The Old Man of the Mountain
Sharon, Age 10, Staten Island, NY

There once was said to be an Old Man of the Mountain. He had a big book that said everyone’s fate. And he could change it, if needed. But Kate was a very serious girl and never believed any stories. She got straight A’s in school and played the flute in the school band. Kate’s grandmother, Sophia, was a fortune teller. She used bamboo stalks. She was famous around the entire nation and people from far and wide would come to get their fortune told to them. But the most amazing thing was that she was blind. She could feel the future in the bamboo.

One day, Sophia screamed. Kate’s mom, Anna, came rushing in.  “What’s wrong?”
 
“My sticks keep saying that Kate will die the day of her eighteenth birthday!”

“But that’s in two weeks!” exclaimed Anna.

“She will have to go to the Old Man of the Mountain,” said Sophia. “He will be able to change her fate.”

“But you know she doesn’t believe in that stuff.”

“Well, she better start.”

There was only one reason that the Old Man of the Mountain would help you - he would have to be in debt to you.

“I have an idea but I will need the best cookies in the kingdom and the best bottle of wine that you can get,” said Sophia.

“Kate, come in here,” yelled Anna. “You need to go to the Old Man of the Mountain for him to change your fate.”

“Mom, you know I don’t believe in that kind of stuff.”

“Do you want to die in two weeks?”

“No”

“Then I suggest you go.”

“Fine,” Kate grumbled.

The next day, Kate set off with the cookies, the wine, some extra food and water for the journey, and very specific instructions from her grandma. She walked and walked until night came. Then she stopped to eat and rest. At dawn she set off again. She walked until mid-afternoon. Then she came to a very big mountain. “Oh no,” she thought. “I am going to have to climb that.”

But before she could take another step, she spotted a very old man sitting at the base of the mountain with a big book in his lap and a big ball of red thread next to him. He looked like the description that Grandma gave Kate. Gray hair tied up in a ponytail, a long gray beard, a red and gold robe, and red shoes. She sat down silently next to him and put down the cookies and wine. Without looking up, he picked up a cookie and sipped the wine. Soon he was done. Kate had not said a word, partially because she was astonished that he was real, and partially because grandma told her not to. When he finally looked up and saw Kate, he asked, “Was this your food?” Kate nodded. “I ate your food, now I am in debt to you. What do you need?”

“I need my death date to be changed. My grandma said I will die in two weeks.”

He stroked his grey beard, flipped through a couple pages in his book, and said, “She is right but…” With a stroke of his brush, he changed the 1 in 18 to a 9. “Now you will live to be 98” he said.

Kate went back home and on her eighteenth birthday there was a big storm. A tree fell down and narrowly missed Kate. Now she knew that the Old Man of the Mountain was real.

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