Tag Archive | character: katydid

Helping Hands I

How can I help?

Yarrow Tallum had said those words all her life.  She’d grown up in a family that had helped. She had gone to a church that had helped.  She had moved to this city working with a not-for-profit that, above all things helped.

When the not-for-profit had turned out to be not quite what she wanted with her life – or they hadn’t wanted quite what she did, or something; it had ended, and it hadn’t ended in a fun way, and that was really, in the end, the bits that mattered – she’d taken the first job that had come to hand, and from there another one and now, seven years after she’d moved into this city, she found herself walking down a back street to what was very politely called “the place” by people who knew about it.

The weather was getting cold and it was only going to get colder.  The snow had already started to fall, and the forecasters and weather-witches and all the old almanac signs all agreed, for once: It was going to be a long and very hard winter.

Yarrow had been hearing rumors for a while, the way you did if you listened to people, really listened.  And they said that there was someone named Katydid. And that Katydid was doing things.

In this city, there were any number of things that one could be doing.  There was a priest talking to the fae in a church that had once been drenched in fae blood.  There was a woman reclaiming the Crossroads park. There was a person who sat at the same corner every day and sang, songs like angels had come down from heaven, songs that lifted you up and made your day better.  

There was an amazing world out there, but Yarrow was not going down to “the place” because she wanted to rubberneck.

It was going to be cold, so she dug through her closets and she found the three winter coats that had never fit quite right and the packs of socks that her mother liked to send her.  She found three blankets that she didn’t need, and a pack of scarves and mittens and hats.

She cleared out her cupboard of canned food, except what she needed for the next week, and when she had this all in a shopping cart, she ran back upstairs and grabbed a can opener and her camp stove.  And a box of tea and her second-best tea kettle.

That ought to be a start, she thought.  And she started walking towards The Place.

If you asked her, Yarrow would have told you people need help more than I need these things.  But it was more than that.  It had always been more than that.  And some of it…. sometimes she had to admit it was a little selfish.

Bundled up, she walked briskly through town towards “the place” – towards where she was pretty sure “the place” was.  She had cash in her pocket for panhandlers – but there were none on the road, no buskers, nobody hiding in the little alcoves and corners, nobody being sent away from the convenience store or the warming their hands over an air outlet.

It made the city feel too quiet, not alive enough.  It made her both worried and hopeful. It made Yarrow wonder, more than where are they, what are they giving to the city normally, that we don’t notice?

All God’s children got a place in the choir, her father would’ve said. And every note that isn’t there is notable.

That wasn’t enough of an answer, but that was a question for another day. Today, she passed one skinny kid who looked both lost and drawn, that was it, and she said to them “I hear the Place is this way.”

“Isn’t the Place for, I dunno.  Like…?”

“Are you hungry and cold?  Then the Place is for you.”

The nerve of her, she thought, to say that when it wasn’t her place.  But the words had come from somewhere and it wasn’t really her mind that they’d come from.  Still, she added, “or. When I’ve dropped these things off, you can come back to my house. I don’t have much but I can give you dinner and a place to crash for the night.”

“I’ll… You’re going to the Place?  I’ll come with you.”

Magic didn’t solve everything, that was one of Yarrow’s first lessons.  The city still had its problems, steeped in magic as it was, some of them caused by that very magic.  But kindness…

They walked in silence, except Yarrow passing him the mittens on the top of her pile and a meal bar from lower down in the pile.  The kid looked sort of grateful and sort of embarrassed. She wondered how long they’d been wandering around, and if they had any place to go that wasn’t Yarrow’s house or The Place.

How did things get here? She wondered, but then, the way that she’d been taught, she also started to wonder how do we get things away from here?

When they reached the Place, she realized that someone – or someones – had moved on to the next step, the part where you stopped wondering and started moving forward.

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Stone Soup and Other Gifts

Katydid tried not to think about it.

The thing about her tricks was, they didn’t work if you focused on them – you being her, them, anyone. Lots of her brain worked – or didn’t work – that way; the minute you tried to pin something down, it was gone. Home? No, nothing there. When she was thinking about something else, she could remember the smell of the kitchen, or the feel of the old leather couch, or hugs. She remembered hugs the most often. School? Chalk dust and notebook paper and exactly how to fold a note for maximum cuteness and pass-ability.

read on…

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Katydid’s Camp, a story of The Fairy Town for the Giraffe CAll

For kelkyag‘s prompt

After Loaves (LJ)

It had started with Katydid’s Kitchen. That was ambitious enough, strange enough. They’d already started calling her the Loaves-and-Fishes girl, and, Jorge had to admit, it certainly looked miraculous. Since Katydid wasn’t telling her methods, too, people just assumed magic.

In this City, Jorge pondered, everyone was magic-mad.

The crazy thing was, however she was doing it, the girl was pulling out miracles. She was feeding people who’d been starving, weaving blankets, mending tents; this little suburban kid was taking care of an entire Hooverville, and doing so with a level of tact that the social workers just couldn’t hack.

But that wasn’t enough for the girl. She’d done something, he didn’t know what, but she’d shown up one day with a stack of paperwork, and, bam, next thing he knew, she’d moved Katydid’s Kitchen two blocks north. To the factory district. To the old shoe factory, a monument to the days when industry used to be here.

And then, then, like somehow she made sense, she’d rounded up about ten of the most stable of the Hoover-villians, and put them to work. “Go get this,” she’d tell one, “go ask for that,” she’d tell another one. Pallets. Remnant fabric. Dumpstered wood, and dumpstered food. The stuff the Salvation Army threw out. Stuff off the curbs.

“Katlyn-didn’t,” Jorge asked her, when he could get a moment of her time without being sent running like an errand boy, “what in hell are you playing at?”

She looked at him, which was a plus. She hadn’t done that in a few weeks. But the look was odd, like he hadn’t gotten the memo everyone else had.

“I’m building us a house, Jorge,” she told him. “The deep cold is coming. People die out there.”

He shook his head, not understanding, but in awe anyway. When she got like this, he was learning, there was only one thing to say.

“How can I help?”

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Loaves, a story for the Giraffe Call @Rix_Scaedu

For Rix_scaedu‘s prompt

“What we need,” Katydid declared, “is a place to eat.”

Jorge looked over at her dubiously. “Like a dining room table? ‘did, I’m sure you’ve noticed, but this is a shanty.”

“No, no.” Her gesture took in the small jury-rigged building. “This is a place to sleep and not freeze. We need a place to eat.”

“Okay, you’re repeating yourself. Have you gone to the clinic recently?”

“No,” she frowned. “They make my brain buzz. This place, Jorge, this shanty-town, Hoover-ville, cardboard city – we need a place to eat.”

“We’re all starving, yeah, Katydid. I know that. We ALL know that, ‘did.”

She bit her lip. “Why don’t you ever listen?”

“Because you never make sense! You come down here like you belong with us, but you don’t, and then you say things like you’re making fun of us. Why don’t you go home?”

“I don’t have a home.” Her knees went up to her chest, and her hair covered her face. Jorge expelled air loudly.

“Whatever happened, there in the ‘burbs, it can’t be worse than starving.”

“We’re not going to starve.” She stood abruptly and hurried out of the hut, leaving Jorge to stare in her wake.

When he didn’t see her for several days, he thought she’d gone back to the ‘burbs, drama or not. Not that he KNEW that was where she came from, but good, clean shoes, sturdy clothes that were nevertheless the latest fashion, and hair that had been cut in the last month, plus teeth so straight and even as to look fake, did not look like city-poverty to him, much less shanty-town poor. He wished her luck, said a prayer for her, and moved a warmer girl into his shanty.

It was the girl, Annie, who told him what Katydid had done. “There’s a kitchen. They’re giving out food”

“A what?”

“In the middle of the ‘Ville. Follow the smoke.”

So follow the smoke he did, ’cause his stomach was trying to eat itself, and there, in the squarest shanty he’d ever seen built, with three banners for a tarp, Katydid had laid out tables, and over an oil-barrel stove, complete with chimney, she was dishing out soup and dumplings.

“Where…?” Jorge started, but the wildness was running high in the girl’s eyes, and he fell quiet.

“Jesus had fish,” was all she’d say.

Hooverville, non-Wiki Hoovervilles, shanty-town

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