“Wake up, America”, dad shouted angrily, then added softly, “We’re at grandma and grandpa’s house.” Groan. They pulled into the garage. Mimi thought it looked like a garage from The Little Rascals. It was built in 1933, so not far off.
“I’m hungry”, she said.
“Hello, hungry”, said dad.
On the other side of the garage and around giant oak tree were two gardens. Chuck liked to open the pea pods and scrape them down his bottom teeth, collecting the peas inside. He’d go down a whole row like that.
Mimi wandered into the green house that was attached to the garage. Granddad had constructed it out of old windows and anything else he could salvage. It seemed bigger on the inside than on the outside. It was full of strange plants and gardening tools and other tools that had no obvious purpose.
The sun was setting. As it darkened, the garden seemed to disappear into the night, making it seem like it went on forever.
Where was the house?
Mimi found Chuck. “Go this way”, Mimi said trying not to sound worried. They rounded the oak tree. The rhubarb was there. It looked larger. They could almost walk under the leaves. They walked and walked. They were in a forest. Mimi and Chuck were confused, then scared.
“Where’s the house”, said Chuck?
“I…” Mimi said. She looked around. This didn’t make sense. Something flew by. A lightening bug. It flew by again. A giant lightening bug. It laughed. Mimi gasped. A tiny woman. The little sprite glided quickly down a long path, down down down until it was a dot.
Hands gently alighted onto their shoulders. She turned to look. It was a tree branch. A large broad face in the trunk of the tree asked, “Lost?” Mimi and Chuck screamed and ran. The tree watched them. “What?” it said.
There was a yellow light up ahead. As they ran toward it they saw there was a large oval table with people sitting around it. They were short, like granddad. Their ears were long and pointy. Mimi and Chuck watched from the bushes.
“What’s all this, then?” came a sudden angry voice. Mimi and Chuck were grabbed by their shirts and dragged into the clearing.
“They’ve seen us” hissed a voice. “They’ve seen faerie folk!”
“Please”, said Mimi, taking charge, “we just want to go home.”
“Home?” shouted a tiny woman holding a Cat. “This is your home, now. Unless…” she trailed off. Mimi and Chuck waited for her to finish.
“…unless you can guess kitty’s name”.
Without hesitating, Mimi said, “Melchior”. There was a hush. A game of solitaire came to an abrupt halt. Three sprites stopped in mid air, tiny jaws dropped.
“How?” the tiny woman asked. Melchior watched a leaf begin to turn in circles on the ground. The wind began to blow.
“Howwww?” the voices came. Leaves and twigs and dirt swirled all around them.
“Eat!” said Grandma. They saw her calling out from the stairs. Mimi and Chuck were standing in the rhubarb plant. They looked around. They were in the garden.
“What’s the matter with you two, look like you saw a ghost”, said granddad jovially. They ate spaghetti and garlic bread.
Mimi sat in the living room petting grandma and grandpa’s cat, Melchior. “Of course I know your name”, she said. Chuck was trying to ask grandma and grandad if the garden was magical. They laughed.
That night Mimi lay in bed with the curtains open so the moon shone in. Grandad was still up, probably taking care of one last chore, Mimi thought. The back door, which was visible from her window, opened. For a moment the moonlight shone on Granddad’s face. Mimi’s eyes widened. His smile was wide and mischievous. His ears were long and pointy. He winked at her before disappearing into the garden.