Saturday, March 3, 2012
Sprite - LitStack's Flash Fiction Challenge #5
She didn’t understand why she’d had to dress up. They fussed over her clothes, her hair. Forced her into black patent shoes that gave her blisters. And for what? Fifteen minutes after the first guests arrived and the first drinks were served, no one paid any attention to her. Caroline stayed for a while, sipping her Shirley Temple and chewing on the maraschino cherry. She held her glass just so and practiced standing like the ladies. One of her father’s friends noticed her on his way to the bar, bending down to say my, don’t you look grown up? She blushed and ran upstairs.
She spied on them from between the banisters. Her father poured drinks for the men from the neighborhood, whose laughter boomed over the music and drowned out the ladies’chatter. A group of women gathered on the divan, wine glasses in hand. Over by the buffet, Mrs. McCormick chatted at her bored husband, unaware Mr. McCormick was stealing glances at Mrs. Scott’s backside with every sip of his Scotch. Mrs. Scott, however, seemed to know, posing just so and tossing her hair as she talked with Caroline’s mother, who also seemed to know and whose eyes shot daggers at Mr. McCormick. He reddened and quickly turned his attention back to his wife.
Caroline crept softly down the hall to the back staircase and escaped through the kitchen door, heading out into the last of the light. The lace on her socks itched, and she bent to scratch, then decided to take them off entirely. She skipped barefoot across the lawn and down the hill that led to the neighbor’s. It was a much bigger home, a Georgian style brick colonial, with an expansive yard and garden. Mrs. Gilman, a widow, always welcomed Caroline. Caroline perched on the stone step overlooking the pond in the center of it all, wishing for something special to happen, anything at all.
She heard footsteps and suddenly saw Mrs. Gilman, in filmy white, standing by the edge of the pond. Caroline almost called out, but instead watched silently as the woman knelt down and traced the water’s surface with her finger. To her astonishment, Mrs. Gilman slipped out of her dress and slid gracefully into the water, diving down below the lily pads. Caroline held her breath, waiting. When she resurfaced, after what seemed like hours, Mrs. Gilman was something ethereal: her hair shone gold; her skin luminous; delicate, transparent wings shimmered in the early moonlight. Caroline gasped at the sight of the fairy, and fainted.
Caroline was in bed, remembering substance-less arms, light, yet warm, carrying her up the hill, placing her gently on the step, brushing the hair from her forehead. One of the guests had found her, and after that everyone went home. Her father helped her upstairs and her worried mother brought tea. Caroline drank a little, and looked out her window toward the pond, watching and waiting for the glow she knew must come.
Sprite is my entry for LitStack's Flash Fiction Challenge #5. Photo courtesy of Daphne Bahamonde.