Celebrate National Tell a Fairy Tale Day by reading “Midnight on Ice”

Midnight the abandoned cat searches desperately for food and shelter. (Illustration designed by Sherrie Smith).

Editor’s Note: Today is National Tell a Fairy Tale Day, a time to reflect back to the days when myths and legends were retold around the fire or by traveling storytellers, and have since been written down and become known the world over as fairy tales.
As part of National Tell a Fairy Day Day, Freeline Productions author Michael Freeman has written his own fairy tale, simply titled ….

MIDNIGHT ON ICE

It felt like the coldest day in a long time, bitterly and cruelly so …. longer than Midnight the black cat could ever remember. Every time she would peer out from that dark, dank alleyway, the wind was so strong it felt like a vicious slap in the face. Midnight glanced up at the street light, and could see snowflakes starting to fall. All she had found as shelter in that back alley was an old wooden box. She had been hiding inside it for hours, but now she desperately needed to find food.
Midnight was starving. She couldn’t ever remember being this hungry. There were tears in her eyes as she glanced around, desperately hoping to find something, any small thing, to eat. She had spent a long time picking through the trash cans and the large dumpster in that alley, but nothing – just paper, plastic cups, and so on. Between the cold and her fiercely empty belly, it had been a heartbreaking day for Midnight.
But Midnight also knew she couldn’t just lie freezing in that old box all night. Midnight went down to the street and started to glance wearily in both directions. The street was quiet tonight, with not a soul around. Maybe someone, she thought, just might walk by and see her, and think Oh what an adorable cat and take pity on this poor starving kitty … and maybe even give her something nice to eat. If only … she thought.
There was a time not too long ago when Midnight never had to worry about food, or hunger, or the cold. For many years she had lived with a charming family in a delightfully warm apartment, where she slept on snug beds and couches and comfy chairs, or sat by the windowsill and let the sun’s bright rays warm her. The family would always come home at night and ask how she was, rub her head, and give her scrumptious meals. She felt the happiest cat in the world.
Until that one day when the man and woman brought her outside and put her down on the sidewalk. They had sad faces as they said “I’m sorry, Midnight, but father has lost his good job and we can’t live in this apartment anymore, and the new one won’t let us have a pet. We hope you find a new home.”
Then they waved goodbye, and turned and quickly rushed off. Midnight never saw them again. Since then, everything around her had been so cold, sad, and dreary.
Since then, there have been no more delicious dishes of food, no more warm beds to sleep on. Now it’s been cold, and miserable, for this poor cat.
Midnight heard a sound. She glanced up and noticed a woman walking down the street, holding the hand of a young boy. Midnight’s hear began to beat faster. Could they be friendly, Midnight wondered? Was it possible they had food?
As the woman and boy approached the alley, Midnight decided to take a bold chance. She poked her head out and softly meowed.
The boy stopped. He looked at her, then kneeled down and put his hand out toward Midnight. It looked like a hopeful sign, until –
“Edgar!” the woman hissed in a loud and grating voice. “Get away from that filthy creature this instant.”
And then, a cruel look flashed over the boy’s face. “But mother,” he said mischievously, in a fiendish voice, “I want to cut off its tail and take it home.”
At the sound of that, Midnight let out a hiss and ran off frantically. She could hear the mother say, “You’ll do no such thing, that creature is all dirty and smelly. Come on now, let’s go,” and off they went down the street, disappearing into the dark night.
Midnight hid in her box, where the wind didn’t feel quite so harsh. She hid under there, wanting to cry at how wretched her life seemed. She was so hungry, it was all she could think about.
Finally, working up a bit of courage again, she poked her head out and started to move toward the street. Surely someone would take pity on a poor starving cat ….
And as Midnight glanced out onto the sidewalk again, she was startled by a voice that came out of nowhere:
“I know where you can eat!”
Midnight looked down the street – and saw nothing. She glanced down the other direction – and still saw not a single soul. And then:
“Up here!”
Midnight looked up. Perched on the ledge of the building was a bird, staring down at her.
“You look hungry,” the bird said.
Midnight nodded. “I’m so very hungry …” she cried out in a pitifully weak voice.
“I know where there’s food,” the bird winked.
“Are you sure?” Midnight asked, not quite convinced that she could trust this feathered creature. After all, she remembered, birds have never much liked cats. And Midnight, in her younger days, had certainly had great fun chasing birds – and eating a few. Why was this bird not suspicious that Midnight might decide to eat it as well?
“Well, if you want to eat,” the bird sighed, “you’d better listen to me.”
“Why do you want to help me,” Midnight asked, “if you’re a bird and I’m a cat.”
“You look like a decent enough type,” the bird chirped. “Besides, I just ate and now my tummy is all nice and full. Doesn’t that sound delightful?”
“That sounds so wonderful,” Midnight said.
“Then follow me,” the bird winked.
The bird flew into the air, hovering over Midnight as the cat started to follow it. Midnight watched as whirling snow began to fall as she chased after the bird. Midnight’s little heart was beating with hope – and some fear.
They moved just a few blocks down, to a small park. There was a lake in the park, and the bird flew over to a tree near the lake and landed on a branch.
“Here we go,” the bird said.
Midnight stopped at the edge of the lake and sat there, looking puzzled.
“I don’t see any food,” she said, feeling let down and cruelly deceived. Was it all just a horrible joke?
“But it’s right in the middle of the lake,” the bird insisted. “And there’s a nice strong covering of ice on the lake, so you can walk out there without getting wet.”
Midnight was reluctant to believe the bird. But then her hunger pangs kicked in again, and the little cat felt she had no choice but to step closer. There was indeed a sheet of ice on the lake, but Midnight was still suspicious. How could there be food there?
“Oh, the food was so delicious,” the bird said. “And I don’t think anybody else knows about this.”
Midnight glanced out, but saw nothing … except for a tiny light shining in the middle of the lake. She looked again. Was there something out there?
She climbed onto the ice and moved toward the light. Oh, the icy was so bitterly cold, it hurt her little paws. Monstrous snowflakes were falling now.
And then … for a second, Midnight swore she saw waterlilies floating on the ice. As she moved closer, the light got brighter, until –
It happened so suddenly. The ice broke and Midnight fell – she dropped down farther and farther and farther. It felt like she would never stop falling …
Then she opened her eyes. All around Midnight were thick white walls. It seemed that the walls were made entirely of frozen ice and drifted snow. But she didn’t feel cold anymore. In fact, it felt warm now.
There was a blaze of light that at first was almost blinding. Then, as Midnight looked up, a figure emerged and approached her. It was another cat, this one with white fur.
“Welcome,” the white cat purred in a friendly manner. “I bet you’re quite hungry now.”
“I am,” Midnight said. “But there’s no food here.”
“But you’re wrong,” the white cat said. “Why, just look over there.”
And as Midnight turned, she now saw …. Fish. And roast chicken. And liver pate. And cooked duck.
The food stood out in this wall made of thick blocks of ice. Beyond the food there was dazzling white everywhere.
A surge of excitement raced through every part of Midnight’s little body. She couldn’t believe how much food there was in here. Every bit of food looked splendid. Midnight ran over and began eating everything in sight. Oh, it tasted so good …
“Don’t eat so fast,” the white cat said. “Slow down. There’s plenty here.”
But Midnight wasn’t listening. She was feasting on all these delectable foods that miraculously had come to her at last.

Conclusion: Today is National Tell a Fairy Tale Day. Why not write your own fairy tale to share with others.

Contact Freeline Productions at FreelineOrlando@gmail.com.

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About Freeline Productions

Michael W. Freeman is a veteran journalist, playwright and author. Born and raised in Fall River, Massachusetts, he has lived in Orlando since 2002. Michael has worked for some of Florida's largest newspapers, including The Orlando Sentinel. His original plays have draw strong audiences at the Orlando Fringe Festival. He is the author of the novels "Bloody Rabbit" and "Koby's New Home."
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