The fairy doll shed glitter from her glossy pink ringlets like she had a pernicious case of sparkling dandruff. The glue holding the curls to the wooden head was already starting to pull away, and now that Mira was examining it closely, the fairy’s tutu was starting to shred along the edges.
“Bring me good luck?” Mira frowned at the doll lying limp as the dead in her hand. “Not likely.”
But still, there was something about the fairy’s face—two black dots for the eyes and a tiny rosebud mouth—that wouldn’t let her throw it away. A touch of whimsy that made up for peeling glue and clouds of glitter.
Besides, it had only cost her a favor and a quarter.
Mira tucked the doll carefully on top of Geography and made sure she’d zipped her backpack all the way up this time. Then she continued on her way home.
The brutal heat of August was fast giving way to a mellow September. Though summer still clung to the butter bright sky, the trees were slowly exchanging their boring green for shades of fire.
A smile crept up in the corner of Mira’s lips. She loved autumn, and not even the prospect of the Pink Lemonade Brigade could completely ruin a day like today. The smell of pumpkins and spices sugared the air. There was something intriguing about the way the trees went out in a blaze of glory before their skeletal branches scraped the fall from the sky to make a place for the winter. The way the sun mellowed and night came skirling on the wind. Halloween and Thanksgiving. Leaves that crinkled like brittle lace and smelled of deep, warm earth.
Mira never felt truly at home except for during autumn.
Which was strange, come to think of it.
Spring ought to have been her favorite. The season of bright beginnings, when flowers first pushed their petals open to a newborn sun. When baby animals came in with the gentle wind and the rain. The time when the world decided to try on color again, pale and watery at first, but deepening as the season wore on.
She wrinkled her nose at the memory of spring’s scent. It was altogether too wet and earthy, like a ball of mud and grass that had been lobbed up her nostrils. No, spring might feel pink, but it sure didn’t smell that way.
Lost in her thoughts, Mira almost didn’t see the blob hiding in the shadows of the leaves on the sidewalk in front of her.
She stopped walking and looked up, expecting to see Mrs. Persimmon’s ginger cat glaring at her from his throne of bark and twigs. He’d dropped on her head, claws fully extended and hissing like a rabid banshee, often enough that she’d learned to take care when walking beneath the oaks lining her street.
But the bright eyes glimmering through the leaves at her didn’t belong to any kind of cat she’d ever seen. Unless there was a brown, wrinkly type of cat with a hooked nose, cherry red trousers, and yellowed teeth that made the rickety picket fence up the lane look sturdy.
Perhaps it was a hairless cat. They looked like wizened, half-drowned aliens in all the pictures she’d seen of them. Of course, that didn’t explain the trousers.
The—whatever it was—stared at her for a long minute, completely still.
“Well,” it said at last, “are you going to just stand there gawping?”
. . . TO BE CONTINUED . . .
© 2014 by Danyelle Leafty. All rights reserved. Originally published in Curiosities of the Moon.
When a strange creature demands an answer, the only polite thing to do is respond. Typical responses (starting up a conversation, whipping out an enchanted blade, summoning a dragon) generally depend on 1) the sort of day you’re having and 2) what experience has taught you is the safest thing to do. Personally, I favor the dragon option. However, a newly eleventy little girl is unlikely to have made acquaintance with any dragons, let alone have been trusted to summon one at will. And it’s highly doubtful she has any sort of enchanted weaponry. Conversation it is then. :p
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. 😉