Sara Smallvoice

written and illustrated by Frances Wosmek

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Sara Smallvoice squirmed in her seat, waiting for school to be over. She watched a fat bumblebee outside the window. It landed on the sill. She smiled when it buzzed a dizzy path into the schoolroom.

Sara's black hair was pulled into a tight pony-tail. Her face was the color of ripe chestnuts. Her eyes, like brown velvet, had a far-away look.

Miss Tippet opened the map case. She rolled down the United States. She picked up a long, sharp pointer and flicked it over the map.

"What did the Indians trade with the early settlers?" she asked with a loud, sharp voice. She aimed the pointer directly at Sara and waited.

"Bees." Sara replied absent-mindedly.

Miss Tippet leaned forward.

"I didn't hear you," she said. "You will have to speak up. No one can hear such a small voice as that."

Sara lifted her eyes.

"Beads," she corrected herself, straining her small voice to its very limit.

Miss Tippet nodded sharply, turning back to the map. Sara sighed and hung her head. She watched the fat bumblebee light on her desk. She watched it explore the outer edge of her geography book. She poked her pencil across its path.

The bee walked up the pencil and onto her finger.

Sara drew back. "Don't sting me," she murmured in her smallest voice,

The bumblebee stopped. "I don't go around just stinging!" it snapped. "No bee ever stings without a perfectly good reason.!"

"Oh, I'm sure one doesn't," Sara replied quickly. "I'm terribly sorry if I was rude."

"You should be!" replied the bee, settling onto her knuckle. "You might as well call me Bumbleton ... Bumbleton Buzzbee, that's my name!"

Sara glanced quickly out of the side of her eye. Miss Tippet was writing on the blackboard. The sound of squeaking and sliding chalk filled the room.

Just the same, Sara lowered her voice even more. "I don't understand it," she said. "I can hear you plain as day. I'm quite sure no one else has ever spoken with a bee."

"It's very simple," Bumbleton replied. "Small speakers are small listeners. You speak softly. Is it surprising you HEAR softly as well?"

"No," Sara agreed thoughtfully, bobbing her ponytail just once. "... In fact, it makes a lot of sense."

"Look," said Bumbleton, "...I'm leaving. It's hot and stuffy in this awful place. Why don't you just come along with me to the clover patch?"

Sara was startled. "Oh, I couldn't!" she said, glancing toward Miss Tippet "SHE would never let me go."

"She won't notice if you leave by the window with me."

Sara giggled a small, careful giggle. "I'm not a bee," she said. "I could NEVER leave by the window!"

"You have a point," Bumbleton admitted. "What a pity you're not as small as your voice. Then it would be easy as pie!"

"But I'm not," Sara said with a sigh. "I'm much too big to pass for a bee."

"Not so fast ... Where there's a will, there must be a way." Bumbleton paused thoughtfully, "I think I have it! Our queen always says 'As you think, so you are'. Why don't you try that?"

"Try what?" Sara asked, looking puzzled.

Bumbleton buzzed his wings impatiently. "Try THINKING small!" he cried, "...small, small, SMALL! JUST THINK SMALL!"

"Do you really think I could?" asked Sara, hesitating.

Bumbleton shrugged, "What can you lose? ... Just place in this stuffy old room, that's all!"

"You're right," Sara agreed, with her eyes already closed.

"Well," bumbled Bumbleton, "...begin!"

"I am, I AM thinking small!"

"That's not NEARLY small enough," scoffed Bumbleton. "You will have to think small as a BEE!"

Sara squeezed her eyes shut. "Like this?" she asked, shrinking her thought smaller and smaller.

"Keep going!" Bumbleton urged. "More ... more ... STOP!" he said at the very moment she reached bee size. He buzzed the faint sigh of a bumble. "Whew! I'm glad I was able to stop you in time. You might have disappeared altogether!"

Sara opened her eyes. "Oh!" she shrieked in a smaller-than-small voice, clapping her hands over he mouth. "Oh! Oh! OH!"

Don't be frightened. It's only me," Bumbleton said gently. "Being the size of a bee is new to you, of course. Everything is sure to seem a lot bigger from now on."

Sara leaned back against the geography book. She stared at Bumbleton. "You have the BIGGEST eyes I have ever seen!" she said trembling.

"Now that you are our size, a great many things are sure to look different," Bumbleton said, spreading his wings.  "Let's hurry. Let's leave before we're swatted. Let's buzz off ... make a bee-line out the window, so to speak."

Sara glanced toward the front of the room.

Miss Tippet twirled on one heel and started down the aisle.

Sara hopped on Bumbleton's back in a hurry. But Miss Tippet was not looking. Others in the class were bent over their books.

Bumbleton lifted into the air. Sara hung on with all her might. Up... up... UP... they buzzed, higher than Miss Tippet's head.

Sara held her breath, feeling herself soar through the open window into the wide-open air and sunshine.


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