“Fine,” Mira breathed, wishing, in that moment, that she could take back her exhale. The Pink Lemonade Brigade’s scent was suffocating. Like she’d stumbled into a garden that had been bred for the smelliest of flowers. Individually, they might have been nice. But all together like this, overpowering was a more accurate word.
She tugged on the end of the ribbon, and the bow unknotted. The other ribbons fell away, leaving only the yellow paper to contend with. Mira slipped her finger into a fold in the paper and followed it up to the point where it had been stuck to itself with beeswax. (Another oddity of the Pink Lemonade Brigade was their inability to deal with a simple piece of tape. The one time she’d talked one of them into helping her wrap a present of her own had resulted in the entire roll of tape mummifying Auntie Marigold’s hand.)
The wax came away easily, and Mira pulled the paper away. Now all that remained was the box.
And what was inside it.
“This isn’t weird, is it?” she asked, knowing that she’d probably just lost her after dinner TV privileges.
The Pink Lemonade Brigade beamed collectively at one another.
“Why don’t you open it and see?” Auntie Flora said.
Mira’s stomach flopped. This couldn’t be good.
Obediently, she lifted the lid off the box. She waited for a moment, in case it was a small-white-mouse type of gift, but nothing jumped out at her and scampered away.
The breath she hadn’t realized she’d been holding whooshed out of her chest when she tilted the box back toward herself. Inside, nestled in a scrap of pink silk, was a rolled up parchment.
“What is it?”
“Read it,” Auntie Marigold said, looking more squirrel-like than ever.
With an impending sense of doom, Mira pulled the scroll out of the box and opened it. She peered at markings curling across the page, trying to make sense of them. But they looped and swooped about with no regard for any alphabet she had ever seen. Just when she was about to give up or go cross-eyed, the markings shook themselves out and meaning shivered across the scroll.
“The making of the queen’s amulet,” she read, surprised at how easy the words slid off her tongue. She blinked and narrowed her eyes, but the letters remained stubbornly readable. Perhaps there was a trick to the ink . . .
“Yes,” Auntie Flora breathed. “Welcome to all that is Folk.”
“Folk?” Mira raised a brow over the parchment.
Auntie Flora drew herself up to her full height—as full as she could go while sitting. “As is your right by birth and heritage.” She nodded, unaccountably at Mira’s mother. “As this is your Eleventy Year, you, Mira Blythe Morganstein must prepare yourself to become the next Queen of the Fae.”
. . . 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! ?