I went to sleep early after telling my mom I wanted to rest up for graduation. But she knew better. Brushing her fingers through my hair, she said, “Stay close to those friends of yours.” Then she asked, “Can I help?”
It was something that had never crossed my mind, and yet, now that she asked, I wondered if her help was something I should have considered earlier. But I had a plan. A plan which didn’t include her. “No. But thanks, Mom.”
A gentle kiss woke me. Stitch Mouth was there. There was no hint of fear at all in her beautiful face. She kissed me one more time.
I sat up. “I am. And I have a plan.” They listened intently as I began, “Balloon Girl’s home is the best place to go because of all the rooms. Another home would only confuse us as much as the witch. When we get to the house, Balloon Girl, you’ll set loose the last two balloons and have them go to the top of the stairs. The three of us will be up there too, but first, I’ll grab a knife from the kitchen. But do you think a knife would work?”
A knife would be perfect. Let her feel a blade, just as she has used it on others.
Stitch Mouth nodded.
“Okay. Good. Remember that time when the witch went past us in the hallway and we went the other way?”
“It will be something like that. I’ll be in Balloon Girl’s bedroom with a balloon girl, and Stitch Mouth and Balloon Girl, you’ll be in the room across the hall. Balloon Girl, can you make sure the other balloon girl isn’t seen by the witch?”
The girls are as sneaky as me, so, yes.
“Okay, that’s what I was hoping. When the witch comes up the stairs and goes into the bedroom where the balloon girl went, the three of you will cover her with a sheet to give me just enough time to run in with the knife to stab her, or something.”
What will my other balloon girl be doing with you? Why not have her begin with us?
“She’ll wait for the other children. She can hold them off at the top of the stairs if they come.
“No, not really.” I could instantly sense the countless shortcomings I’d ignored and every which way the witch could adapt to everything I had thought of. I shook my head. “I feel so stupid. I thought of plans all day. You’d think I’d have something better than that.”
It’s perfect, Sarah. It will work.
“I adore your plan,” Stitch Mouth assured. “And as Balloon Girl said, it’s perfect.”
My home is the best place because it gives us time to prepare, and it also provides confusion with all the places we could hide. More importantly, it gives us time to run if we must. The four of us should be able to hold the witch down long enough for you to do what you must. To stab her. Or something, Balloon Girl teased.
“But what if the children come again?” I asked. “Do you think it’s enough to have the one balloon girl at the top of the stairs?”
“Yes. All we need is enough time for you to do what you must.”
To stab her or something.
“Oh, stop.” Stitch Mouth swatted at Balloon Girl.
I don’t care what or who the witch brings with her. If she brings ten children, a chicken, and a one-winged donkey named The Great Circling Ass, it does not matter. The witch dies tonight.
Stitch Mouth reached into her purse. “It is time.”