Marvin, the mouse, scampered as fast as his little legs and feet could carry him. Today was his birthday. He had to get to the barn where his family and friends waited. A party to celebrate his birthday was about to begin.
Short of breath, he huffed and puffed as he ran across Farmer Jack’s field toward the barn. “Oh, why didn’t I resist the temptation to go to the cornfield this morning?” he whimpered.
As he ran by Charlotte the hen with her chicks parading behind her single file, she called out, “Good afternoon Marvin. Happy Birthday”.
He didn’t have time to stop and thank her. He kept running toward the barn.
As he ran past Horace the horse grazing in the field, Horace looked up and whinnied, “Happy Birthday, Marvin. You heading to the party?”
When Marvin didn’t respond or even thank him, Horace swatted away some flies on his rump with his tail and made a harrumph sound at Marvin ignoring him. He looked back to the field and returned to grazing.
At least a foot high, the grass and weeds in the field next to the patch of planted corn made it impossible for Marvin to run any faster. Soon, a short distance past the tree ahead on his left, Farmer Jack’s ranch house, and barn appeared. He was running out of breath and his legs were beginning to cramp.
As he attempted to pick up his pace, the weeds and grass parted and down, down, down Marvin went. After what seemed like an eternity, he landed with a thud at the bottom of a deep hole.
As he lay on his tummy, colored lights and stars danced before his eyes. It took a minute or two for him to realize what had happened and where he was. Still shaky, he slowly turned over, stood, and looked up. His heart sank.
He shouted and shouted and shouted, but his small squeaky voice couldn’t carry far enough for anyone in the faraway barn to hear him.
He tried to climb up the dirt walls to no avail. The hole was too deep and there wasn’t anything to get a pawhold on; just dirt. He couldn’t get very far before he fell back down landing on his back. Some of the dirt he had dislodged in his attempt to climb out fell into his large ears and clung to the fir on his back.
He shook his body trying to shake off the dirt. He leaned his head over and smacked the back of his head with his paw to dislodge the dirt that had fallen into his ears.
As tears trickled over his whiskers and down his nose, he looked down and murmured, I’ll never be able to get out of here. It’s too far to the top, Discouraged, he sat down with his paw on his head, contemplating his dilemma.
~ * ~
Meanwhile, back at the barn, Marvin’s friends began to worry. Marcia, Marvin’s sister, turned to Marvin’s brother, “Melvin, I’m worried. Marvin wouldn’t be late for his own birthday party. He’s been looking forward to this for weeks. Where could he be?”
“I’m afraid something has happened to him. Let’s go looking for him.” Marcia announced to the group of Marvin’s friends gathered for the celebration.
“Let’s form a line and walk across the field, calling his name” Marcia added.
Melvin responded, “That’s a great idea, Marcia. Let’s do it.”
Marcia said, “Now, once we’re lined up, when I say GO, we all walk across the field, calling Marvin’s name. Wait a few seconds and listen for a response before you call out again. If you think you hear him, call out STOP.”
The group left the barn and formed a line, standing three feet apart.
When Marcia saw everyone was in line, she called out “GO.” They began to walk across the field, yelling Marvin’s name — five minutes, ten minutes, time ticked on. After walking for almost fifteen minutes, Marcia hollered, “STOP!”
Everyone rushed over to Marcia. Melvin asked, “Why did you stop, Marcia? Did you hear Marvin?”
“I think I heard something. Let’s all be real quiet.”
~ * ~
Down deep in the hole, Marvin thought he heard someone call his name. He listened, but all he heard was a bird chirping on a branch far up in the tree. No, you just imagined it, Marvin, ‘cause you’re scared, he thought as his whiskers twitched.
He stood and listened; his beady eyes trained on the open space above. Once again, he thought he heard someone call his name. No. There was no mistake this time. Someone did call his name; it might even have been more than one voice. He couldn’t be sure. Hooray. My friends and family must be looking for me. They’ll rescue me. No wait, Marvin, if they find you, how will they get you out?
Dejected again, he sat back down and stared at the dirt floor. He tried his best not to cry.
Up above the group continued their march across the field calling Marvin’s name. This time the group bunched closer together.
He heard them clearer this time. Marvin stood, looked up and hollered as loud as he could, “Hey. It’s me, Marvin. I’m down here in a deep hole by the tree.”
Hearing him, Marcia and the group stopped to listen.
Melvin said, “I think I heard him. Marcia, call out again. Tell him we heard him and to keep calling so we can locate him.”
“Good idea, Melvin.” Marcia began yelling again. “Marvin, we heard you. Keep calling out so we can find you.”
When he heard Marcia, Marvin looked up and began yelling, “I’m here. I’m here, I’m here,” repeatedly until his squeaky little voice was about to give out.
The group followed the sound of Marvin’s voice.
Marcia yelled, “STOP everyone. There’s a deep hole here. Marvin must have fallen in. Be careful. Let’s look over the edge and see if he’s down there.”
As Marvin looked up, he saw his sister Marcia’s face peeking over the edge, then Melvin’s face followed by the rest of the group. Everyone was peering down at Marvin.
He was so happy. He jumped up and down.
Marcia hollered down to him, “Marvin, are you all right?”
“Yes, I’m okay. But how are you going to get me out of here?”
“Don’t you worry, Marvin, we’ll find a way. Thank goodness, it’s still daylight. We’ll think of something.”
Then Marvin heard several of his friends, “Somehow, we’ll find a way to get you out, Marvin. Hang in there, buddy, Don’t you worry.”
Marcia and the group gathered a foot away from the top of the hole.
“Okay everybody, does anyone have any ideas how we can get Marvin out?” Marcia asked.
Deep in thought, no one said a word. Then Michael, a friend of Marvin’s, turned to Marcia, stood and raised his right front foot.
“Marcia, I think I have an idea. I remember seeing some rope all curled up near the barn door. Why don’t some of us go back and get it? It would take more than one of us to carry it. If we can bring it here, we could tie one end around the tree and drop the other end down into the hole. Marvin can crawl up the rope to the top. That would work, wouldn’t it?”
Smiling, Marcia responded, “Yes. It would. Thanks, Michael. Why don’t you and several others go back to the barn and get the rope?”
Proud of himself, Michael grinned. “We’re on our way, Marcia.”
Michael turned, picked four out of the group, and they headed for the barn. When at last they arrived at the barn, Michael looked around.
Mitch said, “Okay. Where is the rope, Michael?”
As he looked around, Michael replied, “Give me a minute. I’m sure it was on the left by the barn door. I hope Farmer Jack didn’t move it.”
“Right place, wrong side, Michael. Here it is on the right. If each one of us lifts one section, all of us together should be able to carry it back to the hole.” Mitch exclaimed.
They all gathered around the pile of wound up rope and attempted to lift it. “Oh man, this is heavy. I don’t think we’re going to be able to carry this to the hole.” Mitch offered.
“Wait here. I’m going back to the hole to get more help.” Michael said as he scampered off to where the others waited. Soon four more arrived to help. They stood around the pile of rope. When Michael gave the command to go, they did their best to lift it.
Huffing and puffing, “It’s no use,” Mitch said. “It’s too heavy.” He sat down with his head resting on his two front feet. Then he looked at Michael. “What do we do now?”
“Hey, I have another idea,” Michael said. “Why don’t we take the loose end of the rope and drag it across the field? The rope will unwind as we pull it. We can keep dragging it until the end of the rope is by the tree. Then we can tie it around the tree. All of us together should be able to do it. What do you say?”
Mitch stood and turned to Michael. “I think that would work. It will take some time to drag the rope across the field, but I think we can do it. No. I know we can. Thanks again, Michael.”
Michael grabbed the free end and headed toward the tree. Staying a foot apart, each one of the other mice grabbed onto the rope and pulled it along behind Michael.
As they progressed across the field, the rope unwound. Marcia and the rest of the group stood watching. When they saw what Michael and the others were trying to do, the rest joined and helped pull the rope.
Marcia stayed behind. She called down to Marvin to encourage him and let him know what they planned to do.
After what seemed like forever, the group reached the tree. All of the rope lay on the ground around the top of the hole. With Michael leading, Mitch and several others looped it around the tree and tied off one end of the rope. They were ready to drop the rest of it down into the hole.
Holding the other end, Michael called out to Marcia, “Marcia, we’re all set to lower the rest of the rope down into the hole. Let Marvin know so he can move out of the way.”
Marcia called down to Marvin, “Marvin, Michael is going to drop one end of the rope down the hole. Be sure to stand aside, so you don’t get hit by the end.”
Marvin looked up and smiled, “I understand, Marcia, thanks.” He flattened his furry body against the side wall out of the way of the falling rope.
Holding the free end, Michael began to lower it. The rope fell as they all helped feed it down into the hole. Soon it stopped. The entire length of the line was now hanging in the hole.
Marvin called up to Marcia, “Is that all there is? The rope isn’t long enough. It’s too far above the bottom. I’ll never be able to reach it.” He sat down hard with his head down.
Marcia called down to him, “Marvin, don’t give up. You can make it if you try. Is there no way you can climb up to the bottom of the rope? Look around. How about digging holes in the sidewall to put your feet in and climb up to it?”
“Okay. I’ll give it a try.” Trying his best to be brave, Marvin sniffled as he responded.
Marcia turned to the group, “He sounds like he’s discouraged. We need to encourage him.”
“Times creepin’ by, Marvin. It’s gonna be dark soon. You gotta try.” Melvin called down to Marvin.
The group gathered close to the edge. “Marvin, we know you can make it if you try. You’re our hero.”
Hearing their encouragement, Marvin smiled. He drew himself up as tall as he could, reached up, and began clawing at the side of the hole. As he kept digging, several roots from the tree appeared and stuck out into the hole. Marvin climbed up on one of them and began digging again, revealing more root limbs. He continued until, almost out of breath and strength, he reached the end of the rope.
Up at the top edge of the hole, Marcia peered down and watched Marvin as he progressed. She passed along his progress to the group who were waiting anxiously behind her.
“Keep going, Marvin. You can make it.” Marcia called to him.
Marvin paused, drew in a deep breath, jumped, and grabbed the end of the rope with his four feet. He held on tight as it began to swing back and forth. His heart pounded, and his tiny body shook.
As Marcia passed along the news to everyone, a cheer rose from the field.
Once the rope stopped swinging, Marvin scrambled up until he reached the top of the hole and freedom. Melvin and Marcia reached out and helped him onto solid ground.
”Happy Birthday, Marvin!” Another cheer went up from the group.
As Marvin hugged his sister and brother, another cheer went up from the group. “You did it, Marvin, you made it.”
“You guys are the greatest,” Marvin responded, grinning from whisker-to-whisker.
Smiling, Mitch said, “Well I don’t know about you, but I’m starving. There is a party with grain, four different kinds of cheese, and Farmer Jack’s leftovers waiting for us back at the barn. I even scrounged up some leftover cake for the celebration. Let’s go.”
“Yea” the group cheered as they all scampered back to the barn.
~ * ~
The next morning as Farmer Jack walked across his field toward the cornfields, he noticed a rope tied around a tree with the rest of it hanging down into a deep hole.
“Hmmm,” he exclaimed aloud. “I wonder how that got there. I have to remember to come back and fill in that hole. Someone might fall in.”
Reedsy Prompt provided the inspiration (prompt) for this short story submitted August 30, 2019:
“Write a story using the song titled You Can Make it if You Try as your inspiration.” https://blog.reedsy.com/creativewriting-prompts
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