It had been a sort of a joke, something my sisters and I giggled over in the dark of our bedroom after we were supposed to be asleep. Wanted, nanny, thoroughly incompetent (Di had got that those words from one of the books she’s always reading), to look after three sweet, adorable, perfectly behaved little angels for three days. Contact Alanna, Dianna, or Reanna Jacobsmeyer. We’d made it into a paper plane and tossed it out the window.
I hadn’t expected it to work so fast, or so well.
Di and I studied the new nanny from our hidden perch in the corner of the upstairs landing. She was a fashion disaster, lace-up boots, blue and white stripped leggings, short black skirt, striped sweater, and one of those lacy yarn hats, floppy and round, with a lot of yarn flowers stuck all over it. I wondered if she had made the hat herself. Mom was showing her around the apartment, which was a disaster as usual.
“What do you think,” Di asked, “Want to go for an all time record?”
Our most short-lived nanny had been seven hours. She’d been texting someone on her phone on the couch downstairs when Di and I had decided to see if we could hook her eyebrow rings with our fishing pole. Yeah, there had been blood, and screaming, and then she was gone.
“Nah,” I said. “This one’s a keeper.” I crept to our bedroom door. “Hey Ree, how’s operation cowgirl coming?”
“Well,” Ree said, “If the market keeps fluctuating like this, we can be on a plane to Dallas in two days.”
I left her squinting at her computer screen and went back to where Di was studying the new nanny through her binoculars.
“I don’t see a cell phone or an ipod or anything. Might be in her backpack,” Ree said.
The new nanny’s backpack had a rainbow-colored gecko hooked to the zipper. This one was so going to be such a pushover.
“Girls!” Mom shouted. Come down and meet Miss Lizzie.”
“This is Alana, Diana, and Reanna,” Mom introduced us.
“Cool,” Miss Lizzie said. “I’m Lizzie. Nice to meet you.”
“Hi, Liz,” I shook her hand.
“I’m sorry I have to run,” Mom said, “But we’re opening tomorrow night and everything’s behind, It’s my big debut, and all.”
“Cool,” Miss Lizzie said.
“The girls have ballet at ten, here’s the address, see if you can get them to clean the place up a bit before you go.”
“Sure,” Miss Lizzie said. “Have a nice day, Ms. Jacobsmeyer.”
As soon as the door shut, Miss Lizzie said, “All right girls, let’s clean up. Whose socks are these?”
There was no way we were going to do anything for Miss Lizzie. I slunk off to the kitchen on the pretense of doing the dishes, but instead found some old frosting in the refrigerator. I tinted it with food colors, then did a nice landscape on the kitchen wall. It was Grandpa’s ranch in Dallas, complete with windmill and longhorn cattle grazing in a field. Out in the living room, I could hear Di bouncing on the couch and belting out Broadway songs while Lizzie tried to get her to help clean up. If I knew Ree, she had snuck back up to the bedroom to work her Wall Street magic.
Lizzie came into the kitchen to check on me. “What are you doing?” she squeaked when she saw the wall.
“Impressionism,” I said. “We have painting lessons twice a week. I’m practicing.”
She groaned and went back to the living room.
A few minutes later she was shouting, “Time to get ready for ballet, come on girls!”
“Not going!” Di was doing a handstand on the coffee table.
“Can’t make us,” I said, coming in from the kitchen, licking my fingers.
“I’m busy!” Ree shouted from upstairs.
“THAT’S IT!” Miss Lizzie shouted. She raised a hand above her head and snapped her fingers.
The house exploded. It was like a tornado hit. Socks, books, papers, empty cartons, dirty dishes, whirled through the air. I screamed and dropped to the floor. When the crashing sounds stopped I opened my eyes. The house was spotless, with Miss Lizzie standing in the middle of the room, fuming.
She handed me a small business card.
League of Magical Nannies. Miss Eliza Compton, Associate Member.
“Now go get your ballet things and get in the car!”
Maybe this hadn’t worked out quite as well as I had thought.
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