It is said that strange things happen around yellow-tails. There is a sense that their true abilities aren’t quite understood well because there are so few of them. When two of the brightest of them meet, there’s every possibility there will, not might, be a …
Gongshow – Part IV
For Justin, for always…
Tina had seen all sorts of different-coloured tails:. her mom’s red, Auntie’s fiery red one–which was especially unmistakable–and her sister’s true-blue one–which was familiar, of course, too. She’d seen every colour of the rainbow and more when she’d been … encouraged … to tag along to this or that gathering. Halloween was the more interesting time of year as many a tail reflected the personalities she met along the way. But she’d ever seen another yellow tail. Never even heard about another yellow tail, either.
But here was Miriam, her cousin, a yellow-tail just like her. The Bo-Peep costume hid her tail, but her so-yellow horns were right there in front of Tina and captivated her. Nibbling her lip, still being held tightly by her yellow-tailed cousin, a hesitant hand touched one of Miriam’s horns. Miriam giggled: “Yup. They’re real, just like yours.”
“Yeah, but yours are so bright!”
Miriam tussled Tina’s hair: “Wait till you’re my age. I bet yours will be just as bright!”
A bit of self-doubt was clear in Tina’s reply: “Sure.”
Offering her little finger, the slightly-older yellow tail looked very serious: “Pinkie swear promise.”
Hooking her pinkie with her cousin’s, Tina mood brightened, just like her tail did: “Promise!”
Looking over her shoulder, a young yellow tail looked at her Auntie with wide eyes. Auntie just pointed at her horns with a bemused smile, because, of course, Auntie would have been scheming about this, probably since the day Tina was born. That was so like her, and Tina loved Auntie that much more because of it.
Looking off into the distance where the sounds of many young tails rushing about could be heard, Tera flicked an errant lock of her ebon mane into place before striding across the reading room, waving her tail at the yellow tails, her voice holding a clear tone of mirth: “You two have fun. I’m going to look after the little ones.”
Watching Auntie vanish into the stacks, Tina wondered out loud: “She’s not mad at them, is she?” Miriam laughed: “Tera? Never. Soon as they see her, they’ll come running!” Tina couldn’t argue with that; Auntie was the best.
Miriam looked around and found the costume hat she’d been wearing: “How about we go back to my office, I get changed, and we can go and do something?” One more hug, then Tina rushed over to her hockey stick and backpack to collect them both. Moments later, the library was treated to the sight of a pair of yellow-tails, one a Bo-Beep and the other a slightly hyper youth, telling stories about themselves.
Tina found herself soon after in an interesting office that bore Miriam’s name on the door. It wasn’t the desk that caught her attention, that was somewhat utilitarian. It wasn’t the bookcases around the walls that held a bewildering collection of subject matter, either. No, what really struck the blue-haired yellow-tail was the collection of costumes on rolling racks placed beside a screen, behind which Miriam was in the midst of changing her clothing.
Inquisitively, Tina poked through the collection as her cousin explained: “I like reading to the young tails, and it’s a lot more fun to dress up like a character from the book I’m reading to them.” Tina didn’t mention that some of those costumes she found looked really adult, and instead just gave a non-committal “Uh-huh.” There were odder fetishes, after all.
“Close your eyes.”
“Why? And don’t say that would be telling, because that’s Auntie’s thing!”
Miriam poked her head out from behind the screen, slipping a pair of large thin-framed glasses on: “Oh fine. Spoil my fun why don’t you!”
Tina would always remember the first time she saw Miriam, that was special. Watching her cousin step out from behind the screen she knew that this mattered more for both of them. Long blonde hair in braids fell over her shoulders with red bows taming them as best they could. The glasses framed a pair of green eyes that were still a bit wet with tears. A white button down top, blue short-crop jacket, pencil skirt, black belt and shoes in yellow, somehow just fit with the yellow tail that hovered over her left shoulder. This wasn’t Bo-Peep. This was her cousin Miriam who opened her arms wide: “Hi.”
Tina ran over and looked up into Miriam’s green eyes before hugging her, her own tail wrapping around their legs as Miriam’s own looped around their waists: “Hi, yerself.” There were so many questions that the now-very-hyperactive young yellow-tail was dying to ask. For that matter, the yellow-tailed librarian was just as eager to tell stories and weave tales for her cousin. But there were things Miriam had to do, and so the storytelling moved out of the office and into the stacks of the library, Miriam leading the way and Tina happily pushing a book cart as they went from aisle to aisle putting books back where they belonged.
“What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?”
Miriam blushed: “That’s something I’ll tell you about when you’re older.”
“Oh, come on. How bad can it possibly be?”
The yellow-tailed librarian allowed herself a naughty smile: “All the way up to eleven.”
Miriam tapped one of her young cousin’s horns: “Crazy things happen around yellow tails like us. That’s not just a myth; promise.”
Eventually, the pair found the hockey section, which gave Tina a dopey smile as she scanned the books. Then one of them caught her attention as Miriam was putting another book away from their cart. Tugging at the spine, Tina pulled it loose before holding it in her hands in confusion: “What’s this doing here?”
Miriam touched the book that Tina had been holding and read out the title: “Sin Bin.”
Neither yellow tail noticed the tips of their tails just brushing against one another or the flash coming from both. In the next moment, there were two yellow-tails with the same brightest colour of tail seen in the Realm in over a hundred years.
The librarian explained: “It’s a fairy tale.”
“In the hockey section? With that title?”
Pushing her glasses into place, Miriam mused: “Well fairy tales in the Realm are kind of different.”
“Like, how different?”
The pair were interrupted by a very small, hockey puck shaped figure, wearing skates and hockey gloves, zooming across the hall towards them. The puck stopped, blew a whistle and pointed at the yellow tails: “That’s a no-no!”
The library shuddered around the pair, swirling and twisting before snapping back to the way it was before. Mostly. The colours were wrong, the books on the shelves seemed to be backwards. Most disconcerting were two things. One, the book they had been holding was missing. The other was a bit more personal in nature.
The younger yellow-tail looked at the silver high heels that she wobbled on in confusion: “What … the heck?”
Miriam, on the other hand, looked at the purple thigh-high boots that had appeared in place of her more sensible shoes and sighed: “Oh, for Tera’s sake …”
Confused, Tina asked: “This isn’t good, is it?”
The small puck-like being turned and skated away down the book aisle, calling out: “Keep your eyes on me, I’m pretty fast!”
As Miriam rushed off, she called out: “Not even close! Come on! We have to catch him!”
The two slightly miffed yellow-tails rushed after their quarry, disappearing into the depths of the Library … bringing their tails behind them …