The Kitten, the Witches and the Bad Wardrobe - Willow & Tara Forever

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 Post subject: Re: Summer Challenge: The Food Fight Challenge
PostPosted: Thu Jul 06, 2017 8:45 am 
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3. Flaming O
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Artemis wrote:
Not that I couldn't see how there was potential in the whole taking-measurements routine to start with, but, wow, never going to look at taking measurements the same way again.


You know what's funny? It just came to me as an idea about something Tara could do for Will. Never thought much about how to go about it, I'm not the sewing/clothes making type at all. I had to research how it's done. :laugh

When I saw how the measurements were taken, yeah - it clicked.

Artemis wrote:
Great foray into AU W/T, they were genuinely themselves, but also the backgrounds they inherited from their 'new' lives weren't just throwaway detail, they were a proper part of their characters.


Just wanted to let you know this made me literally clap. SO happy! The whole exercise was a 'What if?'... it was actually fun to ruminate on who they might be 'if'.

Artemis wrote:
Really good handling of the instant magnetic attraction as well - they didn't just jump into each other's arms because that's what the story is there for, you wove in thoughts and conversations - like Willow's uncertainty about her dating history - that supported their attraction to one another as more than just 'we're hot, let's do this', but real people with depth to their characters.


It would've been really difficult for me to consolidate them being who they are: reserved, thoughtful, sensitive... etc. With a wham-bam thank you ma'am sexual encounter. It just wouldn't work, I don't think... I'm not really interested in writing that, really.

I didn't want the physical to detract from what was essentially a love-at-first-sight moment. Which is soooo much more involved than strong sexual attraction. I think the first naturally contains the second, but not vice versa. Anyway, I'm on my fifth coffee of the day... apologies for the run-ons.

Artemis wrote:
And now to try to get caught up with Erynn and co.


I'm having to re-read my Erynn fic from the start, to put me back 'there'. I was worried about doing the challenge - not being able to come back to the other fic. I think I can, though!

So, it'll start back up soonish.

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CopperAndGold


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 Post subject: Re: Summer Challenge: The Food Fight Challenge
PostPosted: Thu Jul 06, 2017 9:00 am 
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10. Troll Hammer
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Artemis wrote:
Not that I couldn't see how there was potential in the whole taking-measurements routine to start with, but, wow, never going to look at taking measurements the same way again.


CopperAndGold wrote:
You know what's funny? It just came to me as an idea about something Tara could do for Will. Never thought much about how to go about it, I'm not the sewing/clothes making type at all. I had to research how it's done. :laugh

When I saw how the measurements were taken, yeah - it clicked.


Ok... true story time... before my now wife and I were even dating, I invited her to join my RenFaire guild. (note my avatar... our wedding was Renaissance themed - she's the blonde). She needed "garb" (i.e. period dress) and I offered to make it for her. (I was the main seamstress for our group).

So there were a lot of measurements and "fittings"... and let me just say.... you captured the electricity of that scenario perfectly. When two people are attracted to each other and you add the intimacy of (technically) nonsexual, but still consensual touch... it is... AWESOME. :fallen :blush

Anyway, my wife and I started officially dating a few weeks after the RenFaire... and the rest is - :heart :grin

Cheers!
DW

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 Post subject: Re: Summer Challenge: The Food Fight Challenge
PostPosted: Sun Jul 09, 2017 11:21 pm 
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17. Mega-Witches
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This isn't actually a challenge fic (since it's missing elements) but it came about from a mix of the measurements scene and the scene of Willow buying flowers from Tara for Tara - it's just a quick little thing I squeaked in between doing work today (so, unedited, unproofread, excuse any typos and so forth), and I thought I'd post it here since it's kind of an oblique form of feedback rather than its own story:



Tara’s Something Special and Willow Measures Up



“Come in?” Willow called, following a knock on the door.

“Hello,” the newcomer said, closing the door softly behind her. “Willow.”

“Tara! Hi. From the Wicca group, hi, good to see you again.” Tara took Willow’s hand, but gave only the slightest shake, and simply held it for a long moment before letting go. Willow licked her suddenly dry lips before going on: “So-o, what brings you to Willow Rose Lingerie?”

“I thought I’d take the proprietor up on her offer to drop by if I felt like it,” Tara said, glancing very briefly around the room before settling her gaze back on the redhead. “I do feel like it - and as it happens, I’d like something to wear.”

“Something in the undergarments category?” Willow asked, caught between nervous and beaming.

“Mm-hm. For a special occasion.” Tara ran a hand through her hair, keeping Willow’s in view out of the corner of her eye. “I’m hoping to make an impression on someone.”

“You will,” Willow nodded, mesmerized. “I um, yes, I mean absolutely, that’s what the whole lingerie business is for, not just something to wear while you’re out doing the grocery shopping. Although you can, too, if you want. That’s actually nice as well.”

“Just to have that I’m-someone-special feeling?” Tara asked innocently, although not too innocently.

“You are,” Willow agreed, then blushed. “I-I, you’re, how about we design you some lingerie, then? Custom designed, just for you, to convey exactly what you want to say... which is, what, specifically? The impression you want to make?”

“It won’t bother you if I...” Tara bit her lip, ducking slightly, then met Willow’s gaze and went on in a hushed voice, “go into personal detail? To explain?”

“Bother, no, absolutely not, no bother at all,” Willow shook her head. “This is, lingerie is all about personal, it’s, it’s intimate, right there against your body, holding you close-”

“Like a lover,” Tara murmured.

“...uh-huh... a-and, so, the design has to reflect everything... deeply personal... and I wouldn’t ever be bothered by anything you said, I promise. It’s all, privileged client-lingeriesmith knowledge.”

“Then I should reveal everything,” Tara whispered, nudging one of the straps of her top off her shoulder. “To get the best result?”

“Uhhuh-h-h.”

“While you take my measurements?”

“Measure- yes! Yes, that’s what I’ll do, right away,” Willow nodded enthusiastically. Tara slipped her other shoulder strap off, then paused.

“How do you want me?” she wondered.

“Let me count the ways,” Willow murmured under her breath, then out loud added: “I can get everything I need if you just, down to underwear, that’ll be fine. If you’re comfortable with that?”

“I feel very comfortable,” Tara smiled, giving her top the nudge it needed to clear her breasts and slip down her torso, snagging briefly on the waist of her skirt, before falling down her legs to the floor.

“Are you comfortable?” she asked in a low voice, as Willow’s eyes strayed all over her front.

“O-of course,” she said in the trembling voice, watching her fingers tugging the skirt down over her hips inch by inch, until it too skimmed down her legs.

“Because I was thinking, since this is a privileged client-lingeriesmith session...” She took a deep breath. “I think we’d get the best results, if I place myself in your hands with nothing in the way.”

She raised an eyebrow and held Willow’s gaze as she reached behind her arched back and undid her bra.

“That, would, inspire me, uh, my creativity,” Willow breathed, as Tara bared her breasts.

“I was hoping you’d be creative with me,” Tara chuckled, half-turning to give Willow a clear view of her ass as she hooked her thumbs into the waist of her panties and slid them down until they fell on their own to her ankles. She straightened back up, faced Willow, and set her feet slightly apart.

“Where would you like to begin?” she asked.

“...begin...” Willow repeated. “I mean... yes, we’re taking measurements, for the, the lingerie. Here!” She produced a glitter marker from her pocket.

“You like your notes to shine?” Tara asked with a cheeky grin.

“Oh I can’t just write a few numbers down on paper,” Willow shook her head. “No see, this is so I can... sketch. On you. That’s how my inspiration works, y’see, I work directly with the... the subject at hand.”

“Intriguing,” Tara noted.

“So then, the... the emotions we’re aiming for, are...?”

“Desire,” Tara whispered.

“No problemo...”

“Maybe even, a little worship?” Tara suggested. “If that’s not too much?”

“Definitely within your reach,” Willow agreed, lightly drawing a glittery line around the side of Tara’s torso, where a bra strap might go.

“And just between us,” Tara added, “something a little... naughty?”

“...way ahead of you,” Willow nodded absently, crouching slowly down and gazing at Tara’s hip, where she made a couple of marks. “Do you have a preference vis-a-vis panties or g-string?”

“I thought I’d leave the choice to you,” Tara suggested. “Maybe you could put yourself in the place of a person I’m trying to impress?”

“I think... cover up a little,” Willow murmured, letting her glitter stray across Tara’s rear. “But only a little. Cover some, tease with the rest.”

“You think my person will like to be teased?” Tara asked.

“She’ll love it. You’ll drive her crazy.” Willow let out a breath between clenched teeth. “Stockings? A garter belt maybe - classic look?”

“You’re the expert. Do you think it would look good? Thin little strips, stretched over my hips? They’re almost like a... a picture frame, for what’s in between...”

“That’s a strong yes to garters,” Willow gulped. “A-and, in front...?”

“Thin,” Tara murmured. “Clingy.” She looked down the length of her body at Willow, who was moving around in front of her, still crouched at waist height. “Imagine just enough coverage to be decent... then draw just a little less than that.”

“Yes ma’am,” Willow said in a wavering voice. Her glitter pen traced a curve over Tara’s hip, dipping below her waist in front, and then she added another line travelling down lower, just shy of where hip became thigh.

“You’re not forgetting my breasts, are you?” Tara asked with a sly grin.

“There is no chance I could ever forget your breasts,” Willow said, slowly rising, and making no secret of enjoying the view along the way.

“I wouldn’t want to go without a little support.”

“Mm, but not too much,” Willow nodded, studying said breasts intently. She let the pen drop to the floor and cupped Tara, lifting. “It’s kind of... uninspired to try to just force as much cleavage as possible... especially seeing as you’re naturally blessed already, why try to out-do natural perfection?”

“Flatterer,” Tara giggled, which caused her to wobble slightly in Willow’s hands.

“...flattery is the sincerest form of, something or other,” Willow breathed. “What we want to do is just... complement nature.” She gently held Tara, not too firmly, and moaned very quietly in the back of her throat at the feel of a pair of very rigid nipples poking into her palms.

“Do you think you can make me seductive?” Tara asked, making no effort to pull away from Willow’s hold.

“I don’t think anyone could not.”

“But beauty is all in the eye of the beholder,” Tara noted, breathing deeply and feeling herself press into Willow’s palms. “Will I make the right impression with my special someone?”

“Why don’t you ask her?” Willow countered with an impish grin.

“Good idea,” Tara agreed, lifting her hands to frame Willow’s face, gently holding her. “Desire?”

“Totally.”

“Naughty?”

“You betcha.”

“A little worship?”

“You had that when you walked in the door,” Willow whispered, tilting her head to kiss the edge of Tara’s hand. “Only drop the ‘little’ bit.”

“I love you,” Tara breathed, stroking Willow’s lips with her thumb.

“Love you,” Willow echoed, closing her eyes as Tara pulled her slowly closer.

“Willow?”

“Hmm?”

“Is it against the lingeriesmith’s code of conduct to ravish a client?”

“All’s fair in love and roleplay.”

“So ravishing is a yes?”

“I think it’s mandatory at this point.”

I think I really will buy some exciting new lingerie for you,” Tara chuckled.

“But not right now?” Willow whispered.

“Not right now,” Tara agreed, guiding her until their lips met.

:wtkiss

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Chris Cook
Through the Looking-glass - Every world needs a Willow and Tara.


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 Post subject: Re: Summer Challenge: The Food Fight Challenge
PostPosted: Mon Jul 10, 2017 10:06 am 
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Ms. Moderator Fantastico
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Chris - I loved it! We're getting seriously meta with our entries-inspired-by-entries. Their roleplay totally fit their established relationship, and I can imagine a shyer version happening in a first-meeting situation too. These little isolated scenes are what's great about these challenges. The opportunity to see a snapshot into one of their many, many, many worlds is just a joy.

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 Post subject: Re: Summer Challenge: The Food Fight Challenge
PostPosted: Mon Jul 10, 2017 11:50 pm 
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3. Flaming O
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Chris

First off - so honored to have inspired your creative juices! :grin

And second, I just got home from being out of town for a family emergency. When I saw you'd posted a little nugget here, I couldn't wait to read it.

I am so very happy I did! This was delightful! :applause

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 Post subject: Re: Summer Challenge: The Food Fight Challenge
PostPosted: Sat Jul 15, 2017 5:10 pm 
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11. Fish in the Bowl

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Chris,

Mega with the sexy and I love seduction . . . the movements, wordplay, foreplay . . . all those lovely 'plays'

Thank you. :love


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 Post subject: Re: Summer Challenge: The Food Fight Challenge
PostPosted: Sat Jul 15, 2017 8:39 pm 
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11. Fish in the Bowl

Joined: Tue Sep 28, 2010 1:35 pm
Posts: 1480
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Writer: Ariel (Julie)
Rating: NC-17 but on the lighter side
Disclaimer: I don’t own Willow and Tara but I love to spend time in their world!
Credit: Lines from 12th Night by William Shakespeare are used
Italics in a phrase or sentence are used to indicate thoughts - a single italicized word is for emphasis
Feedback: Yes, please - I love it! :flower


12th Night


Willow flung open the door to their room and threw a book on the bed beside Tara who looked up in surprise. Willow was usually so careful with books. “What is it, Sweetie?”

“Shakespeare!”

Tara picked up the book, working to conceal a smirk, “Mmhm.”

“Don’t play innocent! You know I’m still dealing with PTSD from the last time Shakespeare came between us!”

Tara laughed and lifted her face to Willow’s; her smirk fully visible. “I still have a picture of your hair.”


*****



Mrs. Stiles glanced up at the clock and gave her squirming high school students a good humored smile. “Not quite saved by the bell; there’s just enough time for me to give you your homework assignment.”

The entire class groaned except for Willow Rosenberg who leaned forward, pen poised to take notes: green for homework, purple for projects, red for reminders.

“Everyone pick a partner then in one week, you and your partner will perform a 2 to 5 minute scene from one of Shakespeare’s plays. Costumes and props are not required, but they may give you an edge on extra credit.” She smiled again, “You have just enough time to choose partners.”

Willow’s face went from eager to anxious as she scanned the room for a partner. Buffy was out today so Xander was her best bet. Okay, casual wave, nothing desperate, more like “this is so boring but we may as well work together.“ CORDELIA! He picked Cordelia! Unbelievable! I’m glad I broke up with him! He’ll never steal MY Barbie again! She glanced around, but everyone was either taken or avoiding her. What the frilly heck is wrong with you people! This isn’t dodge ball! This isn’t a dance! I can memorize stuff, I have notes, I read the play and three more besides before the we even started the Shakespeare Unit!

She stretched her long legs straight out and uncharacteristically slumped just as the bell rang and the class emptied. She was still flushed and glaring at the floor when she heard a soft voice speaking from the front doorway of the classroom.

“H-Hello. I’m Tara Maclay, I’m h-here for English class.”

“Nice to meet you, Tara, I’m Mrs. Stiles, Welcome to Sunnydale High. You’ve missed the class but you’ll be relieved to know you’re just in time for the homework assignment. Willow, it looks like we’ve found a partner for you.”

Willow glanced up, then stood up so fast she banged her hip on the edge of the desk. “Ow,” she offered a sheepish grin, “Willow Rosenberg, professional klutz, at your service.”

Tara’s mouth quirked up in a sweet crooked smile. “I h-hope you didn’t h-hurt yourself.”

“No no no . . . I just like to yelp a bit, keeps the ol’ vocal chords warmed up.” She felt her mouth stretch into a surprisingly big smile. “So . . . our assignment—“ She glanced around. “She’s gone, funny how teachers do that. I think they can disapparate or something.”

Willow blushed, but Tara’s soft voice reassured her. “I like H-Harry Potter, too.”

“Great! Not very cool to admit that in high school though. So assignment-wise, we have to perform a 2 to 5 minute Shakespeare scene. It can be from any Shakespeare play and we’ll be doing it in a week. Props and costumes optional but might snag us an extra credit point or two so I say, go for it!”

Tara smiled at her enthusiasm, then she paused, eyes on the floor. “Y-you might w-want to pick someone else.”

“Why?”

Tara raised her eyes to meet hers. “I stutter. I might not say the lines very w-well and when I’m nervous, it gets w-worse.”

Willow reached down, captured one of Tara’s hands, gently chafed the cold fingers between her own. “Hey, don’t be nervous. I want you.”

Tara’s cheeks flushed and Willow felt the heat rise in her own face. She stared down at their joined hands feeling an intense tingling and dropped Tara’s hand. “I’m sorry! Didn’t mean to go all grabby-girl on you. I just, you know, I’m kind of the class geek, Duchess of Dork, Geek-o-saurus Rex, you name it, I’ve been called it . . . so I get the not wanting to look dumb thing.” Her voice softened, “I really do.”

“I didn’t . . . take it wrong.”

“Good! So what play do you want to do? We just finished studying Romeo and Juliet but I don’t feel like being your Mother or playing Romeo so maybe we should pick another one.”

“I could play Romeo,” and suddenly Tara’s eyes met hers and her face was transfigured with a joyful longing. “Would that I were a glove upon that hand.” Then she raised her eyes as if gazing at paradise, “What light through yonder window breaks, it is the east and Juliet is the sun.”

Willow looked at Tara with new respect. “That was really good . . . but you can’t play Romeo.”

“Why not?”

“You have,” Willow’s hands made vague paddling motions in the area of her own breasts.

Tara’s lips quirked into a teasing smile, “Have what?”

Willow blushed and continued paddling, “Um . . . you know . . . stuff of the curve-y.”

“I think you mean that I have breasts.”

“I know that! Not that I was noticing . . . I mean, yes, noticing as in a casual observation, deductive logic type, ‘she is a female past puberty and logically has breasts’ way but not memorizing them, per se.” She made the breast gesture again, “What did you think I meant?”

Tara’s smile continued to tease as she imitated Willow’s gestures, “I wasn’t sure. I thought you might be chasing butterflies or dog paddling in air.”

Willow opened her mouth to speak, closed it to rethink, opened it again and suddenly they were laughing together as they walked out of the classroom.

“Tara, come over to my house after school-- No we can’t, I forgot that the kitchen is being remodeled; it’s incredibly noisy. How about yours?”

Tara offered a hesitant smile, “Okay. Um . . . meet me outside the main entrance after last period.” She turned the corner and walked into her next class then turned back.

Their glances lingered. Then the press of students behind Tara sent her further into the classroom and out of Willow’s sight.

Willow darted into the classroom after her and saw Tara’s smile. “Lunch! Tara, meet me in the cafeteria,” and dashed out again.


*****


On the way to Tara’s house Willow chatted about school but Tara seemed abstracted. Maybe she doesn’t like school. They walked in silence for another half block. Maybe I talked so much at lunch she’s sick of hearing my voice.

“Liquid amber,” Tara said softly and picked up a leaf of crimson and yellow and twirled the stem between her fingers. Then she smiled, put her hand on Willow’s shoulder and stuck it behind Willow’s ear. “There, you are now the Princess of Autumn.”

Willow stopped walking and her voice softened, “Well, then you have to be my Co-Princess.” Willow smiled, stooped down to find a leaf worthy of Tara and finally chose a yellow one with splashes of bright green.

Tara smiled, “I love green.” She looked straight into Willow’s eyes when she said it.

Willow had just lifted a lock of Tara’s hair so she could tuck the leaf behind Tara’s ear. She stopped. She had an absurd urge to bring the lock of hair to her lips. Her hands were shaking. She placed the leaf quickly. “We better hurry, still have to pick our play and our scene.”

Tara’s house was one of the older ones, built in the 40’s; the paint was peeling but there were lavender bushes out front releasing their pungent scent and old fashioned window boxes full of flowers. They climbed the stairs and Tara shyly opened the door for Willow.

Willow stopped in the doorway, eyes roving delightedly over the room and its contents. “It’s amazing,” she breathed. “Books everywhere maybe even more than in my room! Candles-- Those bright bedspreads on the wall and look, those little white lights strung around.”

“I call them fairy lights.” Tara walked over the plugged them in then opened the bedspread curtain over her window.

Willow gasped, “and there’s rainbows.” Tara pointed to a string across the window with prisms hanging from it. “Your own private rainbows!”

Tara smiled and tugged the string to make the prisms move, “Dancing rainbows.”


*****


Two hours later Willow yelped in pain and threw down the yardstick she’d been using as a sword. “No swordfighting! This is the third time I’ve banged my knuckles.” She examined the pad of her index finger and held it up. “And I have a splinter, too.”

Tara took her hand gently and smiled at her new friend’s adorable pout. “I think I can get it.” Then she clasped Willow’s hand firmly to steady it.

So what’s going on here? Her hand is warm, yes, well within the range of normal, 98.6 degrees farenheit, let’s see that 36, no 37 degrees Celsius-- So why are there chills? I’m all goose-bumpy. But my face is hot, I bet my cheeks are a 100 degrees Celsius, right at the boiling point. So my blood boils, my head explodes and—

“Got it!” Tara held up the barely visible bit of wood then raised Willow’s finger to her lips, “and I’ll kiss it better.” She dropped a quick kiss on the pad of Willow’s finger and smiled, “How do you feel?”

Willow’s knees wobbled and she sat down abruptly on Tara’s bed. “Fine,” her voice rose to a squeak, “Finey McFine!”

Tara suddenly frowned, looking past Willow. “You h-had better go, it’s getting dark.” Then she turned, gathered Willow’s notes, pushed them into Willow’s backpack, and guided her out the door faster than seemed humanly possible. She offered a hurried good-bye. Willow turned, hoping for a longer one, but the door was already closing so she turned away and crossed the street.

She stood on the sidewalk for a long moment, seeing the glow of Tara’s fairy lights in the upstairs window, then walked slowly home in the gathering darkness.

*****


Willow smiled contentedly, I like living in fairyland. Tara’s bright bedspread was strewn with paperbacks, all of them plays. She jumped to her feet, hunched over and stirred an imaginary cauldron, “Bubble bubble, toil and trouble. Fire burn and cauldron bubble!”

Tara smiled but shook her head.

“Probably for the best. I’m a rotten cook. Let’s see,” she grabbed another book. “'Here’s Rosemary for rememberance.' No way, lovesick crazy is not for me!”

Tara nodded agreement.

She grabbed another one, “Cry havoc and let slip the hogs of-- That can’t be right!” She leaned closer to read, “Dogs, not hogs!” They both giggled then Willow shook her head and flipped through a few more plays. “Hm. I like this one.” She stood, raised her purple pen dramatically into the air and spoke, “This rough magic, I do abjure—“

“No. There h-has to be magic.”

“What do you mean there has to be magic?”

Tara met her eyes, an oddly vulnerable look haunting their blue depths, “W-when I’m . . . having a h-hard time, I can believe . . . I can pretend that . . . you say I’m a good actress but I’m not, not really. I just . . . imagine I’m someone else.

“I do that too, sometimes.”

“W-what do you imagine?”

Willow swallowed, “I imagine that . . . that people like me. That . . . I’m special, important—“

Tara took her hand shyly. “You are.”

“So are you.”

She is so amazing, funny and nice and . . . beautiful. With her, I feel special, I feel this trembly kind of new-plant grow-y thing inside me so why the frilly heck do I want to cry? She walked to the window and slid it open, not seeing that Tara had also looked away.

Willow felt the breath of air on her face and was relieved.

Neither girl saw the other’s tears.

*****


It was their third day in fairyland when Tara clutched the book eagerly and raised it aloft, “12th Night – Viola and Olivia!”

“Lemme see.” Tara pressed the book into her hands and they scooted together. “Who do you want to be?”

Tara’s smile quirked up and there was a teasing light in her eyes. “I have to be Olivia.” She imitated Willow’s awkward breast-stroke gesture from the day they met, “because Viola is passing as a man. But if you w-wanted to be Olivia, I could . . you know, bind them—“

“Oh no you can’t! I’LL be Viola!” With that point settled, they read through the scene. “Tara, this is one of the plays I read before this section started. Look, Viola loves the duke, right?”

“Yes.”

“So why is she going all out to get Olivia to fall for the guy she loves herself?”

“W-when you l-love someone, you want them to be h-happy. Even if . . . they’re happy without you.”

Willow frowned for a moment. “I get that. But . . . I think there’s something else going on, too. She loves the duke so much that she gets mad that Olivia doesn’t feel the same way. And part of her resents Olivia for being the girl the duke loves instead of her; and part of her is just frustrated with the whole big mess.”

Tara smiled, “That makes sense. You should play it that way.”

Willow beamed at Tara’s approving smile, “I’m a good memorizer, I can have the lines learned by tomorrow.”

“Me, too. And I can make us costumes.”

“Really? That would be great – nail us that extra credit!” Willow scooted closer, flung an arm around Tara and squeezed her close.

Tara returned the embrace, her own cheek hot against the silken fire of Willow’s hair.

Willow leaned her forehead against Tara’s neck. She drew a shaking breath and placed hands on Tara’s shoulders, just as Tara broke their embrace. They stared wordlessly at each other, then sighed, suddenly weak, and leaned their foreheads together.


*****


Willow smiled and flung her backpack onto Tara’s bed. “I feel right at home here in Fairyland.”

Tara’s smile was warm and happy. “I’m glad. I want my room to be Willow-friendly.”

Willow’s voice was soft. “It is.” Then she tried to get back to business. “So we have to get through the scene, beginning to end, no stopping, no matter what. Tomorrow is Monday and we’re on.”

“I wish he didn’t write that line.”

Willow looked sheepish. “I know. But he did and we can’t let it beat us. Let’s start right there, get it over with.”

Tara nodded then moved to the clearest corner of her room, looked out the window and Willow stole a glance at Tara, kind funny beautiful Tara turning into a noblewoman of pride and spirit. When Tara turned back she was Olivia and Willow blushed realizing she had just missed her cue.

Willow straightened, “If I did love you in my master’s flame,
With such a suffering, such a deadly life,
In your denial I would find no sense;
I would not understand it.”

Tara’s voice was arch, clearly enjoying their repartee, “Why, what would you do?”

Willow clenched her fists, determined to get through it, “Make me a willow cabin at your gate And call upon my soul—“ but Tara was grinning and Willow sputtered to a stop and they both burst into giggles.

“Willow cabin!” Tara’s laughter finally slowed then ceased, “and that’s not even the part that really makes me laugh.”

Willow sighed. “I hate to ask.”

Tara grinned at her and jumped midway into one of Viola’s speeches. “Halloo your name to the reverberate hills And make the babbling gossip of the air—“

“I don’t gossip.”

“But you do babble.”

Willow plunked herself down on the bed, elbows on knees and chin propped in palms. Tara sat beside her.

“Did I h-hurt your feelings?” Tara’s arm stole around her shoulders and drew her close, “I didn’t mean to. I’m sorry if I did.” Willow didn’t see the blush on Tara’s cheeks, “I like how you babble. I think it’s cute.” Then she leaned over and Willow felt the softness of her lips brush her temple. “Forgive me?”

She nestled closer into Tara’s arms, cheek against Tara’s shoulder. “Course I do, there’s nothing to forgive. It is kind of a funny coincidence. Let’s just do our best. I’m kind of used to getting straight A’s, don’t want to blow my winning streak.”

“Oh.” Tara’s voice was oddly flat. “W-well I wouldn’t want to ruin your average.”

A moment later Tara withdrew from their embrace and stood, “I almost forgot. H-here’s your costume.” She went to her drawer and took out a pair of brown velour trousers that went to just below Willow’s knees and had a ribbon running vertically on the outside of each leg. Then she offered a blouse with puffy sleeves and an old leather belt. “L-leave the shirt untucked and put this belt around your waist. And this,” she drew out a brown felt hat, “Is an old Robin Hood hat but see? I put in a green feather for you to match your eyes.”

“Tara this is great! You’re amazing! Where’s yours?”

“I’m still working on it, I’m re-fitting one my Mom’s dresses, she’s helping me.” Her voice was shy again, almost as shy as the day they met. “Y-you really like it?”

“I love it!”

They smiled at each other then stood and got back to work.


*****


Tara please don’t be late! Please please please don’t be late!

A moment later, Tara hurried through the door, wearing an old knitted poncho over a dress. “I’m h-here! I’m sorry I’m l-late. It took a long time, a lot longer than I thought, I w-was sewing all night—“

Mrs. Stiles’ voice was friendly, “That’s all right, Tara. Catch your breath then you and Willow can perform your scene before the period ends.” She pointed to the open door of a large supply cabinet. “We’ve been ducking behind there when an entrance is called for.”

Willow scrambled to her feet, already in costume, and hurried behind the opened door while Tara set aside her poncho, feeling her whole body tremble as she struggled to find Lady Olivia in this room full of restless students. Then she closed her eyes, imagined the view outside her window and took several deep calming breaths. I am the Lady here. These are my lands. This is my Hall.

Willow, meanwhile, stared at the cabinet door, inches before her face. We never did doors! No door bells, no knocking, no ‘halloo-ing’ what the frilly heck do I do! But Tara’s spoke and she remembered her cue.

“We will once more hear Orsino’s Embassy.”

Willow stepped from behind the door with a pretence of boldness, standing in the manly posture they had rehearsed. “The honorable Lady of the house, which is she?”

Tara turned and Willow gasped. Tara’s forehead was graced with a circlet of pearls, her eyes bright, and the dress flowed and clung to her like a lover’s kiss. Her bosom looked golden in the sunlight through the window. Blood pounded in Willow’s veins, there was a roaring in her ears. Like peaches, golden peaches with-- What is she saying?

Painfully, line by line, Tara prompted her through the scene.

Then Willow began to gather momentum. Somehow she was not Viola, she was Willow, and she had only these words to win her Love. Orsino and her role to plead his love did not exist. The scene was passionate, the exchange both tender and cruel for the text became Willow’s while Tara sported with her as Lady Olivia.

Finally Tara turned, and there was the revelation to Lady Olivia that she was falling in love. She stared at Willow’s flushed face and wounded eyes; she wanted to strain her close, embrace her, press hot kisses on that warm ivory skin. “Get you to your lord. I cannot love him. Let him send no more—Unless perchance you come to me again To tell me how he takes it. Fare you well. I thank you for your pains. Spend this for me.” Tara tried to press a pouch of money into Willow’s hands but Willow’s hands grabbed hers, trapping the money in Tara’s hands.

Her voice was harsher than she intended, “I am no fee’d post, lady. Keep your purse. My master, not myself, lacks recompense. Love make his heart of flint that you shall love, And let your fervor, like my master’s, be Placed in contempt. Farewell, fair cruelty.”

Willow turned, walking carefully in her manly stride to hide behind the cupboard door while Tara stood overwhelmed by the intensity of feeling between them. The comforting shield of Lady Olivia lay shattered at her feet. There was only her, a teen-age girl, shaken to her very soul. She drew a trembling breath and gave the final speech, halting and stuttering. Getting through those lines, drenched in shame, feeling her own failure, was an act of pure courage. When the scene was over Willow took her hand and they walked together to their desks.

At the end of the class, students filed past Mrs. Stiles’ desk to pick up their grade, each note personally signed. Willow’s hand was shaking as she read, “Passionate reading, Excellent costume, good understanding of the language but some difficulty with memorization and the use of iambic pentameter. Grade: B.”

Willow groaned and handed Tara the note. “B, the Rosenberg F. Hopefully we can still pull an A out of the class.” And there it was, a flash of them at college together, sharing a room, friendship and fairy lights and even more than that someday. She grabbed Tara’s shoulder, “Tara, what’s your GPA?”

“I don’t know, I never figured it out.”

Willow’s jaw dropped. “Don’t you care?”

She straightened. “I care about l-learning.”

“But GPA’s are important!”

Tara’s eyes flashed, “I get it, W-willow! I ruined your GPA! I got you the Rosenberg F! So, I’m l-leaving and you can be h-happy now!” Tara turned sharply and strode out of the room.

“Tara I don’t-- It wasn’t-- You didn’t, I didn’t mean—“ But Tara was gone.


*****



Willow stared across the cafeteria, watching Tara unwrap her sandwich from the wax paper. Tara’s eyes were down, the unwrapping seemed to absorb her total attention; she didn’t see Willow’s feeble wave.

“So, all the signs are there.” Buffy nodded wisely at Willow and Xander. “Watch out.”

“Hm?”

“Food fight, Willow. The football team got slaughtered last night; they’re looking for a target. That’s why I grabbed the table closest to the door. I wouldn’t have come in at all if it wasn’t pizza day.” She shook her head, Willow was off in another world again.

If she’d just look at me, look up for one second, I’d go over there. Tell her I’m sorry. But she’s still so mad. Willow blinked. She’s not just mad, she’s hurt-mad. I hurt her! Her eyes burned. She stared down at her hands but didn’t see them. Her mind was a whirl of Shakespeare lines, their scene, and Tara’s hurt face.

Tara opened a re-used cottage cheese container; it was harder than she thought not to look at Willow. She looked at the strawberries without enthusiasm even though they were her favorite fruit. She pulled one out, stared at it, and put it into her mouth.

Willow’s eyes widened, Would that I were a strawberry within that hand!” She imagined Tara’s tongue gliding over the tiny indentations of the strawberry, wrapping around the fruit, the sweet juice exploding inside her mouth. She felt her own sweet explosion and glanced down wide-eyed, then knew no one could see and gave a shaking sigh. I love her. I love Tara. I’ve loved her all this time. She might laugh or-- She wouldn’t, she’s too nice but even if, even if she doesn’t . . . I have to tell her. Willow stood and unconsciously straightened her shoulders, Resolve-face: Ready, Set, Go!

Buffy’s eyes went wide, “SPINACH!”

The yell broke Willow’s concentration and she turned slowly towards Buffy, looking confused. “The menu display thingy said ‘swiss chard’ – wonder what the difference is between Swiss chard and American? Does every nationality have its own chard?” The question would never be answered. Instead an entire tray of sodden green matter was dumped onto Willow’s head and the whole cafeteria erupted into laughter.

Buffy dodged a flying piece of pizza. “Down!” Then she grabbed Willow’s arm but Willow shrugged her off and started walking towards Tara.

The shaken up can of soda missed her but the chocolate crème pie hit her square on her right shoulder and made a gooey slide down her torso. It didn’t matter. She was going to Tara.

“Tara, I have to—“

“Look out!” Tara grabbed her hand and jerked them both under the table as a tupperware container of beef stew splattered where she had just been sitting. “Come on!” Tara began crawling along under the line of tables and Willow followed, pausing only to claw a gob of spinach out from under her collar.

Tara stopped at the end of the table closest to the door and glanced back at Willow. “Ready?”

Willow nodded.

“Run for the showers?”

Willow grinned. Tara was with her; that was all that mattered. “Lay on MacDuff!”

They ran.

*****



They charged through the locker room door, then skidded around the corner and found themselves near the shower stalls, both breathing hard. A moment later they straightened and their eyes met. Then the very air changed, they breathed in sweet fire, a racing heat that sped through their bodies. Their eyes locked.

A moment later Tara stepped closer, their gaze unbroken, she extended her hand and Willow placed her fingertips against Tara’s palm. “Willow, w-would you like to be my girlfriend?”

“I have spinach-- Maybe it’s swiss chard, okay, let’s just go generic and say indeterminate green gunk of the semi-edible variety! Who wants that? Nobody, that’s who—“

Tara re-captured her hand. “I do. Besides, I told you I love green.” She gestured to the spinach in Willow’s hair, “It goes with your eyes.” Her voice softened, “And I love your eyes.”

Willow gave a few half shy half eager bounces on the balls of her feet then her body stilled. “I love yours, too. So many blues, like sky blue and soft dawning blue, and ocean-y blue—“ She reached for Tara’s other hand so that their hands were clasped. Her voice barely above a whisper. “I’d love to be your girlfriend and just to, you know, clear it up completely. Would you like to be my girlfriend?”

“Mmhm. I’d love to be your girlfriend.” She looked into Willow’s eyes, her own eyes full of promises.

“Your eyes . . . they’re kind of blue flame-y . . . kinda hot.”

Tara moved closer.

So . . . this girlfriend thing . . . um, does it come with kissage? It’s okay if you don’t want to kiss me, I mean who does? Nobody has so far and even if you like the spinach—or maybe it’s chard, true nationality of said chard unknown but then you won’t like the pie down my side or the goo splatter of the miscellaneous variety and this isn’t really a romantic rendezvous kind of place—“

Tara closed the distance between them, wrapped her arms around Willow and pulled her in for a kiss.

There it was. Breathless heat, searing simplicity. Without thought, Willow’s hand slid up under the back of Tara’s shirt and caressed the softness of her skin. She gasped and Tara inhaled her breath as she inhaled Tara’s. Tara’s heart beat against hers and there was a jolting awareness of Tara’s breasts pressed against her own. Her mind whirling, perfectly deliriously happy then she cupped Tara’s face in her hands to deepen the kiss.

A wayward bit of spinach slid down her forehead onto their cheeks and they pulled back, still breathing deeply. “Really, we should take a shower.”

Tara nodded, their eyes locked again.

Willow’s voice was tender, “You’re my gravity.”

Tara smiled. Their breath fluttered against each other’s lips just before they kissed again.


*****



A day, a year, a forever moment of perfect joy and then they stepped apart.

Tara’s eyes darted towards the shower. “Now?”

Willow nodded. “Um . . . I’d like to . . . with you. But not here.”

Tara took a deep breath. “Then we’ll wait.” Then her eyes locked with Willow’s and she sent a look of pure desire.

Willow gasped and staggered to a bank of showers and started clawing off her clothes while Tara walked to a separate bank of showers.

Willow was already sluicing off under the warm shower when she heard the water start from Tara’s shower. She imagined water flowing; trickles of water, like little fingers caressing their sweet way down Tara’s entire body. Then forming dewdrops on Tara’s secret curls, intimate where she could not yet touch. She drew a sudden sharp breath, ecstasy laced with longing, and knew that someday they would be together.

A few minutes later they were both dressing in their respective locker banks; it was understood that they weren’t ready to see each other naked just yet.

“Tara?”

Tara’s voice was warm with contentment, “Mmhm.”

“I asked about the GPA not because, you know, I was mad about the Shakespeare thingy. It was because I knew. I knew I wanted to . . . to see you. I wanted to see you every morning and have dinner and hang-out and . . . “ Her voice trailed off, she took a deep, fortifying breath, “And I thought, if we both had good GPA’s we could find a place . . . a college, we could go to together.”

Tara popped her head around the end of the locker bank. “You did? I mean, you do?”

Willow smiled. “I did and present tense applies, I do.”

Tara came around the corner and walked straight into Willow’s arms and gave her a good hard squeeze that left them both breathless. They stepped apart and Tara’s eyes dropped to Willow’s bra-covered breasts with unmistakable desire.

Willow blushed, her hands came up in the now familiar gesture. “They’re not very big, not like—“

But Tara caught her hands in mid-paddle. “They’re perfect.”

*****


Willow scooted closer to Tara on their bed. Their bed. She was still amazed about how college worked out but this was play time so she mock-glared at her insensitive girlfriend and room-mate. “What do you mean you still have a picture of my hair!”

Tara's crooked smile was pure mischief. "Did I say I had a picture?" Tara slipped her cell phone out of her purse. "I really have several." She thumbed through the pictures in question, a veritable gallery of Willow decorated with spinach or maybe it was chard.

“How did you get these?”

“Cordelia took pictures of the whole thing and posted them so I saved a few of the best ones.”

“’Best ones’, hm?” Willow shook her head, “Spent all that time hacking onto her page and eliminating them not to mention Xander deleting them off her phone for me. Who knew my girlfriend had the only copies left?” She shook her ahead. “You really should have more respect for my suffering.”

Tara grinned and stood up; Willow felt the loss immediately and pouted, “There doesn’t have to be snuggles.”

Tara remained silent as she walked across the room and opened their mini-fridge then stood up and turned with a bowl in her hands. “There will be snuggles,” she lifted a strawberry out of the bowl, “strawberry flavored snuggles.”

“The first time we kissed, you tasted like strawberries.”

Tara lifted another from the bowl, “But not chocolate dipped strawberries.”

“I’d love some chocolate dipped strawberries.”

“Then you shall have them.” Tara walked over and set the bowl down carefully and pulled her girl in for a long kiss.

A few hours later they remembered the chocolate dipped strawberries; but that’s another story.


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 Post subject: Re: Summer Challenge: The Food Fight Challenge
PostPosted: Mon Jul 17, 2017 8:41 pm 
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1. Blessed Wannabe

Joined: Fri Jun 23, 2017 6:58 pm
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Location: California
Wow, I love all these stories so much! :applause They're so beautifully written and romantic sexy and have all inspired me to write a story of my own. I decided to make a few comments on the last one because it didn't have any comments written about it yet. Ariel, I love the dialogue, because it sounds exactly like the way Willow and Tara talk, and also the way you used humor and brought out intense romantic erotic feelings in small ways. My favorite scene was the shower scene because it was so hot and I liked the play scene too and how it let them express their feelings. The last line of the story was a perfect way to end it. Great job! :clap

_________________
"I still miss Saturn"

- Kay Redfield Jamison


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 Post subject: Re: Summer Challenge: The Food Fight Challenge
PostPosted: Tue Jul 18, 2017 9:07 pm 
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17. Mega-Witches
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Joined: Mon Apr 25, 2005 7:08 am
Posts: 2555
Topics: 4
Location: Sydney, Australia
12th Night - Very sweet and funny, and (appropriately) with a theatrical air to it - nothing unrealistic, but there was this sense of fun and colour that fit the play theme very well. (And not really relevant to the story, but I saw a production of Twelfth Night a while ago where they did a comedy moment of someone bursting into Viola's room while she was mid-changing with her top off causing her to panic, and that was, well, memorable.) I love the recurring 'dog paddle' gesture - cute the first time, delightful when it popped up again in the midst of a deeper moment.

Re 'Tara's Something Special' (I borrowed the naming style from the subtitles they used to give Avengers episodes), thanks - it was just this weird little idea, I'm glad it played well. Fun story, while I was thinking it up I got attached to the whole 'Willow 'sketching' lingerie directly onto Tara' idea (it seemed like a good way to do the measuring business without just repeating an identical scene over again), and was briefly wondering how to do that for real. For a while I was considering doing the short as a Mass Effect story, since they seem to use holograms for everything, but I decided not on the basis that it was meant to be just a little bit of fun, and if I got going on Mass Effect it would've gone on for ages (I'll probably do something in that setting one of these days). The idea did contribute the name of Willow's made-up lingerie studio though - while I was plotting how to make the pair of them asari, 'Rosenberg' seemed way too human to pass muster, but 'Willow Rose' would've worked for a particular asari culture where they use nature nouns as names (Tara M'Clay obviously works just fine as-is). So, yeah, insight into the roundabout way I get ideas.

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Through the Looking-glass - Every world needs a Willow and Tara.


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 Post subject: Re: Summer Challenge: The Food Fight Challenge
PostPosted: Thu Jul 20, 2017 5:36 pm 
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11. Fish in the Bowl

Joined: Tue Sep 28, 2010 1:35 pm
Posts: 1480
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Jasmine,

Welcome to the Kittenboard; I'm honored to be your very first post!

Thanks so much for feeling that I got their dialogue; some of it just flowed (oddly enough Willow's chardI dialogue was very flow-y, as opposed to splat-y like you'd think). Also delighted that you liked the understated shower scene.

This is a great challenge - glad you loved the other stories - I sure did!

Chris,

Thanks for commenting - I love your stuff so hearing from you is a treat! Glad you felt that with the "dog paddling gesture" hoped it came off but now I know.

Best to all,

Ariel


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 Post subject: Summer Challenge: The Food Fight Challenge
PostPosted: Sun Jul 30, 2017 11:28 am 
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10. Troll Hammer
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Joined: Sun Apr 24, 2005 1:49 pm
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Location: Seattle, WA
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Author: DarkWiccan
Rating: G
Summary: Little Willow Rosenberg makes a new friend.
Spoilers: None.
Disclaimer: Willow and Tara and other characters borrowed from the television show Buffy: the Vampire Slayer are the property of their creator, Joss Whedon, and his affiliates, Mutant Enemy, Warner Brothers and Dark Horse Comics. The characters may not belong to me, but this story does. Please don’t plagiarize.
Notes: Thoughts in italics

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _


Sunnydale Elementary School 1987

September.

Tuesday.

Lunchtime.


The diminutive form of pig-tailed, 5-year-old, Willow Rosenberg – dressed in pleated, purple corduroys, a rainbow-striped turtleneck and aquamarine Velcro-clasp sneakers - made her way through the hot lunch line, clutching her tray - loaded with chicken nuggets, mashed potatoes, a fruit cup and carton of chocolate milk - close to her body. The tiny ginger’s green eyes glanced about nervously as she scanned the cafeteria, looking for a safe place to settle and eat her lunch. A sigh of relief shuddered through her wee frame as her gaze fell upon the shape of her best friend Xander Harris, waving at her eagerly from several tables away.

“C’mon, Will,” he shouted over the din of the dining hall. “I saved you and Jesse a seat!”

She made her way to her friend’s table, sliding onto the round seat next to his. Xander nodded, his attention elsewhere. He waved again, this time hollering, “Jesse! Over here!”

The other dark-haired boy caught his eye and bobbed his head in recognition, meandering over and slipping into the seat across from Xander. “‘Sup, dude?” he asked smoothly, opening the brown bag containing his lunch and pawing inside to pull out a small Tupperware container of… something. Willow guessed some kind of ambrosia. “Did you come prepared,” Jesse asked, waggling his eyebrows.

“Um, yeah,” Xander replied, as if it was the dumbest question ever. He cracked open the clasp of his metal He-Man lunchbox and pulled out the thermos. Popping off the drinking cup and unscrewing the pouring cap, he tilted the container Jesse’s direction so he could see inside. “Tapioca. My mom’s homemade.”

“Gross,” said Jesse, grimacing.

“I know!” answered Xander, “It’s perfect, right?”

“Perfect for what,” asked Willow, her face a mask of confusion. She picked up a chicken nugget and dipped it into the small paper cup filled with ketchup sitting on her tray. She bit into it as she watched the boys pull their Trapper Keepers out from their backpacks and set them on the table.

“You’ll see,” said Xander, eyes full of mischief. He and Jesse both opened their binders and pulled out sheets of paper – each with a crudely drawn target (with numbered values written into the rings) in the center. They both slipped their papers into the clear window on the front of their binders and stood them up on end, balancing them on the table top. “Ready,” asked Xander, reaching into his lunch box and pulling out a plastic spoon.

“Ready,” said Jesse, following suit and drawing his own spoon from his brown bag.

“Are you gonna do something bad,” the small redhead asked, her expression anxious and worried. “‘Cause I don’t want to get in trouble.”

“Nothing bad,” said Jesse. “Just fun.” He opened his container and spooned up some of the fluffy mixture inside. He lined up with the target on Xander’s binder, pulled the head of the spoon back and released. It sprung forward, hurling its contents at the target, where it hit the outside ring with a satisfying “phwap”.

“Yes!” shouted Jesse, “Five points!”

“Psssh,” mocked Xander, “Five points. Big whoop.” He loaded his own spoon. “Let me show you how it’s done.” He readied his aim, pulled back the spoonhead, and let fly. The pudding struck, “THWAP”, right in the center of the target. “Yea-YUH! Twenty points! Bullseye on the first shot!”

Jesse rolled his eyes and peered over the lip of his binder at the target. “Nuh-uh. Ten points, dude.”

“What? No way!”

“Yeah way. It might have hit in the center, but it slid down to the middle ring. And the points are for where it ends up, not where it starts.”

“Aw, man, c’mon,” Xander whined.

“We agreed, dude,” Jesse replied, his six-year-old face stern.

“Yeah, I know,” sighed Xander. “Ten points.”

They both picked up their napkins and wiped their boards clean.

“You guys are going to get in so much trouble,” warned Willow. “You’re not supposed to play with your food.”

“Why not,” countered Jesse. “It’s our food.”

“You’re supposed to eat your lunch, not throw it,” she said.

“This junk?” said Xander, “No way! It’s totally…um….indelible.”

“Inedible,” corrected Willow, rolling her eyes.

“Yeah, that,” continued the boy, “it’s only good for one thing – target practice.”

As if to demonstrate the point, Jesse flung another spoonful of goop at Xander’s target. It hit, “SHMAT” again on the outermost ring. “Ha! Another five points. All tied up, dude.”

“Yeah for, like, two more seconds,” said Xander, refilling his own spoon with tapioca.

“If you guys don’t quit it, I’m going to move,” warned Willow.

“So, move,” said Jesse dismissively, not noticing the young girl’s face fall. Xander’s second shot struck his binder. Bullseye, and it stuck. “Dude, nice…,” disappointment evident on his face.

“Ha-HA!” exclaimed Xander, doing a ‘Stayin’ Alive’ finger-point dance in his seat. “30-10! One more bullseye and I win!”

Willow ignored them, craning her neck to look around the lunchroom for another seat. The only one available was over at Cordelia Chase’s table, and she knew better than to try. But then, something caught her eye. A face she didn’t recognize had entered the lunchroom. A girl, small like her, but with blonde hair that was falling in front of her face. She wore a denim jumper over a light-yellow t-shirt and was clutching a brown paper lunch bag to her chest nervously.

“Who’s that,” asked Willow.

“Who’s who,” Xander replied, his eyes locked on Jesse as the boy lined up his next shot.

“That girl,” she clarified.

“What girl,” asked Jesse, readying his spoon to hurl another gob of ambrosia.

Taking advantage of the opportunity to interrupt the boys’ game before they all got in trouble, she reached her arm between the pair, effectively blocking Jesse’s shot, and pointed. “That girl there.”

The two boys sighed in defeat and directed their attention toward where Willow was indicating.

“Oh,” said Jesse, “she’s new. She’s in my class.”

“Is she nice,” asked Willow, pulling her arm back.

“I dunno,” Jesse answered with a shrug. “She’s just some girl.”

Willow watched the girl shuffle awkwardly through the lunchroom, in search of a place to sit. The boys went back to their game but, oddly, Willow didn’t seem to notice them or care. She was focused entirely on the little, blonde, stranger.

“She looks lost,” she said, after a moment.

“Who does,” asked Xander, distractedly.

Willow rolled her eyes. “The new girl, duh.”

“She’s in the lunchroom at lunchtime,” said Jesse, “I think she’s ok.” He flung another spoonful at Xander’s binder. SPLATCH! “Yes! Bulls-eye! Tied up again, dude!”

“Pssh, doesn’t matter,” scoffed Xander, “I’m still going to win on the next shot.”

“Guys, she doesn’t know where to sit,” Willow interjected. She watched anxiously as the girl’s eyes darted about, looking for a spare seat. When the girl started to move toward Cordelia’s table, Willow leapt up from her seat, knocking into Xander and causing him to miss his shot – the pudding splattering onto the tabletop in front of Jesse.

“Ah man, Will!” he complained.

“She’s gonna try to sit at Cordy’s table! I have to stop her! They’ll eat her alive!” The redhead scrambled quickly, rushing between the tables and dodging other students, an in effort to head the blonde off before it was too late.

It was too late.

The new girl had already made it to Queen Cordelia’s table and it looked like she was half-way through asking to sit down. Willow was still a good distance away as the perfectly appointed brunette rose from her seat to face the interloper head on.

“Look,” said Cordelia, flicking her long brown tresses behind her shoulder with a practiced air, “I know that you’re new here so I’m going to be nice.”

“Um, o-okay,” said the blonde, looking down at her feet and taking a step toward the free seat at the table.

Cordelia sidestepped in front of her, blocking the path. “Whoa, what do you think you’re doing?”

“S-s-sitting?”

“Suh-suh-suh-sitting?” Cordy echoed, mocking her mercilessly. “And what gave you the idea that was ok?”

“T-to be n-nice?”

“Nuh-nice? Oh, nuh-no. That’s not what I meant by being nice. I meant that I was going to nicely tell you that this is the winners table,” she crossed her arms in front of her chest and looked down her nose at the blonde, “and there is nuh-no way that you are a winner.”

“Hey!” shouted Willow, arriving out-of-breath, at the new girl’s side. “There you are!” She watched the girl look up at her, wide-eyed and confused. “We were going to sit together, remember? Over there? Way over there?” She pointed back to the far side of the cafeteria where Xander and Jesse were still flinging food at each other.

“Oh, yeah,” said Cordelia, rolling her eyes. “That makes sense. The losers table. Nice pants, Rosenberg. Where’d your mom get them, K-Mart?”

“Sears,” Willow answered defensively.

“And you think that’s better?” the brunette scoffed.

“C’mon,” said Willow, tugging on the blonde’s elbow. “Let’s go sit down.” The girl obediently followed.

“Buh-bye, nuh-new girl. Have fun with the luh-losers!”

The small entourage of other girls at Cordelia’s table laughed approvingly as they walked away. The pair remained silent until they arrived back at the table with the boys.

“Here, you can have my seat,” said Willow, pushing her tray to the side. The girl didn’t say anything, merely sitting down and gingerly placing her paper lunch bag on the table in front of her. She kept her head down, blonde hair draping her face from view.

“So, um,” continued the redhead, unsure, “this is Xander,” she thumbed his direction, “and that’s Jesse,” she said, pointing at the other boy. “We’re all friends.” She paused a moment more before asking, “What’s your name?”

“T-t-t-t…”

“Tara,” said Jesse, not looking up from his target as he aimed his spoon. “Her name’s Tara. Mrs. Pickens introduced her to the class this morning.” He let his glob of ambrosia fly at Xander’s binder where it smattered dead-center. “YES!” He jumped up from his seat, pumping his fists in the air. “IN. YOUR. FACE!”

“Yeah, yeah,” sighed Xander, “It’s just one game. I’ll get you the next round.”

Jesse continued his victory dance, now adding his own version of the Seagull’s “I Ran” to his celebration. “And I woooon, I won so hard todaaaay. I just wooooon. I just won, in your faaaaace. You couldn’t win, no way!”

“Mr. McNally.”

Jesse froze at the sound of the adult woman’s voice behind him. He slowly turned to see the owner of the voice standing over him.

“And Mr. Harris,” she said.

“Hi Principal Vance,” said Xander, adopting as happy and innocent a voice as he could. “I like your scarf.”

“Thank you,” said the older woman, her tone making it obvious that she wasn’t going to be distracted by flattery. “Can you explain this… mess?”

The boys looked down at the piles of soiled napkins and splats of food covering the table between them.

“Uh…”

“We were gonna clean it,” Jesse offered up quickly.

“Yes,” agreed Principal Vance, “You will… and not only this mess… you will clean the entire lunchroom.”

Both boys went completely pale.

“The entire lunchroom?” squeaked Xander, “But that’ll take FOREVER.”

“And, and we have class,” Jesse argued lamely.

“I’ll explain the situation to your teachers,” said the principal, “I’m sure they’ll be happy to make note of any classwork you’ll need to make up.”

The boys slumped down into their seats, defeated.

“Come on, you two,” she said, curling her finger toward herself in ‘follow me’ gesture. Both boys sighed and dragged their bodies up from their stools.

“Will,” said Xander, looking despondently over his shoulder to her, “if I don’t make it back…tell my mother I loved her.”

Willow rolled her eyes and shook her head at him. Once they were out of sight, Willow sat down in Xander’s vacated spot, shoving the dirty napkins and pudding goop to the other side of the table. She reached over Tara (noting how the girl shied away) and grasped the edge of her lunch tray, sliding it over in front of herself.

She poked at the breaded chicken. “Urgh, nuggets are cold,” she grumbled, “it’s ok, they’ll still taste good.” She looked at Tara. “What did you bring?”

The blonde opened her bag and pulled out a cling-film-wrapped peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a small juice box… and nothing else.

Willow’s face adopted a worried expression. “Is that all?” The tone of her question was clearly one of concern and not mockery.

“D-Donny took the rest,” Tara said so softly that Willow had to strain to hear.

“Who’s Donny?”

“B-big brother.” She began to unwrap her sandwich methodically, as if drawing out the process somehow made the meal more substantial.

“Well, here,” said Willow, picking up the sealed container from her tray, “you can have my fruit cup. I don’t want it.”

Tara kept her eyes turned downward, embarrassed. “N-no, that’s o-ok.”

“No, really,” the redhead insisted, “it has strawberries in it, and I don’t like them. But if you like them, you should eat it.” Seeing the girl next to her wasn’t likely to budge, she added, “It’s only on my tray because it came with the lunch. I don’t want to waste it. My mom says that wasting things is like being ungrateful.”

Tara finally peaked up from behind her curtain of hair, a small smile on her lips. “M-my mom s-says that, t-too.”

“So, great,” said Willow, cheerily, “our moms agree… you should eat my fruit cup.” She slid it in front of the girl.

Tara picked it up, delicately. “Thanks.”

Willow smiled and took a bite of chicken nugget, chewing it thoughtfully as she watched the other girl tuck into her sandwich. She opened her chocolate milk and took a sip, to wash the chicken down.

“So, you’re new,” said Willow, “where did you come from?”

Tara finished her bite of sandwich and followed it with a drink of juice. “Texas.”

“Oh, wow,” said the redhead excitedly. “Texas? That’s so cool! Is your dad a cowboy? Were you born on a ranch? Why don’t you have an accent? Can you herd cattle?”

Tara was a bit overwhelmed by the cascade of questions and wasn’t sure what to start with. “Um… we w-weren’t there long.”

“Oh,” asked Willow, popping the remains of the nugget into her mouth and cheeking it, “how come?”

“My dad is in the Air Force,” answered Tara, “we move a lot.”

“So, not a cowboy,” joked the redhead, “where were you born?”

“G-Germany.”

Willow’s eyes went wide. “Can you speak German?” She was thrilled beyond reason at the possibility and beamed when the new girl started to giggle.

“N-nein,” she replied.

“Nine what?”

Tara giggled some more, and covered her mouth with her hand. After a moment’s recovery she explained, “‘Nein’ is German for ‘no’.”

“So, you can speak German,” Willow asked, “No, wait… you said ‘nein’ which means ‘no’… but you said it in German so…. I’m confused.”

Tara giggled again and blushed. “I d-don’t. I know a little. W-we left Germany before I learned to t-talk. D-Daddy won’t let Mama teach me and Donny anything but English.” Off Willow’s confused look, she continued. “Mama’s from Germany.”

“But speaking another language is so cool!” Countered the redhead, “Why won’t he let you learn?”

Tara curled in on herself, uncomfortable with the question. “D-daddy d-doesn’t speak German and he g-gets upset when he d-doesn’t know wh-what she’s saying to us.”

Willow took this in. She wondered why Tara’s dad didn’t just learn German, too. But she could tell that her questions were making the new girl upset, so she decided to save them for later.

“So, what words do you know,” she asked. “Other than ‘nein’?”

Tara peeled the clear cover off the fruit cup and picked out a piece of pear, popping it into her mouth. She chewed and swallowed while she made a mental list of the words she knew. She actually knew quite a few, her mother would speak German to her when they were alone; but she was used to it conversationally and not simply plucking words out here and there.

“Um… ‘ja’ means ‘yes’. ‘Gut’ means ‘good’ and ‘schlecht’ means ‘b-bad’.” She shrugged and ate a halved cherry. “This is really good, th-thank you.”

Willow smiled. “I’m glad it’s ‘gut’. Did I say that right?”

“Ja,” Tara smiled back, covering her mouth again to stifle another giggle.

“What’s funny?”

“You h-have a chocolate m-milk m-mustache,” she answered from behind her hand.

Willow blushed and wiped her mouth with her sleeve. “Thanks,” she said.

“Oh,” said Tara, “here’s an-nother word… ‘Danke’ means ‘thanks’.”

“Danke,” echoed Willow, trying the word out.

“Bitte,” said the blonde, “that’s ‘you’re w-welcome’.”

Willow beamed. Another word. It was like another world opening up to her. “Danke, again,” she laughed.

“Bitte… again,” Tara giggled.

The bell rang, startling them both. They hastily started packing up. Willow grabbed a few of the napkins left over from Xander and Jesse’s earlier mess and piled them onto her tray to bus.

“Aren’t your f-friends supposed to do that,” asked Tara.

“There’s still plenty of mess for them to clean up, trust me,” said Willow. She scanned the cafeteria and pointed to the far corner, “there they are, see?”

Tara looked and had to stifle another laugh when she saw the two boys decked out in hair nets, aprons and giant plastic gloves, wiping down tables and shoving trash into bags and looking all-together miserable. Meanwhile, the girls made their way to the exit, where the trash bins and tray bussing stations were.

“You wanna eat together tomorrow,” Willow queried hopefully.

“Mm-hm,” Tara nodded.

“Ok, cool!” said the redhead, tapping her tray into the waste can and then stacking it. “Same table, ok? See you then!” She dashed off through the doors.

The little blonde stood somewhat dazed by Willow’s sudden departure, unsure why she had to leave so quickly. Just as she was gathering herself together to head back to class, a blur of rainbows and red hair suddenly rushed back into her space.

“Hey,” said Willow, “how do you say ‘see you later’ in German?”

“Oh,” said Tara, eyes wide at being overtaken so abruptly. “Um… I d-don’t know.” She cringed as she saw Willow’s face fall. “B-but, I can ask Mama tonight.” Tara couldn’t help but smile as the redhead brightened-up again.

“COOL,” Willow practically yelled, her enthusiasm bubbling over into excitement. She took off back down the hall again, waving over her shoulder. “Danke, Tara!”

Tara gave a tiny wave back, and hugged her arms around herself happily, before heading into the hall and back towards Mrs. Pickens first grade classroom.

Image


Wednesday.

“Thundercats, HO!,” bellowed Xander as he played with his Lion-O action figure on the lunch table. He’d brought it for show-and-tell and hadn’t stopped playing with it at every opportunity. “Thundercats, HOOOOO!” He said again, swooping the figure over his lunch box and having it land on the edge of the lid.

“We get it,” said Jesse, annoyed. His “show and tell” item was his Dad’s bowling trophy, which had seemed so cool before, but now paled in comparison to Xander’s new toy. “Thundercats, ho. Can you stop now?”

“No,” Xander replied, haughtily. “‘Eye of Thundera, give me your power!’” he crowed, hoisting the toy up over his head. “‘Sword of Omens, do not fail me now!’ Oh, hi, Will,” he said, dropping his ‘Lion-O’ voice, as his friend sat down. “And Tara,” he nodded, acknowledging the newcomer. He waited until they were both seated to continue. “So, Will, you’re coming over to watch Thundercats after school, right?”

“Why do you even ask,” Willow replied. “I always come over on Wednesdays. I always come over every day until my parents get home.”

“What’s Th-thundercats?” asked Tara.

Xander’s expression was one of profound shock. “You don’t know about Thundercats?” He watched Tara duck her head and shake it, shyly. “It’s only the bestest, most awesomest, coolest cartoon ever!”

“Nuh-uh,” countered Willow. She regarded Tara seriously, “Sword of She-ra, that one’s the best. Oh, and Inspector Gadget.”

“Inspector Gadget,” scoffed Jesse, “Lame-o!”

“Nuh-uh,” Willow deftly rejoined.

“Are these tv shows,” asked Tara.

“Yeah,” said Xander.

“Oh…,” answered the blonde, “we d-don’t have one.”

Jesse dropped his sandwich. “You… you don’t have… a T.V.?”

“W-w-w-w…” she gave up, her head dropping onto her chest.

“Hey,” said Willow, placing her hand on her arm, “it doesn’t matter. My mom says TV rots your brain, and she’s a psychologist, so she knows. It’s good that you don’t have one.”

Tara smiled gratefully at her new friend. Taking another breath, she tried to explain again. “W-we do have one…but it’s daddy’s. We aren’t allowed.” She fiddled with the edge of her lunch bag. “He w-watches sports and stuff on it. In the garage.”

The foursome went quiet for a few moments. They all muddled around with their food, eating a few bites silently.

“Tara’s teaching me German,” Willow announced, disturbing the quiet and waving a fish stick excitedly.

“You speak German,” Jesse asked, genuinely impressed.

“N-not really,” said the blonde, “a f-few words.”

“Know any bad ones,” inquired Xander with a wicked glint.

Tara blushed and shook her head, ducking it down again.

“Did you ask your mom how to say ‘see you later’?” Willow was practically vibrating with excitement.

“Mm-hm,” she nodded, thinking back on how worried she had been about Daddy catching her asking, or Donny telling on Mama. “Sh-she said it’s ‘bis spӓter’.”

“‘Bis spӓter’,” echoed Willow. “Did I say it right?” Tara nodded encouragingly. “Cool.”

“Hey Willster,” said Xander, speaking around a mouthful of ham sandwich, “doesn’t your grandma speak German or something?”

Tara’s eyes widened at this. Could Willow have just been pretending to be interested?

“No,” said Willow, “she speaks Yiddish. There are some German words in Yiddish, but I don’t know which ones. The only Yiddish words I know are ‘Oy gevalt’ and ‘essen’ and ‘fressen’…oh, and ‘Bubbe’, of course, because that’s Yiddish for grandmother.” She started to take another bite of fish stick, then stopped. “OH! And ‘mazel tov’… that means ‘good luck’.”

Tara’s brow wrinkled. “Essen and fressen are German. B-but they mean the s-same.”

“What’s that,” asked Jesse.

“Eating,” answered the blonde.

“Why do you need two words for the same thing,” inquired Xander.

“They mean the same but in different ways,” explained Willow. “Bubbe says that ‘essen’ means to eat like a human and ‘fressen’ means to eat like an animal.” She looked to Tara. “Is that right?”

“I th-think so,” she nodded, a little unsure. She took a bite of her sandwich (peanut butter and jelly again) and chewed thoughtfully. After swallowing she asked, “So… are you J-Jewish? Jewish people speak Yiddish, r-right?”

“Yep!” Willow answered happily. “How’d you know? About Yiddish being a Jewish thing?”

“M-my Mama’s g-grandfather was Jewish,” explained Tara, feeling more and more at ease. “But he m-married a g-gentile… so Mama’s mother w-wasn’t.”

“What’s a ‘gentile’,” asked Jesse.

“Anyone who’s not Jewish,” answered Willow. “Are you guys excited about tomorrow?”

Jarred by the sudden change in subject, Tara found herself having difficulty switching gears. “Wh-what’s tomorrow?”

“Art Day!” announced Xander. “I hope it’s something cool this time and not stupid kite building again.”

“You’re just upset ‘cause yours didn’t fly,” said Jesse. “I told you it needed a tail.”

“No, I told him it needed a tail and you backed me up,” corrected Willow.

“Whatever,” shrugged Jesse, “it still needed a tail.”

“A tail would have ruined the… the… ascetic,” argued Xander.

“Aesthetic,” Willow corrected him.

“Yeah,” he said, “that.”

“What’s ‘Art Day’?” Tara interjected.

Willow bounced happily in her seat. “Every other Thursday your class and my class join up for art class with Miss Koontz! She’s the BEST.”

“She’s ok,” said Xander.

“She’s super nice,” Willow went on, “and pretty, too. She has blonde hair and blue eyes… like you!”

Tara blushed and ducked her head. Willow grinned and started chomping on another fish stick. Looking down she noticed that the blonde only had a sandwich again. She picked up her pudding cup and spoon and set it in front of the girl, not saying anything. When Tara looked up at her questioningly, she merely smiled and took a drink from her cup of juice before turning her attention back to the boys.

“Hey, Xander, can we watch Square One after Thundercats today?”

The boy visibly shuddered. “What? No way! Silverhawks is on after!”

“But I want to find out what happened with Mathnet and the problem of the missing baseball! I missed it when it was on the first time! Come on, Xan, we always watch what you want to.” Willow crossed her arms and put on her best pout.

Xander looked at her with a pursed expression, and then sighed and rolled his eyes. “Ok, fine. Just this once, ok?” He took an orange slice out of a plastic baggy and popped it in his mouth. “How can you stand that show, anyway,” he asked, mouth full. “Don’t you get enough school in school?”

Jesse spoke up before Willow could respond, “That’s ‘cause Will’s a brain. The more school the better, right?”

Willow shrugged. “I like learning stuff.”

“M-me too,” said Tara, softly. Willow turned and beamed at her. “Are you g-good at math?”

"She's a wiz!" exclaimed Xander, "watch this: Hey, Will, what's 236 apples x 32 apples?"

Willow pondered a moment and answered, "7, 552 apples."

"W-Wow," said Tara, eyes wide.

“It’s my favorite subject, next to learning computers. But we only get to go in the computer lab once a week and math is every day!”

“There’s a c-computer lab,” the blonde asked, wide-eyed.

“Yeah!” said Willow, practically falling out of her seat as she gestured wildly. “They just got them last year. It was on the news and everything! The mayor got some lawyers in LA to donate the money for them or something. Now all the schools in Sunnydale have computers! I think we’re the only school district in the state so far to do that which is why it was on the news.”

“There’s only three schools,” said Jesse, “it wasn’t that hard to do.”

Willow rolled her eyes. “There’s more than three schools.”

“Only if you count the private schools, and they don’t count for this,” he argued, shaking his head. “Besides, we got old, used, computers, anyway. The high school kids got the new ones with color TVs and everything.”

“Monitors,” corrected Willow, “when you use them with a computer they’re called monitors.”

“Whatever,” he said, “they got the color ones and ours are green.”

“I like green,” Tara interjected, “and, I’ve n-never seen a computer before. In p-person, I mean.”

“Really,” asked Willow, perking up. “Oh, I wish I could show you right now! They’re so cool!” She looked back to Jesse. “When does your class have lab?”

“Mondays.”

“Aw, you have to wait to next week,” said the redhead, turning back to Tara. “Bummer.”

“That’s ok,” said Tara. “I can wait.” Having finished her sandwich while the others were talking, she peeled the foil from the pudding cup and ate a small spoonful, smiling at Willow bashfully. The girl grinned back.

Suddenly another young boy dashed up to the table. “You guys,” he said excitedly, “Larry has the new Cobra Commander action figure! The movie one!”

“What?” said Xander, both aghast and amazed. “No way!”

“Yeah,” agreed Jesse, equally intrigued but playing it cool. “No way, they haven’t even come out yet.”

“Well, Larry has one,” said the boy, “he’s showing it to everybody at his table. Come on!”

Xander and Jesse gave a quick glance to the girls, and then took off with the boy to behold the new treasure.

Tara watched them go and then looked to Willow. “D-did you want to go see?”

“Hm? Oh, no… I don’t watch GI Joe,” she replied, “and I don’t play with action figures… much.”

“What about Barbies?”

Willow sighed. “I had one, but Xander stole it. And now my mom won’t let me have a new one. She says that Barbies ‘portray girls as unintelligent objects with unattainable bodies’ and she doesn’t want me to ‘be influenced by the outdated ideals of the patriarchy’.”

“Wh-what does that mean?”

The redhead’s face scrunched up. “I’m not sure yet.” She shrugged. “Anyway, I like playing with stuffed animals more.”

Tara smiled, “Me too.”

The sound of the bell startled them both. They slowly stood up, collecting their things and started walking toward the lunchroom exit.

“I’m, um,” Tara began, quietly nervous, “l-looking forward to having class w-with you tomorrow.”

Willow skipped a little at the declaration. “Me too! We should try and sit next to each other.”

The blonde found herself blushing again. “O-okay.”

Willow bussed her tray and stacked it. “See you tomorrow!”

“S-see you tomorrow,” echoed Tara as she watched the young girl race away down the hall.

Image


Thursday.

Willow stretched her small upper body as tall as it would go as she strained from her table to see the students of Mrs. Pickens first grade class filter one-at-a-time to the art room. Finally, seeing the familiar blonde hair, then face, of her new friend, she started waving frantically.

“Tara! Tara! Over here!”

As usual, Tara ducked her head, not wanting to draw attention, but still scurried quickly to where the redhead was sitting, taking the chair next to her.

“H-hi,” she said softly.

“Hi,” Willow beamed back, bouncing in her seat.

“Okay, everyone, find a seat and settle down,” said the young woman standing at the front of the room.

“That’s Miss Koontz,” explained Willow. Tara nodded in understanding.

Miss Koontz was dressed in a flowing, floral skirt, a scoop-necked peasant’s blouse and what looked to be knee-high red-leather boots. Her finger nails were painted a bright, friendly, orange and her mid-length blonde hair fell in waves down her shoulders. Her blue eyes were kind and her smile warm and inviting.

She waited patiently for every student to find a seat, and for the room to grow quiet, before speaking.

“Well, hello, everyone,” she said, her voice low and sing-song-like.

“Hello, Miss Koontz,” the class replied as one.

“Is everyone excited for today?”

Scattered “yeses” filtered up from around the room.

“Good! I’m excited too, because today we’re going to learn how to draw faces. So, take a good look at the person next to you, because that’s whose face you’re going to draw.”

There were various whispers of excitement and disappointment.

Miss Koontz smiled and started to walk to and fro at the front of the class as she spoke. “The first thing you need to know is that when you draw or paint a picture of another person it’s called ‘creating a portrait’. Some of the most famous paintings in the world are portraits. Have any of you ever heard of ‘The Mona Lisa’?”

Various hands (including Willow’s) shot up.

“Good,” said Miss Koontz, stepping over to pick up a large art book from off the teacher’s desk. She opened it to a marked page and displayed a photo of the painting in question. “Then you know that this is ‘The Mona Lisa’. But what you may not know is that this painting is the most famous painting in the entire world.”

Several “wows” and gasps peppered the room.

“I wonder who she was,” Tara said so quietly that only Willow heard.

The redhead’s hand flew back up. “Miss Koontz! Miss Koontz!”

“Yes, Willow,” she replied.

“Tara and I want to know who she was.”

“That’s a very good question,” said Miss Koontz, “and interestingly, no one knows for certain. Most art historians believe that she was the wife of an Italian businessman who paid Leonardo Da Vinci to paint a portrait of her. But, there are others who think she was a model who Da Vinci was fond of. We don’t know for sure, yet. Maybe someday some new information will come to light and we’ll finally know the answer.”*

A murmur fluttered through the students.

“But let’s talk about the portraits you’re going to draw of each other today,” she said, switching gears. “Looking at this picture of the Mona Lisa, what sort of shapes do you see in her face?”

The class spent a few minutes talking about shapes and faces and Miss Koontz demonstrated how to draw a basic face using ovals and circles and then set the students on the task of drawing each other.

“Remember, everyone,” said Miss Koontz, “sketch with a pencil first, and then add your color.”

“So, should I draw you first or should you draw me,” asked Willow.

“Wh-why don’t I draw you,” said Tara.

“Ok!” the redhead answered eagerly. “How should I sit?”

Tara pondered a moment. “J-just face me, I th-think.”

Willow happily complied. Tara studied the redhead’s face for a few moments, and then turned back toward the table, picking up a pencil and hunching over the blank paper in front of her, and began to draw. She focused intensely, taking extra care with each curve and line. She paused a moment on a detail, and glanced back to where Willow was sitting. She looked at the girl for several seconds and then went back to work on her picture, giggling a little bit.

“What’s funny,” asked Willow.

“You’re… you’re b-bouncing.”

Willow instantly froze. “Oh, yeah… sorry… sitting still…it can be hard sometimes.” She gripped the side of her chair. “I won’t move anymore. Promise.”

“It’s okay,” said Tara, looking up at her, “I finished my sketch.”

“Lemme see,” said Willow, reaching for it. Tara swiftly flipped her paper over.

“N-not yet,” she countered, gently, “you have to do your sketch first. And th-then we have to color. Once it’s done, ok?”

“Ok,” Willow agreed easily. She watched as Tara turned to face her straight on. She lifted her right hand in a ‘thumbs-up’ fashion and winked her left eye closed, staring down the length of her arm with her right. Her tongue poked out the side of her mouth as she focused intently.

“Wh-what are you doing?” queried Tara, confused. “W-with your thumb?”

“It’s a thing artists do so they can…. So they can…,” Willow drifted off, dropping her arm in the process. “Actually… I don’t know why they do it.” She shrugged. She settled down and looked at Tara more closely, not noticing the blonde blushing under her scrutiny. Happy with the image in her mind, she set to work on her own drawing.

Tara watched her, and smiled to herself as she noticed that Willow poked her tongue out of the corner of her mouth when she concentrated extra-hard. Her new friend made her smile. She wasn’t used to friends. She wasn’t used to smiling. Except when she was with her Mama. Mama made her feel safe. Willow made her feel safe, too.

“Ok, I think I’m done,” said Willow, straightening back up in her seat. “You ready to color?”

Tara nodded and they both reached into the tubs at the center of the table. The containers were filled with loose color pencils, crayons, and washable markers. Willow grabbed a black marker and started tracing her outline. Tara spent several long moments rummaging in a bin, and finally pulled out a light tan crayon and a soft, pinkish, skin-tone colored one.

They worked silently, each fully focused on her work; occasionally dipping into the rubber tubs to seek out different colored crayons. Tara grabbed out several green crayons of varying shades.

“W-Willow?”

“Yep?”

“C-can I hold these up to your eyes? See which one m-matches best?”

Willow sat back and waited patiently as Tara held each crayon up, one at a time, by her eyes and compared. Satisfied, the blonde turned back to her work.

“Th-thanks.”

The redhead nodded and went back to work, tucking her right leg under her body and leaning forward over her art paper, her face inches away from the surface.

Tara noticed, and was too curious not to ask. “Why are you so close to the paper?”

Willow kept her attention on her work, answering absently, “Gotta get the sparkles in your eyes right.”

Tara flushed a deep red. “Sp-sparkles?”

“Uh-huh…” The redhead was too engrossed to notice the effect her words had on her friend.

“Alright, everyone,” announced Miss Koontz, “start finishing up. And be sure to write the name of the person you’re drawing and your name on your picture. For example: Colin is drawing a picture of Larry. So, he would write ‘Larry by Colin’ on his drawing. Ok?”

A scattering of “yeses” and “yes, ma’ams” or “yes, Miss Koontzes” floated up from the room.

Willow began scribbling furiously to fill in the last of her background and then grabbed a purple crayon to write ‘Tara by Willow’ on the bottom corner of her picture. “Done!” she barked, slamming the crayon down onto the table with a loud slap. Tara jumped at the sound and curled in on herself a little. This time, Willow caught the reaction. ”Oh, sorry,” she apologized. “Finishing work always makes me excited.”

“It’s okay,” said Tara.

“What about you,” Willow asked, “are you done?”

Tara nodded. “I th-think so. I just have to put our names on it.” She grabbed a dark orange crayon and wrote ‘Willow by Tara’ near the top and then sat back so that her friend could have a look.

Willow’s eyes went wide and her jaw dropped. “Tara! Oh my gosh! It’s so good! Wow!”

“R-really?”

“Yeah! You made my hair so nice and you even drew my freckles and they don’t look stupid.” The redhead’s face fell a little. “It’s way better than mine.” She put her hand on her picture of the blonde and pushed it away so it couldn’t be seen.

“Let me see,” asked Tara, “please?”

“No, it’s bad.”

“No, it’s not.”

“Yes, it is. Compared to yours.”

“Willow, please?”

The girl let out a long sigh and slid the paper over, promptly putting her face in her hands once Tara had taken the picture to look at.

Tara looked the artwork over, her expression sweet. “You drew all of me,” she said softly. “you drew my hands. I can’t draw hands. These are g-good.”

“Nuh-uh,” argued Willow, her words muffled by her hands. “The fingers are all different sizes. They’re terrible.”

“You made my eyes so p-pretty.”

Willow finally looked up, regarding the blonde incredulously. “What? No! They’re way too small. I made your head too big and…”

“This is the n-nicest picture anyone has ever drawn of me.”

Willow’s face scrunched up. “Well, that’s sad.”

“No,” countered Tara, “it’s sweet.”

The redhead’s features softened. “Really?”

“Mm-hm,” nodded the blonde, handing the drawing back.

“Oh,” said the girl, taking the paper and looking at her effort with new eyes. “Thanks,” she smiled and puffed her chest up a little.

“Alright, everyone,” announced Miss Koontz, “pass your drawings to the center to hand them in. Your teachers and I are going to post them in the hall so your parents can see them on parent/teacher night!”

Another mixed chorus of groans and cheers rose up from the class. Tara’s face went ashen. She didn’t want to share her picture of Willow. She wanted to keep it. The other kids at their table passed their drawings forward to where she was seated on the end. As slyly as she dared, she stacked the other pictures on top of her own and then carefully slid her drawing from the bottom and into her binder. Just then Miss Koontz stepped up to her to accept the drawings; Tara jumped slightly, but then handed the stack over.

The bell rang.

“Ok, have a good lunch,” said Miss Koontz as the students quickly grabbed their bags and binders and started for the door. “Thank you for your attention today.”

In the cafeteria, Tara waited for Willow as she made her way through the hot lunch line, and then the two girls made their way to the usual table, arriving before Xander and Jesse.

They ate quietly for a few moments when, finally, Willow spoke up.

“Hey, Tara, can I ask you something?”

“S-sure.”

“Well, um…,” the girl found herself suddenly nervous. “It’s my birthday this weekend, and my parents just re-did the basement – we even have a new couch – and um… can I invite you?” Willow continued before Tara could answer. “I’m having a party… it’s a sleepover…”

“Talking about this weekend,” asked Xander as he and Jesse plopped down.

“Um, yeah,” said Willow.

“It’s going to be awesome,” said Jesse. “You should totally come. We’re gonna eat candy and get headaches.”

“In the basement!” Xander added excitedly. “Is your dad gonna let you use his record-player?”

Willow nodded happily. “Yep! He even let me pick out my own record at the store last week.”

“Whadja get,” inquired Jesse.

“Cyndi Lauper,” she answered.

“Aw, man! Why not Thriller? You should have gotten Thriller…” Jesse was miffed.

“Hey, my birthday, my choice,” Willow argued.

“It’s a s-sleepover?”

“Uh-huh,” the redhead nodded enthusiastically. “my mom is making onion dip and Fritos – she has a secret recipe and everything. Oh! And my cake is gonna be an ice cream one from Baskin Robbins!”

“Are you guys staying over,” Tara asked the boys.

“Yeah, sure,” said Jesse.

“I stay over all the time,” added Xander, “Will lives next door.”

Tara’s head drooped. If boys were staying over she had a feeling that her parents, especially her father, wouldn’t approve. Even if she could get permission to go, she didn’t have money for a present. And there were other factors.

“I d-don’t have a sleeping b-bag,” she shrugged sadly.

“You can share mine!” offered Willow.

Tara blushed. “I’ll ask Mama.” She could at least ask. The worst that could happen was that she’d be told ‘no’, and as that is what she anticipated anyway it wasn’t too awful to think about.

“Great!” piped the redhead.

“Hey, Will,” said Jesse, “have you invited any more people? It’s gonna be a quiet party if it’s just us four…”

“Not that I mind,” Xander cut in, “more Fritos and cake for me… I mean, us.”

“There’s no one else I wanna invite,” said Willow. She glanced at Tara with a smile, taking the opportunity to review what the girl had brought for lunch today. Once again, she only saw a simple sandwich accompanied by a small juice box. She lifted her Jell-O cup from her tray and set it in front of Tara, who shyly shook her head and pushed it back. Willow responded by sliding it back over and a small back and forth started.

Xander looked over in time to see Tara once more pushing the serving cup back Willow’s way.

“Hey Tara, if you don’t want your Jell-O, I’ll take it,” he said.

“No,” said Willow, sliding the container back the blonde’s way, “it’s Tara’s and she’s going to enjoy it.” She gave the girl a look of absolute resolve, and Tara melted under it, accepting the gelatin with a shy smile.

“You could invite a few more people,” said Jesse. “Like, what about Mark Minelli?”

“I’m not inviting Mark,” sighed Willow, rolling her eyes at him, “because I know why you want me to and it’s not very nice and I don’t want to be mean to people on my birthday.”

Jesse’s shoulders slumped and his head drooped onto his chest. He poked at his sandwich forlornly. “It was gonna be so funny when he wet his pants,” he grumbled to himself.

Image


Friday.

Pizza Day.


Willow exited the hot lunch line eager to dig into her rectangular slice of cheese pizza and side of French fries. A carton of chocolate milk nestled in the corner of her tray. She glanced around and saw Tara already seated at their table. She scurried over and sat down.

“Hi, Tara! Did you ask your mom about my party tomorrow?”

Tara nodded, smiling. “She said I c-could come, but I n-need to show her an invitation first.” She still couldn’t really believe that Mama had said ‘ok’, but she wasn’t going to question her good luck. Although it may have helped that she didn’t mention that boys would be there.

“That’s easy,” Willow replied enthusiastically. “I’ve got one in my backpack. I’ll give it to you after lunch. My mom made me fill out enough for everybody, but I didn’t want that many people. I only want people I like and who like me. Especially, after last year.” She shuddered at the memory. “Never let your mom invite your entire class and a pony to your birthday,” she warned. Then she looked at the empty space on the table in front of Tara, and then glanced to the girl’s lap. “Hey… where’s your lunch?”

Tara wrapped her arms around herself, tilting her head forward, her hair cascading curtains in front of her face. “I…. I f-forgot it.”

“Hey, that’s ok,” Willow said gently, “I forget stuff all the time.” She really didn’t, but she also didn’t want her friend to feel bad. Her little brow furrowed with another thought. “Tara, did you really forget your lunch? Or did you brother take it?”

If it was possible, Tara disappeared even further behind her hair. Willow looked down at her tray of food and then back at the girl next to her. Coming to a decision then, she pushed her tray so that it was between the pair of them. “Hey, did you notice something?” As Tara looked up at her, Willow reached down and carefully tore the pizza into two squares, setting one on the blonde’s half of the tray. “Did the world seem different when you woke up today?” Tara said nothing. “Like, everyone’s been excited today,” Willow went on, “because it doesn’t matter who you are or how your week as been so far; everyone knows when lunch time comes it’ll all be ok. Because it’s Pizza Day. And everyone gets pizza on Pizza Day.” She nudged the tray in her direction.

Hesitantly, Tara reached over and picked up the half-slice, bringing it to her mouth to nibble on. “Th-thanks.”

“Hey dudes!” announced Jesse as he and Xander joined them, each with their own tray of pizza and fries. He scrunched his face in confusion. “Why are you sharing a tray?”

“Oh, I forgot my lunch money, so Tara is sharing with me,” Willow answered easily. She felt Tara’s gaze on her, but chose to ignore it.

“You forgot something,” said Xander in disbelief. “You never forget anything. You’ve got a brain like an elephant!”

“No, I don’t,” Willow protested. “I forget stuff all the time!”

“Name one thing,” Xander countered.

Willow thought for a second. “I can’t,” she said, “because I’ve forgotten.”

Jesse bust up laughing and gave Willow a high-five. Even Tara giggled behind her hair.

The group fell into amiable chatter for the remainder of the lunch period. When the bell rang, Xander and Jesse both leapt up, and Willow was about to follow, when she felt a soft grip in her arm; she looked down to see Tara’s hand wrapped gently around her wrist.

“Tara?”

“You d-don’t have to do that.”

“Do what?”

“Lie for me.”

Willow looked confused, and then the light dawned. “Oh, the lunch money thing? It’s ok. I just figured it would be easier.”

“Easier doesn’t mean r-right,” Tara chided, her features a mixture of gratitude and sadness.

Willow’s expression softened. “Ok, I won’t do it again if it makes you sad.”

Tara would rather that Willow had promised not to do it because it was wrong, rather than to spare her feelings. But she didn’t know how to put that idea into words. Instead, she nodded and smiled a half-sort-of-smile, letting Willow’s wrist go.

The girls left the lunchroom together and stopped at Willow’s hallway cubby on the way back to their classrooms so that the redhead could give Tara an invitation to her party the next day.

Image


Saturday.

Willow’s Birthday.


The doorbell of the Rosenberg residence chimed announcing another visitor. Willow came storming up the basement steps as fast as her little legs would carry her, determined to beat her mother to the door. Unfortunately, she wasn’t fast enough as Sheila Rosenberg was already nearby.

“Well hello,” she heard her mother say as she careened into the hall. “You must be Tori.”

Willow reached the door and stretched her arm out between her mother’s hip and the frame, grabbing Tara and pulling her bodily into the house exclaiming, “C’mon, Tara! You’re just in time for cake!”

“Bye, Tara,” her own mother called after her, “I’ll see you tomorrow.”

Dr. Rosenberg turned back to the other middle-aged woman who had been left behind in the flurry.

“Hi, I’m Sheila Rosenberg,” she said graciously, extending her hand.

The woman took the offering and shook it briefly. “Hallo, I am Virginia Maclay. Tara’s mother…obviously,” she chuckled. “Call me Ginnie.”

Sheila’s brow furrowed in curiosity. “Do I detect an accent?”

Ginnie blushed a little. “German, ja.”

“Oh my, that’s wonderful. Is Terri bilingual? It’s such a wonderful thing for children to learn when they’re young. They have a better capacity for it, you know.” Sheila smiled broadly.

“Tara, she knows a little,” said Ginnie, emphasizing her daughter’s name and stiffening slightly. “So, tomorrow, I pick her up in the morning?”

“Morning, early-afternoon, whichever you’d like,” said Sheila. “Although before 3pm if you can. We have to take Willow’s father to the airport around then.”

“Oh ja, of course,” Mrs. Maclay replied, and Sheila couldn’t help but notice that the woman seemed oddly nervous. “I’ll be by in the morning. We have plans… family plans… for the afternoon. So, 10am at the latest.”

“Ok,” said Dr. Rosenberg, “sounds great. We’ll have… Taryn ready to go by 10am.”

“Tara,” Virginia said again.

“I’m sorry,” said Sheila, “Tara, of course.”

Mrs. Maclay nodded and turned to go, stopping suddenly. She spun back around and reached into her purse, drawing out a piece of paper and handing it to Sheila. “Our home number, if there is a problem.”

“She’ll be fine. Willow just loves her. She was so excited to have made a new friend,” Dr. Rosenberg reassured her. “Me too, actually. It’s nice that she finally has a gal pal.”

Ginnie’s forehead wrinkled. “Gal pal?”

“Oh sure,” said Sheila breezily, “her other closest friends are boys. Alexander and Jesse. Of course, Alexander is ‘the boy next door’, so naturally they--”

“I’m sorry,” said Virginia, cutting her off slightly. “These boys…are they staying over as well?”

Sheila took a slight step back. “Mrs. Maclay, as a child psychologist I can assure you--”

“It’s fine,” said Ginnie, catching her short again. “It’s fine. It’s fine.” She muttered the last phrase to herself. “10am, tomorrow, Tara will be ready?”

“Yes, no problem,” said Sheila.

Once again, Virginia started to turn to go, and stopped. “My husband may call later to… check in… make sure Tara’s alright. I know she will be,” she added quickly, “it’s just... he’s… Donald… he’s… old-fashioned. It’s fine with me… about the boys… but… maybe don’t mention it to him, should he call.”

“Ah, I understand,” nodded Sheila.

“I just,” Ginnie continued, haltingly, and Sheila wondered if she might be near tears. “I just want Tara to have a good time tonight. She worries a lot, my Tara, and I just… I want her to be happy tonight.”

“I doubt Willow would allow her to be anything else,” said Dr. Rosenberg.

“Yes, well, good,” nodded Mrs. Maclay. “I’ll see you tomorrow, then.”

“Tomorrow, 10am,” Sheila agreed again. This time Virginia made it off the front porch and down the walk. “Auf weidersehen,” Dr. Rosenberg called after her, pronunciation almost entirely wrong.

Virginia merely nodded and gave a little wave before climbing into her little orange Mazda 626 and pulling away.

*****


“That’s the new sofa,” said Willow, eagerly dragging Tara around the refinished basement. “And that’s the TV and stereo, and Xander and Jesse are over by the game closet and--”

Tara pulled her hand free from Willow’s grasp and planted her feet. “W-Willow, I’m dizzy.”

“Oh,” said she replied sheepishly, “sorry.” She perked up again. “Can I take your bag?”

“S-sure,” said Tara, passing it over.

“I’ll just set it Xander and Jesse’s,” said Willow, carrying it over to a corner on the far side of the sofa.

“Hi Tara,” said Xander as he and Jesse returned from the game closet, each carrying a box. “We’re gonna have cake and play some games. Will has loads. Mostly because I keep my games over here.”

“Xander’s dad threatened to throw them out after he slipped on a bunch of Hungry, Hungry, Hippos marbles and fell on his butt,” Jesse laughed.

“It’s not funny,” scowled Xander.

“It’s kind-of funny,” argued Jesse, still chuckling.

“No, it’s not,” the other boy countered.

“You guys,” sighed Willow.

“Who’s ready for cake,” called Sheila’s voice from the top of the basement steps. That snapped the four kids to attention. “Here I come…” she sing-songed, as she carefully made her way down the steps, plated ice cream cake with six candles glowing on top. “Are you kids ready to sing?”

Jesse’s eyes glinted, Xander and Tara smiled and Willow blushed under the attention.

Dr. Rosenberg made her way over to the quartet, crouching down so that the cake was at Willow’s chest height. “Ok, everyone, ready? On three, one… two…three: Happy--”

“Birthday to you,” Xander, Jesse, and Tara sang along, “happy birthday to you, happy birthday dear, Willow, happy birthday to you!” Tara sang the last phrase in harmony, earning a look of appreciation from both Willow and her mother.

“My goodness, Kara, that was lovely,” praised Sheila.

“Tara, mom,” Willow corrected, and then turned her attention to the girl, “that was really pretty, Tara. How’d you learn to sing like that?”

As usual, Tara blushed under scrutiny. “I w-was in the church choir back in Texas.”

“That’s really something,” said Sheila. ”Alright Willow, blow out your candles.”

“Make a wish, Will,” prompted Xander.

“Yeah, wish for a Nintendo,” urged Jesse.

Willow rolled her eyes at the boys and then glanced at Tara.

“W-wish for something that m-makes you h-happy,” said Tara, smiling gently.

Willow nodded her head, and then closed her eyes and took in a deep breath. Opening her eyes again she blew as hard as she could on the six candles in front of her, successfully putting them all out on the first try.

“Good job, honey,” praised Sheila, balancing the cake plate on one hand to rub her daughter’s back affectionately with the other. She stood back up and carried the cake over to the card table that had been set up and began pulling the extinguished candles out and setting them aside.

“Time for birthday punches!” crowed Jesse, taking off after Willow, who promptly screamed and started to run away. “

“Jesse McNally,” said Sheila firmly as she spun around to face the kids again. “We do not hit in this house.” She was so caught up in chastising the boy that she didn’t notice Tara curling in on herself.

Jesse pulled up short in his pursuit and froze. “Sorry, Dr. Rosenberg.”

“Willow, would you like to make the first cut,” asked her mother.

“Really,” asked Willow, “can I?”

“With my help,” her mother replied, gesturing for her to join her. Willow grinned hugely and jogged over to her mom’s side. Sheila held the knife above the surface of the cake and urged Willow to grasp the handle along with her. Together they pushed the knife down into the cake, making the first cut. “Good job again, honey,” said Sheila, taking command of the knife and making the next few cuts, carefully serving small slices onto the paper plates nearby. “Ok everyone, come get a slice.”

The kids lined up and took their plates, grabbing forks as well, and each found a place nearby to sit and eat: Jesse flopped onto the sofa, Xander on the floor near Jesse’s feet, Willow on the rug in front of them both and Tara off to the side, near the end of the sofa.

“Alright kids, enjoy,” said Sheila, “I’ll be upstairs. Try not to make too much of a mess.”

“Mommy can I put my record on the stereo,” asked Willow before the older woman could leave.

“Sure, honey, just be extra-careful not to bend the needle or scratch your new record, ok?”

“Ok!” Willow carefully set her plate on the table and hurried over to the stereo system, picking up the cardboard sleeve of her new Cyndi Lauper “She’s So Unusual” LP.

“And not too loud,” added Dr. Rosenberg from midway up the stairs.

“Ok,” Willow called again. After pressing the button to turn the amplifier on, she delicately lifted the lid on the record-player and slipped the vinyl out of its case, gently placing it onto the turntable. With a practiced hand, she flipped a lever on the side of the player, and then lifted the needle-arm over to the now spinning record, carefully placing the sharp point on the edge and letting go, pulling her hand away. Static pops filled the air of the room at first, and then the pop-y sounds of “Money Changes Everything” filtered through the speakers.

“Ice cream cakes are so cool,” said Xander, “get it? Because they’re ice cream! So they’re cold!”

“Don’t quit your day job, Harris,” Jesse joked back, around a mouthful.

“What do you want to do after this,” asked Willow, returning to the table to pick up her own slice.

“Don’t you usually open presents after cake,” asked Xander, licking his spoon before digging in for another bite.

“Not until later,” said Willow, “after Dad gets home.”

“I th-thought we were going to play a game,” said Tara.

“Oh yeah,” agreed Willow, “what did you guys pull out of the closet?”

“I grabbed Battleship,” said Xander.

“And I got Connect-Four,” answered Jesse.

Willow thought for a moment. “Those are both two player games,” she said, “we should play something we can all do together.”

“Wh-what other games do you have,” asked Tara.

“Lots between Xander and me,” she answered, and began to list them off. “Mouse Trap, Candyland, Operation, Monopoly, Scrabble, Life, Risk, Sorry!, Hungry Hungry Hippos, Clue, Trivial Pursuit…”

“That’s a lot,” said the blonde, a little overwhelmed.

“Uh-huh,” said Willow absently, “Oh! And Twister!”

“Yeah, Twister,” echoed Jesse excitedly, “let’s play that!”

“Ok,” Willow agreed, standing and walking over to retrieve the game for the closet, “but I wanna play Hungry Hungry Hippos after.”

“It’s your birthday,” Xander shrugged, “you can pick whatever you want.”

“As long as it’s not Trivial Pursuit,” added Jesse, earning a firm nod of agreement from Xander.

“Why not Trivial P-Pursuit,” inquired Tara.

“Cuz Willow always wins cuz she has the cards memorized,” said Jesse.

“I do not,” the redhead hollered over her shoulder, her voice becoming clearer as she returned to the group with the Twister box in her hands, “I just play a lot with my parents so I’ve heard the questions before.”

“Yeah, but Will,” argued Xander, standing up as he finished his cake and starting to clear a space for the multi-colored, spotted mat to be laid down, “there are like a million cards and you never get an answer wrong.”

“I do so. I get questions wrong all the time.”

“Not when we play,” countered Jesse.

“With my parents, then,” said Willow, starting to get frustrated with the line of conversation. She opened the box and pulled out the mat. “Tara can you help me lay this out?”

“S-sure.” Tara set her now empty plate aside and walked over to Willow, assisting her in unfolding and laying the mat out on the floor.

They heard the basement door open again and four sets of eyes looked up to see who was coming.

“Daddy!” cried Willow, running into his arms as he reached the base of the stairs.

“Happy birthday, shortcake,” Ira Rosenberg said warmly as he knelt into her embrace. He kissed her cheek and then stood back up, settling a few pats on the top of her head with his hand. “Hello boys, having a good time?”

“Yes, Doc,” they answered in unison.

“And who’s this,” he asked, turning his attention Tara’s way.

Willow scurried back over to her new friend, taking her hand and gently pulling her over to meet her father. “This is Tara. She’s new in my class.”

“Well, hello, Tara,” he said warmly, extending his hand.

“Hello, s-sir,” she replied, placing her tiny palm in his much larger one. He shook it gently and relinquished it.

“Oh, no need to call me ‘sir’,” he smiled, “Doc is fine.”

“M-my Daddy says I shouldn’t call grown-ups by their first n-names,” she said sadly, ducking her chin.

“Well,” said Ira, kneeling back down to look Tara in the eye. “Good thing that Doc’s not my first name then. It’s my title. I’m a doctor, like Willow’s mom. So Doc is just fine. Sound cool?”

Tara giggled to hear an adult use the term “cool”. “Yes, sir... I m-mean, Doc.”

“Good!” he barked happily, slapping his thighs as he stood back up. Turning his attention to Willow he said, “I’m sorry I’m so late, shortcake, but I had to pick up your present. Are you ready to see it?”

Willow went up on her tip-toes in excitement, “Yes, please!”

“Ok kids, Willow’s going to open her presents upstairs,” Doc directed, “last one to the dining room is a rotten egg!” And with that he took off up the stairs, taking them two at a time.

“No fair, you’re bigger!” Willow called after him, already half-way up herself and quickly followed by Xander and Jesse.

Tara hesitated a moment, and then rushed back to where Willow had put her bag, unzipping the front pocket and pulling out a greeting card-sized envelope. Clutching it to her chest, she turned and ran up the stairs to catch up with the others.

When she got to the top of the stairs, she found Willow waiting for her.

“I didn’t want you to be a rotten egg,” she explained.

Tara blushed and smiled. Willow took her hand and led her to the dining room.

“There you girls are,” said Sheila, “Willow, are you excited for your presents?”

“Yep!” Willow pulled herself up onto the chair at the head of the table, usually reserved for her father on the rare nights they had family meals together. In the center of the table was a large, gift-wrapped box, along with a couple of other, smaller gifts – one wrapped in the comics section of the Sunday paper. Tara, Xander and Jesse made their way to the other places at the table, while Sheila and Doc hovered nearby.

“Alright, well, why don’t you open your friends’ gifts first and then you can open what your Daddy and I got you last,” her mother suggested.

“Open mine first,” said Xander, “it’s the one in cartoon paper!”

“Ok,” said Willow amiably. The items were outside of her reach, so her father assisted and handed the gift to her. “Thanks, Xander,” she said, before tearing into the newspaper and revealing the box inside. “Oh, it’s a Barbie.”

“Yeah, to replace the one I lost,” he said eagerly.

“You mean stole,” Willow chided.

“Well… stole… then lost. Sorry. But here’s a new one!”

Willow didn’t want a Barbie, but she wasn’t going to give away her disappointment. Xander was her best friend after all. “It’s great, Xander, thanks! Wow, she even has a separate change of clothes and everything,” she chirruped as brightly as she could manage.

Xander’s head bobbed with the satisfaction of a job well done.

“Ok, here’s mine,” said Jesse, grabbing his from the small stack and lobbing it so it landed in front of her. It landed with a soft “clack”.

It was a rectangular package, wrapped in GI Joe paper, but with a garish pink bow on the side.

“Thanks, Jess,” she said, and picked it up, giving it a little shake. Unsatisfied with whatever the shake did or didn’t tell her, she peeled the paper away. “A walkie-talkie?! This is awesome!” she beamed. “Wait, there’s only one…”

“It’s a set of three,” Jesse explained. “I’ve got one--”

“And I’ve got the other!” finished Xander. “Now we can go on secret missions and stuff and have code names!”

“COOL!” Willow was over-joyed. But then a glance at Tara tempered her response. “But, what about Tara? She should have one, too.”

“Th-that’s ok,” said Tara softly, her hair falling in front of her face.

“No it’s not, there are four of us now,” argued Willow.

“Willow, sweetheart,” said Sheila in a gentle, warning, tone.

“You know,” Doc cut in, “I think I have an old walkie-talkie collecting dust in the garage somewhere. If I can find it, we can set the channel to whatever you kids are on and it should work, too. How about that?”

“Really, daddy?”

“No promises I’ll be able to locate it,” said Doc, “but I’ll take a look later, ok?”

Willow beamed in gratitude. She turned to Tara, grinningly hugely, and saw her friend was holding an envelope her way.

“H-here,” said Tara. “I’m sorry it’s so little.”

“It’s ok,” Willow assured her. “Good things come in small packages.” She gently took the envelope and inspected the front. Tara had written her name in crayon, using a different color for each letter. “Pretty!” Willow praised, and then turned the envelope over so she could open the sealed flap, revealing a simple, home-made card inside. It was made of light-purple construction paper and had a pink and red heart drawn carefully on the front, along with the phrase ‘Happy Birthday, Willow’. Opening the card revealed a delicately illustrated bunch of colorful balloons and the words ‘Have a Great Day’ and ‘Thank You For Being My Friend’ across the top and bottom. Tara’s name was signed in the bottom-right corner. “Tara,” said Willow, “This is perfect! Thank you!” She slid off of her seat and gave the girl a firm hug.

Pulling back from the embrace, Tara asked, “R-really?”

“Yeah! No one’s made me a homemade card before. This is great!” She turned to her mother, “Can we put this on the fridge next to my stuff?”

“Of course, honey,” Sheila smiled. “Well, are you ready for the big box?”

Willow bounced on the balls of her feet and shook her head ‘yes’ vigorously.

“Ok, shortcake,” said her father, sliding the package down the table to where Willow was climbing back into the head chair. “I hope you don’t mind that your mother and I got you one big present instead of a bunch of little ones. But, we really think you’re going to like this.”

“And it was expensive,” Sheila interjected.

“Yes, but that’s not important,” answered Doc, “not this time, anyway.” He turned his attention back to Willow who was practically vibrating with excitement in her seat. “Ok, shortcake, all you have to do is lift the box up, you don’t even have to unwrap it.”

The box was tall enough that Willow didn’t think she could lift it as high as it needed to go. “Is it ok if I stand on the chair to lift it?”

“Sure,” he said, reaching down and grasping Willow under her armpits, lifting her to a standing position and holding her waist. “Go for it.”

She reached forward and grasped both sides of the wrapped box, carefully raising it up to reveal a brand new Macintosh SE personal computer resting on the dining table. She gasped, her jaw dropping and eyes as big as baseballs. She froze. Ira lifted the box the rest of the way off and set it aside. Willow had stars in her eyes as she sank back down into her seat. She reached forward and caressed the side of the monitor/computer with reverence.

“A computer? A real computer? For me?” She started gently raking her fingers across the keyboard and fiddling with the mouse. “Really?”

“Really,” smiled Ira. “We can set it up in your room later.”

“Wow,” muttered Willow. The machine wasn’t even turned on (or plugged in) but it held her captivated none-the-less.

“We think it’s a good investment,” said Sheila, crouching down next to her. “And you seemed so excited when the school got all those computers, so we thought you might like one of your own.”

Willow threw herself bodily into her mother’s arms, grasping her hands behind Sheila’s neck. “Thank you, Mommy,” she said, pulling back and reaching for her father who was already crouched and waiting for her to hug him, too. “Thank you, Daddy.”

“You’re welcome, shortcake,” he said giving her a squeeze and rubbing her back.

Retreating back to her seat she asked, “Can we turn it on now?”

“Why don’t you and your friends go back to playing downstairs and I’ll get it set up in your room,” offered Doc. “Then after you’ve played for a bit, and had some dinner, we can fire it up. Sound good?”

“Yep!” She pushed her chair back from the table. “C’mon you guys!” she announced, grasping Tara’s hand and pulling her back toward the basement door, with Xander and Jesse in tow.

*****


The kids spent the next couple of hours playing a few different games; starting with Twister, followed by Hungry Hungry Hippos and finally Operation – which they quit early when Willow noticed Tara growing increasingly upset when it was her turn, she was terrified of the buzzer sound.

As they were setting up MouseTrap Doc called down from the top of the stairs, “Pizza’s here, kids! C’mon up and eat!”

The four of them clamored up the stairs like a small herd of elephants and hastily made their way to the dining room. Xander and Jesse took the same seats as before, but this time Willow sat next to Tara so her parents could take the ends of the table.

Tara had grown increasingly relaxed and at ease over the course of the afternoon, early-evening, and had even started cracking jokes with Xander while they’d all been playing. Until the unexpected terror that was Operation, that is. Luckily, Willow, still so unusually attuned to Tara’s emotional state, had saved her yet again.

Dinner was largely quiet. The kids were minding their manners in the presence of the adults, even as they tried to ask leading questions of them. The absence of the computer from the table led Willow to inquire whether or not her father had installed it in her room as promised. He promised her he had and they could all take it on a test drive after dinner, as they’d discussed. After which, Sheila had to stop Willow from cramming her entire slice of pizza into her mouth at once in order to be finished early.

Once everyone had finished properly, they all herded up the stairs to Willow’s room, where Ira had set her new computer up on her desk. He picked her up and set her in her desk chair and then showed her how to turn the system on. The rest of the group hovered nearby, watching with rapt attention. Knowing his daughter already knew the basics of navigation, he showed her the software already installed, a word processor, REALBasic and a few other simple programs. Finally, he reached into his front shirt pocket and pulled out a 3.5” floppy disk with the words “ZorK 1” on the sticky label.

Pressing it into one of the disk drives he said, “And this is a text adventure game. You have to use logic to solve the adventure and beat the game.”

“Logic like math?” Asked Willow eagerly.

“Sort of… more like deductive reasoning.”

Once the program booted, he started the game for her so she could see.

The opening screen read:
Image


“Now what,” asked Willow as she stared at the flashing prompt.

“Well, what do you want to do,” asked her father.

“Um, open the door?”

“It says the door is boarded.”

“Can I try?”

“Of course, shortcake, go ahead and type open.”

The following message appeared.

Image


“Oh,” said Ira, “that’s right. You have to be specific with these games. Type ‘open door’.”

She did.

Image


“What am I supposed to do,” Willow asked, growing agitated. She wasn’t used to not figuring something out quickly.

“You could open the m-m-mailbox,” said Tara, quietly.

Willow’s eyes went wide and she swung her head to regard her friend. “Great idea!” She turned back and typed: ‘open mailbox’.

Image


“It worked! Thanks, Tara!” Looking back to the screen she wondered aloud, “I wonder what it says.”

“Why don’t you read it,” suggested Ira.

“Oh yeah,” said Willow, typing: ‘read leaflet’.

Image


“Oh COOL!” Willow exclaimed. Tara, Jesse and Xander crowded in to read the screen.

“Alright,” said Ira, standing back up. “I’ll leave you kids to play. Bedtime at 9pm, ok?”

The kids replied severally and then became engrossed in the text on the screen as Ira and Sheila made their way back downstairs; each of them calling out suggestions for Willow’s next move.

They continued to play, or at least tried to play the game as the puzzles grew increasingly difficult to solve and more than once they got lost walking in circles unsure where to go next. But they were all having fun and Willow was thrilled with her present and being able to introduce Tara to a real computer.

Around 8:30pm Sheila stopped in and instructed the kids to start getting ready for bed. Sending the boys to change downstairs, while Tara and Willow changed in Willow’s room after Tara had retrieved her bag from the basement.

Once they were all in their pajamas, the group reconvened in the basement. Xander and Jesse had already cleared away the games and rolled out their sleeping bags in the middle of the room.

“Hey Tara,” said Jesse, “where’s your sleeping bag?”

“Oh, um…” she drifted off, ducking her head.

“We’re sharing mine,” chirruped Willow as she retrieved it from the corner where she’d stowed it that morning. She unrolled it next to the sofa revealing a My Little Pony design.

“No way,” said Xander, “you won’t both fit.”

“We’ll fit,” argued Willow.

“If you say so,” Xander replied, dubious.

The stairs creaked slightly as Ira and Sheila made their way down.

“Alright, bedtime, everybody,” said Doc. “We’ve got a nightlight plugged in over here by the stairs and we’ll leave the door open and the kitchen light on, too. Willow, you showed Tara the bathroom?”

“Uh-huh, when we brushed our teeth,” she replied.

“Ok, good,” he said. “Now we’re going to turn off the main light at the top of the stairs. We don’t expect you to fall asleep right away, but we do expect you to be settled and quiet.”

“We’re going to be up in the living room for the next couple of hours,” added Sheila. “If you need anything, come on up and tell us.”

“And if something happens and you need help,” said Ira, “come get us right away. If we’re not in the living room you can knock on our bedroom door, the first door at the top of the upstairs.”

Sheila was about to add one more safety item when she noticed that the group appeared to be one sleeping bag short. “Does everyone have a sleeping bag?”

“Tara doesn’t,” said Willow, “but it’s ok, we’re gonna share.”

“I don’t think you’ll both fit, honey,” said her father.

Willow adopted a practiced pout. “Yes, we will,” she countered.

“No, I don’t think so,” Sheila stated more firmly. “I’ll grab a couple of blankets from the cupboard and she can sleep on the sofa.” She headed up the stairs to collect the items.

“But that’s not as much fun as sleeping on the floor,” Willow argued.

“Oh to be that young,” chortled Ira. “Shortcake, floor or sofa, it’s still a sleepover. You and Tara can decide who gets what, ok?”

Willow crossed her tiny arms and harrumphed. Tara couldn’t help but smile at how cute Willow looked when she was angry.

Doc walked over to his daughter and crouched down to her level, placing his hands lightly on her elbows. “Sweetheart, it’s been a good day today, right? Birthday, cake, presents, friends. Most importantly: friends. And they’re still here, for you.” He was speaking firmly, but also soft and tenderly. He held her emerald gaze with his own. “Now, I know you’re trying to protect your friend and make sure she has as much fun as the rest of you. But you know what? It doesn’t matter if you sleep on the floor or she sleeps on the floor… you’re still together. And that’s what matters most. Right?”

Willow sighed, dropping her hands to her sides. “Right.”

Sheila chose that moment to return with a stack of three blankets. “Here we go,” she half-sung, as she draped them on the sofa.

“Here, Tara, I’ll help you get them set up,” said Willow, walking over to her side. The pair of them unfolding and shaking out the blankets and laying them across the cushions.

Xander and Jesse each hunkered down into sleeping bags as Sheila and Ira headed back up the stairs.

“Have a good night, kids,” he said as he flicked off the switch at the top of the stairs. The room went dark save for the warm glow of the nightlight at the base of the stairs.

The kids were quiet for a few moments. As long as they could stand it. Until finally Xander spoke up in a hoarse whisper, “time for ghost stories!” He revealed a flashlight from his lap, and turning it on, pointed it up at his chin giving is face a macabre, shadowy look.

“Oh!,” rasped Jesse, “I’ve got a good one! And it’s true!”

“No it’s not,” hissed Willow, “there’s no such thing as ghosts.”

“Are too,” he countered back. “Anyway, it’s not a ghost story. It’s a vampire story.”

“Those aren’t real either,” she huffed.

“They are so,” said Jesse, “Larry’s uncle’s neighbor’s one.”

“H-how do you know that,” asked Tara, nervously.

“Because he died and came back,” said Jesse. “I saw him across the street from the movie theater a few weeks ago when my parents took us to see The Monster Squad. It was after the movie, and it was already dark outside, and he was standing under one of the lamps.”

“You’re so full of it,” scoffed Xander. “You did not see him. And even if you had seen someone who looked like him, you just saw a monster movie… with Dracula! So it was just on your mind or something.”

“No, dude,” said Jesse, deadly serious, “I know what I saw.”

“You guys are such dorks,” said Willow.

“Well, you’re a nerd,” answered Xander, “but you’re our nerd, so it’s cool.”

Willow regarded him with slanted eyes in the dim light.

“Tara do you know any ghost stories,” asked Jesse.

“I kn-know one,” she said softly.

“Oh, tell it! Tell it!” said Willow excitedly, bouncing in her seat.

A sly smile creeped across Tara’s face, and she settled in to tell the tale – which happened to be The Golden Arm, by Mark Twain, and was one she’d heard her father tell on the few camping trips he’d taken her and her brother on when they were in Texas. She held the trio captivated, as she described the mean man whose wife had died and how he’d buried her with her golden arm. And how he was such a greedy, mean, man he couldn’t stand to think of all that gold kept buried in the ground. So he dug her up and took her arm, and buried her again without it. Then one night, when the wind was blowing outside, he thought he heard her voice calling,”who’s got my golden arm?” and the voice kept getting closer and closer on the wind, and the man was so scared he went and hid in his bed, but the voice was closer and closer still, until it was in his house right next to his bed. And the man had his eyes shut tight so he wouldn’t look to see what was there; and he felt the thing lean close and whisper in his ear, “who’s got my golden arm?”

Here Tara paused, and surveyed the other three, allowing a hushed silence to fall onto the room – so quiet you could hear a pin drop. She looked over at Willow, and could see her wide green eyes even in the dim of the room. Then suddenly, and without warning, she reached out and grabbed Willow by the arm and said, “You got it!”

And Willow screamed. The high-pitched squeal of a terrified child. Tara quickly moved her hand from Willow’s arm and placed it on her mouth, muffling the sound. “Sh, sh, it’s okay,” she said, “it’s j-just a story.” She felt Willow gulp once, and then nod her head against her hand. Tara pulled her hand back, slowly. Only after they’d both caught their breath, did they notice the boys had been laughing.

“It’s not funny,” scowled Willow.

“It’s is so,” laughed Jesse, still keeping his voice as low as possible. “Your face! You should have seen it!”

“Good story, Tara,” said Xander, “you told it real good.”

“Really well,” Willow corrected.

“Yeah, that,” he said, shrugging, not quite seeing the difference.

“Everything ok down there,” Doc’s voice boomed from the top of the stairs, causing them all to jump.

“Yes, Daddy,” Willow called back, “we were just telling ghost stories.”

“Alright, well don’t stay up all night scaring each other,” he said. “Good night, kids.”

“Night, Doc,” said Tara, Xander and Jesse severally.

“Night, Daddy,” added Willow.

They heard him move away from the top of the door, and the room fell silent again.

“Guess we should probably try to sleep,” said Willow. Her friends mumbled in agreement. The four of them settled into their sleeping bags (or blankets and sofa, in Tara’s case) and, surprisingly, all fell asleep quickly.

Around three in the morning, Willow found herself woken by the sound of soft cries and whimpering noises coming from above her head. Groggily, she rubbed at her eyes and propped up on an elbow, looking in the direction of the sound. It was Tara. Willow rose up onto her knees, her sleeping bag falling down, as she gazed at her friend in alarm. The girl was lying facing the cushions of the sofa, her back to Willow; the blankets were tangled up around her feet and her body was shaking slightly.

“N-no, stop. P-please, d-don’t hit,” she cried, her words muffled by the cushions.

It took a moment for Willow to realize her friend was still asleep, and having a bad dream. Willow walked on her knees so that she was closer to Tara’s head. She reached out and carefully placed her hand on her shoulder, shaking it gently. “Hey, Tara, it’s ok. It’s a bad dream.”

“No, n-no,” Tara whimpered.

Not knowing what else to do, Willow crawled up onto the sofa and spooned Tara’s little body with her own. She stroked her fingers through her blonde hair and patted her head a few times, whispering reassurances, until Tara grew quiet and her breathing evened out, and soon they were both fast asleep again.

*****


The next morning, at around 7am, Sheila, still in her nightgown and housecoat, went down into the basement to check on the children. Surprisingly, all were still sleeping. Xander was sprawled half-in, half-out of his Peanuts sleeping bag. Jesse was rolled up like a cocoon, only his black hair sticking out at the top. And then Sheila spied Willow and Tara on the couch. At some point Tara had rolled and was curled up facing Willow – the pair of them clutching at each other as though they were clinging to their favorite teddy bear. It was an entirely innocent and sweet picture. Sheila assumed that Willow hadn’t wanted Tara to feel left out and so slept on the sofa with her. Shaking her head, and deciding to let the children sleep a while longer, she went back up the stairs to make herself some coffee.

Around an hour later the kids woke on their own, and trudged up the stairs into the kitchen for breakfast cereal. Afterward, they all got dressed and, after some debate, decided to play a game of Sorry!

At a quarter to 10am, the doorbell rang. Ira answered the door and found a slightly harried woman on the other side.

“Hello,” he said.

“Hallo, I’m Virginia, Tara’s mom?” She was clearly anxious, gripping the straps of her purse between her hands and twisting them so they creaked.

“Oh yes, a pleasure to meet you, I’m Dr. Ira Rosenberg, but just call me Doc.” He extended his hand.

“Thank you. Is Tara ready to go,” she asked, ignoring his offering and brushing past him and into the house, peering around, looking for her daughter.

Nonplussed, Doc took a moment to gather himself before answering. “Probably, the kids are downstairs playing.”

“Where is the downstairs,” she asked, already moving toward the kitchen. “Through here?”

Standing by the counter, Sheila was surprised to see the woman rush in. “Oh, good morning, Ginnie. Aren’t you a little early,” she asked, looking at her watch.

“Yes,” Ginnie replied quickly, and pointed to the basement door. “Does this go downstairs?”

Ira entered the kitchen, hot on her heels. “Yes,” he said, “but--”

Before he could get another word out, Ginnie Maclay was already opening and through the door.

“Tara,” she called, “Tara, are you here?”

“Yes, mama,” she said, rising to her feet from where she’d been seated on the floor with the others. Xander, Jesse and Willow looked up in alarm at the woman they’d never seen before.

“Erhalte deine Sachen. Wir müssen jetzt gehen,” said her mother.

“Aber wir spielen ein spiel,” answered Tara.

“Es tut mir Leid,” said Ginnie, “Aber wir müssen gehen. Schnell.”

“Weiso,” asked Tara.

“Keine Fragen,” said her mother firmly, obviously agitated, “deine Sachen. Jetzt. Schnell, schnell.”

“Ja, ok, mama,” Tara replied sadly. She walked over to where her bag was sitting and picked it up. Moving back toward her mother, she gestured for Willow to stand.

“Mama, das ist Willow,” she said. Willow gave a weak little wave.

Ginnie managed a smile. “Hallo, Willow. Thank you for taking care of my Tara last night.”

“Bitte,” Willow replied with a smile.

Ginnie eyes widened, she looked to Tara and back to Willow. “Sprichst du Deutsch?”

“Huh?” asked Willow, out of her depth.

“I t-taught her some words,” explained Tara.

“I see,” said Ginnie, “that was nice of you. But we must go. Say goodbye.”

“Bye, Tara,” said Willow, giving her a hug. “thanks for spending my birthday with me.”

“Th-Thanks for inviting me,” she replied, pulling back. She raised a hand and waved to the boys, “bye g-guys.”

“Bye, Tara,” said Jesse.

“Bye, Tara, see you at school,” said Xander.

Ginnie took Tara’s hand and led her back up the stairs where they were met by Ira and Sheila in the kitchen.

“Thank you so much for having her,” said Ginnie, “but we must go now.” She continued to pull Tara along behind her as they made their way back to the front door.

“Yes, of course,” said Sheila, her brow furrowed as she followed after them, Ira at her side. “She was perfectly behaved. Willow enjoyed having her.”

“So did we,” added Ira.

“Good, good,” said Ginnie, opening the front door ahead of her and marching through, her pace unchanged.

“She’s welcome back anytime,” said Sheila.

“Good, thank you,” Ginnie replied, her anxiety increasing.

“Mrs. Maclay,” Ira said firmly, “please stop a moment.” The woman pulled up short, turning back to face the Rosenbergs, pulling Tara behind her in the process. “Is everything alright?” Ira glanced over her shoulder to the Mazda parked at the curb and spied what appeared to be a sullen, blonde, teenage boy sitting in the front seat. “Did we do something wrong?”

“Nein, ah, no, no not at all,” spoke Ginnie quickly, “we’re late for…” she searched for the words and not finding them merely reiterated, “we’re late.”

Ira shifted on his feet. Something didn’t feel right. He took a moment to really look at the woman standing in front of him. She was slightly gaunt, dark circles were smudged under her eyes, and her dress hung loosely on a wiry frame. Glancing at her arms he noticed the hint of a yellow bruise near the edge of a rolled up sleeve. He looked up into her eyes again. “Virginia, do you need help?”

“No,” she replied, “just in a hurry, tight schedule.”

“That’s not what I--”

“Thank you again, goodbye,” she added before he could say anything further. “Come along, Tara, schnell, schnell.”

The pair of them headed again to the small sedan, this time making it to the car. Ginnie opened the passenger door, and the boy in the front seat leaned forward so Tara could climb into the back; walking around to the driver’s side, Ginnie climbed in quickly, and after some settling, turned the key and drove swiftly away.

The Rosenbergs watched the car as it rode away, turning right at the end of the block. The married couple shared a look, and then went back inside the house.

Image


Monday.

Willow made it to the lunch table first, her eyes scanning the crowd waiting for her friends to appear. She was excited to see Tara – her father had located the old walkie-talkie and she had it in her book-bag to give to her. Xander made it to the table next, followed by Jesse, but Tara still hadn’t shown. After eating for a few minutes, she couldn’t hold her curiosity back any longer.

“Hey Jesse, is Tara in school today,” she asked.

“No, I think she’s home sick or something,” he replied absently as he bit into a Fruit Roll-Up.

“Oh,” she replied, a worry-line creasing her forehead.

Tuesday.

Willow practically ran to the table once she saw Jesse was already seated there. Jesse, but no Tara. Still.

“Is Tara here,” she asked, setting her tray down in front of her.

“Nope,” he replied.

She slumped down in her seat.

Wednesday.

Once again, Willow was first to the table, followed by Xander and finally Jesse.

“No, she’s not here,” said Jesse, before Willow could say anything.

“Where is she,” whined Willow, her voice a mixture of worry and frustration.

“Maybe she has chicken pox or something,” suggested Xander. “Marcie Ross had them and was out for two weeks.”

“Who” asked Jesse.

“Marcie Ross,” Xander said again.

“I don’t think I’ve noticed her,” he replied.

Willow drifted into her own thoughts. Where had Tara gone? Was she really sick? What about school work? Was anyone getting it to her?

“Do you guys know where Tara lives,” she asked the boys.

“No,” said Xander, “why would we?”

“I don’t know, I was just asking,” she replied huffily, and stabbed a cubed carrot with her plastic fork.

*****


The rest of the week passed by and still no sign of Tara. Willow had grown increasingly worried, but as far as she knew, her new friend was just out with a bug. But when the following week arrived, and then the week after, and still Tara wasn’t in school, Willow didn’t know what to think. Finally, Jesse arrived to the lunch table with an answer.

“She moved,” he said.

“She moved? Where,” asked Willow.

“I don’t know,” he replied. “I just asked Mrs. Pickens where she was and she said she’d moved.”

“But Tara never said anything about moving,” she argued. “Wouldn’t she have said something at my party?”

“I don’t know,” sighed Jesse, “maybe she didn’t know.”

“How do you not know that you’re moving,” Willow inquired, incredulous.

“I don’t know,” he answered again, clearly tired of the constant questions.

October.

The week before Halloween.

Parent Teacher Night.


Parents and students (but mostly parents) wove their way through the halls of Sunnydale Elementary school after-hours. A general welcome had just ended in the gymnasium, and now the families were making their way to individual classrooms.

In the hall outside of the first grade rooms had been decorated with the students’ artwork, including the portraits they had done of each other a few weeks back in September.

Ira and Sheila scanned the rows of crayon faces looking for one that resembled their daughter, not finding it easily, Ira crouched down to Willow’s level, where she was standing next to him.

“Where’s your picture, shortcake,” he asked.

“Right there,” she said, pointing to her picture of Tara. “I drew Tara.”

“Who drew you,” asked Sheila.

“Tara did,” she answered.

“Well, where’s Tara’s picture of you,” her mother asked, patiently.

Willow looked up at the wall, scrutinizing it closely. It wasn’t there. Tara’s drawing was missing. “It’s not here,” she said. “But, I saw her turn it in.” She looked to her father, concerned.

“Maybe it just got misplaced,” he suggested. “There are a lot of you kids.”

“Maybe,” she echoed, unconvinced.

December.

Wednesday.

Last Day of School Before Winter Break.


Willow gazed at the paper in front of her, her drawing of Tara smiled back. She missed her friend. Even though she’d only known her for a week, something about her made her special. Willow knew it. They were supposed to be friends. But Tara was gone and Willow didn’t know how to reach her. It was the last day of school, and the last night of Hanukkah. Even though she’d gotten some nice presents and even though Xander and Jesse were crowing their excitement at having the next 2 weeks off, she just couldn’t match their enthusiasm.

She missed Tara too much.

When she got home after school that day, she immediately went to her room and reverently pinned her drawing of Tara above her desk, next to the birthday card the blonde had given her (she’d moved it from the fridge to her room a few weeks after Tara had stopped coming to school).

She wasn’t going to allow her memories of Tara to disappear, even if her friend had.

Image


Sunnydale Elementary School 1988.

January.

Monday.

Lunchtime.


The diminutive form of pony-tailed, 6-year-old, Willow Rosenberg – dressed in pink denim jeans, a purple and white striped knit sweater and pink converse sneakers - made her way through the hot lunch line, clutching her tray close to her body. She scanned the lunchroom for her friends’ usual table and almost dropped her tray when she saw a familiar blonde girl seated there.

Rushing over as quickly as she could without spilling any of her food, she slammed her tray on the table and wrapped her arms around the other girl. “Tara, it’s you!” she cried. “You’re back!”

Tara giggled in her friend’s embrace, hugging her back, and then pulling away, brushing her loose hair behind her ears.

“Where did you go,” Willow asked.

Tara opened her lunch bag and pulled out a sandwich, and apple, a small baggy of carrots and a baggy of goldfish crackers as well as a juice box. “M-mama and Daddy got d-divorced, and so we had to g-go away for a while.”

“Oh,” said Willow, her brow furrowing. “I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay,” Tara replied. “Daddy’s stationed somewhere else n-now, so we could c-come back.” She looked down at her hands a moment, adding, “Donny w-went with him.”

“So it’s just you and your mom,” queried Willow.

“Yeah,” Tara shrugged, and then smiled. “It’s n-nice. She’s teaching me more German so I can t-teach you, too.”

“I really missed you,” said Willow sincerely.

“I m-missed you, too,” said Tara. “I still h-have that picture of your hair... and your face. The o-one I drew?”

“I wondered where it was!” Willow exclaimed, and then settled down. “I have my picture of you, too. It’s in my room. Oh! And your walkie-talkie!”

Tara was about to reply when she noticed Xander and Jesse approaching the table.

“But it doesn’t make any sense,” said Xander, “robots can’t have babies.”

“It doesn’t have to make sense,” argued Jesse, “it was a movie, dude.”

“What were those little ships doing there anyway? And why were they fixing the building?” Xander huffed.

“Because if they hadn’t then there wouldn’t have been a movie,” countered the other boy.

“But where did the other spaceships come from,” grumbled Xander. He glanced at the two girls as he sat down. “Oh, hi, Tara.” Suddenly he realized what he’d said and to whom. “Tara! You’re back!”

Jesse, who knew this as she was back in his class, was less excited, but not less pleased. “Yeah, she came back this morning.” He opened his lunch bag and pulled out a cheese sandwich, taking a bite. “And it doesn’t matter,” he said, mouthful.

“It so matters!” countered Willow angrily.

“Not Tara, she matters,” he clarified, and then looked at Xander, “it doesn’t matter where the other spaceships came from.”

Leaving the boys to their debate, Willow turned back to Tara. “Do you wanna sleep over this weekend? I bet my mom would be ok with it.”

“M-Mine too,” smiled Tara. Willow beamed.

The girls settled in to their lunches as the boys continued to argue. Willow couldn’t help but feel that 1988 was going to be a really awesome year.

ImageImage


The End.

*In 2005 new evidence was discovered that confirmed (for the most part) that the Mona Lisa was indeed the portrait of the wife of Francesco del Giocondo.

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Last edited by DarkWiccan on Sun Jul 30, 2017 7:16 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Summer Challenge: The Food Fight Challenge
PostPosted: Sun Jul 30, 2017 12:07 pm 
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Ms. Moderator Fantastico
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It seems like far too long since I've read a little DarkWiccan!

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Girl this was sweet as a Baskin Robbins ice-cream cake (also a feature of my childhood). I came about 10 years later, but the action figures and the lunchboxes and different factions of TV shows were all the same for me (damn...now that I think about it...it's still the same for me now!)

One of my unfinished fics has them knowing each other their whole lives so it's so easy to imagine them growing up into a bond and working out what it is, all with this wonderful rooting in caring for each other from the moment they laid eyes on each other. It's such a strong word to use for such little babies, but since we know who they are, it's amazing to witness such an innocent meeting of soulmates.

A sugar bomb is just what I needed this week, of all weeks. I should have known you would have my back. Not like you were slaving over this for weeks, nope, I'm claiming it all for me :P

Also so great to see Tara will get to be raised free from any more violence, with love from all sides. That is so, so, so, so satisfying.

Love those portraits. I may have saved them on my phone to sneak a peek whenever I want. May have. I never admit to anything unless the cops offer me full immunity.

No, but seriously:

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(I'm sorry. I have a problem. Is there Nicolaholic meetings?)

But I love this. Instant fave.

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 Post subject: Re: Summer Challenge: The Food Fight Challenge
PostPosted: Sun Jul 30, 2017 2:19 pm 
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So Cute!

Glad to see that at the end, Willow got her special friend back :)

and that Tara and Ginny got free from their horrible situation :(

Man, puberty is gonna be fun for these four :P

Great story! :bounce

R :flower

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 Post subject: Re: Summer Challenge: The Food Fight Challenge
PostPosted: Sun Jul 30, 2017 6:23 pm 
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Hello it's me, Delayne, your hostess of the least-ess…  Long time no see. Wow what a thread we've got here.


I'm so excited how many wonderful fics are here today. We've got, what, a smidge more than 24 hours to go?  And although I have yet to leave any feedback, I have read some of them and I'm sure the rest are just as awesome!


Do y'all really know how high you set the bar here? Seriously amazing…


I look forward to when I have a little more time to respond to each entry individually, but I wanted to pop in real quick and say hello.  The behind the scenes crew at The Challenge do have the next one in the works, but I think we are likely taking August off, if not all, at least part, as we prepare the next one.  And as always, hopefully this challenge has inspired you to write.


As for last minute entries, I'll disappoint my fans now and say I won't be submitting this go round but for the rest of you, get those fics posted.


*crackles over the loudspeaker* “Paging drlloyd”

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 Post subject: Re: Summer Challenge: The Food Fight Challenge
PostPosted: Sun Jul 30, 2017 9:59 pm 
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11. Fish in the Bowl

Joined: Tue Sep 28, 2010 1:35 pm
Posts: 1480
Topics: 2
Location: California
Awwwwwww. I love little W/T stories. :love

Nice touch with records, Zork, the real sense of games from the time.

Mostly I loved how they care about each other and support each other, even as children. There's a real foundation of love and friendship. I love their grown up hotness but I also love that they are genuine friends too.

I am deeply glad that Tara is saved at a much younger age and is allowed to grow up with a parent who loves and nurtures her.

And the pictures . . . Tara's crooked smile and her saving Willow's picture. So very sweet and loving. :flower :flower :flower


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 Post subject: Re: Summer Challenge: The Food Fight Challenge
PostPosted: Mon Jul 31, 2017 8:48 pm 
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10. Troll Hammer

Joined: Sun May 01, 2005 1:21 pm
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Location: Not far now..
An October night in the Kitchen
By Drlloyd

I know it’s a cliché, but I swear the Avocados were the ones who started the fight. Their kind always does.
The Avocado’s had said some pretty mean things to the oranges , and the oranges took it in stride (Citrus are really thick skinned about these things). But when they started in on the Apples , man…that’s when the food fight really started.
The Apples rolled out of the bowl and right off the refrigerator onto the kitchen floor, they were bruised of course, but began to climb right up the kitchen island screaming bloody murder. The Oranges then pulled some dirty silverware out of the sink and the battle was joined.
----------------

“Did you hear something?”
Willow murmured a bit and pulled the covers over her shoulder tightly. In the state of sleep which is less oblivion and more a grim determination to not wake up.
“Sweetie, I heard something, in the Kitchen!”
Tara climbed out of bed and put on her shawl, it was cold for Southern California that October, and it was hard to get out of the warm bed.
She tiptoed down the hall, quiet as she could be. Years of monster hunting had taught her caution, but then the last few years of marital bliss had softened that instinct. There was no more monster hunting, instead there was evenings at home. There was no more patrols and slaying, but meals outside in the backyard and long afternoons. All of this was wonderful to be sure, but not like it had been in College.
There was still spells and research but it was at a slower pace and less urgency.
It was at the end of last summer that the thought arose, if two was company then three could be even more cozy, and they started talking about a baby.
There were fertility centers and adoption and so many other avenues, but they were Witches dammit! Willow was the sorceress supreme and Tara wasn’t too shabby herself. If they closed the Hell mouth and empowered the potentials, they sure as heck could make a baby.
They had gathered the ingredients, and they had studied for weeks. The full moon in October was the right time the auguries said. They made the potions and put on the body paints and danced under the moon. It seemed silly at first, but it was sort of fun and not a little sexy. Willow had measured out the paint to the centimeter and the dance to the second. There was a complex ratio of pant to dance to second they had worked out. They signed each other’s secret names on their backs with paint at the conclusion. Willow said it was a ratio of dance to paint that would equal baby.
When the spell was over Tara didn’t feel any different. Tara cast the auguries and it said she was not with child. Willow began to cry a bit.
“Hey Girl!” Tara said.
She put her hand on Willow’s cheek and looked her in the eyes. They kissed and Willow smiled that “MyNoseIsRunnyAndILookTerribleFromCryingButIwillBeAlrightReally” smile you have when you don't to worry the other person.
They were disappointed, but they would try again next year. They avoided the word “infertile” and tried to focus on supporting each other. They were a team and this wouldn’t change anything. Maybe it would have to be adoption but they would get there.
They came home and went to sleep exhausted.
---------------------------------------
Now it was 2:30 AM and Tara was creeping around the corner into the kitchen. There were voices inside, small but clear. They were shouting and cursing each other, but it was with teeny tiny voices like chipmunks would have.
She peered around the corner and saw the slick red fluid on the floor, she looked up at the counter top and saw the carnage. She could barely suppress a shriek. She slowed backed into the bedroom to wake Willow.

In theory she quietly and calmly woke Willow with the news of the violence in their home.
In Theory…
In reality is came out like this
“Ohmygoddessthereiscrazyfruitzombiesandbananaswithknivesandstrawberrybloodeverywhere!”

Willow jumped up, it had been years since anything like this had happened. She tried to remember a battle spell, but then Tara took her hand and she felt it. That surge of power and of strength. More than magic and more than love it was that feeling of destiny, that the person at the other end of your hand was fated to be with you to the very end, and you wouldn’t have it any other way.
The feeling that the two of you could take on the world.
When they got the kitchen, it was like a abattoir. I mean it would be like an abattoir if you excepted the fact it was various kinds of fruits engaged in a pitched battle and the stick red fluid was Strawberry goo and it looked like several bananas were trying to push a Pluot down the garbage disposal.

“How, why, How” was all Willow could think to say. She quickly covered her mouth to silence herself but it seemed like the now animated fruit paid them no attention.
Tara smiled, she figured it out? The spell , the fertility spell for the baby, it was called Ayadalmia’s blessing. As clever as Willow is, she made a teeny tiny mistake in the translation. Ayadalmia did mean “Fruitful” in Aramaic, but it was the literal use of the word, not the figurative.
As soon as she said the word “fruitful” out loud Willow understood the idea too. The spell didn’t fail! It didn’t go wrong! It was just the wrong spell!! They could try again!
The sight of two witches holding hands face to face and jumping up and down with joy while an entire kitchen of fresh fruit fought to the death is not often seen, but an observer walking past the house would have seen just that.

Willow and Tara held hands, and cancelled the spell. The murderous fruit stopped what they were doing. The Apples dropped the forks, the Pluot’s stopped strangling the Bananas, and the Pineapple stopped crushing the grapes underfoot.
They just became fruit again.
They decided to wait for the morning for the cleanup. A month or two later when the morning sickness started Willow realized she had made *two* mistakes. Wrong use of the word “fruitful” and she switched her name with Tara’s on their backs.
The augury was right, Tara wasn’t pregnant.. Willow was.
And that is why Jenny McClay-Rosenbergs middle name is Strawberry.

I await your judgement.


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 Post subject: Re: Summer Challenge: The Food Fight Challenge
PostPosted: Mon Jul 31, 2017 9:08 pm 
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17. Mega-Witches
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Edit: eek, new post! I'll read and reply shortly, in the meantime, feedback for Pizza Day:

So sweet! But also complicated, I really liked that - their not quite being on the same page with regard to Willow covering for Tara's lack of lunch stood out for me, they're not just 'cute kids', they've got the full spectrum of thoughts going on inside, whether it's major issues (Tara and her mother's anxiety was heart-wrenching - but made for a great sense of relief at the end, when they're finally free) (just between us though, the buzzer in Operation panics me entirely on its own merits), and also in everyday moments that aren't really indicative of anything larger, except of course two people forming a friendship. Zork was a lovely touch (including the screenshots) - I never played Zork itself, but I was right in that era of home pc gaming, so that was a great blast of nostalgia (I kind of missed the old text parser when they all went over to point-and-click interfaces). And the drawings were lovely! (Also, clever - until the 'I still have that picture' line happened, it didn't even occur to me that that was being set up, it made so much sense and had proper meaning just as part of this story by itself.) And yay for She-Ra! :heart (not that Xander doesn't have a bit of a point with Thundercats too)

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Through the Looking-glass - Every world needs a Willow and Tara.


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 Post subject: Re: Summer Challenge: The Food Fight Challenge
PostPosted: Mon Jul 31, 2017 9:46 pm 
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11. Fish in the Bowl

Joined: Tue Sep 28, 2010 1:35 pm
Posts: 1480
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Awwwww Doctor Lloyd, it was so simple it was almost a fairytale but it also had their humor in it.

And if there is a wacky food fight award then I think you might have just nailed it! :bow Picturing that epic fruity struggle was a lot of fun. :lol

I love them having a baby together. Thank you for this lovely, end of challenge surprise.


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 Post subject: Re: Summer Challenge: The Food Fight Challenge
PostPosted: Mon Jul 31, 2017 11:18 pm 
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17. Mega-Witches
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Hehe, avocados always startin' a fuss... That was fun, silly, and (despite the silly) full of moments that rang true - the stay-in-bed feeling, the don't-want-to-worry-you face, the little bit of Tara 'in theory' being calm, I loved those bits, as well as the laughs.

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Through the Looking-glass - Every world needs a Willow and Tara.


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 Post subject: Re: Summer Challenge: The Food Fight Challenge
PostPosted: Tue Aug 01, 2017 4:56 am 
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Ms. Moderator Fantastico
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Hehe Brad...I love your mind!

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 Post subject: Re: Summer Challenge: The Food Fight Challenge
PostPosted: Tue Aug 01, 2017 8:42 am 
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10. Troll Hammer
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Feedback and Replies!

First, Feedback:

Ariel: I *LOVED* your story! As a HUGE Shakespeare nerd I absolutely adored how you used Twelfth Night as the set-piece for our ladies realizing their feelings for each other. It was such a wonderful use of the text and your descriptions of their warring internal emotions were PERFECT.

DrLloyd: OMG that was so adorable!! I knew from the first sentence that I was going to really enjoy this story. I loved how you took the idea of a "Food Fight" and took it to it's most delightfully silly conclusion. Thanks for sneaking this in at the last minute!!

______________________________________________________________


And now, Replies!:

Laragh: I'm so glad my little trifle brought you some joy! Now I just need to order a subpoena so that I can get a look at your phone.... ;)

Azirahael: Thank you so much!! Yes, puberty is going to be an interesting time, indeed. LOL!

Ariel: I had a lot of fun rooting through the old mental index and trying to recreate a few of the elements of my 1980's upbringing. I actually did pick Cyndi Lauper's "She So Unusual" as the first record I ever bought on my own (with my allowance money...I was six). I'm glad you enjoyed the callbacks to the crazy 80's!

Artemis: Thank you!! Yes, the inner lives of children is not all cartoons and candy and I wanted to try to capture some of that innate depth without accidentally making them too "adult". Hopefully, I succeeded for the most part.

Cheers all!,
DW

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Check out some of my most popular works: Special ... Leave It to Giles ... The Inimitable Giles ... Giles at Christmas

Challenge Fics!: You Could Be Her ... Glasses ... Graffiti ... Pizza Day

Forbidden Fics?: Check out the Litterbox!

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 Post subject: Re: Summer Challenge: The Food Fight Challenge
PostPosted: Tue Aug 01, 2017 4:25 pm 
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3. Flaming O
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Feedback! (Finally)



Ariel : 12th Night

I have to be honest - I had a difficult time with this one. Not for any reason other than my ability to understand Shakespeare is more than lacking. BUT! The story was absolutely lovely!

Although my French brain was having a hard time during the Shakespeare parts, I was able to pick up on everything else: The friendship, the emotions... I was able to imagine the costumes. It was a delight to read! :grin

DarkWiccan : Pizza Day

OMG... You sent me back in time! Trapper Keepers!?? *shakes head* I'd forgotten about those...

Willow had so many sweet moments in your story... But, when she waited on Tara for her not to be a rotten egg? I might have teared up... I'm a softie like that.

I might have also clapped out loud when Tara came back, her mother having divorced her father. Yay!!

You wrote their age so well! I could picture little Willow and Tara, Xander and Jesse... and, the drawings? Oh jeez... you kill me. LOVE LOVE LOVE

Drlloyd : An October night in the kitchen

You made me giggle so hard! Such an imaginative story. Those darn avocados...

I might be hooked on challenges now... Thanks to all these amazing stories! :love

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 Post subject: Re: Summer Challenge: The Food Fight Challenge
PostPosted: Tue Aug 01, 2017 8:17 pm 
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17. Mega-Witches
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DW - you reminded me of text adventures, so this was inevitable:

:kgeek

What’s your name?

> Tara

Welcome, Tara! You are a valiant and exceedingly beautiful adventuress, undertaking a quest most vital. Not long ago a malevolent pony attempted to bite the arm of Willow the Witch, who in retaliation is threatening to banish every horse in the realm to another dimension, with disastrous consequences for travel and farming and assorted other things that need horsies. Can you deter Willow from her well-intentioned but inadvisable revenge on horse-kind?

> Look around

You are in the charming medieval-type village of Fairydale. Around the town square are various shoppes, and a tavern full of ale and people drinking ale. To the north is the road leading to the dwelling of Willow the Witch. You should make all necessary preparations to confront her before venturing that way.

> Look at shops

It wasn’t a typo, this is all ye olde and stuff.

> Look at shoppes

Three vendors might provide wares useful for your quest. Cordelia Ye Alchemist sells a variety of noxious brews sure to drive off any foe. Xander Ye Armourer makes weapons and armour should combat be the road you intent to take. And Miss Kitty’s House of Delights sells all manner of Silken Finery, specifically undergarments, from far-off and exotic lands.

> Buy Silken Finery

It looks amazing on you. You don a long travelling cloak over top of it, because otherwise you’d be quickly mobbed by the villagers, who doubtless have never seen anyone so sexy in their entire lives.

> Travel north

A short journey brings you to the Witch’s abode, a secluded cottage deep in the picturesque forest. Not really scary secluded, more like, nobody’s going to wander past and overhear whatever’s going on, it’s really quite pleasant.

> Knock on door

The door opens to reveal Willow the Witch, practitioner of all manner of magics, clad in a big black witch’s hat that’s kind of cute, and a matching black dress with cobweb-type lacy decorations, and overall the dress maybe isn’t quite so big as the hat. She seemed amazed at the sight of you.

> Ask Willow not to banish horsies

Although clearly bewitched (ha ha) by your intoxicating presence on her doorstep, Willow holds firm to her goal of ridding the world of scary arm-biting horsies. Unless you can persuade her to abandon this vehemently-held belief, all will be lost!

> Take off cloak

Willow’s eyes go big as saucers and she drops her wand.

> Lop-sided smile

Willow presses her trembling lips to yours and whispers of her complete and utter devotion to you, and if that seems short notice, well, have you looked at yourself in a mirror lately?

Congratulations, you have completed part one of The Adventure of Willow the Witch! To access part two, switch off the computer and go to the bedroom where your girlfriend is waiting. If you purchased the Silken Finery during part one (I mean I don’t want to presume, but you know, just in case) you’ll find it in the gift-wrapped box in the bathroom.

:wtkiss

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Through the Looking-glass - Every world needs a Willow and Tara.


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 Post subject: Re: Summer Challenge: The Food Fight Challenge
PostPosted: Wed Aug 02, 2017 2:14 am 
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11. Fish in the Bowl

Joined: Tue Sep 28, 2010 1:35 pm
Posts: 1480
Topics: 2
Location: California
To all the Kittens who took up the challenge - how I have MISSED being part of this wonderful, crazy, funny, marvelous community! One supposedly silly challenge and I'm touched, inspired, learning a bit of another language not to mention laughing for sheer joy at some of the zanier antics. :lmao

Feedback:
Chris, you ever-present shining knight of Nerd-dom, you have done it again! Hilarious! With a a spoonful of saucy, too, mmmmmmm.

Replies:
DarkWiccan - I'm delighted to meet another Bard Nerd - I'm disappointed you don't live closer because I'm casting Shakespeare nerds for a show coming up in September! So glad you saw the fit and it worked for you. :bounce
CopperAndGold: Thanks for your honesty, it's great - just glad you could get through the lines and find the love. :love Currently reading and loving your latest! Thank you, thank you, thank you! :applause


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 Post subject: Re: Summer Challenge: The Food Fight Challenge
PostPosted: Wed Aug 02, 2017 11:18 am 
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10. Troll Hammer
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CHRIS - OMG... you just made me so HAPPY!!!! I may have screamed.

Ariel - I would TOTES have auditioned for you! I've actually played Feste in two professional productions of 12th Night. One in LA (starring McKenzie Westmore as Viola -- this was waaay before Face Off) and one in Las Vegas. (Actually, worked in quite a few Shakespearean productions in LA when I was there.) And I've been studying Shakespeare for years. I also played Jess in a Vegas production of "Compleat Wrks/Abridged" ages ago. So, yes, I wear my Bard nerd-dom on my sleeve - with credentials! LOL

Cheers,
DW

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Check out some of my most popular works: Special ... Leave It to Giles ... The Inimitable Giles ... Giles at Christmas

Challenge Fics!: You Could Be Her ... Glasses ... Graffiti ... Pizza Day

Forbidden Fics?: Check out the Litterbox!

Oops, I made a mythtake... wt4ever


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