I pass through the white picket fence and take in the big backyard. The smell of freshly cut grass greets me as I walk across the lawn. Sun-kissed ripples glide across the pool. The jungle gym with the fort stands patiently. A tire suspended by a rope slowly swings back and forth from a thick oak limb.
The adventure started here. A once in a lifetime journey few can say they had experienced. Marley Perry had traveled into deep space after discovering a spaceship in her mom’s vegetable garden. The red-headed girl met danger at every turn and rescued the king and queen with the help of her new BFF.
There is a rustling of leaves above me. I look up and see a tiny figure with a mop of red corkscrew hair shimmying down the gnarly oak tree.
“Hi,” the voice drifts down from above.
I grin, not able to hide my amusement for the precocious firecracker. Marley jumps the last couple of feet and lands with a thud. She bends over and wipes the dust off her pink sneakers.
“Hi Marley,” I say, “I thought your parents told you to use the door when you want to go outside.”
Marley’s cheeks turn a lovely shade of pink and a fluster crosses her face. She gazes up at her second-floor bedroom window and her escape route, the gnarly oak tree. The corners of her mouth twitch up sheepishly. “I forgot.”
I dismiss Marley’s embarrassment and walk over to the patio. “I’d like to ask you a few questions. ‘Pink Sneakers in Space’ will be coming out in a couple of weeks, and I’m sure my readers would love to get to know you.”
“Okay.” Marley’s face brightens as she sits in a folding chair. A pitcher and glasses were on the table with a plate of cookies. “Mom made us snickerdoodles and lemonade.” The little girl leaned forward and poured two glasses.
“Thanks,” I say. “So, what’s your new friend’s name? What’s she like?”
“Ally,” Marley gushes, “and she’s a real princess. Ally is the best friend ever! I can tell her anything and she won’t tell anyone.”
“Every girl needs a BFF. But you’re not sad? Your friend lives on Lovian, and you won’t see her again.”
“But I will see Ally again,” Marley says with excitement and bubbles, “She is coming to visit soon and going to spend the night.”
“Wow. I didn’t think your parents knew about your adventure.”
Marley cast her eyes downward, and she pushes a stray lock of red hair away.
“Marley, you didn’t tell your parents did you?”
“No. But I’m going to. I’m just waiting until I get married.”
My eyes narrow and I wonder maybe it would be best if Marley’s parents don’t know about her travels in space. But how will she hide her alien visitor, so I ask. “How are you going to explain Ally? Your parents will notice her brilliant blue hair.”
“I have a hat for Ally.”
I laugh. A hat for a disguise. I wonder how long it will take Marley’s parents to catch on. An airplane flies overhead. I look up and watch as the jet leaves a trail behind. I think about how brave Marley must have been to climb into the spaceship and fly to the outer reaches of the Milky Way and face danger with the Blobarians.
“Are the Blobarians as creepy as I hear?”
“Naw, not once you get use to them. I like iguanas and cats.”
“Iguanas and cats?”
“Yes, Blobarians are big and look like iguanas. They have long whiskers like my cat Boris too.”
What an odd combination, lizard people with whiskers. Interesting.
“Marley, is your homework done?” a voice drifts out the kitchen back door.
“Almost. I still have to do my spelling,” Marley answers her mom. “I have to go. Ally is supposed to be here soon. Why don’t I text you when she’s here and you could interview her too.”
“That would be great. Thanks.”
Marley gets up and gives me a hug. “See you soon,” Marley says.
I get up and take one last look at the vegetable garden as I leave. Someone had filled in the hole created by Princess Ally’s spaceship. The tomatoes on the vine were red and ready to be picked. What an adventure. I’m almost envious, though I doubt I would have had the courage to get in a spaceship and travel beyond the stars.