Long Live the Pumpkin Queen by Shea Ernshaw

Long Live the Pumpkin Queen by Shea Ernshaw

Author:Shea Ernshaw [Earnshaw, Shea]
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Disney Book Group
Published: 2022-07-05T00:00:00+00:00

I follow the young boy up the street.

We travel two blocks, until the road abruptly ends, and straight ahead is a white stone house with several low clouds gathered above it. As if the clouds have been hung there on purpose, suspended by string, like a child’s mobile above a crib. Or painted on with watercolors and dusty white ink.

On the front door is a plaque: GOVERNOR’S RESIDENCE.

The boy climbs the stone steps up to the front door, and lifts the metal knocker, banging it twice against the wooden door.

A moment later, I can hear footsteps on the other side. Not the hard plodding of boots, but the soft shush of socked feet. The door swings open and a tall, narrow man in green-and-blue pajamas, with a clean-shaven face, holding a candle to illuminate the doorway, stands before us.

“Good evening,” the man says plainly—his words not guised in a riddle—and I wonder if perhaps this is the common greeting in Dream Town, since the sky seems to always be hovering right at a soft evening hour.

He looks to the boy, then to me, surveying me a moment—eyes twinkling—before he nods and opens the door wide for me to enter. “This way,” he instructs.

I step into the house, but the boy doesn’t follow. He turns and skips back out into the street, his task completed.

The tall man leads me into a long, narrow sitting room just off the entryway. “Wait here,” he says.

This man is clearly a butler or doorman or footman—or whatever they’re called in this realm—and not the governor himself.

I stand in the center of the room, my eyes scanning every detail, every vase and picture frame. The room is filled with overstuffed pillows in the corners, thick cotton blankets folded and draped across the backs of couches and poufs and cushions. The floor-to-ceiling windows let in the gloaming evening light, while wax candles flicker from the round side tables and atop stacks of books. Above me, the ceiling is painted with a nighttime scene: hundreds of tiny stars and constellations against a deep, river-blue background. It’s the perfect room to take an evening nap, just before you settle in for a full night’s sleep. I walk to the center of the room and read the spines of several books on the coffee table, picking them up and caressing their covers: They are all bedtime stories, poetry collections, and ancient fairy tales.

“Well, hello.” A deep, baritone voice speaks behind me.

I whip around, startled, dropping the book I had been holding onto the floor with a thud.

When my eyes settle on the two figures standing in the doorway, the leaves in my chest wallop into my throat, making it impossible for me to speak. To utter a single word.

They are both rag dolls, just like me.


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