Mrs. Elliot seemed to enjoy the ride to Micah's house. Her little red and green head bobbed as he walked and she ducked into his pocket any time someone walked past. "Act normal," she whispered as they turned onto the street where Micah lived with his mom and sister.|
"Cuckoo Ruru alert," Todd said as they drew near to the small white frame house.
"What is a Cuckoo Ruru?" Mrs. Elliot peered around them, ready to duck back into hiding if the need arose.
"That's not nice!" Mrs. Elliot said, her eyes wide in irritation, her little snake-tongue flickering in and out of her mouth.
"No," Todd agreed, "but it's accurate."
Micah cringed as he looked at his sister and glanced around to make sure no neighbors were outside to see the show. He shook his head. "Oh, boy," he muttered.
Ruby was dressed in a long black graduation robe she'd begged from their older cousin. She had it belted with their mother's silver dress belt so that it didn't quite drag on the ground. A wizard hat, made from poster board that she'd glued into a cone, sprayed black and decorated with stick-on stars, sat atop her red curly hair. Standing frozen on one of the large rocks Mom used to decorate the yard, Ruby held a magic wand made from an almost-straight stick, a cut-out cardboard star, and tape. She stood motionless, staring up at the cloudless sky. After a minute, she waved the wand and yelled, "Rain, I command you -- fall! Chill of Icy Poles, Mist of Misty Isles. Clouds of...Clouds of Cold, um...Mists of Misty Isles, descend on us with rain!" Staring up into the sky expectantly, she sighed when nothing happened.
"I thought she was a fairy queen." Todd pulled his backpack off his shoulders, preparing to dump it on Micah's porch until time to go home. He always stayed with Micah and Ruby until his mom or dad got off work.
"That was last month," Micah said with a sigh. "This month she's a wizard-wanna-be."
Ruby raised one foot behind her, standing on the rock like a figure skater preparing to do a jump. She lifted her homemade wand in the air and waved it over her head. "Abra-cadabra! Alla-ka-zoo! You can't see me but I can see you!" She smiled as the boys entered the yard. "Can you see me?"
Micah and Todd ignored her, strolling down the sidewalk toward the house.
"Where's Ruby?" Todd looked around. "She usually meets us out here.. Maybe she's in the house watching TV or doing homework already."
Micah shook his head. "Don't encourage her."
"Ruru? Yoo-hoo, Ruru!" Todd spun in a circle, pretending to scan the yard. "Ruby!" he called. "Ruru!"
Mrs. Elliot giggled from inside Micah's pocket.
Jumping off the rock, Ruby jogged to the boys. "You giggled like a girl!" she said, tiptoeing backward in front of her brother. "You giggled like a girl."
Micah stepped around her and kept walking. "I'm ignoring you, Ruby. I can't even see you. I guess your magic finally worked." He pitched his backpack up onto the porch and sat down on the steps. Todd joined him.
Ruby began to dance around in front of them. "Can you see me now? Can you see me now? Look up, Micah! Can you see me?"
Mrs. Elliot giggled again.
Ruby stopped her silly, boppy ballet and bent to look at Micah. "How did you do that?" she asked. "It doesn't even sound like your girly-pretend voice."
Todd lifted his eyebrows and smiled. "Does Micah have a girly-pretend voice?"
Ruby nodded as Micah shook his head.
"He sounds like this." Ruby raised her voice to a height that would make their dog whimper if they only had a dog. "RubyBelle, my darling! How lovely to see you." She put her little finger in the air and tilted her head to one side. Using an almost-British accent, she continued. "Would you please pass me that sugar for my cup of tea...Thank you, luv."
"I do not sound like that," Micah grumbled.
Todd burst out laughing, slapped his knee and pointed to his friend. "You lowered your voice!" he accused. "You did! You dropped your voice down so low you almost sounded like Preston!"
Ruby joined in Todd's gales of laughter and even Micah smiled after a second and chuckled. Peals of tiny giggles chimed from his pocket. The kid's laughter stopped like someone zipped it closed. Only Mrs. Elliot's snake-giggle was left and it halted abruptly mid-snicker when she realized the children were silent.
Ruby bent low, putting her face at Micah's pocket-level. She slowly raised her pointed finger and put it inches from his shirt. Without moving her head, she raised her eyes to meet his. "Why did your pocket laugh at my joke?" She dropped her gaze back to where Mrs. Elliot was hiding.
"It's a...a..." Micah hesitated. He was the best creative writer in the whole school, but even his mind couldn't come up with a believable story for Ruby's question.
"It's a little button!" Todd said in a rush. "One of those little recorder things."He began to nod his head so hard that his hair bounced around like it had springs. "Really! Didn't you see Micah push the button before the laughing started? I did, didn't you?" He looked at Micah as if to confirm what he'd seen.
Squinting, Ruby studied Micah's shirt. "I don't see anything that's big enough to be a recorder. All I see is--" She drew her hand back and swung toward her older brother's chest.
Write a 5-7-5-7--7 poem similar to a tanka using the third line as a pivot line. Subject matter your choice.|
This is part one of this chapter. The rest will be posted in the morning. :)
Micah Stein - a third-grade boy at Rolling Woods Elementary School. He has figured out that there's something not quite right about their new substitute, Ms. Slitherington
Todd - Micah's best friend
Mrs. Elliot - Micah and Todd's third-grade teacher, strangely and mysteriously turned into a snake by Ms. Slitherington, who has become the substitute teacher in her absence.
Ms. Slitherington - a witch-snake who is now the evil substitute. She seems to have the power to hypnotize people and has somehow turned Mrs. Elliot into a snake and taken her place in the classroom.
Ruby (Ruru) - Micah's little sister...She has an overly active imagination and loves to play-act.
Okay...Just in case the character list isn't strange enough, this is going to be weird!
When Mrs. Elliot is absent and Ms. Slitherington takes over, Micah knows beyond a shadow of a doubt that something's wrong. At first, his friend, Todd, doesn't believe him, but when they find Mrs. Elliot-turned-snake on the edge of the playground, he has no choice. The little snake has a red spot on her head and black rings around her eyes, just like Mrs. Elliot's red hair and horned rim blasses. And she can talk! It's definitely Mrs. Elliot.
After school, the boys go back to the playground to find her. The janitor, Preston, visits with them for a minute, but is interrupted by the Principal, who apparently has cameras and microphones mounted around the school. (Yes, that will be important to know later...) They go to the exits and are horrified to find an exterminator spraying where they last saw her. The boys run stand stop the spraying just long enough for Mrs. Elliot to climb up on Micah's shoe and escape. Putting the little teacher-turned-snake in his pocket, Micah and Todd head for Micah's house.
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