From a FB Daily Flash Fiction Prompt group. 6/7/16: First line prompt: “Iway inkthay Iway awsay away iraclemay!” The girl told her father.
“Iway inkthay Iway awsay away iraclemay!” The girl told her father. She stumbled in from the backyard. Her bare feet skidded across the freshly mopped tile. She teetered a bit when she sprinted over a wet spot and threw her hands down to brace herself.
“Oooph.” Rebecca blinked, momentarily stunned to find herself staring up at the ceiling instead of face-planted on the floor. She shook off the shock and pushed herself into a sitting position, shivering as a cold stream of something wet and sticky snaked it’s way down her back and under the collar of her brand-new shirt.
Reaching around to place the tips to her fingers against the slimy goop, Rebecca brought her hand back out in front of her and rubbed the mud between her fingers. Gulp. Dad was not going to be happy when he saw this mess.
Sure enough, when the little girl turned around, she came face to face with a long track of fresh footprints. The once clean floors were now covered in brown glop. Rebecca scrambled to her feet and hurried to the pantry, but the mop was not in it’s usual place. Great. Now how was she going to clean this up before he noticed?
“Becca? Honey, is that you?” Rebecca froze as the back door chimed, indicating that her father had finally come in from gardening.
Really? He’s been out there for three hours and he couldn’t wait five more minutes?
“Eahyay Adday, t’siay emay,” she called out, rummaging through the nearest laundry basket until she found a clean towel to wipe her feet with.
Henry shook his head at his daughter’s response. She was going through a phase where she was determined to talk only in pig-latin. It had lasted about a week thus far, ever since some fifth graders at school started trying to exclude her from their conversations by using it whenever she was around. After three days of her chattering, he finally managed to wrangle the truth out of her and had gone to the principal. The incidents had since ceased, but his daughter still insisted that she wanted to learn another language. He had tried six ways to Sunday to explain to her that pig-latin didn’t technically count, and that she didn’t need a “secret code” as she called it, to make people think she was cool, but once Rebecca got something in her head, making her think otherwise was next to impossible. He still hoped it would fade sooner rather than later. “How was the bike ride? You stayed in the neighborhood, didn’t you?”
The bike ride! It was only then that the girl remembered she was still wearing her helmet as the strap slapped against her cheeks. And, more importantly, the super-secret awesome thing she had found that she couldn’t wait to show her dad. She dropped the towel into the dirty laundry and sprinted toward the garage where he was putting away his tools. Punishment and lectures about muddy floors would just have to wait. “Itay asway reatgay, Adday,” she enthused, skidding to a stop in front of the open door. “Utbay ouyay avehay otay omecay ithway emay.”
Henry looked up from his toolbox, frowning at his daughter’s scuffled appearance. “Are you okay, Becca? Where’s your bike? Did something happen?” He gave her a quick once-over and raised a brow at her mud-caked feet. “And why are you barefoot? Rebecca, did you track mud on my clean floors?!”
Rebecca looked down, and her father ran a hand over his face. “How many times have I told you to wipe your feet off before you come inside? Where are your shoes?”
“I left them on the porch,” she replied, more concerned about getting back to her secret before anyone found it than keeping up her pig-latin lessons. “And I’m sorry about the mud; I didn’t think it would soak through so much.”
“But I promise I’ll clean it up when we get back,” she added. “First, There’s something really, really important I have to show you.”
Henry exhaled and frowned at his daughter. “I’m sure whatever you have to show me can wait until after you clean up those mud tracks,” he said, but Rebecca shook her long red hair in protest.
“Not this time. This is a matter of life and death.”
Her father pressed his lips together and pushed up from the floor. “Oh?”
“Scout’s honor,” his daughter assured him, holding up her hand.
Henry wiped his grease covered hands on the towel slung over his shoulder. “All right,” he agreed. “But if this is just a way to stall and get out of cleaning…” He let the unfinished warning hang in the air and Rebecca shook her head. “It’s not, Dad, I swear.”
Henry nodded. “Okay.” He motioned for her to go ahead. “Lead the way.” Rebecca beamed at him before turning on her heel and racing to her bike.
“Come on. We have to hurry!”
She sped down the hill toward the creek that ran through their neighborhood. Henry had to sprint to keep up, and he was huffing and puffing by the time she pulled to a stop near a small bush by the water’s edge.
“Honey, why… didn’t you… tell me… we were…. Going so far?”
Rebecca just refrained from rolling her eyes as she climbed off the seat. “Shh. You have to be really quiet. I don’t want to scare them.”
His daughter ignored the choked question and tiptoed toward the bush. She pulled back some of the undergrowth to reveal a slightly sodden cardboard box. She turned toward her father, who was standing with his hands on his hips.
“Shh!” she hissed, glaring at him and putting a finger to her lips. “Come here.”
“Look, young lady, I don’t know what you’re playing at, but–”
“Will you just come here?” she repeated, louder this time. Her father gave an exasperated sigh, but strode closer to the box. When he peaked over the edge, his eyes grew wide. “Oh.”
Inside lay a mother tabby surrounded by four sleeping, newborn kittens. “Aren’t they adorable?” Rebecca asked.
“They are,” her father agreed. “But how did you find them?”
Rebecca flushed. “I was heading back up the hill to come home and I heard the mother meow. One of the kittens knocked over the box and was heading out toward the river. I caught it and stood the box up, but I didn’t know what else to do, so I came and got you.”
“You touched one?”
Rebecca cringed at the stern edge to his voice. “Um, yeah? Is… Is that bad?”
Henry shook his head. “Sweetheart, these aren’t house pets, we don’t know where they’ve been.” He pulled out his phone and started dialing. “I’m going to call the nearest animal rescue to come and get them, and then we’ll have to get you a tetanus shot.”
“Okay,” Rebecca said, looking down at her shoes. “You’re… You’re not mad, are you? I mean, I was just trying to help.”
Her father put the phone to his ear and offered her a small smile while it rang. “No, I’m not mad. You did the best you could and you did the right thing by coming to find me. I’m proud of you.”
Rebecca smiled and hugged his waist. Thanks, Dad. I love you.”
Henry kissed the top of her head. “I love you too, my little explorer.” He smiled down at her and squeezed her shoulder. “And I’m so glad the pig-latin lessons are behind us.”
Rebecca only giggled and offered a mischievous smile. “Otnay odaytay, Adday.”