Hey, it's a new story! Dana is an incredibly sweet child. Do not feed her funnel cakes.

Un-beta'ed, so quibble away.

Strange Things

Dana Thompson was a very smart six-year-old. Her mommy and daddy had told her so. They also told her older sister, Kathleen, that she was smart, so it probably didn't mean much. (Katty got in trouble at school a lot for punching boys. Dana didn't mind, because her big sister had only punched the boy who kept pulling her hair and calling her a freak. That's what big sisters were supposed to do anyways.)

She did not, however, like funnel cakes.

After getting out of school for the day, mommy and daddy had packed her and Katty into the car. Katty thought they were going to the dentist, because that was the only time they were never told where they were going (and packed into the car so quickly). Dana hoped it was the circus that was in town, because she was finally tall enough to go on the rides all by herself. She wanted to ride the spinning teacups until the circus closed for the night, hopefully without her sister.

The only downside to the trip to the circus (which had cheered Kathleen and Dana up considerably when they saw that it wasn't the dentist's office) was the fact that they had to eat circus food. Dana didn't like how the caramel on caramel apples always stuck between her teeth, and daddy would never buy her frozen bananas with chocolate and sprinkles on them because those could be made at home. They usually compromised (a grownup word she'd learned from mommy's dictionary) by getting funnel cakes.

She loathed them, but at least she didn't have to eat caramel apples.

Dana sat at the picnic table on the circus' midway (it was actually a carnival, not a circus, but who cared? Both of them had funnel cakes), staring at her plate. Her mommy and daddy were at the cart next to her, looking over the menu with Kathleen. Daddy had gotten her a baby-sized funnel cake and then parked her at the picnic table so she could eat while they got dinner. Why did Kathleen have to be eight instead of her? It wasn't fair!

The six-year-old stuck her tongue out at the pastry, but picked a piece off and nibbled at it anyways, to make it look like she was actually eating. She stopped and looked behind her, wondering if the food cart was making funny noises. Dana froze when she saw a little kid, maybe her age (or Katty's age, maybe) crouched down on the ground. He was wearing ratty sneakers wrapped in duct tape and a hooded sweatshirt that was four times too big for him. (Dana had learned her times tables last year, so she knew how big four times was.)

He had his arms curled around his tummy, and was leaning against the food cart. Dana guessed that he was probably crying, because his shoulders were shaking. Maybe he'd lost his mommy. Dana shot a look at her parents and chewed her lower lip for a few seconds. Well, she wasn't leaving the area—it wasn't that far to where the boy was sitting! Honest!

"Are you lost?" Dana asked, crouching down so she was eye-level with the boy. She smiled widely at him, a gap in her teeth showing. (Kathleen had accidentally knocked out one of her baby teeth last week. Eating jell-o was so much easier now! Mommy and daddy weren't too happy with that discovery though, for some reason…) She twisted a strand of curly red-blonde hair around her finger while she waited.

"N…no," the boy whispered. He sounded sad. Dana looked at him, wondering why he sounded so funny. She also wanted to know why his shirt was too big for him. Didn't he have one that fit? "I…'m just 'ungry," he muttered, almost too low for her to hear. His stomach growled loudly, just to prove his point.

Dana looked back at the picnic table where her funnel cake was getting cold. She grinned at him. "Do you like funnel cakes?" she asked.

The boy's eyes widened in surprise. Dana took that as a yes and grabbed his hand, dragging him over to the table. "Here," she said, happily pushing the plate over. Her new best friend looked away, shoulders hunched as though he were expecting something bad to happen. Dana frowned unhappily. She was giving him a funnel cake. Oh… Maybe his parents didn't like him eating sugar or greasy foods, like Tommy in the third grade who couldn't have chocolate milk or pudding at lunch.

"You can eat some, you know," Dana said, jaw jutting out stubbornly. She ripped a piece off and stuffed it into her mouth, just to show it wasn't bad to eat. (Okay, it was, but if she was lucky, her friend would eat the rest of it so she didn't have to.)

The boy tentatively ripped a miniscule piece off and popped it into his mouth. Dana's eyes widened slightly as she saw that his hand was green. It wasn't a trick of the light, and neither were the scales she'd seen. She stared at him until she could almost see under the hood obscuring his features. The little girl tilted her head to the side.

"Why are you green?" she asked.

"B…because I am…?" he ventured hesitantly. Dana smiled brilliantly at him. Well, that was okay then.

"I'm Dana Thompson," she said, smiling as she held her hand out just like daddy did when he was introducing himself to business clients. Her new friend grasped it lightly, hand sliding out of the massive sleeve. He had thin, bony wrists, and even thinner arms.

"'m Scales, miss," her friend replied shyly. "T'anks f'r the pastry," he added, nibbling on another piece.

Dana smiled and, between the two of them, they finished the funnel cake before Katty and her parents got back from arguing over what to buy. Scales, her strange-looking friend (who really liked funnel cakes) had vanished at that point.

She licked the last of the powdered sugar off her fingers, and decided that funnel cakes weren't so bad after all.

- o – o -

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