Glad you could join us for the next quirky episode of Elliot’s Adventures. If you’re new here, you can catch up by returning to the beginning, and reading really fast…
“There’s something I must do before we leave,” Cassandra announced. “Would you mind making one stop?”
“Of course not! Just tell me which direction to go.” Elliot couldn’t believe his recent trials had led him here. There was no way he was going to mess this up.
“Just beyond the mossy knoll, and then behind the fern, you’ll see a tall stalk not quite ready to bloom. That’s where we have to go. I need to say goodbye to my mother.”
Elliot was glad Cassandra couldn’t see his face; his smile had disappeared as he bit his lips, nervous about what her mother might say. Would she think he was a cad and a bounder? Would she try to talk her daughter out of going with him? Would she take away his one chance for love? Would she ruin his life?
But when they arrived at the base of the tall stalk, there wasn’t anyone else there, and Elliot thought maybe he had escaped scrutiny — until Cassandra spoke again.
“Don’t leave without me, Elliot, okay?”
She’d just said his name for the first time, and the sound was so enchanting, his head started spinning. Somehow, he managed to respond, “I wouldn’t think of it!”
Dizzily, he watched her climb to the tip of the stalk, humming as she went. The sight filled him with joy until an ominous buzzing filled the air. A monstrous golden dragonfly swooped from the trees.
Elliot opened his mouth to shout a warning, but it was already too late. The crystal-winged beast landed on the very same plant tip, reaching out for his love!
His breath catching in his throat, he latched onto the stalk and began to climb, only to hear Cassandra call his name again.
It stopped him dead.
Normally, at this point, Suspense would take Time prisoner, so the world would have to wait to hear what happened next. But the magic Cassandra’s voice put into Elliot’s name freed Time from the shackles of convention, and Time continued, unfettered, on its way.
“I’d like you to meet my mother, Quintessa.”
Flummoxed, Elliot fell back on the lessons his own mother had taught him. Ever polite in awkward situations, he said, “I am very pleased to meet you, ma’am.”
Cassandra’s giggle sprinkled down on his befuddlement, assuring him everything was fine. “She adopted me when I was just a little slug, alone and vulnerable in the Deep Woods.”
The dragonfly spoke. “You happy?” Cassandra nodded. “You such good daughter. I happy you happy. It time I let you go.” Staring hard at Elliot, she added with only the slightest hint of menace, “I know you keep my youngest daughter happy. And safe.”
Wide-eyed, Elliot nodded.
Cassandra’s mother turned back to her beloved little girl. “You seek your fortune. I see much excitement in your future. And much danger. Beware false piety. It wait right around corner.”
Her warning ringing in Elliot’s ears, she kissed Cassandra and whizzed away.
To be continued…
Today’s twofer from April 21, 2016:
Mom must have been weighing her options. Patty had stayed home from kindergarten because of tonsillitis. Again. Kim was only one. I was three-and-a-half and coloring in the living room so my sisters could sleep in the bedroom the three of us shared. It was almost lunchtime.
We were out of bread.
Apparently, there could be no lunch without bread, because Mom decided to put a quarter, a nickel, and two pennies in my three-and-a-half year old fist, and send me to The Corner Store to buy a loaf of bread.
“Remember, it’s the one with the red, yellow, and blue balloons.” Mom the Savvy Shopper
I would have to cross two streets. Alone.
Of course Mom warned me:
“Look both ways before you cross the street, and Watch. Out. For. Cars.” Mom the Wise
This is where I started.
Now turn left, and stand in front of the house next door. It’s on the corner. This is where I was going.
I stood on our corner for a couple minutes, waiting for a car to come so I could show Mom that I knew how to wait for it to go by before I crossed. No car came, but I waited until Mom yelled:
“Go ahead! Cross the street!” Mom the Impatient
I walked past the Kinzie Avenue end of Fratt Elementary School, to Arthur Avenue, the second street I had to cross to get to The Corner Store.
I stood on the corner of Kinzie and Arthur, determined to wait for a car. If Mom was yelling, I couldn’t hear her.
After a few minutes, a trash truck came toward me on Kinzie and turned onto Arthur, right in front of me! I waved and the guy in the passenger seat waved back. I’ve loved trash trucks ever since.
Inside The Corner Store, the bread with the red, yellow, and blue balloons sat on a shelf just inside the door. Higher than I could reach.
Tilting my head back so I could see the bread with the red, yellow, and blue balloons, my sweaty fist clutched the coins, and tears welled. Lower lip quivering, I needed help. I wasn’t supposed to talk to strangers, but people who worked at the store would be okay, right?
I ran to the butcher counter at the back of the store. It looked a lot like this one:
It took a while to get the butcher’s attention. He must have been a bachelor butcher; I’m pretty sure a dad would have cared about the little kid crying in front of the cold cuts. When he finally asked what I needed, his advice was to ask somebody at the front of the store.
I believed was he was trapped back there or he would have come with me and helped me.
I cried all the way back to the bread. There were a few people around, but nobody I knew who worked there, and I still wasn’t supposed to talk to strangers no matter what the butcher told me to do.
I stood there crying at the bread with the red, yellow, and blue balloons.
That’s when a lady in a flowery dress stopped to get her own bread. She didn’t have any kids with her, but I knew she was somebody’s mom because she looked right at me and said:
“What’s wrong, sweetie?” A Mom to the Rescue
As I recall, she even smiled when she handed me the bread.
I paid at the cash register counter, just like I’d watched Mom do, and I hurried home. No more waiting for another car to prove I could do the right thing. No more tears. No plans to go to any store alone again until I was at least five feet tall. I was just going home. To have lunch.
Mom used the same peanut butter and jelly she always used to make my sandwich with white bread from the bag with the red, yellow, and blue balloons, but this time, it tasted like triumph.
What challenges do you remember from your short days?
#AtoZChallenge A-to-Z Fictioneers: Interested in original fiction? Here’s a list of writers who are writing stories for the 2017 A to Z Challenge. The author’s link will take you to their “A” post. If you know of any other story writers I can share, please drop the link in the comments!
- Aditi’s Indian myths from a female POV at Aditi’s Pen
- Andrea’s fantasy novel, “The Impatiens Chronicles”, as writing instruction at Andrea Lundgren
- Arpan’s horror stories at Tales of Unusual Strangeness
- Atherton’s Victorian murder mystery, “Stranded!”, at Atherton’s Magic Vapour
- Debs’s song-inspired fiction at Bunny and the Bloke
- Diane’s 100-word tales at LadiesWhoLunchReviews,etc
- Dipanwita’s 100-word stories at Cocktails Mocktails and Life
- Iain’s alphabet puzzle-inspired murder mystery serial at Iain Kelly Writing
- Jo’s upbeat emotion stories at Jo Hawk the Writer
- Joe’s excerpts from his upcoming post-Civil War historical fiction, “Steel Horse Saviors”, at Fiction Playground
- John’s flash fiction crime stories with a twist at John Davis Frain
- Keith’s everyday life in fictional Amble Bay at Keith’s Ramblings
- Lenni’s speculative fiction, “What Are They” at J Lenni Dorner
- Marquessa’s short stories spun from her larger work, “Living to Die” at Simply Marquessa
- Natalie’s “Secret Diary of a Serial Killer” at Natalie Westgate
- Raven’s 100-word flash fiction at everywhere and nowhere
- Shailaja’s 100-word oxymoronic stories at The Moving Quill
- Shilpa’s 55-word crime stories at A Rose Is A Rose Is A Rose!
- Shweta’s Tiny Tales at My Random Ramblings
- Sorchia’s Gothic fantasy, “A Cold Spring” at Sorchia’s Universe
- S.T. Ranscht’s fantasy/adventure serial, “Elliot’s Adventures”at Space, Time, and Raspberries
Vanessa’s build-a-30-word-story at Vanessence