”

Alec turned the corner and came to a stop. He couldn’t imagine his overwhelming joy growing more extensive, but the sight that greeted him in the clearing ahead proved him very wrong.

Under a massive spotlight, was a beautiful plane that was the size of a car. It was black with green lines running down the wings. The emerald nose of the jet was pointed, and the canopy was propped open, revealing a stunning cockpit.

“Come on!” Valtor urged him forward.

Alec wanted to run ahead and leap into the jet, but his muscles failed him. Part of him was afraid that if he sprinted, he would wake up from this dream and find himself in an unstimulating reality. He needed a moment to admire the beauty of the jet before him, its sleek body and sharp lines. No matter how much he stared, it just wasn’t enough. He stood frozen in awe.

“She's beautiful. Ain’t she?” Valtor smiled at the boy.

Alec wordlessly nodded.

“Is that the ship she flies?” the farmer asked, his gaze fixed on the jet.

Alec nodded again.

“It’s beautiful,” the farmer sighed. “Let’s go ride it!”

Alec’s fallen jaw closed and his lips curved into an excited smile as he walked forward. With each step, his sense of awe expanded in his chest, making his heart beat faster. He had already achieved one life goal by meeting Valtor, and now, he was about to tick another one off his list.


Day 9 - “Full speed ahead!”

Fighting the tremor in his step, Alec stepped up into the cockpit. He grinned as his gaze fell on the stunning leather interior, the panel of controls of the dash and the glowing sphere that sat by the pilot’s chair.

Alec sat back in the seat, feeling his back muscles relax into the leather, and laid his hand on the control sphere to his right. He smiled as his fingers fit perfectly in the notches.

“Let’s go!” Valtor said and leapt on the control panel. She lifted her foot and pressed a red button.

The canopy swung shut, and the world around Alec went dark. Then pinpricks of light surrounded him as the body of the jet started to shake.

“What’s happening?” the farmer asked, slight panic in his voice.

Soon after, the shaking stopped. Alec’s jaw fell to the floor at the sight beyond the canopy. Hues of dark green, purple, navy and black, swirled around the jet in fascinating patterns. The pinpricks were no longer there, now replaced by glimmering balls of fire.

“Where are we?” the farmer asked.

Valtor smiled. “Space.”

Alec wanted to say something, but a lump formed in his throat, choking his words. Then, a chuckle escaped his lips, soon transforming into excited laughter. Tears filled his eyes, and he jumped in his seat. “We’re in space! Wow!”

The farmer joined in Alec’s laughter and celebrated with him. “We are!”

Alec looked around, watching space debris floating around. He dug his thumb in the notch and pushed the control sphere forward. The jet started moving, and Alec’s smile widened. He felt an emotion deeper than joy; he felt satisfaction, a sense of completion. He felt like everything in his life had been building up to this moment. Every choice led him to this flight, and he was proud to be here.

“Full speed ahead!” Valtor commanded, pressing a green button on the dash.

A slight shiver travelled across the body of the jet, and it zipped forward at an astronomical speed, blasting the trio further into the depths of space.


Day 10 - “The Darkness of Hatred”

As Alec darted through space, he felt the hairs on the back of his neck rise with excitement. He was living the dream.

“What’s that?” the farmer pointed ahead.

Alec followed his finger and saw a huge chunk of space debris floating towards them. It was as big as a planet and was getting closer by the second.

“What do we do?” the farmer panicked.

“We can swivel around it,” Valtor said.

The object was now close enough to block the full view ahead.

Alec turned the control sphere and swivelled the jet sideways. He then pushed on the thrusters, sending the jet blazing ahead. However, even with all the additional speed, the debris seemed far too big to avoid. Soon, alarms started blaring all over the cockpit as an emergency sign started flashing on the canopy.

“We need to evacuate!” the farmer yelled.

“I can do it!” Alec said, his gaze fixed ahead.

The farmer looked around and found a flashing red button with the words ‘STOP’ printed on it. He looked at the piece of debris that was about to kill them and then at Alec. Then, he closed his eyes and pressed the button.

Instantly, the space around the canopy vanished, replaced by the clearing in the toy store.

“What?!” Alec yelled, looking around in shock. His eye fell on the farmer’s foot, pressed on the button, and anger flared in his mind. “WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT?”

“To save” the farmer started.

“I would’ve got us out!” Alec reached out and pressed the ‘START’ button that Valtor had pressed earlier, but the canopy around them didn’t transform to show the beauty of space. He pushed the button repeatedly, but nothing happened; he couldn’t go back to space. With a shivering hand, Alec gripped his control sphere tight as dark emotion filled his heart. At that moment, he hated the farmer. That toy had crushed his dream of flying with Valtor; his fear had ruined Alec’s joy.


“Don’t talk to me,” Alec said to the farmer as he opened the canopy and walked away, the darkness of hatred swelling in his heart, filling his nerves with numbing anger.


Day 11 - “You can’t save the world on an empty stomach.”

Alec turned around the corner, swallowing the darkness that plagued his mind when the scent of a delicious pie wafted past his nose. Immediately, his stomach grumbled, and his eyes started hunting for the dessert.

A couple of paces ahead of him, he found it. Laid on a golden cart was a beautiful apple pie with a golden, shiny and perfect crust. A kind woman stood behind the cart, cutting the pie into slices.

Alec hugged his stomach as it started to hurt from a deep hunger that brought him to his knees. Wincing against the pain, he stumbled to the cart.

“Would you like a slice of pie?” The old woman greeted him with a smile as warm as the morning sun.

Alec nodded, and the woman served him a plate with a perfect slice placed in the center. Alec took a fork from the cart and cut out a bit-sized piece, salivating as he saw the rich crimson filling ooze out from the sides. He brought the piece towards his mouth, and with one bite, all his problems vanished away. As flavours exploded and danced on his tongue, his hatred melted away, leaving him feeling warm and complete. “Mmm. That is so good!”

“I’m happy you like it,” the woman said, “You can’t save the world on an empty stomach, little pilot.”

Alec beamed at her. “Thank you.”

The woman smiled back and wheeled her cart away as she waved goodbye to the little boy.

Alec waved back and then stared down at his pie. Then, he took a deep breath and marched back to the jet, an apology already forming in his mind.


Day 12 - “Fun will cure your boredom.”

Alec walked down the aisle and turned around the corner, ready to apologise to his friend, when he was greeted by an empty aisle. He stopped for a moment, thinking back. He clearly remembered his way back. Was he lost? He retraced his steps back to where the food cart was and restarted his journey only to end up at the empty aisle once again.

Furrowing his eyebrows in confusion, he ran around, only to be greeted by more empty shelves. Then, finally, on one of the shelves, he found a toy giraffe. It was bright yellow with brown spots and droopy eyes.

“Hi!” Alec greeted the toy.

The giraffe looked up slowly. “Hi,” it said, its speech slow and drawled.

“Do you know where the space jet is?”

Lazily, the giraffe turned to the side and pointed down the aisle with his snout. “There,” it said sluggishly.

“Are you alright?” Alec asked.

The toy released a heavy breath, “I think so.”

Alec knew the toy was lying. He could feel something inside the giraffe. Laziness, but deeper; something that made the world grey and dull; something that had a simple cure. “You’re bored. Do you want to come with me? We could play on the jet plane.”

The giraffe’s eyes widened. “Really?”

“Yeah. Fun will cure your boredom. Let’s go!”

The giraffe grinned as it stood up on its long legs. “I haven’t played in so long. All my animal friends got bought, and I’ve been left alone. I can’t even remember the last time I played.”

Alec smiled at the toy. “Let’s change that!”

Energy surged through the giraffe, and it leapt onto Alec’s shoulder. “You’ve stumbled your way into the back of the clearance section. I know the way to the jet. Walk straight.”


Day 13 - "A freshly sharpened blade piercing through worn-out leather"

With the help of the giraffe, Alec made his way back to the jet. He expected to find the farmer and Valtor there, but they were nowhere to be seen. Furthermore, the canopy of the jet was sealed shut.

Furrowing his eyebrows, Alec approached the jet and peered inside. That sight that awaited him made his insides turn. The farmer and Valtor were inside, driving through the augmented space. They were both grinning and seemed to be having a blast. Alec could even see Valtor guide the farmer and help him maneuver the jet around a tricky piece of sharp debris.

They were having fun, and the farmer was living Alec’s dream. They were doing all of that without him. Alec turned away from the canopy and sat down, leaning his back on the shaking jet. Tears came to his eyes, and he felt resentment towards the farmer rise. If that toy had found a way to operate the jet, why hadn’t he come for Alec? He knew Alec loved space. Why couldn’t he at least have waited for Alec to get back before going for a ride?

Alec felt sadness, hatred, confusion, but most of all, he felt envy stab him like a freshly sharpened blade piercing through worn-out leather. He wanted to cry and shout, but he had to talk to the farmer; he had to know why his friend had betrayed him so deeply; why he’d stolen Alec’s biggest dream.

Then, as if on cue, with a puff of air, the canopy opened. Alec wiped his eyes and stood up. He was ready to face the farmer, and he needed answers.


Day 14 - “Leaving so soon?”

Alec inhaled, ready to shoot a question, but before his sight could fall on the farmer, all the lights in the clearing died. Alec’s breath left his lungs as the area around him was plunged into darkness. His pulse started to race, and anxiety started creeping up his back like a spider sniffing for prey. Alec jerked around and yelped, but his creeping only intensified.

He saw a flash of light in the corner and ran towards it. He soon found himself in an odd aisle. The toys here glowed in odd ways, like ghostly wisps hunting for a soul to corrupt.

“Hey, kid,” a toy with glowing skulls on its head and shoulder called, its voice rough like sandpaper and low like a cavernous drop.

Alec’s eyes widened. “Me?”

Clamorous laughter exploded all over the aisle as all the toys giggled eerily.

“Who else?” the skulled figure mocked.

Alec turned on his heel and darted away, eager to escape this prison of horror that he’d stumbled into, but a toy in the shape of a thin woman, with spider-like feet, stood in his path.

“Leaving so soon?” she hissed.

Alec gasped, stumbling back and tripped over a thin bone that a toy had extended out. He crashed to the floor and looked to see glowing eyes approaching him from all directions. His heart was beating so fast, it was basically vibrating.

Alec shut his eyes tight as he puffed his lungs and screamed with all his might. “HELP!!”


Day 15 - “We want to play.”

A chuckle rang through the darkness, and Alec opened his eyes to find that he was still engulfed in darkness and surrounded by the creepy toys.

“Please,” Alec begged, “Let me go!”

A skull in the front grinned, showcasing rows of pointed teeth that sent a chill down Alec’s spine. “But we want to play.”

Alec wanted to refute, but his voice was lost; he couldn’t summon any words. A spindly hand extended towards him, and his heart started to climb to his throat.

Then, suddenly lights flooded the aisle, bathing Alec and the toys in luminescence. The sight that it revealed made Alec’s jaw drop. This time, he was silenced by shock, unable to form any words. The sinking feeling in his heart transformed into a jarring zap before it lightened.

All the toys in front of him were small and adorable. They were simply wearing glow-in-the-dark accessories that made them look creepy. The skull smiling at him earlier was a toy rabbit with a skeletal mask, and the thin woman with spider-like legs was a porcelain cherub on stilts. With their accessories, these toys and crafted a perfect illusion that had scared Alec to his core.

A chuckle escaped Alec’s lips, followed by laughter. The toys looked at him curiously as his laughs grew louder.

“You’re all so cute!” Alec chuckled.

“Dammit,” the toy bunny swore, looking up at the light angrily.

Alec wiped the tears flowing out of his eyes. “I really shouldn’t have judged this book by its cover.”


Day 16 - “Let’s fly!”

“Don’t mock us!” The bunny frowned.

Alec held back a chuckle and met the toy’s eye line. Even angry, the bunny looked absolutely adorable, but Alec felt something strange. An odd emotion was stirring in the bunny, a sense of scorn and disdain. When Alec opened his mind, he could feel all toys radiating the same sentiment, and the more he focussed on it, the more it started to seep into him. The feeling was overwhelming and powerful, making Alec’s heart beat faster and feel heavier at the same time. It even made a bitter taste crawl up his tongue.

Alec’s laughter died as he looked around at the toys. “What are you all so bitter?”

“Because our dreams have been taken away,” the porcelain cherub said, “Now, we take our revenge.”

Alec’s face fell. “I understand that feeling. My friend is flying a jet that I’ve always dreamed of flying.”

The bunny grinned, “Join us. We can take our revenge together.”

“No,” Alec said, the thought of inflicting any pain on the farmer, shaking him to his core. “We can’t be bitter forever. We have to move on.”

“What good will that do us?” the cherub asked.

“Just because your sun has set on one dream, that doesn’t mean it won’t rise on another,” Alec said, smiling slightly. The rage he had felt towards the farmer melting away as his words sunk into his mind.

“We’re old toys,” the rabbit said, “what dreams can we have?”

“My friend is an old toy, and he found a dream. You can find one too.” Alec said. “Think hard. What do you really want?”

The bunny scratched the skull on its head in contemplation. Then, its eyes widened. “I want to fly!”

“Me too!” the cherub added.

“I want to live on a different aisle,” a ball-like toy called out.

Soon, all the toys were recognizing new dreams.

Alec smiled, “Great! Go pursue your dreams!”

With a roar of cheer, all the toys scattered away, each on a quest to fulfill their new dream. Only the bunny and cherub remained behind.

“The two of you can follow me,” Alec said, turning around to leave the aisle.

“Where are we going?” the bunny asked.

Alec offered them a backward glance. “Let’s fly!”


Day 17 - “It’s alright.”

The bunny hopped with joy. “I can’t believe I’m about to fly.”

“You’ll love it!” Alec smiled. “What was your original dream?”

The bunny took a deep breath. “I wanted to play in the garden with a child, and I had come so close.”

Alec turned to the toy. “Really?”

“Yeah,” the bunny nodded. “I had a friend who was a human, just like you. She loved smiling and running around. One day, she came into the shop and took me home. It was the happiest day of my life!”

“That sounds great!” Alec said.

“Wait till you hear the whole story,” the cherub said.

Alec turned to the bunny, “What happened then?”

The bunny’s gaze turned down. “She gifted me to another child, who threw me at his dog.”

“No,” Alec gasped.

The bunny raised its arm, revealing a sagging by its armpit that was stitched multiped times and clearly had some stuffing missing. “That dog tore me apart,” the toy sobbed, its voice breaking.

Alec fell to his knees and swept up the bunny in his arms. “I’m so sorry you had to go through that,” he said, feelings of sorrow and compassion swelling in his chest. He willed himself to absorb all of the toy’s misfortune and hugged it tighter.

The bunny wrapped its fluffy arms around Alec’s neck. “It’s alright; it happened a long time ago. Plus, you’ve given me a new dream now.”

Alec leaned back and looked at the toy through misty eyes. “I’m still very sorry that you had to suffer through that. You didn’t deserve it.”

The bunny smiled, “Thank you.”

“I promise flying will be worth it,” Alec said as he stood up.

The bunny hopped ahead, “Then, let’s get to it!”


Day 18 - “It cost me my wings.”

Alec turned to the cherub. “What’s your story?”

The porcelain toy released a heavy breath. “I spent most of my time in the china cabinet of a nice old woman.”

“That doesn’t sound too bad,” Alec said.

“It wasn’t bad for a while until her grandson came over,” the cherub said.

Alec sighed. “Oh, no.”

“Yes,” the cherub chuckled sadly. “He somehow climbed to the top of the shelf, pulled me out, and threw me right on the floor.”

Alec felt strong emotions of consternation and distress stir in the porcelain toy. He felt the fear that the cherub had felt when the little boy had climbed up and grabbed it, the dismay the shot through its heart, when the child let go, making the toy plunge several feet downwards, he even felt even the microsecond of peace that had washed over the toy’s mind, just before it hit the floor. Altogether, these feelings swirled like a whirlpool, washing out all other emotions.

“What happened then?” Alec asked.

The cherub turned around, revealing broken stumps on its back, “It cost me my wings.”

“That’s why you want to fly.”

The cherub nodded, and a small smile danced on its face. “It’ll help me reconnect with a part of me that I lost so long ago.”

Alec smiled back. “I can’t wait for you to experience that!”

“How much further?” the cherub asked.

“We’re almost there.”


Day 19 - “Surprise!”

Alec reached the clearing with the bunny and cherub by his side and found the area before him still drowning in darkness.

“Is the jet in there?” The bunny pointed into the blackness.

Alec nodded wordlessly.

“Let's go!” The cherub marched forward, but Alec remained frozen in his place.

“There was supposed to be light here too,” Alec said, fear prominent in his voice.

“We’ll find the light,” the bunny offered.

Alec gulped and nodded. Gathering all the courage he could muster, he stepped into the void.

Suddenly all the lights in the clearing flashed on, blinding Alec with luminescence.

“Surprise!” A choir of voices shouted.

Alec gasped and took a step back as his body adjusted to the assault on his senses. Before him, in the open cockpit of the jet, was the farmer, Valerie, and the giraffe. The three of them were beaming at him and had their hands extended in a presentational pose.

Alec chuckled. “What?”

“We fixed the jet!” The farmer said gleefully. “Furthermore, Valtor even helped me practice, so the next time we come across the debris, I can assist you in avoiding it.”

Any ounce of darkness that stirred in Alec’s heart vanished after listening to the farmer’s words. He couldn’t believe he had judged his friend that quickly. The farmer was doing all of this for him. He felt like the luckiest boy in the world. Warmth and joy swelled in his chest, bringing tears of joy to his eyes. The reveal was a true surprise, and the joy it created ran deeper than the farmer would ever know.


Day 20 - “You picked me”

Alec ran forward and wrapped up the farmer in his arms. “I’m so sorry,” he sobbed as he held the toy tight.

The farmer petted Alec on his shoulder, “You have nothing to apologize for.”

Alec didn’t believe the toy. He knew he had so much to be sorry for. Moments ago, he had felt darkness for the simple farmer and had even lost faith in their friendship; he had held so much hatred for this precious toy, who was working hard to make him happy. He had been so wrong about everything. “I haven’t been good to you.”

The farmer cupped Alec’s cheek. “You’ve given me the greatest gift, Alec; you picked me.”

Warmth bloomed in Alec’s chest, filling his nerves with sunshine. He felt pure love; it sept through his muscles and sank into his bones, making him feel like he was floating through a snug cloud of joy.

The farmer leaned back and smiled at the boy, “Let’s fly.”

An excited buzz ran through Alec’s nerves as he wiped his tears and smiled. “Let’s do it.”


Day 21 - “Swivel!”

“Fire the boosters!” Alec grinned, gazing excitedly at the vast expanse of space around him.

The bunny clapped its hands and stepped on a red button on the control panel.

The jet shook and darted ahead, speeding through planets and stars in a heartbeat. The entire crew on board cheered, jumping and clapping their hands.

“I love flying!” The cherub leapt up and down.

“Up ahead,” Valtor called.

Alec followed Valtor’s line of sight and found his nemesis approaching. A giant piece of debris was accelerating towards the jet.

“You can turn now and avoid the debris,” Valtor offered.

“No,” Alec said, his sharp gaze fixed at the chunk of space rock. “We’re going to get past it.”

The farmer leapt off Alec’s shoulder and landed on the control panel. “Let’s do this together.”

Alec grinned and pushed on the thrusters. The jet zipped ahead towards the debris, clearing the distance in the blink of an eye.

“Swivel!” The farmer commanded as he pressed a button.

A glowing cable shot out from the nose of the jet and dug into the debris. As Alec turned his control sphere, the entire jet swivelled around the point of connection and shot sideways. The farmer immediately disengaged the cable, sending the jet careening.

Sweat clung to Alec’s brow, and confusion threatened to overtake his mind, but he remained attentive. Through the swirling mass of space around him, the one thing that remained clear was his interest, the fun he was having, and the passion he was exploring. He was having the best time of his life.

Keeping his breathing steady, Alec relaunched the thrusters. With the spin and thrusters’ combined force, the jet shot forward and cleared the side of debris by a curve.

The entire cockpit erupted in celebration, and Alec released a breath he didn’t know he was holding. Before him, the vastness of space awaited, beckoning him forward. With a grin plastered on his face, Alec pushed the control sphere forward and shot into the unknown.


Day 22 - “Let’s get you home.”

“You fly well!” Valtor smiled.

Alec felt pride swell in his heart. He had just received a compliment from his hero; his life had reached its highest point. “Thank you.”

“That way,” Valtor pointed ahead, her eyes growing wide.

Alec saw a red dot in the distance. “What is it?”

“Amortia,” Valtor whispered in awe.

Alec’s jaw fell to the floor as he gawked at the red planet. It was Valtor’s home planet, the place that made her a hero. Alec turned the control sphere and directed the jet towards Amortia, pushing on the thrusters.

The closer they got, the more Alec felt a deep emotion stir in Valtor; a yearning desire, an intense need. Valtor wanted to go home. She longed for the familiar environment of Amortia that raised her.

The planet that was once a red dot was now a massive orb that was leagues bigger than the piece of debris Alec had just evaded.

“Steer to the left to avoid the AD guns, and be vigilant when entering the planet,” Valtor commanded as they got close to the swirling red and violet clouds on the surface.

“Alright,” Alec nodded, fixing his sights ahead.

The farmer steadied himself on the control panel, “I’ve got your back.”

Alec smiled, “Valtor, let’s get you home.”


Day 23 - “I love flying”

“It’s going to be a tough landing,” Valtor said, “The air defence in Amortia is quite advanced.”

“Good,” Alec grinned, ready for the challenge. He deeply loved flying, and no matter what came his way, he would find a way through.

As the jet descended below the red clouds, Alec saw his radar light up.

“Two missiles are on your tail,” Valtor called out.

Alec fixed his sight ahead and pushed on the thrusters. The jet surged forward and approached a tall black mountain.

“The missiles are just behind!” the farmer yelled, and the crowd in the cockpit began to panic.

Alec, however, was as calm as a serene lake. He kept speeding, and just as he was about to crash into the mountain, he pushed on the control sphere. The jet instantly turned its nose upwards and shot away, and the two missiles crashed into the rock, exploding in a shower of fireworks.

The cockpit erupted in cheer as Alec smiled, joy surging through his veins.

“You’re amazing!” the cherub said.

“We need to destroy the AD guns ahead.” Valtor pointed at a rotating tall metal canister ahead.

“I got it,” Alec said, fixing his focus on his target.

The gun turned towards the jet and started firing.

Alec’s mind was still calm. He took a deep breath and followed his instincts, maneuvering the jet masterfully and evading every single shot. He dug his thumb in the control sphere and fired a missile that zipped ahead and hit the gun. With an explosion, the gun was down as well.

“How are you this good?” the farmer gawked.

“I don’t know,” Alec said, “I love flying. It’s my true passion!”

“Let’s land this jet!” Valtor said.

“Roger that,” Alec said and directed the jet towards a clearing up ahead.


Day 24 - “Again!”

Alec steadied the jet over the clearing and landed it slowly. “Let’s go exploring,” he smiled as he turned off the engine.

Instantly the world beyond the canopy collapsed, replaced by a void. The word ‘Restart’ was glowing in the empty space before the jet.

“What happened?” Valtor asked, her eyebrows furrowing.

“I think we’re at the end of the game,” Alec said.

“No,” Valtor shot back. “It can’t be over. Go again.”

“We can try again,” Alec offered.

“Do it!”

Alec restarted the engine and found himself back before the debris. He did the entire run again, but just as he landed in Amortia and switched off the engine, the world around disappeared in a void.

“Again!” Valtor demanded.

Alec nodded and tried again, and again, and again. However, every single time, the game came to an end.

“Again,” Valtor demanded after the fourth try.

“I don’t think it’ll result in anything different,” the farmer said.

“We have to try,” Valtor said, her voice pained.

Alec felt anger and annoyance stir in the space pilot. Each time the game ended, a part of Valtor’s mental fortitude chipped away, replaced by exasperation. She really wanted to go home; it was her entire mission.

“I’m sorry,” Alec said softly.

Valtor called her plastic fists in frustration. “We have to try.”

“We’ve been trying,” the farmer said.

Valtor pressed a button on the control panel, opening the canopy. “I need to be alone,” she said dimly and lept out of the jet and walked away, leaving the crew in silence.


Day 25 - “It doesn't matter!”

“Valtor, wait,” Alec reached out for the toy.

“Leave me, kid,” Valtor shot back.

Alec couldn’t leave her be. She was an icon, a hero. He couldn’t let her give up. He had to help her find her spirit. “We can try another console.”

Valtor whipped around, anger burning in her house. “It doesn't matter!”

Alec flinched, shocked by the sting of her fury.

“I’m a toy! I will never go home.” Valtor’s gaze shifted downwards. “My mission will never be completed.”

“You can’t lose hope!” Alec said.

“Stop!” Valtor barked, anger flashing in her eyes. “I don’t need your optimism. I need to be alone.” The toy then turned and marched away, a dark storm brewing in her heart.


Day 26 - “I’m Sorry”

Alec sat still in the cockpit, holding back his tears. The other toys didn’t dare approach him for fear of making him feel worse. It had been about twenty minutes since Valtor had stormed off.

Alec couldn’t believe he had pushed his own hero past the breaking point. How could he ever forgive himself? He tried to swallow the guilt he felt, but it wouldn’t go down. It remained stuck in his throat like a parasite, sucking all joy out of him.

“Hey, kid,” a voice came, and Alec turned to see his hero climb into the cockpit.

“I’m sorry,” Alec blurted out. “I should’ve been more understanding. I know you’re really sad with the death of your true mission.”

“No, kid,” Valtor, her demeanour calm and patient. “I shouldn’t have yelled at you. I feel guilty. You’re just a kid who’s trying to make me feel better.”

Alec didn’t know what to say.

Valtor shrugged her shoulder. “I’m just a toy. My true home planet is the house that a little kid like you takes me to, and I’m looking forward to it. My mission is very much still alive.”

Alec grinned, the regret washing out of him. “I hope you find a beautiful home.”


Day 27 - “I did it for him”

“I’m so happy they made up,” the bunny smiled.

“Me too,” the farmer said.

“Have the two of you sorted out differences too?” The bunny asked.

“Alec and me?” The farmer furrowed his eyebrows.

“Yes,” the cherub said.

“We never had a problem.”

“Oh,” the bunny said before falling quiet.

“Did Alec say something?” The farmer asked, his heartbeat spiking.

The bunny and the cherub looked at each other with regret in their eyes.

“Tell me!” The farmer demanded.

“Alec saw you practice on the plane with Valtor and felt hurt,” the cherub blurted out.

“He felt like you stole his dream,” the bunny added, “it made him quite angry.”

“But I did it for him,” the farmer said.

“At the time, he didn’t know that,” the cherub said, “I’m sure he's over it now.”

“No,” the farmer whispered to himself. Even if Alec was over it, the farmer felt terrible about hurting his best friend. How long had the little boy carried hatred in his heart because of the farmer’s action? How long had he suffered the burns of anger and betrayal? Shame cut into the farmer's heart, leaving a stinging in its wake.

Swallowing his regret, the farmer mar he’d towards the little boy. He had to apologize to Alec; he had to make things right. His friendship with Alec was something he couldn’t afford to lose.


Day 28 - “Without them, I’m weaker than an autumn leaf.”

“I’m sorry,” the farmer blurted out, his gaze fixed on Alec.

“For what?” Alec asked, confused.

“I know that you felt bad when you saw me on the jet with Valtor.”

Alec smiled. “That’s not your fault. It was a misunderstanding.”

The farmer lowered his gaze. “I still feel bad.”

“Don’t.” Alec picked up the toy and placed him on his shoulder. “You’re my best friend; I can never be angry with you for long.”

“Keep your friendship strong,” Valtor smiled at the duo. “No matter how strong you are, you always need friends to watch your back.”

“Unless I’m as strong as you,” Alec joked.

“I’m not that strong, kid,” Valtor said. “My strength is my team. Without them, I’m weaker than an autumn leaf.”

“That’s not true,” the farmer said, taken aback by the humility of the intergalactic space warrior, who wore her pride on her sleeve.

“It is,” Valtor replied. “I can’t take credit for the value my team provides.”

Alec smiled at his hero, “That’s why you’re my favourite.”


Day 29 - “My Toys”

“Alec,” a voice called.

Alec turned around and found mother standing at the mouth of the aisle.

“Did you pick a toy?” Mother asked

Alec nodded and raised his arm to show off Valtor, but his hands came up empty. He turned to his shoulder, and the farmer was gone. Even the bunny and cherub were nowhere to be seen. He immediately fell to the floor and started hunting about. The entire world had shifted around him; the empty toy store filled with lively toys was replaced by crowds of people and motionless objects.

“Did you lose something?” Mother asked.

“My toys,” Alec said, tears coming to his eyes.

Mother walked up to him and patted him on the head. “We can get another one from the shelf.”

Alec nodded and got to his feet. Somehow his friends had disappeared, and he hoped with all his heart that they would be back on their shelves.

“Where to first?” Mother asked.

“Clearance,” Alec said.

“Alright.” Mother offered her hand, and Alec took it.

. . . .

A few minutes later, they stepped into the clearance section of the toy store.

Alec let go of his mother’s hand and ran down the aisles, his eyes searching for his best friend. He found empty rows and ducked, looking into the bottom shelf. The farmer had to be here. This is where he’d first found him.

He looked about, but the antique toy was nowhere to be seen. Alec turned, looking through another shelf. Fear gripped him, but he held on to hope, hope in his friendship.

“This entire aisle is empty,” mother said, looking around, “what do you expect to find here?”

“The farmer,” Alec said, the panic rising his voice. Then, a glint caught his eye, and he turned under another shelf to find an antique toy packed in an old-fashioned packaging. He reached out and grabbed the toy. “Found him!” Joy bloomed in his little heart. He had found his best friend, and he would never let go.


Day 30 - “I want them to be happy.”

“Are you ready to go?” Mother asked.

Alec bit his lower lip. “Can I have some more toys, please?”

Mother knelt to Alec’s level, meeting his eye line, “Alec, we must not be greedy.”

“It’s not for me, mother,” Alec said, “The toys are lonely. I want them to be happy.”

“I don’t know, Alec.”

“Please, Mother,” Alec’s voice cracked, “I must help them.”

“You care for them, don’t you?”

Alec nodded, “I...I don’t want them to be alone.”

Mother smiled, “Alright, let’s go get them.”

Alec’s eyes lit up. “Thank you.”


Day 31 - “Thank you for everything.”

“Thank you all for coming,” Alec smiled at the children seated on the floor before him. “My name is Alec, and I’d like y’all to be my friends.”

It had taken a lot of courage on Alec’s part, but after coming back from the toy store, he had convinced mother to invite all the children from the cul de sac for a small get together, and since mother knew all their parents, it wasn’t an arduous task for her.

“Hi, Alec,” the kids said in unison.

Alec smiled and turned to the bag he had got from the toy store.

He reached in and pulled out a stuffed cat with a triangular chew toy attached to its collar. He then turned towards a girl in a pink dress who was sitting towards the front. “Petunia, this cat needs a home. I think yours would be perfect.”

Petunia smiled widely as she reached out and pulled the cat into a deep hug.

“Aabid, this is for you,” Alec said, handing the boy in the bright yellow shirt a toy giraffe.

“I love giraffes,” Aabid grinned, accepting the toy.

“I think you’ll really like this bunny, Wei,” Alec said, turning to a boy towards the back and handing him a stuffed white rabbit.

Wei’s eyes lit up, and he silently accepted the toy.

“Denzel, I think this toy will fit well with your collection,” Alec said, handing the porcelain cherub to a boy with short hair and bright red shoes.

“It’ll fit perfectly with my antiques,” Denzel smiled and accepted the toy.

Alec then turned to a girl in black who sat quietly in a corner. “Lanelle, this is for you.”

Lanelle looked at Alec from the corner of her eyes, and then her jaw dropped. She reached out and grabbed the action figure of Valtor from Alec’s hands, tears coming to her eyes.

All the kids looked up at Alec, joy beaming from their faces. “Thank You, “ they said in unison. Alec grinned, feeling warmth rise in his heart. He could not only sense gratitude from the children but from the toys as well. Everyone was happy.

. . . .

Later that night, Alec sat by his window, looking out at the full moon. He had friends, toys, everything. “I’m happy,” he said to the farmer, who sat by him.

“I’m glad,” the farmer said, “you deserve all the happiness in the world.”

Alec turned to the farmer, watching the silver light of the moon dance across the toy’s face, “Thank you.”

“For what?” the farmer asked.

“For everything.”

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