Never judge a book by her cover…
Hannah used to think it was sad that no one seemed to notice her, that they considered her “just an account,” the mousy, quiet woman who sat in the corner, working hard, and while a nice sort of woman had little to say, though she was always pleasant. In school Hannah had been the straight “A” student who didn’t fit in with the cool kids and was too shy to even join the after school clubs that she would have liked to, but she had a secret. Hannah had special powers and she felt this was something she should keep to herself.
Hannah went in to work every morning with her hair pulled back tight in a bun, her black glasses with the heavy frames dwarfing her pretty face, and she wore one of three suits, a black, navy, or grey, with sensible pumps. She wore hose which didn’t seem to be the fashion anymore and was quite unsettled by the women who came in dressed casually wearing no stockings and the most peculiar looking shoes. They called them BirkerUppers or some such thing but they were certainly not suitable for a place of business, of that she was certain.
Hannah wasn’t invited out by her co-workers who thought that she was probably so dull she’d fall asleep at the table and be an embarrassment to their friends. What in the world would Hannah have to say. They imagined her going home and eating saltine crackers with canned soup, having a cup of tea, reading Jane Austen and then going to bed, probably with a cat.
If they only knew.
Hannah gathered her things, shyly smiled, ever so slightly, at the few co-workers who were still there when she, almost always the last to leave, gathered her things and headed home. She took the subway, staring out the window, making up countless stories about the other passengers and smiling to herself, knowing that they would never know. When she finally reached the doorstep of her brownstone she picked up the paper, pulled the mail out of the box, squealing with delight as she walked through the door, tossed her briefcase over the back of the sofa, kicked off her pumps and screeched, “Gracious Me Mr. Toggles! Look what came in the mail!”
On these days, when special mail came, Hannah was beside herself, but still took time to carefully undress and hang her suit up, put her pumps in the closet, and grab one of her favorite things to wear around the house. It was one of her brightly colored tie-dye dresses that went down to her ankles. She didn’t bother with shoes, she didn’t see the point. She set her glasses on her dresser, took down her bun, and shook out her waist long curls. She then went careening through her untidy little home making airplane wings of her arms as she tilted this way and that “flying” around furniture over to Mr. Toggles tank — she never did anything at home without Mr. Toggles — and as she took off the lid of the tank, greeting him with “Who’s Mama’s little man?” she reached her hand slowly down into the tank and let him slither up her arm, curling around it and coming all the way up until they were nose to nose. Mr. Toggles was a corn snake, and large for his size, a little over four feet, and the love of her life. He was an albino corn snake with a beautiful coral pattern against cream white skin, and red eyes, and he only had eyes for Hannah. She had raised him from a baby and had no trouble at all with raising a steady supply of mice to feed him, watching him with glee as he polished off a live mouse.
This night Mr. Toggles curled around Hannah’s arm and shoulder and made himself comfortable while she sat at her big table in the middle of what probably should have been a dining room but was a studio of sorts filed with art supplies and fabric and books stuffed in any which way, and tonight as she opened the padded envelope and let a pile of new rubber stamps and brightly colored stamp pads cascade across the table her mind was running in a thousand directions. She reached for her big journal, a fistful of colored pens, glitter and glue, and a stack of old magazines to tear apart and she started in, writing and stamping and cutting and pasting and painting and dreaming, and writing more stories about her life, the life that she had created, that she lived in in her head and within the 4 walls of her little brownstone. Hours passed before she was finished and Mr. Toggles had been sleeping happily against the warmth of her body the whole time. He was a great comfort to her.
At 11:00 she closed everything up and put Mr. Toggles away, stroking him for a few minutes and staring into his glowing red eyes with love. She put the lid on his tank and a dictionary with a couple of bricks on top — he was an escape artist, the little rascal — and ordered Thai food to be delivered. She ate it while watching a horror film — she just loved those — and then got ready for bed. This was her favorite time of the night.
Hannah put on her long flowing pink satin nightgown, opened her skylight, and breathed in the cool fresh air. It was a perfect night. Once again she would slip out of the skylight and fly so high she would look down upon the stars, and as she did she would drop the tiny crystals made of stardust in a rainbow of colors over the houses below. It was the most important job that she had, sprinkling dream-dust as she called it. She sprinkled extra dust, the prettiest, sparkliest crystalline powder that she had, over the roofs over her co-workers. She loved to hear them talk about their dreams the next day, but she never looked up, never smiled, and kept her attention focused on the work at hand.
When you are a magic maker it’s best never to let on. It’s best people never know. It’s important to guard their dreams, as she had her own since she was a small child. It was the most important work that she did. She took this job very seriously.
Tonight she would go home and have an early dinner and explain to Mr. Toggles that she would be out longer than normal. It was to be a perfect night with so many stars the sky would be lit up like flashing neon, and what she had in store for the dreamers was something they would never forget…