This is the fifth in my ongoing series of post-modern fairy tales. You can read the rest here.
She pedalled hard to keep up, but the others surged ahead almost immediately, as usual. She wouldn’t have minded, except…
“Why are you so slow?”
“Bet it’s cause you’re out of shape!”
Why did kids have to be so mean? They waited for her at the top of the hill, calling insults back, until she caught up. Unfortunately, she couldn’t hold back the tears that were now falling down her cheek.
“What’re you crying for? What are you, a crybaby?”
Why wouldn’t they just leave her alone? Even if that meant riding away and leaving her behind, it would be better than this. But they just kept riding along. Conversation turned to sports she didn’t follow, and TV shows she didn’t watch. And if it was a show she did enjoy, well, better to keep her opinions to herself. Whatever she liked about it, whatever she thought a character meant or said or did…. she was wrong. Or at least, she was wrong according to them.
Why couldn’t anybody else see things the way that she did? And why did that have to be a bad thing? All she wanted was to talk to people, to share ideas and thoughts and dreams and observations about the world. She loved the world – people, words, animals, plants – but that wasn’t cool. Or else, she loved it in the wrong ways – she never could quite figure out which.
In books, kids had friends who liked them. Friends who they could share with. Why were real kids such jerks? Their sense of humor made no sense. The rules seemed to change on a daily basis, along with the punchlines to the jokes – and she was always a day behind. Did they all get together and agree beforehand, or was she missing some psychic signal for the new world order?
Finally, it was time to go home. She said her goodbyes, and broke away from the pack, pedalling uphill and coasting down. She sang a little song, about wind and wheels and pedals, as she greeted the grandmotherly faces of the houses near her own.
She took her bicycle in through the downstairs door, and pulled it shut behind her.
* * *
Three faces peered out from behind the old maple tree.
The short gentleman wearing a toadstool for a hat asked, “Should we tell her?”
The taller, dour-faced man with pigeon wings instead of arms replied, “No, it’s not time.”
But the woman with a face like an apple and a bundle of knitting whispered, “Soon.”