A smile crept into the corners of Mira’s lips. Did this mean that she only had one more year to go with the Pink Lemonade Brigade? In general, she had nothing against the elderly, but there had always been something different—off—with the old ladies in the Pink Lemonade Brigade. Something that belied the way they looked and hinted at mystery.
Their eyes were too bright, too knowing, and they never came all at once. Instead, they seemed to prefer to visit one at a time over the course of a week or so every year. Most of them had long hair they twisted up into intricate knots that were often hidden by the ridiculously large floppy hats with flowers stuck round the bands they always wore.
They always wore dresses with flower and paisley prints that troubled Mira whenever she looked at the design too closely. For the flowers, while loud and garish, had a habit of moving or uncurling if she tried to figure out exactly what types of flowers they were.
The Pink Lemonade Brigade always spoke in honeyed near-whispers, their eyes laughing as they studied her over the rims of their pink lemonade. That was the thing that seemed to unite the old ladies more than anything else. They ate nothing, drank nothing, but a teacupful of pink lemonade whenever they visited. Which was why Mira had taken to calling them the Pink Lemonade Brigade.
That, and they always brought a present for her. A box that fit snugly in the palm of her hand, and was covered by bright yellow paper and gauzy white and bold pink ribbon.
A box that always promised something amazing, but very rarely delivered.
As if thinking were wishing, Auntie Flora held out this year’s yellow box with pink and white ribbon. “Open it, dear, and all will be made clear.”
Because there was a lot she’d like to have made clear. Like why that hairless cat in the tree wore red trousers. Why that thing that had tripped her in front of her house had been there and what it was. Why there was a changeling in her room. And why everyone in the room—herself included—had stopped breathing.
Auntie Flora nodded again.
Mira fidgeted in her seat. It was easy for Auntie Flora to promise the box held all the answers she was looking for, but quite another to deliver. With her luck, there’d be a pot of seeds, a few blades of grass, or crumpled leaves in the box.
“Open it, Mira.” Her mother came up behind her and squeezed her arm. The worry line was still there, but there was something in her mother’s face that softened it away into something that looked a little more like hope.
. . . TO BE CONTINUED . . .
© 2014 by Danyelle Leafty. All rights reserved. Originally published in Curiosities of the Moon.
There is nothing quite like your eleventy year. A special time when you have one foot firmly rooted in your childhood past, and the other tentatively feeling toward a more mature future. Your 16th, 18th, and 21st birthdays are usually the ones in the limelight, but eleventy is where it all begins. ?
Come back next Wednesday to see if the Pink Lemonade Brigade is any more forthcoming than usual. I’m excited, because in two weeks from now, Mira will finally be given the chance to reach for a fate beyond spelling, geometry, and ordinary colors. The Eleventy Year is truly the year of such beginnings! ?