It was a lazy, hot summer afternoon. Jude sighed. He was bored. It was too hot to go outside, and his sisters were busy watching some girly show about mermaids that was not fun at all. He poked his head in their room and asked them to change it to The Aquabats! Super Show!, but they didn’t. Even the Power Rangers would be better than a show about mermaids. Blech.
Just after he left their room, his oldest sister popped out and threw a lollipop at his head. Ouch!
“Here, booger-face. Maybe this will make you feel better,” she said laughing. Then she ducked back in her room.
Jude bent down, picked up the lollipop, and examined the wrapper. He couldn’t read the words yet, but he saw a picture of a blue raspberry. Yuck—blue raspberry was boring. He would have preferred butterscotch or even fruit punch, but he knew his poopy sister wouldn’t let him pick a tastier one, even though she had a whole bag of lollipops she’d stolen from the pantry.
He sat by the dining table and unwrapped his lollipop. The sun slanted in the dining room window, pale yellow, like lemonade where the ice had melted and gone all watery. Jude liked it when the sun came in like that because it made all the little bits of dust look like teensy fairies dancing around happily to a song only they could hear. Or, wait, maybe like little starships darting back and forth, shooting laser beams at each other in a fight over who would rule the space quadrant—yeah, that sounded way cooler than stupid fairies.
He licked his lollipop and sighed again. Blue raspberry. Boooooring. He always got blue raspberry. He was so sick of blue rasberry, it might as well not even have a flavor. It might as well not even be blue.
He once tried dipping a lollipop in the sugar bowl to make it taste sweeter—this one was a watermelon lolly, which wasn’t quite as boring as blue raspberry, but wasn’t nearly as yummy as grape or mango—but what he thought was the sugar bowl was the salt bowl. Salt did not make the lolly taste any better. He got yelled at by his mommy because he got slobber all over the salt cellar.
“I wish there were some way I could make this lollipop taste better,” thought Jude.
Just then, one of the dust specks darted to a spot just in front of his face and stopped. It didn’t move, it didn’t even wiggle a tiny bit. Jude had never seen anything like this, and he’d spent a lot of time watching the dust flutter back and forth. It seemed that 6 year olds, with meany-pants big sisters who never included them in anything, had to get used to being bored and doing things like watching dust float about.
The dust stayed there and began to catch more and more of the light until it got so bright, it hurt his eyes to look.
Then he heard a voice: “Jude, I am the Lollipop Fairy! I heard your wish, and I am here to make your lollipop as yummy as you want it to be!”
Mouth agape, Jude didn’t know what to say. All he could think to ask was, “Are all the bits of dust I see fairies?”
“Some of us are, but most are just dust.” replied the Lollipop Fairy.
“There aren’t even a few super-cool spaceship dust-specks?” asked Jude.
The Lollipop Fairy giggled and shook a tiny bit—as she did, little sparkles fluttered away from her. “No, there are no spaceships here!”
“Hmph—fairies,” thought Jude. “Lame.” But wait, she said she could make his lollipop as yummy as he wanted it to be?
“I want this lollipop to be the yummiest thing in the whole wide world,” proclaimed Jude.
“I should warn you, such a yummy lollipop does not come without a price!” chirped the Lollipop Fairy.
Jude didn’t care about prices. Mommy and Daddy worried about prices; that’s why they paid for everything with plastic cards. One thing Jude never figured out was if the plastic cards just magically paid for anything they wanted, how come they still always told him he couldn’t get a toy whenever he wanted one at the store? No fair. Not at all.
“Just make it as yummy as any lollipop, ever, in the history of ever.”
“Ok, Jude, here you go!” The Lollipop Fairy got even brighter. Brighter and brighter, until Jude had to close his eyes and saw spots behind his eyelids.
“Try your lollipop now, Jude!” said the Fairy.
Jude’s eyes still hurt, so keeping them closed, he gave the lolly a lick.
It was the most amazing-est, awesome-est thing he had ever tasted. It was like someone took a blue raspberry lollipop and made it the most blue-raspberriest raspberry in the universe, then shot a blue-raspberry-flavored laser at it, and then they dipped it in raspberry-flavored sugar (real sugar, not salt), and that was the lollipop he was tasting right then.
“WOW!” Jude exclaimed. “That is a very good lollipop.”
“Just don’t be surprised if everything else doesn’t measure up!” said the Lollipop Fairy.
Then Jude opened his eyes again. He blinked.
All the color had gone out of everything. Like, everything. Except the lollipop. It was the brightest, blue-raspberriest blue he had ever seen. But everything else—the walls of the house, the floor, the trees and flowers outside the window, the lazy sunlight that had been that pale lemonade-y yellow—it was all just white and gray and black.
Jude took another lick. It was still the most delicious thing he’d ever tasted. Like a phaser on Star Trek, set to “blue raspberry.” It was so yummy.
But Jude was worried. Was this the price the Fairy talked about? Once he was done with this lolly, would the entire world stay colorless? Would the sun beams always be plain white, instead of yellow? Would his mommy’s pretty brown eyes with bits of green in them just look dark, like coal? Would his sister’s super-cool blue streak in her hair be gone forever? And most importantly, would the Aquabats have to wear gray uniforms forever and ever, instead of blue?
Jude didn’t like that one bit. He frowned.
“I don’t like this lollipop,” said Jude.
“Well,” said the Lollipop Fairy, “I made it the most scrumptious, delicious, and tasty lollipop ever, just as you asked! Do you mean that you would rather have your world back to normal, even if it means going back to boring old blue raspberry?”
Jude thought for a second. “Yeah, I don’t like a world without color. Even if I had a never-ending lollipop that was this delicious and yummy, I don’t think I’d ever want a world without any color in it.”
“Ok, Jude! I think that’s a very wise decision.” The Lollipop Fairy got brighter, and brighter and brighter and brighter again, until Jude had to close his eyes even tighter than he did before.
Eyes still closed, Jude licked his lolly. Back to boring old plain blue raspberry. He opened his eyes. All the color was back in the world—the yellow sun beams, the red walls of the dining room, the green leaves of the trees outside the windows. And his blue lollipop. But it somehow seemed bluer than it had been before.
Jude sat back, sighed (this time, a happy, contented sigh), and watched the fairies dance in the sunlight. Now that he thought about it, fairies were not stupid at all and were, in fact, kind of cool. He took another lick.
It was the best lollipop he had ever tasted in his whole life.