"What's that?" Arrietty clutched Sho's sleeve and pointed, her finger stabbing one strange sight after another. "And that? And that?"
"Acrobat troupe. Magician doing tricks. A mime."
Arrietty paused. "What's a mime?"
"It's... uh..."Sho didn't know how to explain, so he sidetracked instead. "Hey, want some cotton candy?"
Arrietty shuddered. "Sweet and dry? Nasty!"
"How do you know?" Sho stopped walking and looked at her in surprise. "Have you Borrowed some before?"
"Er, no." She rubbed her ponytail, where the scrungie was starting to work its way into her scalp. It was too tight, but the hair clip she'd given Sho - seemed like years ago - was impossibly small for her now. "It was... well, I thought it was a dream..."
Sho raised his eyebrows. "And hot dogs?" he ased leadingly.
"Yes!" She jumped. "Those are good!"
"We must have had the same dream, he remarked, and kept walking. "Let's get some hot dogs then." At least she had stopped asking about the mime. And hopefully it would get them out of the crowds, which still had a tendency to make her nervous.
Sho found a hot dog stand in short order. Soon Arrietty was holding a piping hot package in her hands. It oozed ketchup and relish. She didn't know which dressings she liked, so Sho had just ordered what he liked and hoped for the best.
"So," he said as he unwrapped his hot dog, "how did they take it?"
"Well..." Arrietty took her first bite and chewed meditatively. Ah, yes. It tasted wonderful, just like in the dream. "Mama is still hoping it's temporary, but I think Father knows better. They're already tired of the cowshed. I think I can talk them into looking for a Human Bean place soon. Spiller figures he can just bag bigger kinds of animals now - I don't know how long that can go on without someone noticing, though he's awfully good at hiding out in the woods and such... but I know Father will need work, something to do with his hands."
"Are they mad at you?"
Arrietty laughed. "I would say they're too busy being... confused. They can't get used to not having to run and hide every time something moves."
Something glimmered at the edge of her vision. They were passing a funhouse. Sho glanced in and saw mirrors of every shape and size. "Want to go in the funhouse?" he offered.
Arrietty shook her head vigorously. "No!"
"So we did have the same dream." He looked back at the funhouse as Arrietty dragged him away. "Aw, come on, Arrietty, it was just a dream. It's touching that does it, isn't it? Do we have to stay out of funhouses for the rest of our lives?"
"It's not worth the risk!" she shot back.
"Oh, all right." He patted her arm soothingly. "Let's see where Spiller and Sissy have got to."
X X X
She woke up slowly. She remembered falling asleep on Sadako's settee, tired out from running around at the fair. She didn't remember Sho spreading a quilt over her, or Sadako quietly turning the light down so she wouldn't wake up. All she knew was that it was dark and she was hot and the settee was suddenly huge...
"Arrietty!" Again. And a pounding sound, like someone banging on the wall with their fists, but it was such a tiny sound. She crawled to the edge of the settee, fighting her way through folds of quilt, and looked down. It was like being on the top of a cliff.
Sho was on the floor, banging on the settee leg. It was higher than his head.
"I'm coming," she called, and swung a leg over the edge. Her Borrower instincts hadn't gone anywhere. She made it to the floor easily and landed beside Sho, light as a feather. She almost was light as a feather.
"You too, huh?" Sho brought a hand up and measured. Even as a Borrower, Arrietty was taller than he was. "You wouldn't believe how much trouble I had getting down the stairs..."
They looked around together, at the huge house. Niya trotted in from the kitchen, paused at the sight of them, and came over to sniff Sho and purr at Arrietty. Sho leaned on the huge furry head and stroked it absently.
"This," he said, "could be a problem."
a/n: I no more own "The Borrowers" series or the Arrietty film than I can shoot Spiller's bow; otherwise, who knows what the movie would've looked like... This story is purely fan fiction and was not created, acknowledged or endorsed by Ghibli or Mary Norton's current copyright holders (whoever they may be), to whom all relevant characters and trademarks belong. No infringement is intended and absolutely no profit was or ever will be made. Sho's Theory of Relativity itself is fan domain and may be freely recopied and archived. Reader reactions are appreciated, as always; if you don't read it, it doesn't live!