by Cheryl Secomb
TC and Sara slipped down the dimly lit staircase. TC glanced back over her shoulder, hoping not to waken her Aunt Lizzy. The street lamp illuminated the glass on the front door, revealing in mirrored writing the shop’s name, “Fanciful Oddities.” Each summer TC visited her Aunt Lizzy at the coast and helped out in her store. And each summer held a new adventure for TC and her best friend, Sara, whose grandfather owned the antique store down the street.
The girls waited until they were sure Aunt Lizzy was asleep before investigating the newest addition to the shop. Toby, the mysterious salesman, had stopped by that morning and sold her aunt a box. Since Toby tended to sell peculiar items which on several occasions had led to magical adventures, TC and Sara anxiously anticipated the chance to examine its contents.
Sara clicked on the table lamp while TC gently removed the box from the shelf where her aunt had placed it for display. She carried it over and set it down on the floor to examine it under the lamp’s soft light. She hesitated a moment, then lifted the lid. Both girls caught their breath and sighed in reverence.
“It’s so beautiful,” whispered Sara.
“I’ve never seen anything so delicate.” TC pulled from the box a golden chain from which hung a fragile tiny butterfly.
“Its wings look so real. Almost as if it could fly.”
TC nodded and without saying a word, slipped the chain over her head and around her neck. She gasped. The tiny wings began to flutter, slowly at first as if it had been awakened from sleep. They beat faster and faster, tickling TC’s bare skin above her nightgown. TC suddenly felt as if she were walking on air—and she was! She looked down to see Sara staring up at her with an open mouth.
TC hovered near the ceiling and began circling the room, the tiny butterfly leading her about by the golden chain. TC flipped one way then another, spinning and whirling about, a helpless passenger of the tiny creature.
“TC? Is that you down there?” Her aunt’s voice called from the head of the stairs. TC dangled in the air almost upside down and gave Sara a pleading look. Sara stared back, panic in her eyes.
“Uh, it’s me, Sara. I, uh, just wanted to get a drink of water.”
TC held her breath. Aunt Lizzy’s voice faded as she walked back down the hall toward her room. “Okay, Sara. Sweet dreams. See you in the morning.”
As the door to her aunt’s bedroom closed, TC exhaled in relief.
Sara’s panic had faded and now amusement danced in her eyes. “You look so silly, TC.” She giggled.
Finding it difficult to be indignant as she hung in the air, TC began to chuckle. “It’s not funny, Sara!” But the girls’ laughter was contagious. Sara slumped to the floor in giggles, while TC spun in a full circle, trying to suppress her laughter. As she flipped upside down, the necklace slipped from her neck and fell to the floor. TC followed and landed with a thump beside it.
Sara picked up the chain with the delicate winged creature and set it back inside the box. She grinned at TC. “I think you need some flying lessons.”
TC reached over and closed the lid, returning the box to the shelf. She turned to Sara, excitement lacing her voice. “I just need to practice.” She clicked off the lamp and headed upstairs. “I’ve always wondered what it would be like to be a kite, sailing over the beach and the waves.”
Sara trailed up the steps behind her. “TC? What do you have in mind?”
TC only smiled as she climbed into bed and pulled up her covers. Her head sank into the soft, plump pillow. That night she dreamed of fluffy, pillowy clouds . . . and of soaring right through them.