It is a tale that will go down in history. It is a story that parents will tell their children - sugarcoated, of course, so as not to give them nightmares. It is all that remains of our past, and we should preserve it. We do preserve it. But that can't always prepare one for life's twisted pranks...
"This is the story of Liberty West."
"Aw, come on, Dad!" complained a young boy, all ready for bed and clutching a stuffed lizard. "We've heard this story a million times already!"
"Yeah," a girl not much older than he chimed in. "It's kinda boring."
Mark Richmond shifted his weight on the space-printed bedspread. "It's boring, now is it?" he asked, sounding a bit hurt but otherwise unabashed. "You can't call her that - she'd hogtie you to a tree and then magic you into an alternate dimension."
The boy and girl remained unimpressed.
"Clarie, Tom, come on, it doesn't always have to boring," Mark cajoled. "You know-"
"We know what happens, Dad," Clarie insisted. Spreading her arms out to the side and adopting an announcers' voice, she declared, "Liberty West is a normal girl. At least, that's what everyone thinks. In reality, she is a fairy princess in disguise! She-"
Mark guffawed, but quickly silenced himself. "Where have you been hearing that story?" he asked.
Tom peeked over the edge of the blanket grumpily. "Mom told us that one."
"Well," Mark said carefully, motioning for Clarie to sit, "This is a very different story. You see, this actually happened to me. I know how it actually happened. Now, I know what you're thinking," he added, seeing their dubious expressions, "but I'm not kidding." He stood up and walked toward the door. "Wait right here."
When he returned, he was carrying a silver necklace chain. Hanging off of it was a pendant - more of a locket, really, in the shape of a teardrop. Mark laid it on his palm and showed it to his kids. "This was hers." He turned it over carefully with one finger to reveal the words painstakingly engraved into the back, 'If found, please return to Liberty West. If you don't, all kinds of horrible things will befall you and you will weep and I will drink your tears with grapefruit juice.'
Tom laughed at the vague and rather ridiculous threat. "Grapefruit juice is gross."
Clarie picked it up and examined the well-worn surface for any crack that would herald to a way to open the locket. "So this was hers," she said in a way that conveyed she was still a bit unconvinced but ready to hear more.
"It went something like this."
"Hey, loser, wait up!" Liberty dashed through the halls to accost her friend. As she ran, a silver teardrop locket bounced off of her collarbone. "Whatcha doing tonight?" she asked, slinging an arm around his shoulder. Without waiting for an answer, she released him and pounded a fist onto her flat palm. "I know!" she declared.
Mark turned wearily. "What is it now, Lib?"
She cracked a mischievous grin. "What we always do - try to take over the world."
"Okay." He was perfectly nonchalant. If Liberty West wanted to take over the world, then you could expect it to be done by morning. "Just make sure we're done by eleven, I've got a physics test tomorrow and I haven't done any of the book problems." He zipped up his backpack over the many different books and miscellaneous school supplies he had forgotten to take out.
Liberty rubbed her hands together. "Oh, if we do this right, we won't have to worry about tests anymore."