“Happy birthday, Princess!!!!” Mom and Dad presented the large box to 12-year-old Courtney with such great pride.
“What is it, what is it, Daddy?” Courtney squealed with excitement. Courtney tore through the paper, very aware that the box had holes poked in the top. “Is it a pet, is it?” she squealed and then she stopped and just stared down in wonder.
Standing in the middle of the box, just barely 3 inches tall, was a tiny human-like figure. Human but not human. It had arms and legs, a head and a face, but it was so oddly shaped. Its legs were furry and the fur was a flow of purples, greens and pinks. The feet were not feet at all but tiny hooves. The hooves had toes with sharp, tiny toenails for gripping. The torso, arms, neck and face were similarly wildly colored, so bright it hurt their eyes, and its head was pointy so it always looked surprised and fascinated.
Courtney named the gremlin Stanley. Every time she called its name, it squeaked and did a dance. Stanley stayed in his box, very happy at first, but then he slowly got sick.
One night, Courtney was watching Stanley and talking to Amy on the phone.
“Amy, did you see what Janie was wearing? Wow, it was so stupid! She has such ugly clothes!” Just then a big squeak erupted from the little box. Stanley jumped to his feet and did a dance. “Amy, it’s Stanley. He got better. We were gossiping and he suddenly ate something and got well. He eats gossip, Amy, he eats gossip!”
And it was true. Each time Amy gossiped, Stanley grew larger. Then came the Thursday when Amy broke the rules, and she sneaked Stanley into her backpack and took him to school. Oh, the giggling that went off in the halls when all of the 6th grade girls gathered to hold Stanley and pet him and tell him how cute he was. And then they started.
“Nikki called Cassie a dumb girl………….. ”
“Sandra has ugly hair
“Linda was mean to Susan
And with each tiny piece of gossip, Stanley did a little yip, did a back flip, danced and grew bigger and fatter. The girls didn’t notice it happening, but as the gremlin was handed from girl to girl, he slipped to the floor. The click of his toenails on the school floor was never heard.
“Courtney, where’s Stanley?” Amy whispered when class had already started. For the next five minutes the students and Mrs. Lexington the teacher were sure Courtney had lost her mind, throwing the things in her backpack everywhere.
“Courtney, what’s wrong?” Mrs. Lexington scolded from the front. “I lost something, something important.” “Well, you will find it when you get home. I understand your mommy does everything for you,” Mrs. Lexington gossiped in a very snotty way. Suddenly, from the back of the room near the door, came a low-pitched yip. All eyes turned and Stanley stood on the assignments table. He was now 3 feet tall and very fat. The gossips today were so good for him.
The students began to panic at the appearance of the large, surly gremlin. It gave a low yelp, then danced and flipped, but Stanley was so large by now that he broke the table and escaped into the hallway. The frightened students rushed into the halls, seeing tufts of multi-colored fur flying everywhere. Mrs. Lexington was on the phone to Mr. Bixley, the principal, hysterical with the news of the gossip gremlin. “Joe had bad breath………. ”
“Leslie cheated on the test………. ”
“Mrs. Lexington is an old maid………… ”
“Jesse broke the law once……. .”
The gossip food streamed from every gathering of students, in the bathrooms, classrooms and hallway. The flood of gossip became so strong it could be seen as a green cloud moving rapidly toward the gym. Suddenly, a lone figure came marching down the hall, a large commanding man who shouted orders. The students sprang into action to obey. Mr. Bixley spoke with such authority he didn’t need a microphone.
“Students, to the gym. We are going to put a stop to this. The doors to the gym burst open before Mr. Bixley and the students flooded in behind him and then stopped. There at the other end, a full 20 feet tall and fat and ugly, was Stanley. Mr. Bixley and Stanley faced each other like cowboys in a western duel. The principal spoke.
“Heather, come here, tell the truth.”
Heather moved to the front, to a microphone the AVguy had quickly brought up.
“Leslie didn’t cheat on the test. I lied. Leslie is a good person.”
“Phillip, Jessica, Sarah…tell the truth,” the principal commanded.
One by one the students stepped forward and spoke the truth into the microphone, correcting their gossiping lies. Each time, Stanley moaned, grabbed his ears and cried big green gremlin tears.
“Now, Courtney – come here – tell the truth,” Mr. Bixley ordered.
Courtney stepped up, looked nervous and then said loudly into the microphone, “JANIE HAS PRETTY CLOTHES!”
That was all it took. Stanley fell back into the bleachers and moaned so loudly the students held their ears. He did a forward flip and then just like that with a loud BLIP, he vanished, leaving just a puddle of green gossip goo on the gym floor.
“EVERYBODY BACK TO CLASS!” commanded the good principal and with that, there was never again another gossip gremlin in Courtney’s town.