Name: Angela Brown
Genre: Middle Grade Fairy Tale Smash Up
Title: ONCE UPON A SUMMONS
While mom busied her fingers on the hem of my dress, I played a three on three, half-court basketball game in my mind. I had the ball, driving deep into the paint, ready to make the perfect layup when -
"Case, I need you to turn just a smidge, sweetie." Mom gently tugged the dress to the left so I'd know which way to move.
Now that I'd turned, I could see the dress better in Mom's full length mirror, or at least the parts of the mirror not draped in colorful silk and ribbons. A couple of sewing machines stood beside her drawing table where bundles of lace and fabric waited to be used. Tons of dresses filled her design studio. No surprise since the countdown was on for my sister's wedding, only four weeks to go.
I glanced to a corner where the wedding dress hung on a rack. Three other dresses hung next to it, all strappy, sparkly and identical, probably the bridesmaid's dresses. Exactly like my dress.
Wait, bridesmaid's dresses?
"Uh, Mom?" I lifted my hand up to my collarbone, feeling the straps and silk fabrics against my palm, coming to what I hoped was the wrong conclusion.
"Yes, sweetie." Mom snagged a stickpin from the little stuffed red tomato beside her and slipped it into the dress hem.
"Is there a, uh, reason you're making my dress just like the bridesmaid dresses?" Mom hadn't said anything about designing a dress for me until this morning. I had tons of dresses in my closet to pick from. Actually, one dress was one too many as far as I was concerned. Give me a t-shirt and basketball shorts and I'm happy.
Mom took another pin from the tomato and worked it into the hem. Her hair swooped over part of her face, blocking her eyes from view. For the briefest moment, I thought I saw her hesitate.
When she sighed and dropped her hands into her lap, I knew something was wrong. "Case, there's something you need to know." She moved the stickpin holder to a nook in her sewing kit and patted the cushion beside her.
I stepped down from the stool, glancing from the dresses to Mom's face. She hooked her hair behind her ear so I got a better view of her eyes. Like always, I couldn't tell what she was thinking. But from the way her hands fidgeted in her lap, I could tell it wasn't good. "I don't mind," I said, hoping my question hadn't made her mad. "It's just, you know, people might think I'm a bridesmaid."
When I sat down beside her, Mom took my hands into hers. She looked me in the eyes then glanced away. "There's been a change of plans. You're going to be a bridesmaid."
I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. Okay. I could do this. I didn't really want to and it would've been nice if someone would've asked me. Is there a law against twelve year olds being bridesmaids? There probably should be. I exhaled, letting the breath go and opening my eyes.
"I guess that makes my question sound a little silly. It's okay. If Leslie needs me for her wedding, I can't let my sister down." Every part of me wanted to hop out of that dress and get into something made of cotton and made for playing outside, but I had time to get ready. Four whole weeks. I could do it.
Mom pulled me to her and held me close. "Not a silly question at all, sweetie. I'm glad you understand. And I'm sure you'll understand why the wedding had to be moved up to this Saturday. That's the reason for the change. One of Leslie's bridesmaids is out of town and won't be back in time."
I don't know what Mom said after that. It all sounded like blah, blah, blah once I realized that a) I had come to the right conclusion and didn't really like it and b) three months of training and practice were about to go down the drain.
"But Saturday - you know what I'm supposed to be doing Saturday. This, this, it isn't fair!" I yanked free from Mom's hug and ran out of the studio. My heels click-clacked against the hardwood floor and stairs until I reached my bedroom, slamming the door behind me.
I glanced toward my Justin Timberlake poster. He sat forward on a couch, elbows on his knees, gazing down at me. Any other day, I’d stare at his cute-but-kinda-bad-boy look, catch myself before drool dripped to the floor, then move on. Not this time.
I paced the length of my room, back and forth, until I stopped in front of my calendar. Marked with a big red circle, Saturday stood out. For three months, me and my friends practiced for the Sports Jam. We'd saved up our allowances and paid the fees ourselves. That was a whole lot of candy and potato chips I sacrificed just to end up missing it now.
Tears stung the back of my eyes. "Not fair."
I stumped over to my bed and flopped on it, tugging Dad's volume of fairy tales out from under my pillow. Lorealia, my favorite book in all the world. Not that he knew I had it. I wonder why he hid it in the first place? None of that mattered. I just needed to read someone else's happily ever after since my sister’s wedding stole mine from me.
“Saturday was supposed to be my day. Basketball at the Sports Jam, not playing replacement bridesmaid,” I grumbled. And yeah, grumbling wasn't going to change anything. No one cared if it was fair or not. This Saturday wasn't mines anymore. That's all there was to it.
Wiping a tear from my cheek, I curled up on the bed, snuggled close to the book. When I flipped the cover open, my bed rattled. The headboard knocked against the wall. I hopped off with a squeak just as it stopped. The book did a shimmer-glow-bounce and thunked to the floor.
I jumped back. My bedroom door clicked loudly when the lock slammed into place. I gasped, but that’s it. I couldn’t scream. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t do anything.
The book flipped open. Glitter, like tossed confetti, shot into the air and showered down. The pages fluttered back and forth.
My legs trembled, no longer stuck in place. Wobbling backwards, I turned around and wrapped my fingers around the knob, twisting and pulling. I chewed my bottom lip then remembered the jolt of the lock jamming home. I balled my hands into fists and banged against the door.
“Mom! Mom!” She had to hear me. She had to. Please!
I stopped when a soft female voice called out. “S.O.S. Fairy GIT to Fable Ranger. Fairy GIT to Fable Ranger. Please, we need your help.” Her words faded on an echo.
I spun around, finding the book open to the first page. The spoken words filled the usually blank page with chicken scratch, all straight lines and hard angles. I barely made out, “Touch here to confirm.” A red dot hovered over the page, winking in and out.
A Rose I Suppose
I crept forward. Not because I wanted to. Some invisible hook, rope, or both pulled me closer to the book. Honestly, I wanted to run the other way or pretend it was all a dream.
Or a nightmare.