Ginger Breadhouse and the Candy Fish WishSuzanne Selfors
Ginger Breadhouse and the Candy Fish Wish
A Little Jelly Story
By Suzanne Selfors
Table of Contents
About the Author
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On an average school day at Ever After High, as students carried hextbooks and MirrorPads around campus, some also carried crates, cages, and leashes. Why? Because Ever After High was a very special place. Not only did it educate the sons and daughters of fairytale characters, but the headmaster allowed these sons and daughters to have pets.
We’re not talking about ordinary pets like poodles, guinea pigs, or hamsters. Apple White, daughter of Snow White, had a lovely snow fox that curled up on her lap while she studied. Duchess Swan, daughter of the Swan Princess, had a trumpeter swan that slept in a nest next to her bed. Lizzie Hearts, daughter of the Queen of Hearts, had a hedgehog that burrowed beneath her blankets. Other pets included a phoenix, a unicorn, and a Pegasus. There was also a direwolf, a jackalope, and a dragon. Though it was possible to squeeze a dragon into one of the bedrooms, it wasn’t advised. So while some of the pets lived in the dormitories, others were kept in the forest, the stable, or the nearby meadow.
These pets were close companions, lending a paw or claw from time to time to help students in their quest to fulfill their destinies. They were also reminders of home. Living in a boarding school had many benefits, like experiencing a new sense of independence, but homesickness was a feeling that struck every student at one time or another. So having a pet brought comfort.
Ginger Breadhouse, daughter of the Candy Witch, was one of the few students who didn’t have a pet at Ever After High. She loved creatures. And she’d been homesick on a number of occasions, so it would have been nice to curl up with something fluffy and warm. But she’d never owned a pet. It wasn’t because she had allergies or because she was too busy to take care of another being. In fact, soon after school started, she discovered a lovely little pet shop near campus called Farmer MacDonald’s Menagerie, and she often visited. One day she sat on the floor with a new litter of direpups, inhaling their scent and giggling as they licked her face. On another day she fed peanuts to a flying squirrel. When a brown bunny with floppy ears needed a home, Ginger was tempted.
But Ginger had learned very early in childhood that no pet shop owner would sell her a living thing, out of fear that her mother would use the creature in a frightful recipe. The Candy Witch spent most of her time in her kitchen, concocting and cooking evil recipes. She kept a pantry stocked with all sorts of ingredients; some were plant-based, some mineral-based, but many came from animals, both magical and ordinary. She filled old spice jars with tarantula legs and worm casings. She kept tins of powdered unicorn horn and dragon scales. And no witch would be caught dead without a solid supply of eye of newt.
Ginger couldn’t risk bringing home a pet only to have it end up in the pantry!
One day, after a stressful pop quiz in Science and Sorcery class, Ginger wandered through the pet store. She found herself standing in the fish section, where the aquariums were stacked ten tanks high. “The fish are so beautiful,” she said to the shopkeeper. “So many colors.”
“A fish seems a good choice for you,” the man told her.
“Because you’re as colorful as they are.” He pointed to her outfit.
It was true. In her younger years, Ginger had dressed in ordinary, drab clothing so she wouldn’t call attention to herself. She’d even tried to hide her bright pink hair with a scarf. Her goal in those days had been to blend in and not be recognized as the daughter of the Candy Witch, because even a whispered mention of the word “witch” made people unnerved. But now, as a student at Ever After High, she’d come to realize that she was more than her legacy. She was her own person, and her passion was baking scrumptious treats, not wicked treats as her mother did. She began to dress the way that pleased her, adorning herself with cheerful colors, candy accents, and swirls, as if decorating a cake or cookie.
The fish seemed equally proud of their appearance. Some had neon splashes, while others were covered in polka dots. There were fish with tiger stripes, shimmering scales, and fantails. A few glowed in the dark.
“They’re very easy to take care of,” the shopkeeper explained. “All you need is a container of water and some fish food.”
It was tempting, but Ginger knew that any fish she possessed might end up in her mother’s bubbling cauldron.
And so the weeks passed at Ever After High. Ginger contented herself with her class work and her baking. She started a MirrorCast show called Spells Kitchen. She enjoyed her classes and made new friends. But every so often that yearning for a pet would return. She would lie in bed at night and try to imagine a creature that would be safe from a witch’s brew. But nothing came to mind. Still, that didn’t keep her from wishing.
Then came a fateful evening. Dinner had concluded in the Castleteria—a hearty meal of beanstalk stew and hot cross buns. Rather than follow the other students back to the dormitory, Ginger decided to go to the Science and Sorcery classroom. Professor Rumpelstiltskin had been in an extra-grumpy mood that morning. Apparently, his boots were too tight, so in a fit of rage he gave all the students a fairy-fail on their lab work. Ginger figured that some hextra credit might help her grade.
By the time she opened the door to the classroom, evening had settled over the campus. She smiled when she found the room empty. The last thing she wanted was to listen to Professor Rumpelstiltskin holler and complain about his cramped toes. She turned on the lights, then flicked the switch on the fireplace. The dragon flame roared to life, spreading warmth over the counters and between the stools.
Ginger sat at her assigned work space and flipped through the Science and Sorcery hextbook. She decided to make a potion that was supposed to stretch leather. If she poured it on the professor’s boots, he’d feel instant relief and maybe give her a good grade. It was worth a try.
So she set to work. She grabbed the necessary equipment—a miniature cauldron, a test tube, a dragon-flame-powered burner. The recipe was lengthy and complicated, so halfway through she pulled a pack of gummy candies from her book bag. Some were shaped like stars, some like worms, and some like fish. She set a handful of candies on the counter, munching one at a time while measuring ingredients. The sugar was just enough to give her the energy jolt she needed to focus on the task at hand. Things were going well. But then, as she was transferring the lime-green liquid from the test tube to the miniature cauldron, a noise sounded at the back of the room. Startled, she bumped her elbow against the cauldron, and its contents spilled.
“Sprinkles!” she exclaimed as she picked up her hextbook. The pages were soaked, and the potion was ruined. “What a royal pain.”
“Hi, Ginger.” Apple White entered the classroom. Her princess crown was perfectly perched atop her blond hair. “Have you seen Gala, my snow fox? I am fairy, fairy worried about her. She’s not supposed to leave the dormitory.”
A streak of white caught Ginger’s eye. The fox darted beneath one of the stools. So that was the source of the mysterious noise.
“Oh, there you are,” Apple said. She scooped the fox int
o her arms, then kissed her cheek. “Have you been hunting? You know that’s against the rules. I do hope you didn’t get into too much trouble.” Apple hugged the fox to her chest, then smiled sweetly at Ginger. “You’re so lucky you don’t have to chase a pet around in the middle of the night. Well, it’s getting late, and I never skip my beauty sleep. Charm you later.” After a quick turn on her heels, she walked cheerfully away.
Ginger agreed with Apple’s statement. How could she possibly add the responsibility of a pet when she had so many other things to do, like thronework and Spells Kitchen? But all she had to show for this evening’s hard work was a big green mess. And she was too tired to start over.
After a long sigh, followed by an even longer yawn, she began to clean up. As she washed the cauldron in the sink, she noticed a little tap tap sound. Had the snow fox returned? She looked around, but nothing seemed out of the ordinary. As she washed the test tube, the sound grew louder.
Tap tap tap. What was that?
She whirled around. The noise was coming from her workstation. She wiped her hands dry, pushed her pink glasses up on her nose, and gazed across every inch of the counter. Over her hextbook and book bag, over the dragon-flame burner, then over a gummy fish that lay in a puddle of the spilled green potion.
Its tail was flapping against the counter. Tap tap tap.
Ginger was used to odd things. She’d grown up with a witch. And she inhabited a world where other students flew with fairy wings, where trolls worked the mail room, and where giants lived at the top of massive beanstalks.
But a candy fish flapping its tail was very unexpected.
“What in the ever after?” She picked it up so she could get a closer look. The yellow candy had a pair of candy eyes, and they looked directly at her. It also had a candy mouth, which opened and closed. It made a gasping sound, as if trying to breathe.
Ginger shivered with surprise. She dropped the candy and stepped back. The gummy fish began to flip-flop across the counter. A desperate look filled its bulging eyes, and the gasping grew louder. Then it flipped itself off the counter and landed on the floor, where it continued to appear as freaked out as Ginger felt.
The gummy fish was acting… like a fish out of water!
Ginger grabbed an empty cauldron, filled it from the tap, and then chased the flopping gummy across the floor. When the fish came to a dead end at the wall, she scooped it into her hand and dropped it into the water.
Never had she expected to see a piece of candy express joy! The fish smiled, then began to swim. Around and around it went, its tail gliding from side to side. Ginger smiled, too. A moment earlier, the fish had been nothing more than a snack. But here it was, having the time of its life.
Life? Was it actually alive?
The curfew bell sounded. It was time for students to report to their dorm rooms and settle in for the night. Ginger didn’t want to risk taking a cauldron from Professor Rumpelstiltskin’s room. He liked to punish students by having them weave straw into gold. So she hurried down the hall and grabbed an empty jelly jar from the Cooking Class-ic Room. Then she transferred the gummy fish to its new container, flicked off the fireplace and lights, and carried the creature to the girls’ dormitory.
“Want to see something weird?” Ginger asked as she burst into her bedroom. Her roommate, Melody Piper, daughter of the Pied Piper, was listening to music, as usual. She slid her earphones down around her neck.
“You got a pet fish?”
“No, not exactly.” Ginger held the jar in front of Melody’s face. “It’s a piece of candy.”
“Look.” She plucked the fish from the water and held it in her palm. Its tail began to flap. “It’s a gummy fish. Lemon-flavored.”
“But it’s moving. And it has eyeballs.” Melody cringed. “It’s staring at me.”
“Exactly.” Ginger plopped it back into the water. Then she tried her best to explain. “I was eating candy and making a leather-stretching potion for hextra credit at the same time, and I was only halfway done when Apple’s fox came into the room and made a noise. I was so startled, I spilled the potion on a gummy fish. This gummy fish.” She pointed. “Then it started flapping around and looking at me.” She took a huge breath of air. “I think it’s alive!”
“It definitely looks alive.” Melody laughed. “Hey, can you make other foods come to life?” She grabbed a banana off her desk. “A banana with eyeballs would be so totally wicked.”
Ginger’s mind raced. What if she could bring other foods to life? A cupcake that smiled or a peanut butter cup that danced. That would make a great episode for her MirrorCast show. “I don’t have any more potion,” she said. “I washed it all down the sink.”
“Can you make more?”
Ginger shook her head. She’d been raised by an expert on wicked recipes and potions, so she knew that when accidental magic occurred, it could rarely be repeated. Not only were the specific ingredients involved, but also the temperature of the room and the time of day—even the cook’s breath could have influenced the exact formula for the magic.
“Maybe this will be like Cinderella’s pumpkin, and the gummy will return to normal at midnight,” Melody suggested.
But it didn’t.
The next morning, Ginger and Melody were surprised to see the gummy fish still swimming. “How come he’s not dissolving?” Melody wondered. “He’s made of sugar, right?”
Ginger shrugged. “That must be part of the magic.”
For the next few days, Ginger kept the jelly jar on her desk. When she returned from her classes, she’d sit next to it and do her thronework. The fish would press his face against the glass and smile at her. She’d smile back. In the morning when Ginger awoke, she’d worry for a moment that the magic had stopped and that she’d find the piece of candy floating at the top of the jar. But each morning, he was swimming. She’d sigh with relief because, truth be told, she’d started to get used to the little guy. Her wish for a pet had come true. And he was the perfect pet because none of her mother’s wicked recipes called for gummy fish!
Everyone came to see the little wonder. Some thought the fish was cute; some thought he was weird. “What are you going to name him?” Raven Queen, daughter of the Evil Queen, asked.
“Name him?” Ginger hadn’t considered this possibility.
“He’s your pet, isn’t he?” Raven said. “You definitely need to give him a name. I named my dragon Nevermore.”
“Well, he came from AA Candy Factory,” Ginger said. “But that’s not a very good name. Guess I’ll have to think about it.”
The next day, while Ginger was working on an essay for General Villainy, a tiny stream of water landed on her paper. A few droplets ran down the side of the jelly jar. The fish must have been swimming too fast, Ginger thought. She got a new piece of paper, but as she started writing again, a stream of water sprayed onto her nose. Ginger narrowed her eyes. The fish poked his head above the water’s surface, aimed, and shot water out of his mouth, just like a hose. “Hey, you’re doing that on purpose!” she said. “And you’re making a huge mess!”
The fish inhaled a mouthful of water, then aimed again. A puddle landed on the paper.
“You’re ruining my work!” Ginger cried. She placed a lid on the jar just as the fish was aiming for another attack.
The fish scowled, then turned away. Ginger tried to write, but she couldn’t concentrate. Why was the gummy fish squirting water at her? Was he mad at her? Could a piece of candy feel anger? She tapped on the glass to get his attention. He ignored her. So she took off the lid, and the fish sprayed again. “What in Ever After is going on?” she asked as water dripped onto her shirt.
Since she’d never had a pet before, and since she had no idea why the fish was acting so rude, Ginger decided it was time to ask for advice. With the lid securely in place, she carried the jar down the hall to Apple White’s room. “Come in,” Apple called. She sat on a plush sofa, reading her Kingdom Managem
ent hextbook. Her snow fox lay curled up at her feet. “Oh, hi, Ginger. How’s your fish?”
“I’m not sure. He seems kinda mad at me,” Ginger explained. “He keeps spraying me with water.”
“Oh, the poor little thing,” Apple cooed, setting her book aside. “He’s trying to get your attention. When Gala wants my attention, she chews up my pillows and shoes.”
“What do you do?”
“I take her for a walk, of course.” She pointed to a jewel-encrusted leash that hung from a hook. Then she reached down and patted Gala.
It sounded like good advice. Perhaps the fish was bored sitting in Ginger’s room all day. How could she be sure? No one had written a book titled How to Care for a Piece of Candy That Suddenly Comes to Life. She’d already checked at the library. So Ginger carried the jar outside.
It was a perfectly lovely day, as it most often was at Ever After High. The sunshine was warm enough to open the flowers and get the birds singing, but it wasn’t hot enough to cause unpleasant perspiration. Ginger held the jar aloft so the fish could get a good view. But he didn’t seem interested in the trees, grass, or sky. He swam in a slow circle, a big frown on his yellow face.
A girl with lavender stripes in her hair was sitting at the edge of a pond, tossing bread crumbs to the ducks. Next to her, a beautiful trumpeter swan floated, preening her wings. The swan was named Pirouette, and the girl was her owner, Duchess. Since Duchess had a pet, maybe she could offer some advice.
“Hi, Duchess.” Ginger sat next to her. The swan raised her head and stared at the fish with her black eyes.
“You’ll probably want to keep your pet away from Pirouette,” Duchess warned. “Fish are one of her favorite snacks.”
“Oops.” Ginger moved the jar out of the swan’s view. Pirouette returned to preening.
“Do you need something?” Duchess asked. She sounded annoyed, but that was how she always sounded. Ginger had gotten used to her way of curling her upper lip in a slight sneer.