If people listened to me, everyone would be happy, thought six-year old Annabelle Brown, as she pirouetted in front of the bathroom mirror in her favorite, pink tutu. The place smelled like toothpaste, but she didn’t care. As the layers of her skirt swirled around her, she pretended to be a butterfly. She twirled and she twirled and she twirled, but no matter how many times she twirled, she couldn’t get rid of the anger storming inside her.
“Why can’t I go fishing?” she had said to her father.
He picked her up and gave her a kiss. His spicy aftershave made her nose twitch. “Cause you’re wearing a tutu,” he said.
“Fish don’t care what I wear.” Do they?
“Maybe another time honey.” But she knew his voice meant, never.
Annie stuck her leg into the air like the ballerinas do on TV and held her nose high. Who cares about smelly fish. Her leg hurt, so she put it down again.
The problem was, she did care.
It wasn’t fair that her farty brother, Benjamin, got a special trip with Daddy. It wasn’t fair he got to fish and she didn’t. She heard two car doors close and the engine roar to life.
Annie frowned at herself in the mirror, and stuck out her tongue. She needed her own adventure. She opened the door and peered both ways down the hallway. The coast was clear.
As she tip toed to her bedroom, she imagined all the wild things she could do. Most of them could only happen in her imagination, but they still warmed her heart.
She needed to be practical, so she took out her knapsack and filled it with underwear because Mom says you always travel with extra panties, and a fishing lure she had borrowed from her father’s stash. Once packed she slipped out of the house.
Annie hadn’t escaped unnoticed, though. Fritter, their puppy, named after an apple fritter, chased after her.
Once they had walked a block she stopped and looked back towards her home. She was free. Totally free. Now what? She wished she had thought of taking money, because then she could go to the store and buy candy, but she hadn’t. The puppy jumped up on her leg wanting to play and that gave her an idea.
I’ll go to the park. That will be fun. Maybe not as much fun as fishing, but fun.
As she skipped along with Fritter at her side, she felt better and better. She noticed the colors of the flowers and smelled the freshly-cut grass. A flock of Canadian geese flew overhead in a V formation and she spotted a squirrel. The world seemed “extra-specially” wonderful.
None of her friends were at the park, but that didn’t stop her from entering. There were about ten kids spread out between the swings and the climbing stuff. She ran around the equipment with the puppy barking close at her heels and when she got tired of that, she took to the swings and pumped herself as high as she could, imagining what it would be like to touch the sky.
Kids came and went and Annie kept playing. It was fun to be on her own. Exciting in a way she had never imagined.
But as the day wore on, she got bored. No one she knew came by and the bigger kids weren’t interested in playing with her.
Is it because I’m wearing a tutu?
She sat beside a tree and held Fritter close. She could still smell the shampoo Mom had used on him in the morning, after he had rummaged through the garbage and rolled in the salmon leftovers.
A man she didn’t recognized came up to her. “Are you lost, little girl?”
“Nope. I live over there.” Annie pointed towards her home.
“Would you like me to walk you home?”
“No, thank you.”
“You are alone, aren’t you?”
Annie’s gut did a summersault. How many times had her mother told her not to talk to strangers? But he looked normal. Do bad guys look normal?
“That’s a nice puppy you have.” The man reached for Fritter and the puppy growled. A deep sound, she had never heard him make before.
Annie held Fritter tighter and glared at the man. She yelled in her loudest voice, “Get away from me. I don’t know you.”
Everyone in the park looked at her. A couple older kids ran over. One of them started tapping on her cell phone.
The man turned red in the face and ran away.
It didn’t take the police long to come, but Annie wouldn’t let them take her home, because she didn’t know them either. She did tell them her phone number though, because they wore police uniforms. Her Mom arrived within a couple minutes.
The nice police lady told her Mom how brave Annie had been. They managed to catch the man a couple blocks away and sent him to jail.
She said the world needed more Pink Tutu warriors.
The following Saturday, Annie went fishing in her tutu.
If you like this story, check out last weeks: A Dog of a Story for Monday