Snapshots from ChameleonA Story by Alexis Raine
Tempe meets a bright little swindler.
In a flash, she’s gone back into the kitchen and I can hear her and Sonny laughing. The cold morning sun pours in through the window and intensifies the bright colors on the walls. I feel a tug on my shorts.
“You are a friend of Malie?” the boy says Mal-lie instead of Molly.
“Uh, yep,” I look down at him. He’s got light, curly brown hair and his head only comes up to my hipbone. He stares up at me with slightly distrustful hazel eyes. I smile down at him and his mouth twitches at the corner.
“How old are you?”
“Eleven,” he says. He takes my hand and leads me to the table where he was coloring. I help give him a boost onto the chair, he’s that small. He props himself up on his knees and gives me a wide grin as I sit across from him. Two front teeth are absent.
“Are you really eleven?” I ask.
“I am six,” he responds. He has unusually clear speech for a six year old. “My name’s Calvin but you call me Vinnie and my parents went to work but they’re friends with Sonny and everyone here so I come here.” As he rattles off his speech, he begins scribbling at a piece of notebook paper, his handwriting curling delicately.
“What are you writing?”
“A story. About you.”
“Of course,” Vinnie doesn’t look up. He’s hunched over the paper, tapping his foot against the chair leg. I lean over to see, but he pushes my head away.
“I’ll read it to you,” he clears his throat and taps the paper on the table like a talk show host. “Once upon a time there was a girl who visited here with Malie. I don’t know her name.”
“Tempest,” I say. The name still feels raw and awkward on my tongue.
“Her name was Tempest. Her name is Tempest and she is in search of an extraordinary human being,” Vinnie looks up at me and smiles with his gap teeth. I grin back; his eyes are so sweet and innocent. He abruptly breaks eye contact and becomes serious, staring down his paper like a mortal enemy.
“Tempest is looking for an extraordinary person because that is what young people do. They grab backpacks and go to places they don’t know to find themselves, but they don’t really find themselves. They just see themselves in a different light, and then they come back home. Like once, my big sister did that, but she got really sick when she got back home. She’s better now though, which is good. Another good thing is that Tempest is going to give me, Calvin, a dollar in exchange for this wonderful story I wrote about her.”
“Am I now, even with that digression?”
“Of course, because you find me utterly amusing and I don’t know what digression is,” Vinnie crosses his arms and passes the paper to me. I shake my head and take a dollar out of my wallet and hold it just out of his reach.
“I want to know one thing, you talented little swindler.”
“Con-man, sly guy. You follow me?”
“Why’d you lie about your age?”
“Is that a digestion?” He mispronounces the word.
“Digression,” I say. “And I suppose so. But I still have a question.”
“What?” He’s starting to get a little whiny now.
“Why’d you lie about your age?”
“People just don’t take tiny young kids like me seriously.” Vinnie snatches the dollar out of my hand and tumbles out of his chair. The piece of paper flutters onto the floor as he zooms down the hall and out of sight. I pick it up. All it has writing in fine, fairy-like handwriting is: Everyone searches for extraordinary. Some people find its right in front of them.
I smile and fold the paper into my wallet. Best dollar I ever spent.
© 2010 Alexis Raine
AboutYou can call me Roo, or any variation upon my name. I live in a land of trees, where it is possible to drown by just looking at the sky. I enjoy writing, mostly prose, and some screenplays. I al.. more..
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