Emma was sitting at the kitchen table with her little brother. They were working on a gift for her best friend from kindergarten. It was going to be a small elephant made of papier-mâché.
To start, she glued wet newspaper to an inflated balloon.
“Quite a mess,” she heard Mama mutter from the living room.
“But there’s no other way!” argued Emma.
She had discovered the elephant and the corresponding instructions in one of her favorite craft books and had decided to make it for Hanna for her birthday.
Her brother, Tim, was still too little to help out properly. Nevertheless, he played with the sticky paper and tried to glue them to the elephant with his little hands.
Meanwhile, Charlie was comfortably rocking on his wooden pole by the kitchen window. Charlie was a blue budgie that Emma had received as a gift from her neighbor when she had become too old to continue taking care of him.
“He’s in good hands with you,” she had said to Emma at the time, hoping for Emma’s parents to agree. When they did, the neighbor was relieved and Emma finally had first pet to love and care for.
“Look, Mom!” exclaimed Emma happily as she ran into the living room. “The elephant is almost ready!” Her little brother ran joyfully after her.
At the same moment, a colorful butterfly danced past the kitchen window. Charlie saw the elegant creature and jumped up from his swing. Mesmerized, he darted through a crack in the window and flew after it.
But Charlie could hardly keep up. They flew from one rooftop to the next.
“Charlie, Charlie, look the elephant is ready!” exclaimed Emma proudly as she ran back to the kitchen. She saw the empty wooden pole in the window and that her blue budgie was gone.
She spun around and searched the whole kitchen, bending down and crawling under the table. She looked in the cupboards and behind the door. But Charlie was nowhere to be seen. She glanced again at the window and noticed that it was open a crack.
“Mooooooooom!” cried Emma, running back into the living room. Sobbing, she explained that the window was open and that Charlie was gone. In a flash, everyone split up and searched the whole house.
Dad had also heard of Charlie’s disappearance and was on the lookout in the garden.
“I’ll go to the road now and see if Charlie is in one of the trees,” he said.
He and Tim set off to search. But the blue budgie was nowhere to be found. When the sun set, they continued with a flashlight. Since Charlie was definitely not in the house, Mama and Emma had now also taken up searching along the road.
“We’ll have to give up the search for today, Emma,” said Mama. “It’s already far too dark and Charlie will most certainly have sought a safe and comfortable spot in one of the trees. We’ll continue in the morning. And tonight we’ll figure out how to get more help.”
Although she didn’t feel like sleeping at all, Emma was getting quite tired. Her little brother was already fast asleep in Dad’s arms.
When Emma fell asleep that night she dreamed of Charlie. She saw him flying over the city looking for his home. All the houses and streets looked the same to him. Emma woke up and had an idea.
“I need to tell everyone in the neighborhood about Charlie’s disappearance,” she thought. “Then they can all watch their yards and search the treetops along the street. If they find Charlie, they can bring him back to me. After all, he’s blue so he’s easy to spot.”
She flicked on her bedside lamp and began drawing Charlie on a white sheet of paper. The next morning, Emma dashed down the stairs and showed her parents the flyer she had made.
“That’s a great idea, Emma!” Dad said. “I’ll take today off and we can tape Charlie’s picture to trees, fences, doors and hedges around the neighborhood while we keep looking for him.”
Emma was relieved. After breakfast, her dad added some text to the picture she had made and put it into the scanner. It described what Charlie looked like and where he lived. As a finder’s reward, Emma offered a homemade chocolate cake and her whole allowance for that month.
Then they set off to hang flyers. They told every neighbor they met about Charlie too.
In the afternoon, all the flyers were distributed and Emma’s parents figured that now all they could do was wait and see. Emma was so exhausted that she plopped down on the sofa and asked for a hot chocolate.
For the next several days, many neighbors came forward and offered help, but none knew where Charlie was. Emma was glad to have school to distract her. Plus, she was also looking forward to Hanna’s birthday party which gave her some relief from worrying about Charlie.
As Easter was just around the corner, it was time to clean the windows. Emma’s mom cleared the windowsills and opened the windows wide. She carefully polished the glass panes.
“I’m just going to change the water in the bucket,” she told Emma and her brother, who had made themselves comfortable in the next room. She went into the bathroom and turned on the faucet in the bathtub. When she walked back into the kitchen, she heard birds chirping and felt relieved that spring had arrived.
As she set the bucket down on the kitchen table, she couldn’t believe her eyes. There was a blue budgie bobbing on the swinging pole in the kitchen window, singing happily.
“Emma!” shouted Mom, carefully closing the window. “Look who’s here!”
Emma and her brother came running into the kitchen and they could hardly believe it. Charlie was back! And from the looks of it, he was fine!
“I’ll never let you out of my sight again!” said Emma to Charlie, smiling up to her ears.