Rain, Rain, Go Away
When Jessie woke up on the day of her birthday party, it was raining.
"Oh no!" she groaned. She slid out of bed and went to look out the window.
"Rain, rain, go away, come again another day," she chanted.
But the rain kept falling.
Everything was dark and dripping. The sky was heavy and gray. The red and orange leaves on the trees drooped. Many had fallen to the ground. The flowers hung their heads. The birds were all hidden away.
Now the party would have to be held inside, instead of outside. They wouldn't be able to play any of the games Jessie had planned.
The Blue Moon garden was so beautiful, with its enormous old trees, overgrown winding paths, and hidden corners. Jessie had been sure her friends would enjoy the party, whatever Irena Bins thought.
She'd overheard Irena talking to a girl called Amy Peel at school on Friday. Friday had been Jessie's real birthday. And it had been a beautiful sunny day, Jessie remembered. Whoever would have thought the weather could change so fast?
"Oh, yes, I'm going to Jessie's party," Irena had said, in a loud drawling voice. "I sort of have to, you know? Because I live next door. But you're lucky you're not, Amy, honestly. It's going to be really boring. No magician or videos or anything. Just little kids' games in the yard."
"Don't take any notice of her," Jessie's friend Sal had whispered in her ear. "She's only saying all that because she knows you're listening. She just wants to hurt your feelings. She's a pig."
Jessie had pretended she didn't care. But she did, of course. And now she felt her face grow hot as she remembered the rest of what Irena had said.
"Do you know, Jessie's not even going to have a new dress for the party?" she'd gone on, lowering her voice very slightly. "Mum says her mother probably can't afford one. She's just a nurse at the hospital."
Then Amy had said something and Irena had shaken her head scornfully.
"That huge old Blue Moon place isn't theirs." She'd sniffed. "Jessie and her mother have just lived there since they moved up from the city. It belongs to Jessie's grandmother. Jessie's grand-father was a painter. Made all this money painting crazy pictures of fairies and elves and stuff."
Jessie had stared straight ahead as the low, spiteful voice chattered on.
"He's dead now, but Mrs. Belairs, Jessie's grandmother, still lives at Blue Moon. And, boy, wait till the other kids meet her."
"What's the matter with her?" Amy had asked curiously.
"She's really weird," Irena had whispered. "Talks to her cat as if it's a person. Keeps her clothes done up with safety pins. Acts like a little kid half the time. When it rains, she purposely goes outside and walks around getting soaked. Dad says she's batty."
"Shut up, Irena," Sal had shouted, glancing at Jessie's hurt face in concern. "You shut up!"
But Irena had just raised her eyebrows, tossed her hair back, and stared at Sal with wide-open eyes.
"What's wrong with you?" she'd said.
Then she'd gone off with Amy, giggling and whispering, and looking back over her shoulder at Jessie and Sal.
Remembering, Jessie gritted her teeth. She didn't really care what Irena had said about her not having a new party dress. But she did care what she'd said about her party -- and about Granny.
Sometimes Jessie almost wished that the Bins family would find out Granny's secret. She almost wished they'd find out just how unusual her grandmother really was. Then they'd get a shock!
What would they say if they knew that Jessie's grandfather hadn't painted things he'd made up, but things he'd actually seen? What would they say if they knew that Granny was not from this world at all?
What would they say if they knew she was the rightful Queen of the fairy world called the Realm? That she'd left it when she was young to marry the human man she loved, leaving her sister Helena to rule in her place?
Jessie had always known that her grandmother was special.
She'd always loved Blue Moon, Granny's old house in the mountains, even before she came to live there.
But she'd never forget the day she discovered the invisible Door at the bottom of Granny's garden, and entered the Realm for the first time. Ever since then, her life had been filled with adventure.
Sometimes, when she hadn't visited the Realm for a while, it almost seemed to Jessie that it was a dream. But then she'd look at the charm bracelet on her wrist.
Each charm that hung on the bracelet had been a gift from the Realm. Memories flooded back whenever Jessie looked at the charms shining golden against her skin.
Memories came into her mind now, as she turned from the window. She smiled, thinking of her Realm friends: Maybelle the miniature horse, Giff the elf, and Patrice, the palace housekeeper. She thought of Queen Helena, too, and all the other fairy people and creatures she'd met.
She wished she could see them today. She wished she could go down to the still, secret garden hidden behind the hedge, go through the magic Door, and disappear into the Realm.
But she knew she couldn't. It was the day of her birthday party. Rain or no rain, she had to be at Blue Moon to meet her friends this afternoon.
Shaking her head, she pulled on some jeans and an old top, and wandered out to the kitchen.
Granny was there, sitting at the table and drinking a cup of tea. Her big ginger cat, Flynn, purred at her feet. Jessie saw that Granny's hair was damp and her cheeks were pink.
She's been out in the garden, wandering around in the rain again, Jessie thought. I hope the Bins didn't see her.
"Hello, Jessie," Granny said. Her bright green eyes twinkled as she smiled. "Birthday party day."(Continues...)