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Prill Saves the World
Early summer, warm, but not too warm, green leaves on trees. Birds sing happily, telling all about their lives. I begin to speculate about what they might be saying as I lay on the ground in the clearing, listening to Duke play his little flute. He pauses for a moment at the end of a song.
“ Encore, encore, bravo!” I sit up and throw my arms out. “ Something a little more dancey if you don't mind Mister Minstrel!”
“ Sure Prilly,” Duke laughs at my theatrics.
I dance around like I'm doing some sort of strange war dance. At that thought, I start to think about the stories Uncle Frank tells Duke and I about his best friend Rat Willis and her brother, Jacob. I think Duke and I could save the world too if we wanted to. In fact....
“ Hey!” I spin around and look at him. Duke jumps a little and almost drops his flute.
“ What?” he's mildly annoyed.
“ You wanna save the world?” I grin at him.
“ Prill, you're an eleven year old girl and I'm a thirteen year old boy. I don't think we'll be saving the world any time soon,” he throws water on my imaginings with logic. Why is everyone always doing that?
“ Just kill my dreams,” I whine, “ Come on, get the swords and we'll pretend! Just like Uncle Frank's stories!”
“ Dad's stories are highly embellished,” Duke rolls his eyes at me as he picks up his “sword” aka stick, and tosses me one too. These are basically nice, long limbs that we stripped the branches off of with Uncle Frank's good knife. If you tell him that, be warned: I will find you.
“ But they happened!” I point out, “ Rat and Jacob were just a year older than you are, and Rat was a girl!” Well, technically she still is a girl...
“ I'm not implying girls can't save the world, just that we're too young!” Duke defends.
“ But we will some day!” I puff up righteously, “ Now come on, you're the evil wizard and I'm the knight trying to take back the castle.” Castle translated from Prill language means really big rock in the corner of the clearing that we're always being told not to play on but do anyway.
“ Why do I have to be the wizard again?” Duke whines. I strike a theatrical pose.
“ Because I am a better actor,” I smile. And Duke whines too much. Whining is my job.
“ Fine,” Duke grumbles and scrambles up on the rock that symbolizes the battlements of the castle. “ Muhahahahahahahaha! I am the evil wizard.... Bunny of Rabbit and I have taken over your castle! Whatcha gonna do about it short stuff?” For the record, I'm just as tall as him, even though I'm younger.
“ Bunny of Rabbit,” I stare at him.
“ You wanted to play this game,” he points out. “ And can we hurry up? This rock is kind of high.” Scaredy puss.
“ You've stood on that rock plenty of times, Bunny, you're not gonna fall off,” I make a face at him. “ I am the Champion of Rodentia, and I have come to strike you dead! Come down, cowardly wizard and fight like a man!” Or a rabbit. Whatever works.
“ No way! I'm much safer up here! Zap, zap, zap! Ha! What're you going to do without your army, Champion!” Bunny of Rabbit dances around on the rock and almost loses his balance pretending to zap my army dead. Like I need an army.
“ You did not know this, Spawn of Evil Rabbits, but I am also a mage of the highest order! Zip, zip, BOOM! What are you going to do without your battlements?” Besides die.
“ I thought you were trying to take back the castle, not destroy it,” Duke points out.
“ Wizard, I killed your battlements. Come down,” I remind him. Eventually I'm going to teach him not to contradict me.
“ You're pushy,” Duke complains (Who, me? Never!) before he takes a running jump off of the giant rock. I know something is wrong when he hits the ground. He lands with his ankle twisted funny, and yells at the top of his lungs. He's choking on sobs as I run over.
“ Oh my gosh, are you okay? Duke!” I'm trying to stay calm.
“ I- I th- think I b-broke it,” he sobs, “ M-my ankle.”
“ Don't move,” I tell him firmly, “ If you move it'll be harder to splint. I'm going to go get Uncle Frank.”
“ Come back fast,” Duke whimpers.
“ Don't worry Bunny,” I smile encouragingly, “ I will.”
I run full tilt back to Duke's mansion. Tree branches and briars leave little cuts on my arms that I barely notice. My only thought is Duke and his safety. Well, okay, he's pretty safe, but he'll never forgive me if I leave him there too long. I trip over a large log and tumble head over heels a few feet, then scramble to my feet and keep running.
I see the house a few hundred yards away and get a second wind. I skid to a stop in the yard between the out buildings and the mansion itself. Junior, Duke's eleven year old brother, and Liam, the nine year old brother, are making mud pies from a puddle. I shudder to think of all the manure that has decomposed there.
“ Junior!” I bark.
“ Want a pie, Prilly?” Liam asks, holding out a hand full of mud. Like I want that.
“ Not now, where's Uncle Frank, Junior?” I say, trying to convey my urgency with my tone. But I think my efforts are lost on these two. Liam's too young and Junior has the attention span of most rats.
“ I think he left,” Junior tells me, “ he went to market for potatoes or something. Mommy's here though.” See? My attempts are useless.
“ Where?” I ask quickly. Why couldn't you have told me this in the first place?
“ In the nursery with Sammy and Carter,” Liam says, “ Would you take Mommy a pie?”
“ No, Liam, I gotta go,” I run into the house and up the stairs to the nursery. I wouldn't take her the pie even if I wasn’t in a hurry.
“ Aunt Mira! Aunt Mira!” I yell as I run up the stairs.
“ What is it, Prillion?” she asks, mildly annoyed as I skid into the nursery. I almost never bother Aunt Mira because she's busy a lot, but this is an emergency.
“ Pwill!” Sammy says happily and toddles over to hug me.
“ It's Duke,” I'm breathing heavily, “ we were playing and he fell off that big rock in the clearing.”
“ The same one I'm always telling you not to climb?” she gives me a look, setting Sammy on Carter's lap. Yep, that rock.
“ He thinks he broke his ankle,” I say. Aunt Mira pales. Maybe her motherly instinct will keep us both from getting chewed out after this.
“ Carter, watch your sister,” she tells him firmly, “ Show me where.” Aunt Mira commands me as she grabs her first aid kit that she put together herself.
I move as quickly as possible along the route I had taken to get to the mansion, making a few detours to get around the larger obstacles, like the log. Aunt Mira would have a hard time getting over them in her long skirt. When we get to the clearing that Duke and I play in, he's sitting in the exact position I left him, but instead of crying, is now breathing heavily. I give a shout to announce our arrival. His head snaps up and he smiles at us as best a kid with a probably broken ankle can.
“ Prilly! Mommy!” Duke says, relieved, “ You made it!”
Duke gets his ankle wrapped up (it was broken) and Aunt Mira and I have to help him back home. Once Duke is safe in bed, we both get a long lecture on how we should listen to our elders because they're usually right and blah,blah,blah. I tune out most of it. I think motherly instincts give rise for the need to lecture, rather than drowning it out. Just my luck.
Two days later, I'm sitting there, reading him a story, and Duke looks up from where he'd been staring at the covers and just smiles at me, like he knows something I don't. I look at him strangely.
“ What did I do?” I sound confused, even to myself.
“ You were talking about saving the world,” he says, “ before I fell off the rock.”
“ Yeah,” I say slowly. Maybe he hit his head when he fell off that rock.
“ Well, you sort of saved me,” he grins.
“ What does that have to do with anything?” I c*** my head.
“ If you saved me, I know you can save the world!” Duke laughs happily. Why that's funny, I have no idea. Probably the look on my face as it dawns on me.
“ Good point,” I nod slowly.
He does have a good point. I can save the world. To save the world, I need to be a knight. A real knight, not the Champion of Rodentia. To be a knight I need actual equipment and a horse and a teacher and.... Wow, it looks like I have a lot of begging to do and tantrums to throw. But in the meantime, I'll try to follow the knight's code. Strength, courage, cleverness and a little faith might just help me save the world! Wait, I don't think tantrums are included in that.......
Bronx, New York
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