11. Magic Markers
The streets outside the station were even more glorious, more shops, more colors! And with the bright sunlight spilling down on everything, it was unlike anything that the girls had ever seen. They had no time to marvel, though, as much as they wanted to. They kept up with Sandra and Amber, fast, on their heels, clicking away to the left of the station They soon passed a red-bricked building where almost everyone coming out had a book and a coffee, with a few bicycles parked in front. After a few paces, there was a red-bricked arch to the red-bricked building, saying ‘The British Library’. It was at least as twice as big as the libraries on Mayfield and Charbon, and it looked much more comfortable. Then, something huge and red ran past with the number 144 on it. “Oh, my god, Olive, did you see that?” “Yeah, the red automobile? It was huge.” “It’s almost like they have two automobiles stacked on top of each other!” They both laughed at Ilana’s little joke. It was a joke, right? They walked past a few modern buildings, then past a small park. Not long after, they saw an old church building to their left. This place was very strange. It was like the place was modern, ancient, and nature all at once. After what felt like about twenty minutes of walking straight on, they turned left. The sun was almost beginning to set, they realized. They passed under the shadow of a building, then walked back out into the sun, then back under a shadow, and so on, until the shadows became longer and longer. The girls were just fine, but Sandra and Amber’s feet seemed to be aching from the heels. They would occasionally stop and readjust their shoes, and massage their ankles. They passed a construction site. The streetscape continued to be an array of very old buildings for very modern purposes. Café, grocery, bargain clothing, Mexican fusion,… they were in red-bricked buildings with white, dirty but beautifully old roofs. They came to a big intersection with dozens of the same pictures, or maybe patterns, hung on a string above. The picture had a red cross in the center, stretching all the way to the edges, and leaving a thin, white gap, had a red ‘x’ mark overlapping beneath the cross. In the white spaces left over, leaving a narrow white gap again, the color of deep blue was filled in. In beautiful glittering letters, a poster read ‘Marking 25 Years: Congratulations to the Queen’s Silver Jubilee!’ A queen? There was a queen! Queens were only in fairy tales and such! The girls were pleasantly surprised. Soon after, the road curved. A few blocks more, and the road curved again. By now, they had been walking for about forty minutes, and the girls were beginning to get tired. Where were they going, anyway? Could they even find their way back to the station? What if Amber and Sandra weren’t anything special? Just then, a certain building caught their sight. It was an old building, like any other, and it had sparkling flags hung on top. “Hamleys”, it read, in curvy white letters. The windows- oh, the windows! They had moving clowns and dolls and ferris wheels, bubbles and robots and drawing tools! Beautiful trains passing through beautiful tunnels, dollhouses complete with little dolls sitting next to a little table with a little teapot that could be opened and used if you didn’t mind the full quantity of one drop. Ilana and Olive stopped short in their tracks. ‘Toys’, they read off the top of the building. They were awed by this collection of- well, everything! There were people outside the building, inviting any kid to join them as they sold fantastic toys, ones you dreamed of, or never even dreamed of. While they were staring in wonder, an exuberated woman in a tiger costume jumped in front of them. “Hi, girls! Were you looking at our new magic markers?” “We, er- we were actually, uh, I mean…” Olive stumbled through her answer. “Well, why don’t you check them out? Now what are your names?” Olive’s brain worked furiously. How should they answer? Maybe saying Mayfield or Charbon would reveal their identity. Then it only made sense for their last names to be London! Yes, why hadn’t she thought of it before? Olive looked over to Ilana to give her a signal, but she was already answering, thought-free, care-free. “I’m Ilana Ch-“ She spoke. To Olive, it sounded like slow motion. Olive cut through as fast as she could. “London! She’s Ilana London, and I’m Olive London.” Ilana looked at Olive in alarm, then realized what she might have done and smiled in relief. Olive was relieved too, but the tiger lady was slightly amused, or puzzled. “Why, your last names are London… British to the core, I see!” she said with a slight chuckle. “Are you sisters?” “No,” Ilana spoke, as they did not have a need to pretend to be siblings; besides, they looked nothing alike anyways. “Oh, well. So your last names are the same. London. Well, that’s cool!” Suddenly, Olive was very worried at the tiger lady’s reaction. Was it wrong? Had she answered too fast? Did she make a mistake? Was this it? Olive frowned. “Is that strange?” She automatically asked. The tiger lady looked at them in surprise, and quickly back stepped her words in hope of selling some magic markers. “No, no, no, no, nothing is wrong with that, of course not! They’re your names! You have very beautiful surnames, kids, and let me write them in these magic markers!” She took out a piece of paper and a pack of magic markers. She picked out a purple, and wrote “London” in big letters across the center. “Now let’s do some magic!” She said, with the girls now relaxed in relief once again. She pulled out two different white markers, and drew two straight lines across the letters with them. Where the ‘magic’ white ink touched the purple letters, the color changed to blue, and the second white marker orange. The girls stared, wide-eyed, at this event. “Cool, huh? They’re on sale right now, better get ‘em quick! Only two pounds, they are!” Olive and Ilana both wanted those magic markers so much, but knew that they might actually need the money later. The girls looked at each other with a disappointed nod, and apologetically looked at the excited tiger lady. “Well, I guess we’ll just go and ask our parents about these!” Ilana spoke with a fake grin. With one last look at the hopeful tiger lady, they turned their backs on the toy store.