The Elf King’s Thingy Part VI
The sun was shining on a late October morning. The sky was the kind of blue that spoke of a hot summers day or a cold winters night to come, as ever autumn was turning the world. Sycamore leafs lay everywhere, damp to the point of sodden from rain in the night and the air was crisp as the weak sun had yet to let its warmth be felt.
Anna clutch her coat closed with one hand, and held on to the strap of her school bag with the other, while she tried to dodge puddles in her school shoes.
As she turned the corner in to Linthorpe road the wind got up and blew a flurry of leafs into the air, one of which slapped stingingly into her face. There is nothing quite as unwelcome as a slap in the face by a cold and wet rain soaked leaf.
She hoped it was just wet from the rain at any rate.
Her morning was not going well and her bag was heavy. Grandma Grunswick had insisted she brought the box with her to school. She had decided to call it the box, because that was what it was, a box. A strange wooden box, covered in carvings she was not entirely sure she understood, which did not seem to want to open.
It was this that was annoying Anna the most.
What, when it came down to it, was the point of a box you could not open?
It wasn’t as if it was locked or anything as simple as that. She would have been perfectly happy if there had been a keyhole, even if she did not have the key. A locked box was fine. A locked box was reasonable. A locked box she could understand.
There was no lock on the box.
There did not even seem to be a lid. It could just a solid square of wood with strange carvings on it. Yet something rattled inside, and she knew, or perhaps just felt she knew, that what was inside was important and she wanted to know why. Also, Grandma Grunswick had told her she needed to open the box. Though much to Anna’s lack of surprise, grandma had been far from forth coming as to how this could be accomplished. This Anna found somewhat frustrating. It was part of an ever-growing list of things she found frustrating. The top of which was Grandma Grunswick…
“Anna, hold up,” came a familiar voice from behind her, and she turned sharply to see Heidi Keffle half running, half falling, down the street try to catch up. Anna watched her uncomprehendingly as her best friend and guide to the world of the ordinary somehow failed to fall head over heels despite appearing to be trying to achieve just that. Just how Heidi was managing to stay upright was a mystery to Anna as Heidi was wearing six inch platform shoes, shoes clearly designed for use on the catwalk and not for the uneven streets of Teesside. Also Heidi’s Justin Case backpack seemed to be hanging too low down her back, causing it to swing wildly like a pendulum with every lurching step Heidi took.
“What the heck are you wearing on your feet?” Anna asked, mildly bewildered but somehow far from surprised that her best friend and touch stone of all things ordinary was wearing such ridiculous footwear. As Heidi got closer she could see that the soles of the shoes were soft and springy so that with each step they sunk down onto the ground compressing the soles by a couple of inches before they sprung back up as your weight shifted to the other foot. Walking in them must have been like walking on a trampoline, Anna considered, or perhaps on jelly.
“They’re the next big things, Moon-shoes. Justin Case’s backing dancers wear them in his latest vid, you must have seen its ‘Stomp on my heart’…. There uber great…” Heidi added the last in a way that suggested she did not believe it herself. Though Anna knew from experience that there was no way Heidi would ever admit this was the case.
Heidi and Anna had been friends since the second year of primary school when Anna had saved Heidi from a bulling fourth year by fixing them with an angry stare. Anna had a truly powerful stare even as a six-year-old. The kind of stare which adults favour when looking on disapprovingly at a child, yet with the iron clad resolve few adults could master. She had been staring people down for a long time even then. No one was quite sure why it made them back down, least of all Anna. But few school yard bullies would risk that stare a second time, or at least that had been the case until high school. The rules were different in high school and the stakes were higher too. Yet still remarkably few tested that stare for long.
Theirs’s was not a one-way relationship, however, while Heidi got the protection of Anna Kirkpatrick’s stare, Anna got a window into the world of the ordinary. Heidi was Olympic level ordinary. She did not follow the trends as much as adopt them by osmosis. She was an average student, averagely popular, averagely smart and averagely dumb. Yet somehow, she was always right on the money with everything that was ‘the in thing’. Which pop star was cool, which new thing would take off, what new toy would be the toy to have, which brand was cool, which brands were now old hat. If you wanted to hide in the realm of the ordinary schoolgirl, Heidi Keffle was your perfect guide. As far as friends went Heidi was Anna’s only real one, but by extension through Heidi she was sort of friends with everyone who mattered in the school social echelons at any given point.
“How are you even walking in those things?” Anna asked, which seemed a reasonable question to her.
“You just sort of bounce along in them and try to avoid stopping…” Heidi explained, slightly out of breath, though she had slowed her pace to match Anna’s once she caught up. Anna looked at her closely and realises the girl was slightly green around the gills. She decided at that point this was one trend she was going to let slip past no matter how ordinary it was.
As they rounded the end of the street and headed into the school yard Anna noted that Heidi was not alone. At least a third of the girls in the yard were half walking, half bouncing around on spongey platforms. At least one girl was propping herself against the gym wall and had clearly progressed from green at the gills to yellow on the pavement. Several other girls were clustered around her, all wearing the same ridiculous footwear, and yet with the wisdom of the school yard they were busy mocking her despite how queasy they felt themselves.
Anna felt a blaze of anger, as she often did when she saw someone been bullied for no good reason. Not that, in her opinion, there was ever a good reason. She pushed it down anyway. Ordinary did not interfere, not when it was silly stuff like this at any rate.
She looked at her friends shoes again and then with a certain cynicism said, “I bet they are banned by the school before the end of the week.” Then she instantly regretted saying so.
“You think so? That would be awesome.” Heidi said brightly with the inescapable logic of a fourteen-year-old fashionista. Nothing was more likely to cement a trend than it being banned by the school. It pretty much guaranteed Moon-shoe’s would stay popular.
“Damn, your right it would be.” Anna replied somewhat dishonestly. She had a sinking feeling as she realised she would have to get some of the damn things herself when that happened…
Next week ( or possibly in a couple of days) the tale of ‘The Elf king’s Thingy’ will continue, with Part 7 In the Vaults of the Elf king, and the good eating of worm
You can find the full series here
Authors note: This part work comprises of a first draft, without the usual editing, proof reading etc, It is somewhat raw because of this. There may be glaring errors, terrible typos and crimes of a grammatical nature. Feel free to point them out if your self-esteem requires a boost, you would certainly be proving your intellectual superiority over the author in doing so…