The Fairy King -9- Darling Megan

Megan's first taste of salons, shopping, and being out in public as a girl! There wouldn't be any fairies in the mall, would there?

Part 9 - Darling Megan

by Wanda Cunningham

Chapter 18

Mall Bunny Blitz

Since I had done the cooking, I didn't have to do my usual Sunday morning chore of cleaning up, Daddy took that over. "But you have to promise to cook pancakes again next Sunday, punkin," he said.

"Okay," I giggled. He'd put on such a hopeful, pleading face and I remembered that Mom and Phoebe laughed at his mugging, all the time. Well, I had too, but not so much, perhaps. I wondered about that.

Mom led me upstairs. "We need to get ready to go shopping," she said.

"Huh?" I said. "Get ready to go shopping, aren't I ready?" I thought I looked pretty nice, actually.

"Well, your choice of what to wear is pretty good, your instincts are in the right place. But you should have a fresh shower and don't put on any scent. You don't want to get your scent on clothes that don't belong to you yet."

"Uh," I stopped on the fifth step from the top. "You mean, try on clothes in the store?"

She laughed. "Yes, that's exactly what I mean. And when's the last time you shaved your legs and pits, young lady?" She turned to grin back down at me. "C'mon, honey. You want to get back by three, right?"

"Okay," I said, following her on up. "But, Mom, I've never shaved my legs and--uh--pits? Are you sure I need to?"

"We'll see. But it's something every girl in America puts up with and it's part of getting ready to go shopping. Like a ritual." She grinned. "Besides, you want to look nice in your sundresses, don't you?"

"Dresses?" I squeaked.

"Um, hm. And if you're anything like your sister at your age, I'll have a hard time getting you out of skirts for a year or so."

"You're kidding."

"Go start your shower, I'll bring some stuff for you to use." She pushed me toward the bathroom and headed toward her bedroom.

"Mom!" I said a little desperately.

"What?" she asked, turning back.

"Uh, nothing." I felt my face turn red. "You're going to come right into the bathroom while I'm showering, aren't you?"

She grinned. "Yes. We're in the same club now, dear."

"Okay. I just didn't want to get surprised," I said. "I didn't expect to have to start shaving so soon?" I pretended to search my chin for stubble, then I giggled and Mom laughed.

"Oh, don't shampoo your hair before a trip to the salon, they'll do it for you. Better use a showercap, so your hair doesn't get wet," she added as I went into the bathroom. "There should be one of Phoebe's in there."

There was, a clear yellow plastic cap decorated with flowers. I started the water, got undressed quickly, then slipped the cap on and tucked my hair up in it. Phoebe hadn't left any of her shaving things behind, I noticed, so I just climbed in the shower and started soaping up.

I lingered a little bit on my new breasts, they seemed extremely conical today, like little soft dunce caps on my chest. I wondered if they had grown again or if I were just imagining that. They were very sensitive too, an achy sort of itchy feeling.

Mom did come right into the bathroom and slid the shower curtain back a little. "Here's one of my razors with a fresh blade," she said. "You should always use a fresh blade if you can. Guys shave every day and reuse their blades but you likely won't have to shave again for at least a week or two and once blades are wet, they don't stay sharp that long."

I took the implement gingerly, it had a bright pink handle and a doubled blade with a pale blue plastic strip on each edge of the head.

"Don't start yet," Mom said. "You soaped and scrubbed already?"

"Uh huh," I said.

"Okay, use the button on the shower head to stop the water." I did that and she handed me a can, well, a plastic can-like container. "This is shaving gel," she said. "It's what I use 'cause I usually need extra-moisturizing. You should probably get your own can and get the extra-sensitive skin kind but I don't have any of that."

"How many kinds are there?" I asked, once again feeling as if I were getting too much information at one time.

She laughed. "In this brand, about six, I think. Don't worry about it, they're all pretty much the same and if you don't have any, you can just use soap or baby oil. Just put a little on your fingers and smooth it over where you're going to shave."

"Where? Where do I start?"

Mom looked blank. "Well, I always start with my pits, I guess. I'm not sure why. Oh, I guess it's because, sometimes I don't do my legs? But that's 'cause I'm blonde and can get away with it longer."

I looked in my armpit. "I don't really have much hair anywhere, Mom. And it's fairly light-colored?"

"Lucky you," she said, grinning. "That will likely change. But you should shave your pits anyway, it will help you stay nice smelling longer, it looks better in sleeveless stuff, and you don't want anyone to think you're French or a dyke." She laughed. "Forget that last part."

With Mom giving directions and commentary, I shaved my pits and began on my legs. "How high up do I go?" I asked seriously, spreading the shaving gel on my legs. It occurred to me that I had more hair up higher and I wondered if I were supposed to shave it too.

Mom got the giggles but finally managed to say, "Just mid-thigh, honey. That's high enough this time."

I waited till I got over sympathy giggles, then shaved my legs in long smooth strokes, upward from my ankles. I didn't have that much hair on them, anyway.

The oddest thing might have been that neither of us paid the slightest attention to the remnant of my boyhood, other than the giggles about how high to shave. I felt both pleased and a little alarmed when I rinsed off in cool water at how small it seemed to have gotten but Mom didn't say anything at all about that.

"Pat yourself dry when you get out, Megan," she said. "And use the unscented deodorant I left you on your pits. You can put some of this lotion on your legs, too." She sighed. "I can't believe you didn't nick yourself once."

"Was I supposed to?" I asked, as if I thought it might be required. I stepped out of the shower with Mom right there and began patting myself dry as directed.

"It's traditional the first time," she said, laughing. "Now, hurry and get dressed, we need to go so we can get back."

"Okay," I said as she dashed out. "And thanks, Mom. You're a good teacher."

Later, after Mom had changed clothes, I had gotten dressed again, and we were in the car on our way to the mall, Mom commented, "Didn't take long for your father to decide to charm you the same way he does all females."

I giggled. "Is that what he's doing? He's acting silly."

"Uh huh, I have it on the authority of your Aunt Margaret that he was known as Bozo Barnett in high school." We both giggled.

My dad, the class clown? I shook my head. "Where exactly are we going?"

"I thought we'd just go to one of the big malls and save time. Rancho Galleria, all right with you?"

"Fine, I guess? What do I know?"

Mom just smiled and navigated the twists and turns of the highway. I tried not to feel nervous, this would be my first time in front of a crowd as a girl. I pulled down the vanity mirror and took another look at myself. It didn't tell me anything I didn't already know and I felt just as confused and nervous as before.

"Relax," Mom said. "You look fine. Those pull-on jeans and top are exactly right for going shopping, easy to get in and out of and you won't worry about wrinkling them. Have you got socks on?"

"Uh, yeah?"

She nodded. "We'll get you a pair of flats first, so you don't have to keep lacing up your sneaks."

I quivered. "Can we go to the salon first?" I asked.

She nodded, "Sure. Will that make you feel more secure? That no one is going to think you're a boy who's got odd taste in flowers?"

I winced but nodded. "Something like that," I admitted.

We pulled into the parking lot at Rancho Galleria pretty quickly, Mom parked near the wide main entrance. "I don't know any of the hair stylists in any salons around here, so we'll just go to one of the chains this time. Normally, you want to find a stylist who suits you and stick with her. Or him."

I giggled nervously and followed her in.

"Oh, not all male hair stylists are gay and even the gay ones will flirt with you sometimes," she warned as we walked up to the desk in the first salon we found. "Just laugh and pretend they are kidding."

"Good grief," I whispered.

Mom grinned. "Megan here wants a nice, easy style for starting high school," Mom told the lady at the desk.

"Arturo can take you now," the woman, said, directing me toward a small dark man standing behind a salon chair.

I tried to remember what Mom had told me. "Just cut my bangs and trim it so it's easy to take care of?" I said when he asked.

He smiled and chatted with me as he began his work, getting the feel of my hair and showing me a few styles in a book. As Ethan, I'd had my hair cut in a salon like this before and it really wasn't that much different for Megan. If he flirted with me, I didn't really notice but right away he suggested frosting my hair. "It is dark red all over, it looks as if you stayed out of the sun for the whole summer," he explained. "And it's very popular with girls your age right now."

"How long will it take?" I asked.

"Not long," he said, "ten or fifteen minutes extra, we do it first then cut the hair."

I motioned Mom to come over and we discussed it, "Some bright red strands and a few more blonde ones," Arturo explained. Talking about it made me feel lightheaded but Mom agreed with Arturo that it would look nice.

"Up to you, dear," she said.

I wanted to squirm but I stayed still with an effort and just nodded to Arturo. Mom walked back to the front but I could see her watching me while Arturo wrapped a few strands of my hair in plastic. Then I looked at more pictures of hairstyles while the chemicals did their work. I picked one that looked like the same sort of casual style Phoebe favored and vaguely wondered how long it would take for my hair to get as long as Dolly's.

Arturo returned and I showed him the style I had chosen. He shampooed the hair color out and rinsed my hair; that part felt very nice, something I remembered liking from a previous trip for a salon cut.

"Do you have a boyfriend, Megan?" Arturo asked, teasingly, as he measured and cut bangs across my forehead.

"Well, he thinks so," I said.

Arturo laughed. "But you don't say so?"

I blushed. "Well, I'm not fourteen yet, Mom and Dad say I'm too young to date."

"Very wise," he agreed. "My oldest daughter is nine, I don't have to worry about that yet." Between snips, he showed me pictures of his family, three cute children with a pretty dark-haired woman holding the youngest.

"Someday," he said, "you will have children to worry about then, you will remember how your parents cared for you and you will be a wise mother, too."

"That would be nice," I managed to say, stumbling mentally with the concept of being somebody's mother. Could that really happen?

"I would wish that for you, for every young girl," he said.

Startled, I waited for the sound of bells and the wave of dizziness that went with granting a wish. Nothing happened. I wondered if the way Arturo had phrased it had negated the wish or if it didn't count for some other reason. He continued with scissors and comb, then blowdryer and brush while I worried with the problem. He had said he "would wish" not that he did wish, but Molly's wish hadn't been precisely phrased either and this had definitely all started with hers. Maybe because he had included "every young girl" and not just me?

Why weren't there manuals on wishing available?

A young woman approached me and asked if I would like a manicure or pedicure but I shook my head, too distracted at the moment ot even consider it. "Your nails already look nice," commented Arturo, "you take care of them yourself?"

That jolted me and I took a look at my hands, spreading my fingers to look at all then of them. The nails were short but neatly trimmed. Had I done that? When? "A soft coral pink would look very pretty on them," said Arturo.

"Um," I said.

When Arturo finished with my hair, I stared at my reflection for only a moment before breaking out in a grin. My red brown hair now fell in multi-colored bangs across my forehead with blonde curls near my ears and blonde and red streaks down to my collar where it all curled under in fluffy perfection.

"I love it!" I think I squealed. No way could Tintabelle think I would make a good consort now, I definitely looked too girly to marry her.

Mom and Arturo laughed at my reaction, Mom paid the bill and we got out of there. Outside, in the mall promenade, Mom kept looking at me and smiling. "I never would have expected you to take to this so quickly?"

I sighed, wondering a bit about that myself. It had to be the magic, but I felt lighter and freer now that my hair as well as my clothes matched my obvious gender. "Well, I'm having fun so far," I said. "It's like Halloween came early this year?"

She smiled but I could tell it was one of her worried smiles. "This isn't some game you're playing, Ethan? Eden?" she asked.

"No, Mom," I said. "I'm serious about giving this a real try. Am I freaking you out?"

"Only a little," she said. "What would you like to do next?"

I tried to think about that but I remembered the wish Arturo had made that hadn't caused bells or fainting spells. That problem paralyzed my thinking for long enough that Mom suggested that we go look at clothes. "You need your own undies, for sure."

Okay, talking about underwear in the middle of the mall with my Mom got my attention. "Nordstrom's?" I suggested.

"Thank god, they don't have one here," she said. "Sears will have to do."

I laughed and we headed for Sears.

I was amazed at the variety that girl's underwear came in. Each brand had five or more styles, three or more fabrics and more colors than I could count and there were more than a dozen brands. "Mom," I said. "Help me do the simple thing here, I'm lost."

She laughed and lead me to a display of packaged undies, rather than the bins of loose lace and satin. "Everyday undies, if you're going to be active, should be cotton. That cuts down the choices, hmm."

I nodded. "But all these styles, uh, briefs?"

"Those are very full-cut panties, that cover you down your thigh a bit and up to your waist. Boy-cut style is the same but doesn't reach your waist. Hi-cuts are cut high on your thigh but reach your waist, bikini cut are high on your thigh and also don't reach your waist. Thongs, you are not going to wear thongs." She grinned. "Standard briefs, or maybe a lo-rise boy-cut style, are going to be the best choice for you."

She didn't say why but I figured that out after a moment and nodded again. "Briefs, then," I said. "What brand is best?"

"There's not a lot to choose between brands," she said. "They're all pretty good."

I passed by the brands I had gotten used to seeing on my old underwear and picked a package of Playtex white cotton briefs, making sure to check the size. "How many do I need?" I asked.

Mom laughed. "You never worried about your underwear before, did you? Eight or ten of the cotton ones, in mixed colors, maybe a package of the boy-cut ones for wearing with some of the things you might wear. Then we can pick some pretty ones for wearing to parties and things."

"Huh?" But suddenly, it did make sense. Of course, if you wanted to dress pretty you would want even your undies to be pretty. I blushed several times while we finished picking out panties but I really did enjoy myself. It seemed hard for both of us to believe that and Mom gave me several odd looks when I giggled.

Mom helped me pick out panty hose and some tights, too. then we went over to the bras. "We'll pick the A/B padded ones, dear," she said. "You'll be filling them out soon enough if things are going the way we think they are going."

"Um," I said. I already had on a bra, but buying one daunted me a bit, at first. I felt oddly excited but fearful of making some gaffe that would cause someone to suspect that at one time I had been a boy. Then I blinked to realize that more and more I thought of myself as a girl, a girl named Margaret, called Megan and sometimes Eden. I giggled a bit to discover that I felt happy about this situation.

The magic's power over me could be frightening at times, I reflected, though just then I didn't feel scared at all. But thinking of the magic caused me to think about Arturo's wish, or apparently, Arturo's non-wish. Why hadn't the magic worked for Arturo? I managed to shake off the distraction, and mentally rejoined Mom in picking out bras.

"Three for everyday and one for special occasions," she decided. "That will be enough to buy this trip, all right?"

"Sure," I agreed. Bras came in an even more bewildering array than did panties but with Mom's help, I had soon picked out three simple ones, one beige, two white; plus a delicately lacy one in my new favorite color, pink. I blushed fiercely to think of wearing it and I would have died rather than tell Mom what wicked thought went through my head when I first saw it.

We left there with everything in two bags. "Let's take this to the car and come back," she suggested.

"We're going to get more things?"

She nodded. "Some jeans, a pair of dressy slacks, we can get those at Sears or something. But do you want to try buying a dress?"

I took a deep breath; I tingled all over. "I think I do," I said. "I mean, shouldn't every girl have at least one party dress?"

Mom smiled and I giggled and we took the first load out to the car.

Chapter 19

Party Dress

The mall teemed with dress shops, Mom explained the differences among them to me as we strolled along. "This chain sells mainly casual and business clothes to young women, that one over there is for big girls." She grinned at me. "And maybe a few men who like that sort of thing."

I blushed and giggled and shook my head at her teasing.

We stopped in front of almost every shop window and discussed the clothes on display. "This is a fashion shop, expensive clothes for young women going to parties and such. These styles are a bit over the top for someone your age, but girls in high school do wear stuff like this, I suppose." Slim dresses, pants that fit tightly, low on the hips with tops that left belly buttons showing. I tried to picture myself wearing some of the high fashion items and decided I would feel entirely too naked. I glanced at Mom and saw her frown and grinned, figuring that she had had the same thought.

"You're at an awkward age, really," she commented.

"Tell me about it?"

She laughed. "I mean, you're not a little girl and you're not a young woman yet. You don't want to look like a little girl in grown-up clothes, and just as much, you don't want to appear like an overgrown teeny bopper."

I groaned. "How about we keep it simple? Uh, something classic?"

"Classic? Well, it's just a neighborhood barbecue, something like a sundress maybe?" My expression must have expressed my confusion because Mom laughed again. "I'll show you," she said.

We found a shop called "Fashion Hit for the Fashion Miss", which Mom said would have clothes appropriate for my age if we were careful. I felt almost as nervous as I had about buying the bras but pretty soon, Mom and I had picked out three light and airy print dresses for me to try on. My face probably looked like a stop light as I went into the dressing room.

It being the end of summer, the choices in sundresses, meaning no sleeves at all, were limited but we found two. I liked the third dress best, though; Mom called it a shirt dress. It had a green and fuschia background with big yellow flowers on it, short sleeves, a self-waist (meaning a sort of fake, sewn-in belt), shiny buttons up the front and a collar with long pointy lapels. I stripped out of my jeans and top quickly and pulled it on over my head before I realized I probably should have unbuttoned it and stepped into it.

The hem of the skirt reached almost to my knees; a good length, I thought--not too short, not too long. I grumbled a bit as I tried to fix my hair in front of the mirror, but I liked everything else about the way I looked in the dress; older than fourteen and definitely a girl without being all sissy-darling-baby-doll about it. And my hair co-operated marvelously, Arturo had worked wonders and even I could restore his masterful work with just a few flips of my borrowed hairbrush.

I almost danced out of the dressing room to show Mom and she agreed, "That is just about perfect, Megan. And you could wear that one to school." I giggled, partly with fear of doing something so strange as attending school wearing a dress. "Try the others on?" she had to suggest.

I popped back into the dressing room and carefully removed the first dress, unbuttoning it, stepping out and then buttoning again after putting it back on the hangar. Of the other two, I liked the yellow dress with the blue daisies better and I tried that one on next. My shoulders looked bony but delicate and almost as pale as milk. I knew I'd have to get some sun to look good in this sundress and with summer almost over, that might be difficult living in the mountains as we did now.

I decided that that objection applied equally to the other sundress but I stepped out to show Mom how I looked and get her opinion.

She beamed at me. "Oh, Megan, you look so sweet!" she said, then her voice broke and she started to cry.

"Mom! Mom, what's wrong?" I said, putting an arm around her.

She hugged me and whispered in my ear, "Oh, honey, I wish we could have done this years ago."

I knew her wish wouldn't come true, or hadn't, or something, and anyway, she'd already had her real wish, earlier. One to a customer and I didn't hear any fairy bells. I rather wished we could have been mother and daughter together when I was younger, too and I wondered what it would have been like to have been Phoebe's younger sister. Would we have been better friends?

We patted each other and hugged again and told each other not to cry. "It's just a dress," Mom said and then we got the giggles.

We decided to take the one sundress, even if summer were over and Mom helped me choose another simple classic, a short-sleeved, off-black dress with a little flouncy skirt that ended two inches above my knee. "Are you sure about this one?" I asked, modeling it after changing for about the eighth time.

"Oh, yes," Mom said. "You could wear that to church, or if we went out to a fancy dinner or to the right kind of party."

"I believe you," I said. "I just feel a bit odd about it?"

"Now we have to get you some more hose," she said. "And shoes."

I grinned. "This is getting to be a bit expensive, I guess I don't really need to go to college, huh?"

She checked to see if I were kidding then laughed. "I'm glad I don't have to worry about that for four more years. But we'd best get going if you're going to see your friends."

"Uh huh," I said checking the time. "Shoot, uh, if we stop to look at shoes, I'm not going to have any time left at all?"

"Well, you can wear what slacks and jeans you've got, I suppose? But shoes you really do need."

I nodded. "Okay, uh, we'll just take the dresses along instead of making another trip to the car. And I can get more hose at the shoe store?"

"Sounds like a plan," she agreed, making ready to pay with her plastic. She noticed me hesitating again, "What is it?"

"S-since I'm not going to be trying on more clothes, uh, can I wear the green and yellow dress home?" I almost couldn't believe I had asked that and neither could she for a moment. Then she smiled and nodded.

I gave her a happy kiss on the cheek and jumped back into the dressing room to put on my favorite dress, giggling madly just at the idea that I had a favorite dress.

Mom steered us to a shoe store quickly, despite my frequent pauses to look at my reflection in store windows. "What was I thinking when I wished you were more like Phoebe!" she laughed. "You're just as vain as your sister."

"I'm not, am I?" I protested. Mom only smiled, like she didn't really mind but I decided to try to cool it before she made more comparisons with Phoebe.

In the store, we browsed among the styles while Mom explained a few things to me. "School shoes should be sturdy but look good enough you won't feel embarrassed. Trainers or sneakers will probably do well enough if they are nice. No one is going to be wearing heels on that campus, too much dirt and uneven ground."

"Heels?" I squeaked.

She grinned. "We'll get you a pair of 'training heels', two inches or so, you're old enough."

I wasn't too sure about that, but I thought Mom was right about the school in Pineview. Back in Westwood, girls had worn heels to junior high, though not real tall ones. Training heels, in Mom's phrasing, probably.

After I had decided which styles I wanted to try on, we took seats and waited for the clerks to help us. A young man, he didn't look much older than Phillip, approached us and said, "Hello, ladies, I'm Don. How can I help you?"

"Megan wants a couple of pairs of school shoes, some party heels and a nice pair of sneakers," Mom said, indicating me. I giggled like an idiot, realizing that Don was quite good-looking in his neat suit and tie. It certainly made him stand out; no one wears a tie in Southern California unless they're selling shoes, snake oil or cemetery plots. That's a saying of my grandfather, Hy Barnett; I didn't make it up. But it did make me giggle even more to think of it while Don was smiling at me.

Okay, it's embarrassing to have someone hold your feet in a public place. Ten times as much when you've just been changed from a boy to a girl by fairy magic and double it for being in a skirt, and double it again for being in a skirt in public for the first time in your life.

While Don was gone to fetch my sizes, Mom teased me. "You wanted to wear a skirt to buy shoes on purpose, didn't you?"

"No! I didn't think about it!" I said.

Mom laughed. "I should have said something. But Don is a gentleman, he isn't leaving eyetracks above your knees."

"Mom!" My face must have been as red as my hair. I think even my knees were blushing.

Don returned with several boxes and I began trying them on, with his help. He even took my white socks off and slipped little silky footies on my feet for me to try on the heels and flats I had picked out. I giggled a bit at that, it tickled besides being embarrassing.

Don and Mom seem to find this amusing also. Even with the embarrassment, I don't think I've ever had such a good time trying on shoes. When we left, I had picked out a pair of black flats, some dark emerald pumps with two-and-one-quarter inch heels, white cross-trainers with orangey-pink laces and a pair of off white, low heel, ankle boots with blue trim. It sure seemed like a lot of shoes and it cost a lot too.

Walking in the heels had been odd, but not nearly as hard as they make it look in movies when someone wears heels for the first time. I resolved to practice in my room before wearing them anywhere for long. They did look nice with the dress I was wearing, though. The boots and trainers were for wearing with jeans and such and Mom insisted that the black flats would go with almost anything so I wore them out of the store along with a pair of pale yellow, lacy ankle socks.

Don waved at us as we left and I smiled at him. He waggled his eyebrows and said, "Come back soon, Megan." I giggled and just waved back.

Mom snorted. "When did you learn to flirt like that?" she asked.

I didn't know if she was serious or not. "Was I really flirting?"

"You weren't doing too badly for a beginner," she said. "Good thing I let it slip that you're only thirteen."

"I'll be fourteen in a month," I said wonderingly.

"Don't be in such a hurry," she said.

We were back in the mall, loaded down with dresses in bags and shoes in boxes when I saw something in a shop window. I stopped to stare.

"Megan," Mom called to me after continuing a few steps.

"I want to look in here," I told here and went on into the shop.

"You just bought shoes and they certainly aren't broken yet," she protested.

It was a shoe repair shop, very much narrower than most of the other shops and stores in the mall. Inside, a single counter closed off the back of the shop from the front. A middle-aged man with black hair and a thick moustache sat or stood behind the counter. Racks of shoe-related merchandise filled the front part of the little space but I didn't look at any of them.

"Can I help you, miss?" the man behind the counter asked. He had an odd lilting accent of some sort.

I didn't answer, I didn't even really look at him. My eyes were fixed on what I had seen from outside the shop. Back between the aisles of supplies and shoes waiting to be claimed or fixed, something like an old cobbler's shop from a movie had caught my eye. There were lasts and hammers and scraps of leather and bins of oddly-shaped nails. The shop wasn't that deep and all of it seemed clearly in my view.

Including the little man putting hobnails in a boot nearly as big as himself.

Mom stepped into the shop and called me again. "Megan? Weren't you in a hurry to get home?"

"In a minute, Mom," I stalled. "Who's that in the back of your shop, sir?" I asked the man at the counter.

He shook his head, "There's no one back there, Miss. Other than your fair self and your lovely mother, I'm the only other human being in here." His eyes added something to the comment somehow.

I glanced back at the cobbler's bench in plain sight and the fairy cobbler or whatever it was I thought I had seen was gone. Where the little man and the large boot had been sat an enormous calico cat.

"There's my cat," said the shop owner. "Come here, Clementine, and say hello to the pretty ladies."

The cat flicked an ear and turned to look at me. "Hello," she said in a Mae West drawl. "I would get up and come over to be petted, but I'm perfectly comfortable here."

Mom laughed, "What a gorgeous creature," she said. "Is that what you saw in the window, Megan? She's beautiful."

"I guess so?" I murmured.

"Oh, you meant the cat," said the shoe repairman with a wink at Mom. "Yes, she's pretty and she knows it, the conceited thing. I named her after the song, because shoes are mentioned in it." He grinned. "She's not a miner's daughter but she does have big feet."

"Tell him he's a windbag and a liar," said the cat. "He never listens to me, the stupid man. But you, girl, you're the one who's going to marry the Fairy King, aren't you?"

"W-what?" I stammered.

"I'm sorry," Mom said, tugging on my arm. "We really do have to go Megan, you're the one with a meeting to get to."

"Yes," said the cat. "You wouldn't want to keep him waiting."

"Nice seeing you ladies," said the man. "Come back soon."

I let Mom tow me out of the shop, a bit numb with wondering just who the Fairy King might be -- and when and where he might be waiting for me?

Next: [Vows and Promises]

More [The Fairy King]

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