April 14, 2018

M is for Margaret (Priddy)

        On Tuesdays Gwyneth had her viola lesson at Ms Priddy’s house.  She walked halfway home with Izzy, then turned onto Ms Priddy’s street and walked three more blocks under the dappled canopy of the trees that arched to meet each other over the street.  Gwyneth loved Ms Priddy’s neighborhood, with its sidewalks made of great squares of slate, and its little old houses, each one different, each in its own small garden.  Ms Priddy’s house was wrapped snugly in thick rhododendron shrubs, and the front yard was spangled with the shining white stars of autumn anemones above the ferns.  In the spring Ms Priddy had dug up one of them for Gwyneth to plant in her own yard, but it had only three flowers on it this year.
        Gwyneth shuffled through scarlet maple leaves to ring the doorbell.  It gave out a deep, rich chime from the other side of the door.  Ms Priddy opened the door with a smile and stood back beside the ornate wrought iron coat rack to let Gwyneth pass to the left into the small living room or study that Gwyneth thought of as the lesson room.  It was always set up with two straight-backed chairs and an old-fashioned wooden music stand.  A bay window with leaded glass panes looked into the front yard, and on the wall opposite the window was a rather battered upright piano.  The rest of the room was mostly bookshelves.
        They sat down and Gwyneth opened her case, took out her bow, and tightened it.  She was lifting out the viola when the telephone rang on the desk.
        Ms Priddy glanced at the number on the handset.  “I’m sorry, Gwyneth, I really need to take this.  Get yourself tuned and I’ll be back in a minute.  Hello?” she said, already holding the phone to her ear and hurrying out of the room.
        Ms Priddy hadn’t returned by the time Gwyneth had tuned her viola.  She played a few quick scales by way of warming up, then lowered the viola and looked around, waiting.  It occurred to her that for all the time she’d spent in Ms Priddy’s lesson room, an hour a week for years now, she’d never really had the chance to look around before.  She got up and wandered to the bookshelves that covered the entire wall around the window.  Head tilted sideways, she scanned the titles.  The lower shelves, she noticed, were not books but cardboard file boxes, dozens of them, all lined up with handwritten labels pasted neatly to their sides.  Gwyneth frowned slightly as one of the labels caught her eye: Abductions Nineteenth Century.  That was weird.  What kind of hobby did Ms Priddy have, anyway?  An interest in abductions seemed a lot more sinister than playing viola and gardening.  Ms Priddy was a small, birdlike woman, all her movements neat, quick, and precise.  It wasn’t hard to imagine that she might have unexpected strength in her wiry arms, but all the same Gwyneth couldn’t help smiling to herself at the idea of her petite viola teacher cramming unsuspecting children into the trunk of her little hybrid car… Still, there was no denying that abductions were a strange interest.
        Gwyneth read the labels on the nearby boxes.  Abductions Ancient, Abductions Twentieth Century, Changelings Infant, Changelings Childhood, Changelings Teen…  The file boxes on the next shelf were even odder: Faerie Incidents, Faerie Rituals, Faerie Hotspots
        Margaret Priddy from an in-progress Young Adult fantasy with the working title Changeling (excerpt from Chapter 2: Come Away).

[Picture: Ms Priddy’s house, photoshopped from various sources, especially this one.]

A-Z Challenge, all posts for the letter M


  1. Lovely house (I forgot to say in my previous comment) and surprisingly large to look so small. And with a stone fireplace, I think.

    1. I have such a soft spot for unassuming, charming houses. I live in a town where all the small houses are torn down and replaced with MacMansions, so I have a real romance for old neighborhoods that are kept up.

  2. Nice! I'm afraid Ms. Priddy would come back and find me poking around in those boxes. Gwyneth might be too polite, but as Nosy Nelly, I would have no problem.

    1. Actually, Gwyneth does start reading some of the files! And later asks Ms Priddy about them, too. It turns out that knowledge of faerie abductions can be very useful...

  3. darn it..now I want to know more!!