A/N

Hey everyone! What's up? Nothing? Everything? The Cieling? Well, none of that matters. What matters is that your here, so far you're reading, and that I hope you like my story :) I came up with it on a whim. And I like it.

Claimer: Mine, Mine, Mine, Mine! All the characters, etc., are mine. Do I sound too much like a 2-yr old right now?

Anyway--ENJOY THE SHOW!


Chapter 1

May fifth was a good day, Sally decided. In fact, May fifth was such a wonderful day she took her purple permanent marker and circled the number on the calendar three times, just to make it even better. Now, Sally thought, if only May fifth would come sooner.

A small crash came from the downstairs kitchen. Sally automatically tensed, listening for more sounds, and caught a burst of intermediate laughter. She let a small smile soften her face and relaxed. It was Jacob and Morty, then. Nothing to worry about.

Sally changed her mind when the laughter grew louder. She stuck her head out the crumbling doorway and yelled, "You two better not be putting aluminum foil in the microwave again! I can't afford to keep you two youngsters entertained."

For a moment there was silence. Then it was filled with Morty's loud, higher-pitched voice, "Don't call me a youngster!"

"Respect your elders, youngin'!" Sally said with a note of laughter.

"You'll die sooner!" Jacob hollered.

"And get wrinkles faster! Old lady!"

Sally gaped. "I'm not that old!"

"Hag!"

"That's it!"

Sally grinned like a devil as she carefully made her way down the creaky, tilted staircase. She turned into the small, eight-by-eight foot kitchen and glared down at the two misfits eating out of a greasy bag of old popcorn.

Sally gaped. "Ew! Guys, that's disgusting." She snatched the bag away. "How can you eat this? I made this, like—I don't remember when!"

Jacob grinned and peeled his thin, dark hair out of his eyes. "Still tastes good."

"If you take out the bugs." Morty flicked a dark speck off his finger.

Sally sighed. Why did she even keep these two? They wouldn't eat food she foraged for, but hey, wield a bag of month-old popcorn and they were all over it. Oh well. That was their parent's problem.

Sally ruffled Morty's fair, long hair. "I think it's time to take you guys back home now."

The two gaped, as if horrified.

"No way!" Jacob protested. "Do you know what my mom's going to do to me?"

"She makes him take baths!" Morty exclaimed.

Sally rolled her eyes. "Oh, the horror. Get over it." She smiled as she yanked both to their feet and forced them out her tipped front door. "Now come on. You guys have homework to do."

"Oh, come on Sally!" Jacob resisted her pull. "I want to eat more stale popcorn."

"No." She frowned at him.

"What if we promised to eat that Chickweed you gathered? Or the Queen Anne's Lace?" Morty begged.

"Well, first of all I would call you liars." She heaved them down the sidewalk, making sure to keep in the light of the busted street lamps as much as possible. "Second of all, it's getting late anyway and your parents expect you to be home by nightfall. That's what a real big sister would do anyway."

Sally was a girl of modest means—as anyone could see by a quick glance at her small, rickety shack—but she took special delight in volunteering in the Big Sister Program downtown. She may not have been able to spoil her "little brothers" like some other girls, but she took care of them nicely enough, or so she liked to think. No other boys in the program knew what herbs you could eat and which were poisonous. Not to mention that she truly cared for Morty and Jacob. They weren't just names to put on her college application, like she knew they were for some other girls.

Morty tugged on her long, red hair. "You think I'm a liar, Sals?"

Sally nodded. "You bet I do." She beamed down at him. "But it's okay. Everyone's a liar at one time or another."

Jacob frowned. "What kind of big sister are you? You're not supposed to tell us it's okay to lie!"

"I guess I'm just a rebel." Sally said off-handedly, and turned into the trailer park on her left.

The trio passed through a deep shadow where the street lamp had blown years ago, and entered the lines of rusting trailers. The smell of fried food and hot oil filled her nose as she touted Jacob over to his house. It was one of the nicer trailers in the park, with only minimal rust and most of the original paint.

Sally stepped up the metal step and knocked on the door. After a moment, the main door swung inward and a woman's face peered through the tightly woven, black screen.

"Oh!" She smiled and gave the screen a tug. It opened with a dreadful squeak Sally found homey and almost nice. "Sally, it's good to see you. Have you brought my boy home?"

"Greasy and covered in popcorn butter, but yes." Sally ushered Jacob up the steps. "Sorry about that. I underestimated him."

Mrs. Hawker, Jacob's mom, gave a toothy smile and patted her son's dusty head. "It's not your fault. Thanks for babysitting him while I was at work."

"No problem!" Sally chirped. "Have a good night!"

She turned with Morty and, with the boy's hand in hers, led him further into the park. Morty swung his other arm gaily and beamed up at her periodically. At last, they made it to his house. It was noticeably smaller than the other trailers; with rust so engrained into the sides Sally had once presumed it was originally orange. Only later did she find out it had once been a pristine, sleek white.

An awful clamor erupted on the inside. Morty gave a shiver as the voices of a man and woman barked back and forth. Sally kneeled down and met Morty's young, blue-eyed gaze with a comforting smile.

"Hey, remember what I taught you?" She asked.

Morty nodded slightly. "If he starts to hit her, run into the bathroom and lock the door."

Sally's throat grew tight as it always did on nights like this. "And then?"

"Then I close my eyes, count to three, and pray to God to keep mommy safe."

She nodded. "Right. And then what do you do?"

Morty raised his head and peered up shyly. "Then I crawl out the bathroom window and go find you."

"Right." Sally ruffled his untidy bangs and slowly combed them out again. "Now you be brave for me and do exactly what I said, okay? Promise?"

"Promise." Morty took the pinky she offered, and gave it a little squeeze.

Sally stood and watched her little brother trail up the stairs and pause before the door. He gave a knock that went unheard. Sally kept her distance, but stayed close enough to observe the situation. After a few moments more, Morty gave up on trying to be heard and simply let himself in. The yelling came to a stop before slowly rising up again, even louder than before. Morty's mom let out a yelp. The sound of a plastic door slamming echoed in Sally's ears.

Why him? Sally shook her head as her heart hurt. Why did Morty have to be condemned t this? It wasn't right. Why couldn't there be something—anything—to make his life better.

As she walked glumly out of the park, Sally made a vow that she would one day find a way to better both Morty and Jacob's lives. Maybe she would get a record deal like she hoped, and then she could buy a nice house and take the two away with Jacob's mom in tow, and the four of them could live as carefree as Sally had always dreamed.

And maybe the moon's made out of pudding, Sally thought to herself.

The streetlamps lit her way back to her rickety shack. Sally walked up to the 7-11 store and slipped down the side. She wandered through the back parking lot, crossed over into the fleshy, green forest behind, and disappeared into the unruly growth. Slowly she meandered through the woods, traveling so far back that most people would loose their way. Then, just when a stranger would have given up and gone back, Sally came upon her rickety shack and smiled up at it.

The shack was once owned by an old hermit. He died nearly six years ago, and Sally had lived here ever since. It was old, worn, crumbling, and dangerous, but it was all she had and everything she had ever wanted. The fact that it was set in a thick, grassy clearing made it all the better, since she could scavenge for edible plants just a few feet away from her creaky doorstep.

Sally opened her door. It made a sound like an old man wheezing. She made a mental note to oil the hinge again before passing into her home and setting the old, rusty lock in place. Then she stepped directly into her small kitchen and rotated her drying flowers.

After giving all her drying herbs, roses, and other medicinal flowers a check, Sally traveled up stairs for some much desired sleep. It had been a long, exciting day, and she could hardly wait for the week to pass by. As she climbed into her flat, spring-filled mattress, she glanced back up at the calendar on her wall, the only decoration her groaning room had. The circled date made her heart jump in excitement.

"One week." Sally whispered to herself with a smile. "One week until Battle of the Bands."

Okay, so maybe Battle of the Bands didn't seem like something to get so excited about. But this wasn't just a contest for Sally; it was a test and a great opportunity. The winner would get a free CD recording and be introduced to three record companies. If the record companies liked what they saw, it could truly be her ticket to the big time. And then maybe, just maybe, the moon would be made out of pudding and Sally could make Jacob, Mrs. Hawker, and Morty happy.

Sally closed her eyes, and sent a prayer to God.

I'll do my best, she thought, just help me. Please. I really need this. I really want this. I'll stay clean, and good, and be a real role model for kids. So please help me impress the audience and judges so I can at least have the opportunity. Oh, and please keep Morty and Jacob safe. And thank you for my house, my life, and most of all, my voice. Amen.

Sally opened her eyes with a smile and blew out her home made candle. It went out with a puff of gray smoke.

No sooner had she turned over and closed her eyes than a giant cracking sound erupted from her one, cracked window.

Sally jumped up and looked at the plane of glass in terror. She was just in time to watch a river of feathers press and run over the window. Then the edge of what looked like a wing smacked against the glass, and disappeared. Two seconds later a stomach-twisting thud sounded outside.

Sally was rushing down stairs with her mouth flopping open before she could think. Her fingers fumbled with the rusty lock before it finally swung open. She tore out the front door, not even bothering to shut the door, and flew around back. She swung herself around the corner of the house and looked down to see something that she had never expected to see. Ever.

A young man was lying, half buried, in her small flower garden. She could see the tip of his head, and the ridge of his back, as well as an oddly bent leg and a single, pale hand stretching out towards her.

But none of that is what truly caught her attention. It was the pair of giant, cascading grey wings spouting from the man's back that kept her gaping.


A/N

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