Dermott slammed the door and threw his school bag on the couch. He grumbled his way up the stairs without talking to anyone, and flopped down on the bed.
“You have three sneakers on Mom’s duvet,” his little sister said from the hall. “They’re muddy.”
Dermott shot a tongue of flame in her direction.
She giggled and ran away.
That made things worse, somehow.
And he could still hear giggles and rustling. He threw a sneaker.
“Dermott!” His mother’s voice nearly stopped his breathing. “What is wrong with you?”
He hemmed and hawed, and hid his head under the pillow, but his mother did not believe nothing was wrong. She did not believe he was sick. The truth came out. “The princess escaped,” he said. “Before the knight even showed up.”
The pillow over his head didn’t stop him from seeing his mother wince, either. “But you tracked her down, didn’t you?”
Dermott shrugged. “I couldn’t find her.”
His mother put on her my-son-still-might-not-flunk smile, and said in her most cheerful voice, “I suppose worse things have happened. Modern princesses can be almost too clever.”
“It wasn’t a real princess,” Emmaline said. “It was a practice princess. She was actually a telemarketer. They’re a lot cheaper.”
Dermott glared at her. “The knight showed up while I was looking for the princess,” he said. He glared harder. Emmaline didn’t mention the knight was actually a taxi-cab driver. “Theobald and Rodrigo fought him without me.”
His mother tilted her head to the side. “And?”
“They won.” He didn’t know what would make that better. Everyone was more athletic than he was. “And when I got back, they kept poking me with his spear.”
“That’s not very nice,” Emmaline said.
“No, it’s not.” His mother patted his shoulder. “You’d do better with a better team.”
“I’m the one who lost the princess,” Dermott said. “I’m going to have to repeat eighth grade.”
His mother sniffed. “They should have helped with the princess,” she said. “A knight will just keep walking around in circles looking for the princess, until you’re ready to fight him. You’re the only one who made the right choice.”
And maybe she was right. If Theobald and Rodrigo had helped find the princess, maybe the three of them would have gotten the princess and the knight.
That evening, his mother made lizard-leg stew for supper, and, his father brought home a box of babies. They were warm and crunchy, and somehow, that made everything better.
If you enjoyed this story, be sure you visit the other authors in this month’s StoryTime Blog hop.
And this time, I’m also including a link to Rebecca Gallardo & Holly Lisle’s PODCAST, where some of these stories were originally published: Alone In A Room With Invisible People (Check out the Halloween Edition, if you want even more stories.)
Family Time by Bonnie Burns
The Exception by Vanessa Wells
Number 99 by Juneta Key
Edda’s Second Chance by Katharina Gerlach
Very Thin Line by Rebecca Anne Dillon
Henry Moves House by Nic Steven
For The Ghost The Bell Tolls by James Husum
Never Alone by Melanie Drake
The Neighbor by Meghan Collins
Storytime Blog Hop by Raven O’Fiernan
Lonely Lucy by Bill Bush
The Traveler by Barbara Lund
Evening by Karen Lynn <—you are here!
Man Of Your Dreams by Gina Fabio
The Undertaker’s Daughter by J. Q. Rose
The Road by Elizabeth McCleary
Storytime Blog Hop by C. T. Bridges
Storytime Blog Hop by Warp World Books