Ella burped again and put her feet up on the log seats. Mrs. B’s wings lit up and blinked multiple shades of red. Immediately, the other fairies hushed.
Mrs. B glared and pointed to the door. Ella knew the routine. She deliberately bumped all the desks on her way out and then, in clear violation of the speed rule, zoomed down the hall at 100 yards per minute.
Spinning crazily, Ella threw punches at the air like a soldier, her wings covered with purple lights. As she neared the principal’s office, the lights slowly blinked out.
“It won’t hurt to be a little late,” Ella muttured. “What is she going to do? Make me write I am sorry a zillion more times?”
In truth, she dreaded Mrs. K. The cold hearted principle had fiery eyes that could burn holes into the back of the fairies’ heads. She had silver hair slicked back in a tight knot on the top of her head and wore her horn rimmed glasses propped up on her long pointy nose. Even worse, she had a beating stick tied at her waist, though none of the fairies had ever seen her use it.
Ella decided to take a detour and buzzed over to the dumpster to search for treasure. Once, she had found a cuckoo clock with little chipped goblins that could start a conversation with anyone (except they used too many naughty words), a candle that never shrank, a needle that could sew on its own but pricked her finger out of spite, and a packet of ever growing pumpkin seeds. Ella planted the seeds outside her house. In a few weeks the pumpkins were as large as Ella. In a few more days they were as large as the house. Her mother called an emergency meeting of the Fairy Elders, who placed a curse on the pumpkins to make them stop growing. The pumpkins were then distributed among the kingdom to make into pies. (That little misadventure became known as The Great Pumpkin Case.)
Ella hovered over the garbage bin. A little shiny coin caught her eye. She dove head first into the trash and burrowed in, her legs kicking the air.
At that moment, Mrs. W, the prep school janitor, brought two bags of trash to the dumpster. She looked at Ella’s dangling legs and and flung the bags into the garbage bins. Ella yelped and buzzed out of the trash, scattering garbage all over the floor.
Mrs. W’s face turned an ugly shade of purple. Her drooping wings shot straight up. Ella saw the scars where lights used to be. Ella was tempted to scrunch her nose in disgust. MRs. W’s wings were ugly and Ella felt awful seeing them. All the fairies knew about Mrs. W’s disgrace, how long ago she had done something terrible and had her lights removed.
Ella looked down and studied the pavement, then glanced at her own beautiful, blinking lights. What a pity it would be to lose them. Ella couldn’t imagine what life would be like without her lights. The lights gave her confidence, a sense of pride. Ella remembered all the light shows she’d attended, where fairies would proudly show off their dancing lights. She wondered what infraction Ms. W. had committed.
Ella felt a twinge of sympathy, until it was quickly diminished by Mrs. W herself.
“Heading to detention?” Mrs. W asked wickedly. “Lose your way?”
“No,” Ella lied.
“Lying is great,” Mrs. W replied. “Keep doing that. You’ll go far.”
“Well,” Ella said. “At least I’m going to learn The Fairy Secret and pass the test.”
“You!” Mrs. W exploded into laughter. She clutched her stomach like a small fairy telling her mother that she had a stomache ache. “You think you’re going to pass? Ha!”
“Why are you laughing?” Ella shouted.
“A fairy like you will never leave this place. You’re just a dirt worm with wings.”
“I’ll show you. I’ll pass the test and you will stay here forever!” Ella exclaimed.
Mrs. W. stopped laughing.
“Darling,” she said coldly. “You’re my ticket out of here. You’ll be the next janitor, and I get to retire.”
Mrs. W looked down at the pavement which was scattered with empty milk cartons.
“Every single toothpick has to be back in that trash can or you’re not leaving this place a happy fairy.”
Ella was so surprised, she started picking up the garbage. But on her way to the trash can, a crumpled up napkin fell out of her hands and landed on the ground. Not noticing the napkin, she dumped the trash into the garbage can.
Mrs. W exploded.
“You little brats think that you can just mess up everything! Well, news flash, you can’t.” Mrs. W spat. “They spoil you, this prep school. I had to learn the hard way, unlike nowadays, you get a million reminders for the test.” Mrs. W walked over to Ella. “If you pass the test, then I swear, over my dead body, I will hear that Secret from your own mouth. One way or the other, I am done picking up after you bat brains!”
Mrs. W grunted and brushed the dust off her smock.
Ella decided it was time to see the principal. She flew away, beating her wings harder and faster than ever.