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A Progressive Story by Judy Slater, Carol Pullen, Bill Feight, carolyn r zaleon

Kaleidoscope. She imagined, what would it be like to see it from inside? Closing her eyes tight and making fists of her little hands, Betsy plunged her energy and mind into another of her day-dreams of fancy. Seeing her miniaturized self inside the long, narrow cardboard kaleidoscope tube, she felt the sharp shards of glass and mirror picking at her body as they twisted and turned around the tube, tossing both one way, then the other. She, too, was tossed as the tube twisted back and forth, occasionally being shaken from bottom to top, keeping her from any hope of balancing on her feet. She and the bits and pieces would pile upon each other in disarray as the tube came to rest, all awaiting the next assured tumble.

While reflecting on all that she saw and felt, three long, skinny mirrors, lining the tube’s inside, also delighted her by reflecting ever-changing images of all the tube’s tossed-about contents, including herself. She could not find a resting place; the tube-tossing was relentless. But the constantly-changing images reflected in the magic of mirrors and rainbow-colored glass bits so delighted her fancy that she only wanted more tossing for more images to appear.

For all the constant motion and wonderful images, keeping Betsy both striving for balance and awe-struck by the beauty around her, she did not notice the glass hole at one end of the tube. Nor did she see an eye looking in upon her from the hole. When at last she saw the eye, she thought, “I am going to leave from inside the tube and become that eye peering through the glass, then I will see the whole image instead of the bits and pieces I see from inside. And I will happily stop tumbling about.”

But before Betsy could imagine herself outside the kaleidoscope peering in, she heard her mother call her to dinner, interrupting her daydream. “Oh, well,” Betsy mused, “tomorrow I will imagine myself inside a rainbow.”

Yesterday’s shifting, changing colors and shapes had made the little girl think of exploring a rainbow, and she was looking forward to it.

Today. A quiet time, perfect for daydreaming. She closed her eyes tightly, took a deep breath and said four times, “The rainbow. The rainbow. The rainbow. The rainbow.” And there she was.

She was engulfed by slowly swirling color, tiny soft flakes of sunlit specks of light. She stretched out her arms and twirled around and around until she got so dizzy she fell through color after color.

It brushed against her skin, filled her nose and mouth. All the colors smelled fresh and were delicious. (The pepperminty pink was her favorite and made her laugh.) She decided to swim and dive and roll. Floating on her back she blew rainbow bubbles. She felt blissful and sighed contentedly.

But things were changing. The rainbow seemed to be fading and then disappearing. She tried to hold on to it, but it vanished in her hands. She was falling, faster and faster, and could see the land coming closer and closer. She hadn’t thought about having wings or a parachute!

She tried to look closely to get her bearings. Was that her neighborhood, her house? It was! And there was her bedroom window - open! She fell right into the house, through the open window and onto her bed. Wasn’t that the luckiest thing?

As she lay there going over everything she saw, touched and did, she decided she’d like to go back. But her head was full of other places and things to do, so it was probably going to be quite a while.

As her mother was calling, she thought of the colors and then of watercolors and a watercolor playground. Maybe she’d be the paintbrush.

The next day Betsy awoke with all the excitement of going to grandma’s on Christmas. Her daydreams had the beginnings of learning on her own. Betsy usually would wait until just before lunch to launch into her imagination, but today she remembered wanting to be a paint brush.

A paint brush that could be any color it wanted. How was it that she got into that wonderful world of color and said “The Rainbow, The Rainbow, The Rainbow, The Rainbow.” As she spoke the last word she remembered not being able to keep her balance, and the rough glass in the kaleidoscope against her skin. When she finished remembering and repeating, nothing happened. Betsy was very disappointed. Why hadn’t it worked like the day before? Maybe, her thoughts had betrayed her so she repeated “The Rainbow, The Rainbow, The Rainbow, The Rainbow,” all while thinking about her favorite colors. Still nothing happened.

‘ Wait a minute,’ she thought, ‘Yesterday was the rainbow and the day before was a Kaleidoscope. Today I am to be a paint brush!’ And she said “Paintbrush, Paintbrush, Paintbrush, Paintbrush.” Before she had said the last “paintbrush” she could feel the damp colors and see them spread on and over everything.

Then she started to wonder, ‘Can I paint stripes? How about a checkerboard?’ Turning and looking back she could see her favorite Peppermint Pink with a green stripe running through it, and now it was changing to a Red and Green checkerboard color. Betsy seemed to be able to taste each color.

The peppermint was a cool ice cream with a mint leaf attached. The checkerboard had the taste of a candy cane. Then came a new smell and she thought ‘can colors have a smell also?’ Looking down and back she could see a dark red with white lines that made a pattern of half hearts, lines that ended in flowers or leaves. So ‘that’s Paisley,’ she thought, as the taste of raspberry ice cream filled her mouth.

‘How many more colors and patterns can I smell and taste?,’ she asked. ‘I want to stay here forever.’ Then she saw her house and window and heard her mother call, “Betsy.”


She kept hearing her name in the distance as if the sound were traversing through fog. She slowly opened her eyes, stretched a big morning stretch while still snuggled under the covers, and lay there for a long moment watching the sun stream through the sheers on her bedroom window.

“What a happy, restful sleep” she mumbled to herself as she slowly sat up on the side of the bed, reaching for her terry robe and fuzzy slippers. ‘Maybe today is the day I tell my story,’ she thought.

The enticing smell of bacon and biscuits lured her down the stairs to the kitchen. The table was set with her favorites; warm fresh biscuits, bacon and gravy, and steaming black coffee.

She took her usual seat at the table and before she started to eat, she began to tell her tales of the kaleidoscope, the rainbow and the scrumptious paint. Three dreams. One night. But just as the last word left her lips, she heard the clang of forks hitting plates, in stereo, around the table.

“Mom, I can’t believe you had that experience!” blurted her daughter, Sarah, in utter disbelief. And before Sarah could say another word, the same words fell off the tongue of Betsy’s twelve-year old grand-daughter, Abbie. “Grandma, I had that same dream, more than once, but I was afraid to tell anyone.”

Sarah looked in amazement at her daughter and her mother. “It’s been a recurring dream for me since I was Abbie’s age” Sarah said, “but I TOO was afraid to tell anyone.”

“Well,” said Betsy, “truth be told, I dream this same dream every so often too! Since I was Abbie’s age, I guess! I don’t know if my mother before me had the same experiences. Maybe she was hesitant to talk about it as well.”

The three generations of women sat in wonder as they ate their breakfast and pondered what and why.

“I guess we’ll never know,” Betsy sighed, “but whatever it is, I hope it continues for all of us. Perhaps Abbie, one day, you’ll pass this along to the next generation. What a beautiful way to begin each day.”

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