Happy Birthday, Lily Limpiacasa!
by Susan Bruck
Lily Limpiacasas, the house gecko, loved to sing. She lived in the outdoor dining room in a hotel in Nicaragua. She spent most of her days with her best gecko friend Bob, resting behind the bulletin board. At night they came out and ate the mosquitos that gathered around the light bulb below them.
But she wasn’t resting today. It was her birthday and she wanted to celebrate with her friends.
She chirped out her invitation, “At the light bulb, after the sun goes down, we’ll have a party, wear your gown.”
That was a great spot for a party. There were plenty of mosquito snacks and light so they could show off their party colors.
Usually her color was drab so she blended into the wall. But for her special day, she turned herself into a rainbow. Bob turned turquoise, his favorite color.
Lily made up a song. “It’s my birthday, you’re my friends, I hope this party never ends.” Bob loved Lily’s songs. A few mosquitoes buzzed past. Lily was too excited to eat, but Bob had a little snack.
Lily ran up and down the wall, practicing her new song. Bob cheered.
Lily bowed. Then she ran some more, because she was too excited to sit still.
Finally, night came. The guard turned on the light. Lily and Bob watched the glorious white blaze.
Then they heard a pop and the light was gone. Lily’s party was ruined. She began to cry.
“Maybe the lights will come on soon,” said Bob.
Lily went behind the bulletin board. The night was completely dark. It was even darker behind the board.
“Come out, Lily,” said Bob. “Everyone’s here. They want to wish you a happy birthday.”
Lily didn’t believe him.
“They want to hear your song.”
Lily didn’t care.
“They’re your friends. They don’t care about the light or the bugs or the colors. They’re waiting –for you.”
Lily didn’t budge.
The night guard hung his flashlight on the wall while he ate dinner. A beam of light crept behind the bulletin board where Lily sulked. She poked her head out and saw the flashlight with mosquitoes buzzing around it. She saw her friends standing around looking sad.
She wanted her friends to be happy. Maybe Bob was right. Maybe she should sing them her song.
Lily watched her friends run away as the guard came towards them. She watched the guard turn off the flashlight. How could she make things right for her friends, she wondered. Then she knew.
“Bob, I know how to make the light.”
“Don’t be silly,” said Bob. “Only humans and the sun can make light.”
Lily marched over to the flashlight.
She pushed her front feet against the button the guard pushed to turn the light off, but nothing happened.
“Bob, help me.”
Bob climbed onto her back and pressed, too, but the button didn’t move.
Lily knew she could do it, but only if everyone helped.
Lily sang, “It’s my birthday, come with me, we’ll turn on the light, you’ll see.”
The geckos crept out of their hiding places. They chirped and giggled as they made a huge gecko pile. “It’s my birthday, on the count of three, everybody jump with me.”
Lily felt a little flatter than usual, but the flashlight turned on. The geckos paraded their party colors in the light and ate their fill of mosquitos. Lily sang her birthday song and everyone danced and cheered. “Sing it again,” they shouted.
It was the best birthday ever!
I have been revising this story for a writing class I’m taking with the Institute of Children’s Literature. The first illustration is new, but the one just above is from the first time around. It’s amazing how much time it can take to revise such a short story. But I think it’s getting better. It’s definitely shorter! And, as my teacher keeps reminding me, now the protagonist is solving the problem. Well done, Lily!
If you want to compare the changes, here’s the original version.
Tomorrow, very early, I’m off to Florida to visit my brother and sister-in-law. They both play in the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra and have spring break this week. I’m looking forward to seeing them and enjoying the beautiful weather, too.
Now I’m going to finish packing and try to get to sleep early!
Thanks for stopping by!