6:


The small lamp was the only one on. It was aimed at Merlina, who stood in front of the toy audience. Behind her, the living room curtains had been draped over a chair, creating a makeshift backstage.

Beside Merlina was the cheap plastic magician's hat. She turned it toward the audience. "Behold the empty center," she said, then sat it back up. Waving the bent wand over the brim, she called to the audience, "Say the magic words!"

"BIPPITY-BOPPITY-BOO!" Everyone shouted.

Merlina reached into the hat…and pulled out Bo's sheep. All the toys burst into cheers and applause. "Hooray!" Shouted Rex, waving his tiny arms and pounding his feet.

Behind the curtain, Woody and Bo watched the show. "So this is how they do the 'Rabbit in a Hat' trick!" Said Bo. "Kind of disappointing."

"It was nice of you to lend Merlina your sheep," said Woody.

"Well, Merlina is a nice person." Said Bo. "I think we're going to be good friends."

Woody grinned. "No more worries?"

"Well, as long as you promise not to drool over her…"

"Me?" Woody pretended to be aghast. "I never drool!"

Bo adjusted his hat with a smile. "Whatever you say, Cowboy." She stood on her tiptoes to give him a kiss.

In front of the curtain, Merlina, having turned the hat on its brim to make a table, had placed a marble under three cups and was shuffling them back and forth. No one noticed that Bo's sheep were standing by the drapes…or that they had the curtain in their mouth. They pulled it back…

There was laughter from the audience. Woody jerked away, both he and Bo blushing like fire trucks. As everyone hooted and cheered, he growled. "You guys are IMPOSSIBLE!" He shouted before yanking the curtain closed again.