By Erin Frances Fisher
Fenton daydreamed. Her feet dangled over the bathroom counter, kicked breakfast air: coffee, toast, syrup, and eggs steamed from downstairs. She thought:
A house on a field of thistle—a girl lived there. A wooden bridge crossed over the field to her school and back. Somewhere, in the thistle, lived a thick-skinned troll. She was certain.
White soap blotched the sink. Scratched off under Fenton’s nail.
In hope of not being eaten, and though she never saw it, the girl told the troll stories. Every day. Nights, the stars above her house sparkled.
“Fenton,” I said.
Fenton was six years old and telling herself stories. Her stars always sparkled. Static hair and freckles defined her, and somehow her skin tanned regularly despite her fear of tennis, soccer, street hockey and anything else to do with balls or sticks. Fenton’s toothbrush sat beside her, its handle gunked with paste. Downstairs, the microwave beeped.
“You’ll be late, Fenton,” I said.
Fenton stretched her feet and splayed her toes. She sighed. I reached for the toothbrush.
Forty minutes later Fenton, bored in the back of her mother’s car, pulled a face at her sister. Hannah sat in the front talking to a boy on her cell and didn’t notice. A pimple reddened the back of Hannah’s neck just under her loose ponytail.
Fenton hugged her backpack:
Once a girl grew a bump on her neck that exploded and sprayed out a bazillion spider babies.
“Gross, Fenton.” I said. “And you wouldn’t touch the toothbrush?” She leaned her forehead against the car window, white on glass. Power poles ran by. Skinny, stealthy. Only Fenton noticed.