Egg Sisters: Chapter 3
Effy and Estelle Egg were making their way through the trees. The sun was high in the sky and they were walking up a wooded hill.
They had awoken an hour before in the small room of the Duke and had lifted their heads dazedly from the table where they’d fallen asleep like children under a spell. When they woke up, sun was streaming through the window and the air was sparkling with slowly drifting dust.
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Estelle reached over and picked up a note from the table.
“What’s it say?” asked Effy, yawning.
“It says: SISTERS EGG, PLEASE MAKE YOURSELVES AT HOME. I HAD TO GO TO WORK. YOUR FRIEND, THE DUKE”
So the Egg Sisters fixed themselves cereal. They packed the map from the night before in a knapsack they found hanging on a nail. They packed water and some cheese and bread from the Duke’s kitchen, plus a book of matches and a rope, and they left the white house in search of a cat. Now it was midday and they were walking up the wooded hill. It was a nice day and they were having a nice talk that kept drifting back to the topic of cat names. Estelle liked King Arthur, Dippy the Wisp, or Garfield. Effy liked Raggy.
“Estelle,” said Effy.
“Yeah,” said Estelle.
“Do you know where we’re going?”
“I kind of do.” Estelle shaded her eyes and squinted at the sun. “According to the map, the Whitetop Mountains are northeast of the Duke’s house,” she said, “I’m using the sun to navigate.”
Effy gave Estelle a long, skeptical look. Estelle ignored it. “Let’s sing a song,” she said, “The one about cats.”
“Sure,” said Effy, and they picked their way through the trees, singing.
Every kid wants a cat
How about that!
We all want a cat!
To pet and feed and tuck into bed
That’s what we said!
To tuck into bed!
Our mom’s allergic, our dad’s a jerk
They told us, No
It would be too much work
But every kid wants a cat
Wants a cat!
Wants a cat!
Yes, every kid wants a cat
CAT! CAT! CAT!
They sang and they walked for a long time until Effy announced that she was hungry so the girls stopped in a meadow to eat. They had cheese and bread and spread the map out on top of a big rock.
“So, where are we on this map?” asked Effy.
“Well,” said Estelle and again she squinted up at the sun. “It’s later in the day now then when we first started. The sun was above us and…now it’s over there. The sun rises in the east. And sets in the west. So that way must be west,” she said, pointing to the sun. Both girls looked at the sky.
“So, where are we on this map?” asked Effy again. Estelle silently studied the map and looked back up at the sky for a long time. Effy looked at Estelle.
Suddenly, a magpie came careening into the meadow, wildly chattering. It flew right up to Effy and Estelle and alighted on the rock where they had spread the map. They leapt back. The magpie looked significantly into the eyes of each girl, chattered some more – it almost seemed to be laughing, picked up the map in its beak, and flew away.
Effy and Estelle watched the magpie with the map in its beak fly up and over the trees at the edge of the meadow. They watched it soar over the forest, farther and farther away until it became a dot and then became nothing. They were silent and looked again at the sky where the sun was slipping ever closer to the horizon.
“Now where are we on the map?” asked Effy.
“Ha ha,” said Estelle.
If we’re honest, it didn’t really matter that the magpie stole the map because Effy and Estelle didn’t know how to read it anyway. They were already lost. But it mattered to Effy and Estelle, who didn’t really know they were lost until the magpie stole the map. They set off again, out of the meadow and into the forest, but they were tired of walking and tired of bread and cheese and soon they started to fight. For a while they walked and bickered until Effy said something truly mean. Then for a while more they walked and were angrily silent.
The Egg Sisters had been following a variety of trails through the woods. Sometimes they were big trails, nearly roads, obviously made by people. Sometimes they were smaller, like hiking trails. And sometimes they were trails made by animals: barely-there, disappearing and reappearing trails that led to no place people needed to go. They had been following one of these animal trails for a while. The sun slipped lower; the shadows got longer and began to vanish as the light faded. Effy and Estelle followed the disappearing and reappearing trail through the gloaming forest. They might not have noticed the dark falling because they were each chiefly focused on being angry with the other. They might have kept angrily walking on the darkening animal trail forever, into oblivion. But then, luckily for them, the trail intersected with a road.
The Egg Sisters considered their options.
“Which way?” asked Effy.
“You tell me,” replied Estelle angrily.
And Effy, who never hesitated, said, “Right.”
So right they went and it wasn’t long before they came to a cabin in the woods with a shaggy black dog asleep at its door.
This is the third of three chapters I wrote years ago. The story continues, obviously, but this is all I’ve got for now. Maybe some day I’ll write more and illustrate it. For now: indefinite cliffhanger!