Chapter timing: 12 minutes
Post 1: Flapjax at Church
Flapjax, our lovable hero (and very cuddly teddy bear), and his best friend, a human girl named Libby, did everything together.
Sometimes Libby took Flapjax on fun trips — like in the summer when they went to the boardwalk to ride the roller coasters and bumper cars and play skeeball until they ran out of quarters. But sometimes Flapjax was dragged to places like the mall…boring! (Although, there was certainly a good amount of mischief he could find around the mall – but, that is a story for another time…)
Each week, Flapjax was dragged along on a particular trip that he always dreaded. For one thing, he was forced to take a bath and comb his fur the night before. Baths are the worst, and have you ever tried to comb out fur?? It is NOT a simple task. After bathing, he would have to put on his fanciest clothes…clothes he was never allowed to get messy, which is quite hard when you are a bear and “Mischief” is your middle name. And finally, they would walk all the way across their tiny town for…CHURCH.
Have you ever been to church? If you’re like Flapjax and Libby, every Sunday you have to be on your absolute best behavior and pay attention for a whole hour as grown-ups talk at you and give you mean looks if you so much as make a peep. This is quite difficult for human children like us and Libby, but it is particularly difficult for Flapjax, who was made for fun. Try as he might, each week was a struggle.
One Sunday, after an exciting Saturday night where Flapjax was allowed to stay up late baking (okay, mostly eating) cookies, Flapjax REALLY did not want to go to church. He was tired and grumpy, because who could sleep after all of that excitement?! When Libby nudged him, trying to wake him up, Flapjax ferociously kicked at her.
“We’re going to be late, Flapjax! Dad’s already outside waiting for us!”
Flapjax just threw the covers over his head and curled up in a ball so Libby couldn’t get him.
“You’d better come! Mom and Dad said we can go to the bakery after if we’re good…and I really want a doughnut!”
Flapjax peered out from under the covers, already dreaming of all the delicious pastries, muffins and cookies just waiting to be eaten. He slowly lifted the quilt away and let Libby pick him up.
“I thought that might change your mind,” she said as she hopped down the stairs and ran out the door.
The church they went to was small – just like their little town – and all of the humans knew each other. And since Flapjax was quite notorious in their neighborhood, everyone knew him too.
But church was always a struggle for Flapjax. The benches were uncomfortable — even with Flapjax’s winter fur and extra padding from a recent adventure involving a few too many desserts. And he had to be quiet the whole time, which was not easy when he had so many questions – like, why does everyone want a little piece of stale bread so badly that they stand in such long lines each week, and why does everyone drink from the same cup?? Gross! Plus, he couldn’t see anything! Even when he would climb on Libby’s shoulders, he could only ever see the heads in front of him. And he got stern looks when he tried to climb on one of the grownups…
So it was not rare that Flapjax would get into some kind of trouble at church. Really, everyone should have known that this week would be one for the record books. After all, we learned earlier that a grumpy Flapjax is a naughty Flapjax…
They were just a little bit late that day — a feat Flapjax was quite proud of, but his humans gave him a look that said they did not agree.
The sulking began again.
Once they got to their bench, they began to pray, eyes closed tight in concentration. This presented Flapjax with the perfect opportunity to quietly slip under the bench and crawl his way to freedom.
Post 2: Flapjax’s Temptation
Flapjax moved slowly through the rows and rows of people, avoiding all of the feet as he tried to escape. But on his way, he came across a great temptation. Shoelaces. Untied. Just waiting for someone to find…and “fix”…
Flapjax quickly tied the two sets of shoelaces together to opposite shoes before moving on. Every few rows, he would come across more laces, either untied or almost untied, and he repeated this process.
He was almost through the rows of benches when he sensed trouble. He heard the shuffling first, as all of the humans in their puffy winter jackets began to move. Suddenly, as Flapjax was poised in the middle of a row, he noticed a long bench falling quickly in his direction.
He tried to scramble away, but he wasn’t fast enough. (He blamed the cookies from last night.)
The bench fell on top of him, pinning him down to the ground. He let out a loud yelp as he was crushed under the weight of the bench and the humans kneeling angelically on top of it.
Libby heard the yelp and recognized it immediately. She knew Flapjax was in trouble – or (more likely) causing it. She looked around her own bench, but she knew he would not be there. Libby was worried, but also quite mad at Flapjax. She knew what kind of trouble he was capable of, and it was certain to result in no bakery for them that day.
But all she could do was wait…and pray…
While Libby and the rest of his human family were quietly praying in their pew a few rows in front of him, Flapjax was busy trying to get free from under that silly little bench. Grunting, he wiggled his rear back and forth, slowly inching out, until suddenly, with a pop, he flew out from under the bench with the force of a cannon. He only stopped when he hit the back wall of the church.
Flapjax was very lucky that he had a lot of fur, otherwise it could have hurt pretty badly to hit a wall at that speed. He laid there on the ground for a few seconds as he caught his breath and waited for his heartbeat to stop thumping in his ears. But while he was definitely shaken up, he recovered quickly.
As he got back up on his paws, Flapjax glanced around to see if anyone had noticed his trip across the church, but thankfully no one was looking at him.
Safe. He let out a sigh of relief.
Then he caught Libby’s eyes. She saw him looking at her, and her eyes narrowed in anger. He felt sheepish. Of course she would be mad.
But then again, how could Libby expect him to sit still for an hour?
She should know better, he thought, as he turned away in a huff and made his way to the back door.
Post 3: Flapjax and the Golden Safe
Flapjax knew he couldn’t escape completely – not only was the doorknob several feet above his head, but he also didn’t really want to leave. You see, Flapjax knew he would not survive out in the wild. He had been domesticated for far too long and was no longer a wild bear. Flapjax was generally okay with this…he had gotten used to his warm cozy bed and eating all the food he wanted without having to travel any further than the kitchen. Plus, he loved Libby and his family…even if they annoyed him from time to time.
So instead of leaving, Flapjax padded around the lobby of the church, looking for something to occupy his time.
Soon his stomach began to growl, and he realized he had not eaten anything for breakfast before church. He wondered if there were snacks anywhere to be found.
Flapjax began hunting through the rooms attached to the church lobby. There, he noticed what looked like a small gold-colored cubby in the wall above his head – like a safe in the movies! His imagination began to run wild. What could the church be hiding in there? It must be very valuable to be hidden in a golden safe. Could he figure out how to get into it? He had to at least try, of course.
Flapjax spotted a bench perfect for climbing on the far side of the lobby. It was quite heavy, and he was out of shape (it was winter, give him a break). It was slow going, moving the bench across the floor. Some of the carpet came with it across the lobby to where Flapjax aimed it under the golden safe. Well, he would have to deal with that mess later…
The golden safe was decorated with carved images of people. They must be important people, Flapjax thought as he pawed at the edges of the safe, trying desperately to open it. He pawed and pawed and finally the door opened.
Flapjax stared at the precious contents inside. He knew what they were. He’d been to church enough to know what the priest handed out for the Communion meal. He wondered for the second time that morning why in the world everyone would wait in that long line for a small piece of stale bread. But then his stomach rumbled fiercely and Flapjax reached for the golden bowl filled with the round crackers.
His first bite was a timid one – the crackers were not tasty, but they also weren’t terrible. Flapjax actually liked the satisfying crunch of the thin wafers. He kept eating. And eating. He ate until the only thing left in the heavy golden cup was a few crumbs.
Now Flapjax was thirsty. So thirsty!
And that was when he noticed another golden cup sitting behind the crackers. He peeked over the brim of the cup and looked inside. It was filled with some kind of red juice. Flapjax sniffed…it didn’t smell like juice, but it certainly looked like it. Shrugging to himself, Flapjax grabbed the cup with both paws, took a big gulp, and immediately spit out the juice as his eyes teared up — it must have gone sour. Ick.
Stuffed and happy, Flapjax decided it was time to leave. He yawned. Definitely nap time.
He was hanging from the safe, trying to find the bench with his tippy toes when Libby burst through the doors of the church and into the lobby. She gasped when she saw the scene before her — the rug askew, the safe opened, and the two golden cups emptied and fallen on their sides. And then there was Flapjax, who finally lost his grip and belly-flopped onto the hard bench below him.
“Flapjax!” Libby whispered angrily. “You are in so much trouble!”
Suddenly, loud gasps and yelps echoed through the church as Flapjax’s unknowing shoelace victims stumbled and fell.
Later that day as Flapjax was lying in bed, keeping out of sight of the adults, Libby came in and sat down beside him.
“Well,” she said. “Everyone is mad at us. As usual, you got me in trouble too.”
Flapjax felt bad, he hadn’t meant to get Libby into trouble. Somehow that always happened. He crawled up onto her lap and hugged her in an attempt to apologize. Libby could never resist his cuddly bear hugs. Sure enough, she hugged him back.
“Don’t you want to know what our punishment is?” she asked, putting Flapjax back on the bed so that she could look at him. “Thanks to your naughty behavior, we will be going to church every morning this week.” She paused for dramatic effect. “And yes, that means you get a bath every day.”
Flapjax groaned. It was going to be a very long week…
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