Monday, May 17, 2010

"Bashful Blueberry" by Karen Cantwell

Bashful Blueberry had tried the patience of more than one teacher in her time.

“Sue Miller,” they would call out looking for her in the sea of children's faces.

Standing slowly, she would correct them. “My name is Bashful Blueberry. I live in a rainbow near a river of diamonds.”

“It says right here,” they would point their picky fingers at a piece of paper, “that your name is Sue Miller.”

Rolling her emerald eyes, Bashful would mumble a reply. “Don’t believe what you read.”

That’s when Bashful found herself in the principal’s office. Many a time she would be forced to write My name is Sue Miller a hundred times or more. Then the principal would ask, “Now what is your name?”

“Bashful Blueberry. I live in a rainbow near a river of diamonds.”

So she would find herself in another school. Or another home. Because foster parents, she found, were generally as lackluster as the teachers. In five years she had been in seven foster homes, gone to six schools, been to four psychiatrists and gone through three social workers. They tried everything. Drugs, spankings, bribery, hypnosis. None of it worked. Mostly because she would spit out the pills or pretend she was a winning thoroughbred in the Kentucky Derby during the spankings. And the one time they tried hypnosis, she put on the grandest show. If she didn’t entertain them, she had certainly entertained herself.

One afternoon, her marshmallow of a social worker sat her down. “There’s a woman here interested in giving you a home. She’s a nice woman. I’m afraid if you keep playing your imaginary games with people, you’ll never find a forever home. Try to . . . act . . . normal. You know – real.”

“What’s real?”

The social worker threw up her pudgy hands. “That’s the problem!”

Bashful was pretty sure she wasn’t the one with the problem.

As the young girl’s feet dangled from the chair, a very tall lady stepped into the room. Her hair was the color of autumn, her face as soft and warm as a fairy goddess. The woman seemed to sing even though she hadn’t spoken a word.

“Hello,” said the goddess lady. “What’s your name?”

The social worker cringed.

Bashful hesitated. She opened her mouth, but nothing came out. She tried again. “Bash. . .” she coughed it back. She drooped. “Sue,” she sighed. “My name is Sue Miller.” A tear dripped to her lower lash.

“That’s not what I heard.” The lady smiled a crooked smile. “As I understand it, your name is Bashful Blueberry and you live in a rainbow near a river of diamonds.” She gave Bashful her hand. “My name is Patchwork Persimmon. You can call me Patch. I’ve been waiting my whole life to meet you.”

When Bashful moved into her new house, they bought nearly a whole paint store worth of supplies. They laid out wide tarps, erected tall ladders and got to work. They painted the front, the back and both sides of that house in shimmery shades of blue, red, yellow, green and violet.

When that was done, they started digging. It took many days but eventually they had a happy pond that emptied into a long and pretty creek which they filled with pieces of cut glass that sparkled in midday sun.

One day Bashful made a proclamation. “I’m ready for a new name.”

“Do tell,” said Patch.

“You can start calling me Magnificent Melody. But don’t call me Mag. My name is Magnificent.”

“So it is.”

And the two of them sipped lustrous lemonade on the porch of their rainbow house while listening to the winsome waters dance in their river of diamonds.


Karen Cantwell is an author of short stories and novels. She would love for you to drop by and read more of her works at


Janel said...

Lovely! Everybody, even Bashful Blueberries, deserves to have someone special in their lives. Someone who understands them.

Welcome . . . said...

Thanks Janel! :-) Yes, understanding is the universal solvent. I'm so glad you enjoyed my story.

Misha Crews said...

Love it, Karen! Great job. What a wonderful story. :)

Maya @small_veracity said...

Wonderful. I absolutely loved this story. There is a "Bashful Blueberry" in everyone. I am happy that she found a place of her own.