Finn was jolted awake by something being thrown on his stomach. He grunted, jerking to sit upright in his bed. Well, not his bed, one of the two guest beds in the room above the shop. Jett had tossed him a pile of dirty clothes.
“Those are Mama Mint’s,” Jett explained, gently bouncing the baby in her arms. “Get to folding them. Our work starts early, and then we can get out of here.”
“Ughhhh,” Finn moaned, falling back onto his pillow. “Morning people,” he rolled his eyes.
“Everyone at home is probably freaking out by now,” Jett sighed, quietly clicking her tongue at the baby.
“There’s bags under your eyes,” Finn commented.
“The baby was crying all night. I’m amazed you slept through it all,” Jett explained. “My arms are cramping up,” she groaned. “I’m never having children.”
“Don’t worry,” Finn snickered, sitting up again. “No one will ever want to have children with you.”
“Watch it,” she flicked the boy’s forehead. “Fold the dang clothes. I’m going to head downstairs and see what Mama Mint wants me to do,” she set the baby back down into the cradle.
“I’m hungry!” Finn called after her as she left.
“Eat when the work is done,” she smirked. Finn groaned and hoisted the pile of dirty laundry into his arms, rushing to follow the older girl down the stairs, praying the old lady will be more generous about repast than Jett.
“Ah, here they are,” Mama Mint greeted the two children, accompanied by a young man, no more than nineteen. “Children, this is Jared. He comes to help me in my shop every day.”
Jared tipped his hat politely. “Hello.”
“Hi,” Jett shook his hand. “My name’s Jett, and this is my stepbrother, Finn.”
“I have to fold laundry,” Finn said. Jett rolled her eyes.
“And what do you want me to do, Mama Mint?” she asked.
“You, young lady, will assist Jared in chopping me firewood before winter comes,” she explained.
“Are you sure?” Jared looked at Jett with uncertainty.
“I’ve never chopped firewood before…” Jett added.
“I’m sure you will be fine, Jared will help you,” Mama Mint said. Jared and Jett shot each other sideways glances.
“I’ll feed your little sister,” Mama Mint added, surprising Jett for a moment before realizing she had lied about the baby they found, claiming that it is their baby sister.
“We’ll head out now, Mama,” Jared walked over to the corner of the shop, grabbing two axes with covers over the blades. His axe lazily swung at his side as he held out the other one towards Jett. She reached out and took the tool, realizing it was much heavier than she realized. Jared silently motioned for Jett to follow.
“Your stepsister is a strong girl, Finn,” Mama Mint commented, putting a hand on the boy’s shoulder as Jared and Jett left the building. “Watch out for her.”
Finn blinked with surprise. “R-Right. I’ll be folding these now,” he nodded down to the clothes.
“So, Jared, is it?” Jett made her attempt at conversation as she followed Jared behind the Merchandise shop. “You work for Mama Mint?”
“She’s my grandmother,” Jared stated quickly.
“Oh, cool! It was very nice of her to let us stay,” Jett said, struggling to keep at pace with him.
“Here are the logs we’ve saved,” Jared motioned to a pile of wood leaning against the backside of the shop. “We just gotta chop a few up.” He tugged out a small cylinder and placed on a barren tree stump, then stepped back. “After you, m’lady.”
“O-Oh,” Jett approached the waiting log, her grip tightening and loosening on her axe. “I’ve never actually done this before…”
“It’s easy,” Jared sighed. “Just angle your body like this,” he moved her accordingly. “And then lift up the axe like this,” he directed her hands to be above her head. “And swing down, getting this in half,” he adjusted the log a little bit. “It’ll take a few hacks to get through the whole thing.”
“Okay,” Jett let out a deep breath before bringing her axe down onto the log. It sliced through a small section before wedging itself in and getting stuck. “Ah!” she yelped as she tugged the axe back, the log moving with her.
“It’s alright,” Jared grabbed the log and yanked it off of the axe, setting it back onto the tree stump. “Not bad, for your first swing ever,” Jared ran his fingers along the cut she made. “You must be strong.”
Jett smiled meekly. “They work us hard in ballet.”
“You dance. That explains the tutu,” Jared chuckled, studying Jett’s strange ensemble. She looked down at herself and laughed as well.
“Yes,” she patted the poofy skirt with her free hand.
“I must admit, a girl in a tutu holding an axe is a...strange sight, to say the least. Go ahead, give it another go,” Jared stepped back. Jett took a moment to prepare herself, lifting the axe like Jared showed her, and brought it back down on the log. The blade got stuck in the wood again, but this chop split the log halfway down.
“One or two more swings should do the trick,” Jared pried the log from the axe once again. “I’m impressed.”
Finally, Jett managed to get the log in half, but her work was slow going, so Jared took the next two logs while Jett loaded them into a cart. Her hands grew calloused from gripping onto the axe.
“So, Jared,” Jett watched as he loaded his logs onto the cart. “You wouldn’t happen to know if there is a train station near here?”
“Train station?” Jared gasped with surprise, as if train stations were unheard of. “No, I’m sorry, not that I can think of.”
“Oh,” Jett’s axe swung at her side dejectedly.
“I’m sorry. I’m sure your stepbrother and you will find a way back to your home,” Jared said, patting her shoulder.
“Yeah. We’re just hoping to keep walking along those train tracks until we can find a station,” Jett explained, and Jared gasped again.
“You’re going to walk?!”
“Well, I know it’s a long distance-”
“You can’t go walking in the daisy field!” Jared dropped his axe and grabbed Jett’s arm. Jett blinked in surprise but didn’t fight back.
“What do you mean?”
“You really are Lost, aren’t you,” Jared breathed. “You don’t know.”
“Don’t know what?!”
Jared swallowed. “There’s a great Evil out there, Jett.”
Jett raised an uncertain eyebrow. “What, like some kind of monster?”
“Worse,” Jared released her. “The Evil is much worse than any kind of monster.”
Jett stepped away from Jared, studying him with newfound concern. “Perhaps we should go back to the shop now.”
“You think I’m crazy.”
“No, no!” Jett lied, picking up his axe. “You take the cart, I’ll take these.”
“Be careful, Jett,” Jared said, rolling the cart. Jett had a good feeling that he wasn’t talking about the axes. She led him back around to the front of the shop, walking in to see her stepbrother sweeping the floor.
“I’ve never seen him clean before!” Jett chuckled, passing the axes to Jared.
“Once he’s finished up, I believe that’s all the help I’ll need,” Mama Mint approached Jared and Jett, cradling the unnamed baby in her arms. “How was it?”
“Pretty fun, actually,” Jett said, looking down at her arms. “Though I may be sore for a while.”
“I knew you were a strong girl!” Mama Mint laughed, patting Jett’s back. “Well done. Here, would you like your sister back?”
Jett accepted her fake sister back into her arms. “Hi, baby,” she cooed, bouncing her slightly. The child squealed with delight.
“She likes her big sister very much,” Mama Mint commented, and Jett couldn’t wipe the grin from her face.
“Thank you so much for your help, children,” Mama Mint grabbed Jett by the arm and dragged her back to the counter, picking up a brown satchel. “I’ve packed this with some food, and some diapers for the baby. There are two water bottles that I hope you can find some water to refill them with. Good luck out there, children.”
Jett handed the satchel to Finn. “And thank you so much, for letting us stay here.”
“I hope you get home,” Mama Mint smiled. Jett smiled back, nodding politely and turning to leave. Jared held the door open and whispered to her as she passed.
“Watch out for the Evil.”
Jett’s jaw tensed. “Goodbye, Jared,” was her only response as she and her stepbrother left the shop, heading back to the train tracks.
“What’s the plan now, Jett?” Finn asked, hopping up to balance on the tracks, one hand clutching the handle of the satchel.
“We keep walking,” Jett said, adjusting the baby into a more comfortable position. “Maybe we should call her Mint, after that nice lady.”
“I still say we call it Finn 2.”