Maggie was up in a tree as usual the day the flying saucer came by. Her mother was always complaining about how much time Maggie spent up trees. Whenever Maggie would come home late for dinner, jeans smudged with tree sap and twigs in her hair, her mother would say it was high time she grew up and learned to act like a lady. Maggie never listened.
It was a good thing she didn’t. If she hadn’t been at the top of a tree that particular afternoon, the flying saucer never would have stopped and picked her up.
Maggie had never seen a flying saucer before, but it was not like what she expected. It didn’t look anything like an alien spaceship. It was just…a saucer. Exactly like the little round plates that her mother put under her tea cups, right down to the ring of roses that decorated it. Only it was much, much bigger, of course. It flew right up and hovered over the tree where Maggie was perched. She was looking up at it, amazed, when a cat the size of a person poked its head over the edge of the saucer.
“Hello,” said the cat. “I hope you’ll forgive me, but I’ve never seen a little girl at the top of a tree before. It’s almost like you are a cat.”
“No,” said Maggie. “I’m a girl. I just like to climb trees.”
“How extraordinary,” said the cat, as if talking cats were perfectly ordinary. “My name is Tabby. What is your name?”
“Very pleased to meet you, Maggie,” said Tabby. “As you can see, I’m off on adventures in my flying saucer. Would you maybe like to come along for a while? I’d like very much to talk to a tree-climbing girl.”
“I’d love to,” said Maggie. “I’ve never been in a flying saucer before, and I’d like very much to talk to a talking cat.”
“Then climb in,” said Tabby, and the saucer lowered slowly so that the edge was right by Maggie’s branch. She carefully climbed on board.
Once Maggie was in the saucer, she found a little seat inside the ring of roses and settled in quite comfortably.
“Where would you like to go?” asked Tabby politely.
“I don’t know,” said Maggie. “I’ve never done this before.”
“Well, before I saw you,” said Tabby, “I was off for a treat in Snow City. Do you like Snow City?”
“I’ve never been to Snow City before,” said Maggie.
“Oh, you MUST see Snow City,” said Tabby.
So off the saucer flew toward the mountains until it came to the top of the very tallest mountain. As they came through the last cloud, Maggie saw a city spread out on mountain top. Everything in the city was made out of snow and ice. Tabby landed the saucer right in the middle of the town square next to an enormous fountain with eighteen jets of water that shot up in the air and then back down. The entire fountain was frozen solid, each stream of water a thin bridge of ice. It sparkled in the sunlight. Maggie thought she had never seen anything so beautiful, but Tabby grabbed her hand and pulled her right past the fountain and down one of the side streets. Maggie couldn’t stop staring at all the buildings. Every single one was made from white, sparkling snow and ice. Soon Tabby stopped in front of a little ice restaurant.
“This is it,” he said as they went inside and slid across the icy floor to a little ice table with snow seats. “They have the world’s most wonderful frozen pancakes.”
“Frozen pancakes?” said Maggie. “What is a frozen pancake?”
“You’ll see,” said Tabby.
A little woman dressed all in white skated over to take their order. Tabby ordered the frozen pancake special for both of them. When the pancakes came, Maggie couldn’t believe her eyes. Each icy plate had a stack of pancakes as tall as Maggie’s head. The pancakes were all frozen together with layers of frozen chocolate and frozen berries in between. Next to the plate, the waitress put down a little chisel and hammer. Tabby showed Maggie how to chip away bits of the rock hard treat. When she finally got her first bite, Maggie gave a little “ooooh.” It was the sweetest, coldest, most delicious thing she had ever tasted. Maggie and Tabby spent the next hour laughing talking as they chipped away pieces of frozen pancake. By the end of the hour, Maggie was so full that she had to stop, even though more than half of her stack was still in front of her. She was also shivering a bit. The waitress skated over and asked if they’d like any snow tea.
“Actually,” said Maggie, “I need something to warm me up after that. Do you have any hot chocolate?”
Everyone in the room stopped talking and stared at Maggie. Someone even gave a little gasp. The waitress skated back a step or two.
“That’s quite all right,” said Tabby quickly. “No tea today, Helada. It’s time for us to be going.” Throwing a few small coins on the table, Tabby grabbed Maggie’s hand again and pulled her out the door.”
“I’m sorry,” whispered Maggie as he whisked her down the street. “I guess I said the wrong thing.”
“Yes, well, no one ever mentions things that are h-o-t here. It’s considered quite rude,” said Tabby. “But how could you have known? This is your first time to Snow City. Next time you’ll know better.”
“Y-y-yes,” shivered Maggie.
“You still need to warm up, then, don’t you?” said Tabby. They were climbing back into the flying saucer now. “Not to worry. If hot chocolate is what you need, I know the perfect spot.”
To Be Continued