Plugging away… I don’t know what will happen will have to go back to work on Monday… Probably some very, very short stories.
In any event, a scene in my current WIP.
Maryl had written the guests list, so most everyone in Deva’s class had been invited. Deva’s father, Jay, greeted guests at the door. He’d argued for a smaller party with only Deva’s real friends, but Maryl insisted otherwise. “You don’t know who will be her friend in the future,” she said. “And I know who in town is important.”
Deva didn’t care as long as her best friends came. The rest of the guests she left for her mother to entertain. Maryl wouldn’t care. Indeed, she’d be lit up and happy by the end if she believed everyone impressed and charmed by the party and the house. Deva knew from many other parties that her presence was an afterthought, and this time she didn’t care.
After cake and a couple of games, Deva beckoned Linnie and Piper down to her bedroom. The other kids didn’t notice them go. “Sylvie thinks it’s human hair,” Deva said, pointing at the paintbrush resting in the plastic case.
Piper wrinkled her nose. “That’s weird.”
Linnie took hold of the case. “I was in an art supply store once. They had brushes made out of horsehair. They were expensive.”
Piper touched a unicorn figurine on Deva’s bedside table. The white unicorn’s horn was painted gold though some of it had flaked off. “What were you doing in an art supply store?” she asked.
“Anyway, what do you know about your grandma?” Linnie asked, ignoring Piper’s question.
Deva shook her head. “Mom won’t talk about her other than to call her a witch. That’s all.”
Linnie rubbed her hands together. “A mystery! Let’s investigate.”
“You’ll get into trouble,” said Piper. She glanced at the door as if someone might come bursting in. “If your mom wanted to stay away from her own mother, maybe she had good reason.”
“Maybe it’s magic,” Linnie said. She leaned back on Deva’s bed. Her party dress fit snug across the shoulders and the hem hung unstitched halfway around. She never had new clothes, and the clothes she had often fit poorly. But she didn’t care much. She’d learned early on that her raggedy appearance sorted people out. People who cared about her clothes weren’t people she needed. “She was witch, after all.”
“Witches aren’t real,” Piper said.
Linnie rolled her eyes. “Yeah, yeah. Reality. Your favorite thing.”
“But why give it to me?” Witches? Did Deva believe in such a thing? Her mother said it all the time, but she was joking or exaggerating. Calling someone a witch was just an expression.
“She was dying. Who else would she give it to? Not your mom, right?” Linnie said.
“It’s a cheap plastic paint set and she never met me.”
“You never met her, but that doesn’t mean she didn’t know you. She could’ve seen you from a distance. Like you’ve seen in the movies. People give up their kids and then go stand at schoolyard gates keeping on eye on their long lost kid. Like that. Anyway, why does it matter? She gave it to you. That’s all you need to know.”
Piper paced. “But it could be dangerous.”
“What? A paintbrush?” Linnie said. Sounds from the party reached them. Everyone sounded as if they were having a great time. “You think she’s going to paint herself to death?”
Piper scowled. She would’ve liked to be in the living room laughing with everyone else. It wasn’t often she had a chance to hang out with more popular girls. “Maybe the old lady gave it to her for some evil reason.”
Deva ran her hand over the case. She could paint a picture and see what happened.
Linnie sat up straight. “Whoa. Evil is a strong word. You said you didn’t believe in magic.”
“I believe in evil.” Piper’s eyes were wide. She coughed. She always coughed when her nerves got the best of her, and the doctors said it was her heart. She’d been born with a weak heart, and her parents did their best to protect her from everything. If they heard her cough, they’d shut her away for a week.
“You believe in evil but not magic?” Linnie shook her head.
“Don’t criticize what I believe. Look at what you believe! You…”
Deva cut in. “We’ve got to go back to the party. Argue later, okay?” Deva put the paints on her dresser. Maybe her grandmother was a witch and more resided in the gift than she could see. Maybe it was a box of cheap paints.
The girls walked out of the bedroom and Deva pulled the door tightly shut. If any secret message existed in the gift, she’d find it.
Thanks for reading.