“You’re a pretty one aren’t you?” Anita cooed to the pigeon in her hand.
Nervously, it jerked its head away from her fingers, but settled into her palms once again after an offering of bread. Anita peered at it, and the pigeon trembled.
“Well, off you go. We both have a day to start.”
With a delicate lift of her arms, Anita set the bird flying through the canopy of the forest. She picked herself off the ground and repacked her bag. Now that breakfast is comfortably settled in her stomach, the rucksack felt much lighter .
Tip toe, toodly doo. Anita hummed under her breath a little melody her sister had woken her up with. It had been a delightful morning. Even though she hated the 15th of Mays, most everyone did, Anita loved days like these where the sun rises with exactly nothing on but a lazy smile. Today, Anita could almost believe that she can finally relax. Maybe everyone else can too.
Mmmmmm. Anita brought her arms up from her sides and twirled until her skirts hiked up her knees.
Tip toe, toodly doo. Daisies for me, maggots for you.
On such a wonderful morning, Anita thought, it is only appropriate to dance like no one is watching. She relished the idea of doing so without a petticoat on. Her sister would have scolded her if she knew.
With great ease, Anita parried to the side with pointed toes. It’s not like she’s a princess, she thought as she twirled to a stop. Anita grimaced and did a little shake to let loose the skirt tangling up her knees. She definitely did not want to be a princess. Horrid courtly rules, all prim and proper. Absolutely no fun at all. It’s pure suffocation that’s what. Anita always wondered how Preyanna managed to survive it. Pretty, precious Preyanna. The sharpest thing the princess ever touched was a butter knife. Anita blew out her mouth. Royals just don’t let go like the common folk.
Petticoat on or not, Anita was pretty sure that there is no one within a ten meter radius of her spot. She had checked the area herself, and she never makes mistakes.
Then with great care to seem Carefree, Anita slipped into the cobblestone path of the village.
The little town had just woken up, and the smell of freshly baked bread wafted through the buildings. Anita could hear the blacksmith ringing out peals of metal melodies. It was in this direction that she directed her new course. She made a mental note as she passed the bakery to pick up some yoselolee pie on the way back. It was her sister’s favorite.
This week had been the Blackmith’s busiest week. The 15th of Mays always are. As soon as Anita reached the opening where the Blacksmith’s shop stood, she was surrounded by people clamoring to get their orders filled.
Anita’s skin prickled with annoyance at the sight of the crowd. She never was one for large groups of idiots.
It was the Blacksmith. He waved her over.
Anita shoved her way through the crowd. The unlucky few caught themselves with their breaths jabbed out of their lungs and bruised dangerously. The lucky few turned tail and fled to the back of the crowd as soon as they caught sight of a familiar, dainty looking elbow. It was not long before the crowd parted with a whisper, and Anita sidled up to the window. She lighted up the steps, preened her hair and lifted her lashes up to the sky.
“Lovely morning isn’t it Mr. Blacksmith?”
The Blacksmith had his hands firmly gripped against the planks of his window counter, and was staring fiercely at the grains in the wood.
“If you say so Anita.”
“Tip toe toodly doo,” Anita tapped her lips in false contemplation, and then flashed her teeth. ” I do say so.”
“I have your order already completed. No need to pay.”
Anita stopped reaching for her pocket.
“A trade,” The Blacksmith began, “will be sufficient. Your services for tonight’s…celebration.”
Anita pondered this and decided to settle on flashing the Blacksmith a coy smile, “Deal. I’ll be back with my sister around 7. We’ll be sure to arrive in our very finest.” Anita ran her hands through her hair, down her shoulders, and melted onto the counter. She knew that this position encouraged a healthy glimpse of her cleavage, what little she had. Her sister was, like a good amount of her other talents, blessed with a good deal more. But, that sly witch had always had them strategically hidden under high black wool. To Anita’s delight, the Blacksmith became perfectly unnerved. “Just. For. You. ” Anita bit at her finger, “Mr. Blacksmith.”
“Anita!” The Blacksmith was exhausted. He wiped his face deeply as if he could wipe away the years of worry wrinkles and anxiety. “Give it a rest. Brian is in the back. He’ll give you what you need.”
Brian. Anita perked up. She liked Brian. A lot. With his golden curls and floppy smile, the boy was adorable. She was also quite certain that he was head over heels in love with her.
Anita made sure to pinch her cheeks and bite her lips before she made her way into the shop.
“Anita!” Brian exclaimed, nearly dropping his hold on a four foot machete as he realized that the dark figure in the shadows was really just a girl. A really pretty girl. He didn’t remember her coming in.
“Quite a lovely morning isn’t it, Brian?” Anita leaned against the counter allowing her elbows to skid against the smooth granite. She gave him a wicked smile.
Brian glanced nervously at the sudden decrease in space between their faces.
Brian then seemed to finally register her words. He managed to straighten himself a little, looking at everywhere but the gap between their noses.
He held his breath and gathered what little courage he could muster, “I can’t believe that you’re can say that.”
“What?” Anita pulled back, irritated.
“You know what day it is.”
“I know that it’s the 15th of May. I also know that the birds were singing this morning, and that Ms. Hilston had made a fresh batch of yoselolee pie.” Anita said as she turned her back on Brian and began picking through the shelves. “Of which I am going to buy by the dozen. It’s going to be a great day!”
“Stop that,” Brian said. And perhaps it was because Anita had never heard Brian ever raise his voice before or perhaps it was how sharply he had insisted his statement, but something caused her to turn around and really give the boy a good look. He sounded almost angry, and Brian was never angry.
Brian balked a little then. “Being all cheery like you don’t know what today even is,” He began pulling packets out from underneath the desk, ducking underneath the counter to nurse away his blush.
Anita huffed, “I’m being cheery, because no one else is. Come on. Today is supposed to be a day for loosening up. It’s supposed to be refreshing. Fun!” Brian shivered at that word. “It’s not my fault that today decided to give us blue skies and beautiful weather,” Anita continued.
Brian carefully placed the packages on the counter and began peeling away the cloth. He needed to be careful with this part. Lemon oil cloth is beautiful but expensive. His father and him would have to reuse this swatch again for next year. They had to impress their best clients or else…he didn’t really want to think about it. He concentrated on his hands in order to not have to respond to Anita’s preposterous mood.
“Besides,” Anita said, her voice suddenly turning dangerous. She peered over her shoulder from the poison-coated arrows she had been plucking. Her face was unreadable under the shadows of the shelves. “You have my sister and I tonight, and we always guarantee that we are untouchable unless we allow it.”
Brian almost cuts his hands on the sword he had been unwrapping. So, that’s why his father had worked so hard on this particular order. A night with Anita on the 15th. Brian didn’t know whether to be relieved, aroused, or terrified.
Terrified. He finally decided. We should be terrified. What was father thinking? There are no laws against the two sisters murdering their own clients. Especially tonight.
Anita had sauntered back to the counter, her mood improved considerably when she saw the gleaming objects that laid against the pile of iridescent cloth. Fanned out against the fabric was an arrangement of arrows and bows, daggers, throwing stars, a collection of stilettos, short swords, axes and a pair of deadly looking sickles. She picked up the sickles and held them against her forearms admiring them like fine jewelry.
“These are lovely, Brian,” she practically swooned. “Tell your father that he has exceeded my expectations.”
Brian swallowed hard, “No need, I asked if I could make these. I had heard they were your favorite.”
Anita looked at him then, her face seemed to regain its loveliness, inevitable of a girl flattered. Her lips blossomed into a smile.
“Well, Brian. You did a lovely job. Very well deserving of a tip.” Before Brian even processed the compliment, he saw Anita lean across the counter with her eyes closed. Oh God. Brian’s eyes fluttered to a close mimicking her movements. At the very last moment before their lips touched, Anita changed course and pecked him on the cheek.
“I’ll be back at 7. My sister and I expect dinner to be part of the deal.”
Brian didn’t respond, too stunned to reply as Anita slipped out the door with her pack of dangerous goods.
That was nice, Anita thought to herself. He smelled like silver and polishing oil.
As Anita trudged back through the streets, she remembered to stop by the bakery. It was still high noon, but shops were closing down. All around her, the town folk have begun setting up iron cages around their shops and nailing windows shut. A few brought out iron padlocks to lock their doors again and again and again. Behind those locks, Anita could hear the sharpening of knives in the kitchens of wives.
A layer of dread seemed to have pulled itself across the town. It seemed that the further the clock ticked, the more the people curled in on themselves. There were few greetings and even fewer conversations. Everyone acted as if something dreadful was upon them. But, Anita knew better. She could practically taste it. Under the fog of fear and anxiety, there was a sharp crackle of excitement.
She slipped away from the town with a box of three pies. Ms. Hilston had given her some extra with a hopeful wink. It wasn’t a day where people had much appetite, she had said. Plus, she had hoped that Anita would remember such a gift for the sake of friendship.
Oh silly Ms. Hilston, friendship holds so little merit in this town the moment the bell tolls eight.
It was then that Anita looked up at the palace that sat miles away, safely on a hill. Preyanna, if you only knew what you’re missing out on. The fun. The satisfaction. You nobles should really give it a whirl for once instead of hiding it out in your fortress of a castle.
Loosen up you stiff-collared, sour-faced gaggle. For the most discontent group of people alive in this town, Anita knew that there was no more perfect a prescription.
What they need, Anita thought, was a healthy dose of a good, old-fashioned Purge.
Maybe I will give you a visit tonight, Preyanna, Anita thought to herself. Have your butter knife ready and hide away your lovely things. At eight, when the law drops away like a curtain upon a full stage, it won’t be dolls we’ll be playing with. No, Preyanna, we’ll be playing with dice and knives.
Tip toe, toodly doo.
Daisies for me, maggots for you.