Mary Poppins looked me up and . . . up. Considering how tall I was to her small, 5′ frame, she basically had to stare straight up to the sky to meet my eyes.
“So you’re the child I’m supposed to babysit?”
Wow, so this is what Poppins is really like? Her hair is pristine, as well as her clothes. Unfortunately, she doesn’t carry an umbrella. When I had asked her about that missing piece to her outfit, she laughed and asked if I really thought she still traveled in that impractical way.
Impractical it might have been, but Mary Poppins without her umbrella is like me without my cowboy boots. Or peanut butter without jelly.
Actually, it’s more like jelly without peanut butter. Team Jam all the way.
“Child doesn’t exactly fit.”
Snap. I forgot short people can kick you in the shins. I swear, their aim is deadly.
“Watch your words, dear. Just because you could rival Big Ben in height doesn’t mean you can sass. Fifteen going on sixteen is still one hundred percent a child. I mean, look at you. Stick thin, hardly any curve. You’re definitely still a child.”
Biting my tongue is an accomplishment of mine. That is, until the volcano of thoughts pops the top and spills in burning inferno out of my lips. But that’ll be awhile before it happens to Mary Poppins.
Or maybe not.
“Why are you here?”
“Oh, you don’t know?” Mary’s perfect brow quirked towards the ceiling. “Hold still as I measure you.” She balanced precariously on the bed as I held perfectly still, her measuring tape examining me.
Ah, her famous measuring tape. Since when has the height of 5′ been practically perfect in every way? I don’t believe there’s an ounce of magic in that stupid thing. Mary herself admitted to using Uber.
“Tsk tsk, extremely stubborn and suspicious? Well, I shall have to keep my eyes on you.”
If you ask my opinion, Mary’s eyes are suspicious and stubborn. Much more so than mine.
“As I was saying.” Mary bustled around the room. “I’m here to help you.”
“Help?” The laugh was stuck in my throat. “What are you talking about?”
Mary’s eyes finally meet mine again. “You should know, you were the one who asked for help.” Her delicate finger touches her chin. “If I remember right, you were on your bedroom floor, crying, and you said you couldn’t do it anymore.”
The heat creeps up my neck and across my cheeks. “No one was supposed to see that.”
“Or hear that? Tsk tsk, you should know better than that. Whenever your soul cries from it’s uttermost depths, someone will come. You just have to have the bravery to see them.”
“People are scared of you?” Yeah, shocked, too. I mean, the miniature nanny is kinda tough looking, but people afraid of her?
“You are an artist, a creator! You should know if no one else knows, dear.” Mary shook her head, on the verge of tsk tsking again. “People are afraid of what they cannot understand. And my darling girl, people cannot understand Mary Poppins. Oh sure, some have tried. Jane and Micheal Banks have become heroes of childhood tales. But even Jane grew afraid. Afraid to take the medicine, afraid to laugh to the ceiling. Even afraid to feed the birds.”
In one swift moment, Mary was in front of me, jabbing her finger towards my chest. “But you. You are not afraid of what you cannot understand. You are afraid of reality.”
Ouch. I totally wanted my fears to be spoken to the whole world. And the whole world consisted of the sleepy cat in the window sill, and the puzzled dog at my feet.
“So, I am here to help you understand that reality, in it’s own way, is a figment of the imagination. The figment of an unimaginative imagination. One that has been oxidized to desecration, one that . . .”
Oxidized to desecration? What kind of description is that? Would it stand in Chemistry class?
“Excuse me, did you hear a single word I said?” Mary’s hands rested on her shapely hips as she tilted her head, sideways and up.
“Uh . . .”
“For the love of the chimney sweep! You got hung up on the blasted oxidizing, didn’t you? And you claim to be a writer. What has the creative world come to? It’s about time you went on an adventure. Besides, we need you.”
Need . . . Me? I think I missed something here. Wait, she’s opening that bag, the bag I’ve always hated?
“Are you ready to travel, my dear?” Mary’s red lips corked upwards.
“Travel?” Man, why did my voice have to squeak?
“Mm. You certainly did miss everything I just said. You are needed in the creative world, child.”
“Me?! But I’m the least creative writer, artist, you name it! I think you have the wrong girl.”
Mary’s smile was more alarming than any other response. “Child, did you paint this? Write this poem? Create those videos? Your music, that one song you put your soul into because you aren’t afraid like you are on the others?” Her accusatory finger pokes at me again. “You have it deep within, you are just afraid to let reality see the kind of human you are inside. And that is part of the reason we’re leaving.”
“Since you weren’t listening, you’ll have to find out once you step through the bag.”
“I’m not –”
“Mm. Yes, you are.” Mary’s eyes twinkled as she stepped back. “I know you. You think you can resist the curiosity, but you aren’t that strong. This is a story to write, a painting to create, a poem to pen, and a song to sing. So step through, and experience it to the full. I’ll be right behind you.”
Glancing over my shoulder, I took a deep breath. Trusting Mary seemed like going against my gut. But since when had I ever followed my gut?
“Alright. Just once.”
Because I didn’t want to end up on the floor. Not again.
So I jumped.
Into the dark.