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The True World

Storyteller Series: The True World

Excerpt

Weird was quickly becoming a fact of life for Lily Lightfoot. For the third time in a week, she got the feeling invisible icy fingers were slipping down the back of her neck, seeping into her spine. It was if something was tugging at her very bones, pulling her toward her future. She walked along a broken sidewalk littered with fall leaves toward her school; her friend Peter up ahead on his skateboard. The crisp air was heavy with the moldy smell of decay as the skateboard clicked on the cracks in the sidewalk.

Spinning around, Lily saw nothing but leaves rustling as the wind swished them across the sidewalk. Lily pulled her coat closer around herself and sighed. Maybe she really was losing her mind. Everyone else seemed to think so. Peter was probably the only kid in school who didn't cringe when she walked into a room. Ever since she gave her entire second grade class the chicken pox, just by telling a story, everyone had avoided her. That was before Peter moved to Maplewood. Lily had a feeling he might see things differently if he had witnessed the infamous pox incident. Peter stomped the end of his skateboard, stopping it, and looked back at her.

"Hurry up, Lily!" he said. Why he walked to school with her every day was a mystery to Lily. Peter had lots of friends—normal kids—he could hang out with. Still, Lily was glad he didn't seem to mind her little quirks. OK, so maybe they were big quirks.

"I'm coming," said Lily. "Unfortunately," she added under her breath.

"So, tell me a story," said Peter. He grabbed the end of his board and walked next to Lily.

"I don't know what you're talking about," she said, staring straight ahead.

"C'mon, witch girl," Peter teased, pushing the dark brown hair out of his eyes.

"What kind of story?" asked Lily, annoyed that Peter would call her that. Still, it was better than "freakazoid," which was what most people called her.

"You know, the kind where you make something up and then it happens," he said.

"I don't know, Peter. That last one got me in trouble," said Lily, remembering the math test two weeks ago. Peter had bet Lily he would score higher than she would and she wanted to put him in his place. Unfortunately, she flubbed the story trying to whisper it during the test so no one could hear.

"His answers are gone," she said softly. Not only did Peter's answers disappear, so did every other guy's in the class.

"Yeah, but you have to admit, it was pretty funny watching Mrs. Doorman trying to figure out what happened," said Peter. Lily grinned at the memory of her poor, frantic teacher. She didn't mean to upset Mrs. Doorman. If only she could get the hang of storytelling.

"Just a little one? It's so cool," begged Peter, smiling sweetly.

"Nothing big?" asked Lily. She had promised her grandmother she wouldn't tell any more stories, but it was hard to tell Peter no.

"No, nothing big," said Peter, grinning. How could she disappoint her best friend in the world?

"Are you sure you're prepared for the consequences? You know I can't always control what happens," she asked.

"I'm not scared," he said.

"Well, all right. Just a little one." Lily stepped over the smashed remains of a jack-o'-lantern on the sidewalk, scrunching up her freckled nose.

"Tell a story that will help me pass pre-algebra," said Peter close to her ear.

Lily smirked at him. She thought to herself, and closed her eyes in concentration until she got that familiar tingle in her toes, like they'd gone to sleep. She listened for the warbling of birds, like far away meadowlarks she always heard before storytelling. Sometimes it took awhile to hear them, but today they sang instantly. Lily opened her green eyes and began her tale. Peter listened closely.


© Lisa T. Cresswell

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