Gail flopped down onto the new grass, peeled off her shoes, and dangled her feet into the frigid rushing water. She closed her eyes. Warm sunlight spread across her cheeks, and the brook’s burble joined with the singing birds and buzzing bees in a lovely springtime symphony.
Soft footsteps approached. Anger spiked through Gail’s belly. This was the only time she had to herself. Why was someone disturbing her? She waited for whoever it was to say something. Maybe they’d go away if she just ignored them. But curiosity tugged at her. She opened her eyes.
A bowling pin-sized man wrestled with her lunch, pulling at the knots ineffectually. The bundle was over half as big as he was.
Gail shook off her shock. "Hey! What do you think you’re doing?"
The little man shot her an alarmed look, hefted her bandanna, and took off.
Gail chased him. Rocks bit into her bare feet, but the thief was staggering under the weight of his prize, and Gail caught him quickly. She pulled him off of her lunch, and held it in one hand and him in the other.
"Unhand me!" he shouted, "You nasty giant stupidface!"
Gail shook him—not hard enough to hurt him, just enough to quiet him down. "You were stealing my food," she said.
"I was not."
"You were too!"
Gail held up her lunch. "I caught you with it."
"That’s not yours. It’s mine. I found it. You’re the stealer. Give it back!"
Gail sighed. "I must be dreaming."
"Yeah! Dreaming that the tasty food is yours! Stealer!"
The little man was painfully thin. Gail could feel his tiny ribs. His heart beat as fast as a bird’s, and he couldn’t have weighed more than three pounds. Her lunch was heavier.
Gail set him down, then unwrapped her lunch before he could run. She ripped her sandwich in half, and handed the larger half to him. He snatched it and started nibbling the edges of the bread. "I suppose we can share," he said.
"What’s your name?" Gail asked.
"Ruffo," he said.
Ruffo continued gnawing on his half. He eyed the apple. "Split that too?"
Gail nodded. She split the skin along the apple’s circumference with her fingernail, then twisted the fruit apart into two equal halves.
Ruffo finished his sandwich and his half of the apple. His frantic pace slowed somewhat. "Why’re you here? Not with the other giants, in the giant house?"
Gail shrugged. "I like the flowers."
"Flowers are nice," Ruffo said. He was eyeing the cake, now.
Gail extended the whole piece.
Ruffo stared at it. Then he wrapped his arms around it and tore it in half. "We split," he said.
Gail smiled at him. "Okay."
They finished eating in silence. "Well, I need to get back." Gail pulled her shoes back on.
"You come back tomorrow?" Ruffo asked.
"I’ll try," Gail said.
Storm clouds threatened the next day. The cook clucked at Gail as she wrapped up her lunch. "You’re gonna get rained on."
Gail shrugged. "I won’t melt."
She ran to the brook, and found the entire hillside covered with flowers. Tiny violets and forget-me-nots and others that she’d never seen before crowded around the path like a carpet. The air smelled like magic.
Ruffo walked out of the flowers, his tiny chest puffed up with pride. "For you," he said.
Gail blinked back tears. It was too much for half a sandwich and some cake. She untied and extended her lunch. "Here, as a thank you."
Ruffo took it and tore the sandwich in half. "We split," he said.