TITLE: The Story of the Story of the Egg
GENRE: MG Adventure
“You’re a waddler,” Fin said. He bit into a punctuation biscuit and comma-shaped crumbs fell on top of his little sister. “I only waddle I’m carrying you. Mom only waddles when she carries you. So does Dad. And Grandma. You make people waddle.” He didn’t name Torus, because their older sister never had to carry the youngest around. “Baby waddler coming through.”
“Not a baby!” his baby sister scolded.
The paper bag crinkled in Fin’s paw and he looked in to see what was left of his lunch, as though looking would make what was left better. He’d already eaten the vocabulary fruit, a bunch of scarlet grape-like two- and three-letter words. He wanted melon, but Grandma Curtal said melons were too big for a little story like Fin, so he was stuck with grapes. Again. “Word-problem sweets or sentence sandwich?”
“Bub bub,” she answered.
They were a curious sight, even for the Stacks, the neighborhood where Fin’s family lived. At nearly three feet tall, Fin looked like an otter walking on his back legs. Except nearly all thirteen-year-olds he knew still looked like only one kind of creature, and he already had pale tiger stripes. His four-and-a-half-year-old sister, meanwhile, still hadn’t hatched from her pineapple-sized shell. She sat in a yolk-yellow harness over Fin’s brown belly, her egg a vivid cobalt blue, and Fin waddled as he carried her. It was humiliating. It was, in fact, the fourth most embarrassing thing about being him.
“I’m eating the sandwich,” he said with a sigh. It would be dry. Grandma Curtal always forgot to use the mustard Fin liked, and the word problems would get stuck in his teeth. They were never as good as they looked. Just gooey.
“I think it’s because she’s not done. Grandma Curtal. That’s why she forgets. Loose ends.” More crumbs fell on the Egg, periods and a question mark this time. Fin’s parents didn’t like their children talking about Grandma Curtal, so naturally Fin did, and they punished him for it even if it wasn’t his fault, which was completely unfair.
Grandma Curtal had a lynx’s head and a ferret body with cream-colored fur dotted with dark spots. Her teeth were white and her eyes were wild and pale. She always wore a poofy housedress and her hair was messy. Fin had once wondered out loud if she had a tail under her dress or if there were nothing but loose ends, maybe not even feet. Torus had slapped her paw to her forehead and their Mom had washed his mouth out with soap. It wasn’t polite to talk about stories with loose ends, especially not ones that weren’t even done yet. Even more especially when they were his grandmother’s age. She was like a grown-up Egg, which was a weird thought.
Fin and his whole family were stories, the same as everyone else in Story City. His father was a boring old Biography, his dull gray raccoon head perched atop his stocky, tan pine marten body.