Or maybe not.
The old woman wanted something from her, it was plain in the eager brightness of her eyes and the way she stood as though she was coiled and ready to spring forward. Mira glanced at the doll again, wondering if there was something wrong with it.
The cover of her book jabbed into her collarbone and ribcage, reminding her of other tales. Tales of princes or maidens meeting old women along the roads they traveled. Of what happened to the older brothers and the unkind sisters.
“I suppose I could come back with the money. How much is it?”
“You haven’t been listening,” the old woman said. “I don’t want your money.”
“Then what do you want?” Mira asked, exasperation creeping into her voice. She was going to be late if she didn’t get going, and as it was, she was going to have to run all the way home if she wanted to get there in time.
The old woman held up a finger, testing the wind. She narrowed her eyes as though studying something only she could see. “A wish or a favor. A favor or a wish.”
Mira straightened, intrigued. The impatience that had been snapping at her heels simmered down as she considered the situation. The old women in the stories always wanted something like a piece of bread or water. They did it as a way to test the purity of a person’s heart.
But this was different.
“What kind of favor?” She had lots of wishes, and she wasn’t sure she wanted to part with any of them. Keeping hold of them was the point to wishing, after all.
“Just a small one,” the old woman assured her. She gave the doll to Mira who took it with more than a little trepidation. The woman was already acting as though she’d been paid, and it didn’t seem fair to take the doll without offering some kind of recompense. Digging into her pocket, she pulled out her emergency quarter and put it on the table.
Satisfied, Mira turned her prize over in her hands. It was a simple doll, but cunningly made. She could already see it placed beside the other fairies in her collection. “What do you want?”
“Well, then.” The old woman gathered the edges of her cloak about her and lowered her gaze, but not before Mira caught a flash of something—triumph, sadness, rebellion?—in her eyes. “I won’t know until I have need of it. Until then, I shall keep it in my pocket.”
Mira raised a brow. “Your pocket?”
The old woman fished something out of her cloak. She shuffled forward a few steps, holding a clear, glass marble in between a gnarled finger and thumb. “Yes. Would you blow on this, please?”
Mira decided to humor her. Today was, after all, a Pink Lemonade Day, and it couldn’t get any worse.
After she blew on the marble, she stepped away from the old lady. “Is there anything else? My mom’s expecting me, and I—”
The old woman waved a withered hand at her. “This will do splendidly.”
“All right, then.” Mira said as she twisted around to stow the doll in the front pocket of her backpack. “Thanks.”
“Thank you,” the old woman returned, her eyes a deeper shade of purple than before.
Anxious to avoid getting into trouble the second she got home, and more than a little unnerved by the whole exchange, Mira gave the old woman a smile before she took off running in the direction of home.
“The doll is for luck,” the old woman called right before Mira turned a corner.
Mira nodded, glimpsing the woman as she turned. Something small and pink glowed in the old woman’s hands. But then Mira had rounded the corner and home was in sight at the end of the street.
Just as Mira’s heart lifted, her foot snagged on a crack in the sidewalk, and she flew forward. Her hands and knees stung where they’d met with concrete, and the cover of her book of fairy tales became a little more tattered. Her backpack flew from her shoulders and lay in front of her, a dead beast that had vomited out the contents of its stomach before it had died. Pencils, papers, folders, and textbooks had all tumbled into a disheveled heap.
Sighing, she began gathering up her things.
So far, this day was proving to be the very Pinkest Lemonade Day of them all.
. . . TO BE CONTINUED . . .
© 2014 by Danyelle Leafty. All rights reserved.
There is something a saying that it seldom gets better before it gets worse. Clearly the person who coined this term has never run into a dragon. Fortunately, for Mira, the dragons are still being held in the reserves. For now. >:)
Come back next Wednesday to see if something can be salvaged from all this Pink Lemonade mess. After all, a person only becomes eleventy once in their lifetime. Usually. 😉