The Simpletons were still recovering from all the excitement of the weekend. They sat at either end of the chesterfield, Simplia with her phone, Sagacia tapping the screen of her iPad while Murzik sprawled across the back and kneaded her shoulders with his front paws.
“What trip?” they both muttered to themselves.
The looked up at each other.
“You on email?”
“Says I got a trip coming up.”
“Me, too. But we just got back from Washington, D.C.”
“And we haven’t planned any more trips.”
Footsteps approached from the direction of the guestroom down the hall, and a musical voice said, “You haven’t planned any more trips. But I have.”
The Simpletons jumped up, squealed, laughed, and ran to greet their dear friend. Murzik tumbled off his perch, found his footing, and attempted an insouciant air as he sauntered toward the unexpected visitor.
“Vasilisa! You’re here! You’re actually here! Where have you been? How long can you stay? What brings you home?”
When they finally untangled themselves from the hugs, and when they had all caught their breath, and when Murzik had ensconced himself in Vasilisa’s arms, Sagacia put the kettle on for a cup of tea while Simplia ransacked the pantry for fig newtons.
Chewing, sipping, scritching the cat, they resumed the conversation.
Vasilisa said, “I’m ready for a rest. Ready to settle in and reflect on my adventures over the past few years. And you, dear hearts, faithful friends, determined correspondents, are ready to embark on adventures of your own, don’t you think?”
The Simpletons’ stared at her and then at each other, eyes wide with a mixture of excitement and alarm.
“You’re sending us out into the world?”
“If you’re willing to embark.”
“Where are we going?”
“Off the beaten path. Across the seven seas. Into the heart of the mountain. Beyond the clouds…”
“And home again?” asked Simplia.
Vasilisa assured her, “And home again.”
“Unscathed?” asked Sagacia.
Vasilisa squinted one eye at her and said, “Only slightly scathed, I should think. For it to be an adventure, you must face danger.”
“But what if we take the wrong path?” Simplia worried. “Or misjudge people? Or fall down a hole? Or eat a poison apple? We’re Simpletons. We’re not wise like you.”
“But you are kind,” said Vasilisa. “You are generous. You take people, cats, mailmice, and magical friends as you find them. You will fare well. Now…all to bed, and in the morning at first light, it’s off you go. Your trip is around the corner. And when you’ve navigated the corner, you strike out off the beaten path.”
“Will you tell our Magical Friends we’ve gone?” asked Sagacia.
“Of course I will,” Vasilisa assured them. “And when you write home, I’ll run straight to the Fairy Tale Lobby and let them read your letters. Now…your chamomile tea should be kicking in. Time for a good night’s sleep. I’ll have coffee and muffins ready when you wake up. And a couple of bandanas stuffed with everything you’ll need to get you there and back again.”
The Simpletons were overcome with drowsiness. They slimpsed their way to bed, dreamed sweet dreams, and the next morning, they set out around the corner, off the beaten path.
We hope to hear from them now and then. Perhaps they’ll keep us posted on their adventures.