Fantasy Fiction posted October 21, 2018

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It's a very important assignment...

Looking Out for Candy

by Y. M. Roger

“Oh, come on, Justin,” she whined at me, “it’s not that much further.”
I bit my tongue and pasted on Justin’s best smile. Okay, so maybe it wasn’t his best smile; I lost that about an hour ago. But it was a smile, of sorts.
“Just a minute!” I hollered ahead. “I’ve got a rock or something in my shoe.”
A headstrong little Candace turned around and jogged back to meet me. I could feel the frustration rolling off of her little body in waves, but her voice seemed calm enough.
“What is it with you and these earthy-thing shoes? If you’re not getting something in them, you’re stubbing your toe on something.” As I leaned up against the lamppost, she bent over and carefully removed the shoe to search for an offending pebble that really did not exist.  “I think we need to get you some real tennis shoes like my Power Ranger ones here.”
I pretended to laugh, although, honestly, it was somewhat funny envisioning the image of Candy's male nanny wearing pink Power Ranger tennis shoes. Taking a moment to supposedly catch my breath, I checked my watch. Thank goodness! I just needed to impede our forward progress a little bit longer.
I looked around and spied an ice cream shop across the street. It was a small little shop with no bright neon signs in the windows or glaring advertisements covering the door. In fact, if you weren’t specifically looking for it, you would probably miss it. I smiled as I remembered Candy’s dossier had said she loved bubble gum ice cream. I did a visual double-check on the address of the shop. Yep. It was a safe location.
“Hey, Candy,” I said, trying not to sound too enthusiastic – that was one thing I had learned about my charge. If she thought Justin really wanted to do a certain thing, that stubborn child that still resided inside would appear, and she’d pretend to want just the opposite. Okay, so she was eight – she was still a child in almost every respect.
Candy carefully replaced my Earth Shoe and adjusted the strings with her cute, pink-nail-polished fingers.
“What is it, old man?” she giggled to herself and stood. Hands on hips with an exaggerated tilt to them, that defiant little light shown in her eyes. Oh, she was definitely going to be a more than a handful someday.
“Look over there,” I stepped up beside her, brushing the bright red hair away from her face and pulling her ever so gently closer to me. Her little hand instinctively grabbed onto my belt loop, “See something you’d like to try?”
Candy’s hand squeezed just a little tighter as she squinted to read the large colorful sign only she could see in the window of the shop. Then her little face lit up, and she practically squealed.
“Justin, look!” she tried to dart out into the street to cross, but I already had a tight hold on her pink and white overalls that she loved so much and, I might add, insisted on wearing as often as possible. So used to Justin’s tugging on her clothing, Candy's was not diminished in the least at the jerking on her little body.
“It says they have bubble gum ice cream!” She looked up at me with those enchanting emerald eyes, “Can we pleeeeeaaaasse stop and get some before we pick up mom and dad at the station?”
For a moment, I felt my heart lurch at the reminder, but they were not my charge today. Candy was.
“Well, of course! It’s my favorite,” I said with all the drama I could muster as I checked my watch again.
Candy took my hand and giggled.
“No, it’s not, old man,” she tried to pull me across the street, but I held firm and guided us both safely to the opposite sidewalk. “You know yours is boring old strawberry!”
She was right, of course. That was Justin’s favorite – boring 'old man' strawberry. I chuckled to myself as we entered the little shop. I released Candy’s hand, and she bounced to the counter to order for the both of us.
We had just taken our seats at the small booth by the front window when the blast hit. The ground underneath us shook and the lights flickered ominously. Candy’s little face looked terribly frightened as she crawled under the table to practically sit on my lap. She held onto my shirt as she strained her neck to look down the street against the window pane.
And that’s when the shouting started. And the sirens – the sirens were deafening as dust and debris rolled through the street past the shop window. My insides hurt as I watched the scene unfold. So much pain. So much fear.
The shaken elderly shop owner stepped out the door and seemed to converse with a few people at the same time that I noticed Michael standing next to the booth.
“Oh, Justin,” Candy’s little voice was small and scared and her eyes had lost all their young defiance as she turned back to me, “Do you think…”
I glanced up at Michael even though I already knew the answer. I knew because that’s why I was here. It’s why I was eating strawberry ice cream with a little girl possessing the will and the intelligence that would one day save the entire human race. A little girl who was going to need some angelic guardianship to get her safely through the next few years.
The shop owner walked back inside, his face the picture of disbelief.
“Grand Central Station,” he shook his head in dismay as tears slipped down his face, “she is…is just….just gone.”
I watched as the bright, beautiful little girl beside me put all the pieces together. And then I felt her heart break inside of me as she screamed and launched herself at me.
Michael shook his head sadly; even his large wings drooped somewhat with the heavy sadness we all felt as he reached out and touched her little head.  
“Everything is in place for Justin to have ironclad, legal custody,” All I could do was nod as Candy’s tiny form heaved and trembled in my arms – her crying seeming to come from the depths of her soul. “And Sariel will be here to relieve you shortly. The two of you will be in charge of this case from now on, but I expect regular reports.”
“Understood.” It was the only response I could muster with so much sorrow and misery weighing on me at the moment.
I let her cry. I just held on tight and breathed in her shattered innocence. I knew it would be the last time in a long time that our precious Candy would actually allow herself to cry.
But she would make it through. I knew because she would have me, and she would have Sariel.
And, perhaps most importantly, she would have her Justin.


Disguised writing prompt entry
Writing Prompt
Write a story where one of the characters is in a disguise.
Pays one point and 2 member cents.

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