“Bunny,” she said, siting across from the girl. “I’d like to try something.”
“What,” asked Bunny, chewing on William’s ear.
“It’s like a game. You close your eyes and listen to what I say. Then I ask you some questions and you might be able to remember what happened to you before you lived in the alley. We don’t have to do it, if you would rather not. But, if you want to know if you’re a real princess, this is one possible way to find out.”
“I don’t care if I’m a princess. I like it here with you, Joey and my friends. I don’t care what happened before.”
“Okay, if that’s how you feel, we won’t play that game. I’ll get you some chocolate cake and lemonade, instead.”
Bunny smiled and did a little dance, holding William out in front of her.
“She said no, didn’t she,” asked Joey, a little while later.
“Yes. Bunny doesn’t care about her past, or she doesn’t want to remember it, either way, the subject is closed. At least for now.”
Joey stared at her. “You said you would help me find out what kind of magic I can do. I’m ready to learn.”
“Wonderful. Let’s start this very moment,” she said happily. “We will begin by talking about what you already know you can do. So, what have you noticed in the past, that others can’t do, but you can?”
He looked down and concentrated. “I don’t know what other people can do,” he finally said.
“Of course your don’t. How silly of me,” she laughed. “Just tell me what you can do.”
The dog walked up to Joey and put his head on his lap. Joey started petting him and started to relax. “Well, sometimes I know what’s going to happen before it happens, and sometimes I think I know what other people are thinking, and sometimes, I can touch something and I know where it’s been.”
“Wait,” she said. “Have you ever touched William?”
“Yes, a couple of times.”
“But you felt nothing?”
“He was just a stuffed toy and I wasn’t thinking about touching him. I just held him, or part of him, while I was talking with Bunny.”
“Do you think you could learn something by holding him for a reason?”
“I don’t know. I can try.”
“Good enough, so continue.”
“I know how people feel. Whether they’re afraid, happy or sad.”
“Can you do any of the things I do?”
He started laughing. “No.”
“I think you can do other things, things you don’t know about. If you agree, we can start lessons tomorrow. After dinner, for one hour. How does that sound?”
Joey stood up, waking the dog, and threw himself into her arms. “You’re the best mother, ever,” he said. Then he turned and ran up the stairs.
“Well,” she said to the dog, while she straightened her blouse, “That seemed to go well, don’t you think?
Two ladies came into the store, they looked exactly alike. They walked to the counter and smiled.
“Hello,” they said.
The one who wore her hat pushed forward turned to the other and said, “Dearest, please, let me speak. It’s so difficult for others to understand us when we both say the same thing at the same time. You can talk to the next person, okay?”
The second woman nodded and smiled.
“We are identical twins, but you probably already know that. We looked more alike when we were younger but still, here we are.”
“How can I help you?” she asked, positively charmed by the sisters.
“Dearest,” she said to the silent sister, holding out her hand.
The silent one placed a package on the counter.
“We have written a book,” she said. “There aren’t enough books about twins on the market, so we took the liberty of writing one ourselves. Now, before you jump to any conclusions, this is no ordinary story. You see my sister and I,” she paused to look at her sister, “were spies for the CIA. We were undercover, of course, but the people we dealt with couldn’t tell us apart, and because of that, we were able to do certain things that one person could not and, if I may say…”
“Tell her Love,” said the silent sister.
“We did wet work, but no one could ever catch us, because we always had an alibi.”
“You mean you were hitwomen for the government?”
“Indeed we were.”
“How absolutely wonderful!” she said. “Ladies. If you will permit me to read your book, and it goes well, I will publish it for you and sell it in my shop. All of the proceeds will go directly to you.”
“We would like twenty-percent to go the the cat and dog shelter on Washington.”
“They take lizards too,” said the silent sister.
“Easily done,” she said. “I can’t wait to begin reading. What an amazing life you must have had.”
“You should have see our clothes,” said the woman, dreamily. “We were beautiful, once. Tall, slender, tight red dresses. Oh, my dear. Men fell all over themselves to be with us.”
“They did,” sighed the silent sister. “Some women too.”
It was so easy to dispose of them.”
“Indeed,” said the silent sister, longingly. “We had such fun, parties every night, dancing, drinking, choosing lovers, getting new assignments, traveling the world.”
“A dream job, most definitely,” said the woman. “All the weapons, especially the knives. Such craftsmanship.”
“Don’t forget the poisons, Love,” snickered the silent sister.
“You’re right, Dearest. The poisons were wonderful and they never suspected us,” said the woman. Why would they? We were never seen together. When the bodies were found, one of us had always been in plain sight.”
They both laughed. “No one can be in two places at once,” said the silent sister.
“So, here is our card,” said the woman. Please call us when you have finished reading.
“We still take the odd job, you know. We freelance,” whispered the silent sister. “It’s difficult to give up work you love. But it’s not the same. We’re still remembered, of course, at least in certain circles, but we’re no longer young, fast, or beautiful. That’s what life takes from all of us, you know. They say older women are still beautiful, but that’s just talk. Nothing is the same, is it Love?”
She unwrapped the packaged and looked at the thick manuscript. “Jane and Janet?”
“I’m Jane,” said the woman.
“I’m Janet,” said the silent sister, but you knew that already, didn’t you, seeing as how there are only two of us and she identified herself first.”
They all chuckled.
“Well, we’ll be gong then,” said the sisters.
“One more thing,” said the silent sister. “You have a pretty big fairy problem. We saw them in the tree out in front, and on the rooftops. We can help you with that, if you like.”
“How very generous. I’ll keep that in mind. Thank you.”
The two sisters nodded and left the store, chatting at the same time.
The cat jumped onto the counter and stared at the door. “I like those two,” he said. “They’re cool. I bet they keep cats.”
The crow flew in through the upstairs window, glided down the stairs, and landed on the back of the chair. “Fairies everywhere,” he cawed. “Thick as thieves.”