I’m having a writing retreat day! Tell your friends! Tell your foes! Tell everyone~
See more about Katydid and Whitney here – http://www.lynthornealder.com/category/verse/fairytown/
It was one of the weird days.
You’d have thought that, considering that she’d set herself to restoring a park in a city that was known for the magic flowing through it and the oddities in its shadows and in its sunbeams, a park that was a crossroads at the center of that city (if you read the right map), a park where the ghosts and the spirits were as likely to advise her and help her as the local gardening groups were, possibly more so, where a giant but see-through cat followed her around for the treats (along with the slightly more mundane cats, who were interested in more mundane treats), well, with all that, you’d have thought that Whitney didn’t have weird days anymore.
She worked her days at the library, still, and the library’s local history section was nearly as odd as her park was. She moonlighted three days a week at the historical society, a gig that had come up after a ghost had recommended her for the job. She found she didn’t need as much sleep anymore, and she rarely took ill – a cough here, a sniffle there, but the only time she’d gotten sick enough to skip work it had been because a ghost had possessed her, and that had been because she hadn’t listened to advice about where to dig, or, rather, where not to dig.
All in all, most of her days were pretty weird. Most of her evenings were even weirder. Most of her nights were weirdly quiet and peaceful, considering the place she lived.
And yet, today was weirder.
It had started with a man in a waistcoat and jacket that her research told her ought to be from 1800. His idiom was spot-on for the era as well, and the way he was handling his cell phone seemed to suggest he didn’t know what it was.
He’d recited a long and complex poem to Whitney which had ended with him handing her a card. A calling card, she supposed, and she was rather surprised to find it solid and not otherworldy or ethereal.
After that, there’d been a bevy of clowns. Most of them had been real, rather, solid and alive. One of them had been, ah, something not normal, and that one had handed her –
a calling card.
She’d put that one next to the first and not thought too hard about it, because she had some zinnias to replant and some hostas which seemed to be in a battle with some feral goldenrod.
After that, though, there had been a theatre group. That was fairly normal, as things went. They were performing Twelfth Night in a sort of semi-improvised style as they moved on and off the paths and up and down the plinths and gazebos and planters. They had a hat out; Whitney made sure to drop in a couple dollars and the cat – the big one, mostly – made sure that nobody else took anything out of the hat.
She wasn’t even surprised when Sebastian’s actor made a point to hand her a calling card.
When she caught sight of a waif-like girl who was and wasn’t, who might and might not be, who was human all the way through but… seemed to exude something else, Whitney greeted her as politely as she greeted everyone to the park. It didn’t pay to be rude in this place. Perhaps it never paid anywhere.
“We were hoping to have a picnic,” the girl informed her. “I’m Katydid, or at least that’s what I’m called.” She smiled shyly as she gestured at the people who had flocked behind her, staying a good few feet behind her, as if hiding, or hoping for her protection.
Whitney took in the group. They were, she thought, homeless, or if not homeless, then poor. No wonder they were hiding.
“Of course you can. I think the best option would be the Blue Veranda; I finished the plantings around there just a couple days ago.”
It wasn’t technically her park, but Whitney found that she was acting more and more like a hostess here.
“This way,” she added. “I already gave my spare sandwiches to the cats, I’m sorry, or I’d add to your picnic.”
“Oh, that’s all right.” Katydid smiled at her. “That’s quite all right. Oh, this is a really nice place.”
“Too nice for us,” one of her followers mutters. “Too fancy, they’ll kick us out.”
“Nobody is going to kick you out.” Whitney gestured them into the veranda. She still had a few places where she needed to repair the tiling, gorgeous blue-and-white work that cost a fortune to have replicated, but she’d covered them cleverly for the time being with some patio furniture. “Please enjoy your picnic.”
Her back pocket was unbearably warm, almost on fire. Not really thinking, Whitney yanked out the calling cards. They glowed in her hand, so bright as to be unreadable, so hot as to nearly scorch her fingers.
“Oh, good,” Whitney sighed.
“Oh, good!” Katydid smiled brightly. “Oh, yes, I found one of those this morning.” She pulled it from her chest pocket and added it carefully to Whitney’s pile.
The four cards floating in the air, joined themselves into a single sheet, and then unfolded, and unfolded again, and unfolded again.
Kindness begets Kindness, smiles beget smiles.
The words were neither spoken nor written, they just were.
The glowing cards settled down into a table big enough for Katydid and all of her people, chairs seeming to come out of the sparkles and sprinkles of the air. On the table was a full picnic, enough for leftovers, enough for days of leftovers.
Freely given kindness, with no payment asked or expected.
“And there’s a chair for you, Whitney.” How the girl knew her name, Whitney didn’t even think to ask. “If you don’t mind dining with us?”
It was a weird day, all right, but Whitney smiled. “I’d like that, yes, I would. If you don’t mind the company?”
She wasn’t going to mention the pile of tiles that had appeared at the corner of the veranda, not now. That could wait, at least until after the picnic.
It was definitely one of the weirder days, though. She had never found a park chair, not even in this park, half as comfortable as the one at the calling-card-generated table.
Tell your friends! And tell them to tell me you sent them.