Friday, March 15, 2013

Fairy Godmothers, Inc. fiction: Squirrel Lessons

Photo by Jenniffer Wardell
Squirrel Lessons
By Jenniffer Wardell

It was supposed to be a simple job.

The client was the soon-to-be Viscount of Thornby, a young man who had spent the last six months as an enchanted squirrel. He’d annoyed whoever cursed him enough that they’d also taken away his ability to talk like a human, but Kate had found a squirrel translation charm that solved that problem.

The curse could only be broken by a kiss from a maid who was genuinely pure in heart, which was a slightly more complicated problem. Still, careful research and some legal wrangling over the definition of “pure” had turned up a perfectly nice young woman named Leslie who seemed to fit the bill. A rumor about a unicorn sighting had gotten her into the clearing, she had found the artfully displayed translation charm that someone had just “happened” to leave behind, and everything was ready to go.
Hiding behind a tree, Kate turned to the enchanted squirrel perched on her shoulder. “That’s your cue,” she whispered.

The squirrel nodded, then leapt down off her shoulder and headed into the clearing. He’d stop in front of Leslie and begin the speech they’d prepared, and Kate would add a little sparkle just to help get the point across. She lifted her wand, ready to nudge things along….

Only to have Thornby head straight through the clearing and disappear into the trees on the opposite side.

Shock had Kate frozen for a split second, then she hurried through the clearing after him. Leslie looked up, the hope on her face disappearing as soon as she saw who it was. “You’re not a unicorn.”

Kate hadn’t planned on dignifying that with a response, but she realized she was missing something. Doubling back, she plucked the charm out of the woman’s hand. “I need that.”

It took her 15 minutes to find Thornby, who was high on a branch cuddled up to another squirrel. She yanked him down by the tail, causing a horrified squeak from the other squirrel, and held him upside down in front of her. “I should make you into a hat, you little sneak. What do you think you’re doing, running off with a poor innocent real squirrel? Does she even know what you really are?”

They both started chattering at her at once. Apparently, the translation charm worked for all squirrels.

“Okay, fine. But if you were so honest with her, why didn’t you have the guts to tell me what your little plan was?”

More chatter.

“I understand wanting to be free of your mother. But you can’t really want to spend the rest of your life as a squirrel, do you?” Kate didn’t add that she wouldn’t get paid if she didn’t produce a human Thornby.

More chatter.

“Yes, I know she’s a squirrel. But you’re going to miss food that isn’t seeds. And surely you have friends somewhere.”

More chatter.

“How can you be so sure you won’t regret this? And if you do, nobody’s going to be standing around with a convenient squirrel translation charm.”

At this, the female squirrel jumped off the tree and knocked against Kate’s hand long enough to make her drop Thornby. Kate swore, ready to start chasing them again, but then the female squirrel touched her nose to Thornby’s.
There was a swirl of magic, and a second later a very human man was standing in front of her. It took Kate a second to realize what had happened. “Mental note,” she murmured to herself. “Wild animals count as ‘pure in heart.’”

Thornby, however, wasn’t listening. He dropped to his knees in front of the squirrel, his face a picture of despair. “Reetcheet, what did you do?”

The squirrel started chattering, and Thornby looked even more despairing. Kate, taking pity on him, held out the translation charm. “This might help.”

He gripped it tight in his hands while the female squirrel kept talking. Kate could no longer understand what she was saying, but a moment later his expression cleared. “If you’re sure, then I’m absolutely thrilled. I’ll find a witch right away.”

The squirrel leapt onto his shoulder, and they both stood. “She wants to become human,” he said, looking absolutely delighted.

Kate smiled. She hadn’t quite gotten over being annoyed yet, but Thornby’s pleasure was infectious. “Great. Just let me handle explaining this to your mother.” It was, technically, everything the woman had contracted with Fairy Godmothers Inc. to provide.
She just hadn’t bothered to specify a daughter-in-law who didn’t speak squirrel.

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