I was inside getting some juice when I heard Mia scream. There was a flash of white light outside bright enough to fill the windows.
I threw open the screen door to the backward and saw Mia across the yard, hunched over and looking at something. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary.
"What happened?" I shouted.
"Bring me a jar!" she said. "A big one!"
I pulled an empty peanut butter jar out of the recycling bin and went to go see what she was up to.
* * * *
At first I thought she was holding a doll. That's what it looked like. A scraggly, dark haired doll with white rag clothes.
"Look," she said, holding it up.
It was an angel. An angel smaller than a Barbie doll and wriggling madly in her grasp. It chattered at us in some muffled language I couldn't make out. She moved her thumb around so one of its wings fanned out. it did not appreciate that and started chattering even louder.
Mia plopped it into the jar and screwed on the lid.
"Do you think he'll need air holes?" She said.
"Probably," I said. "What did you do to him?"
The angel beat its fists against the jar.
"I got bored," she said simply. "Then when he showed up, I got scared so I made him little." She tilted the jar and the angel fell over.
"Stop it, you'll make it mad."
"I think I'll keep him," she said. "He can stay in the same cage as Millet."
She got up and ran to the house to put the angel with the hamster. I was going to follow her, but I caught the smell of smoke.
I looked down and saw a tiny flame in the grass. I crushed it out with my foot. When I bent down to see better, there was a teeny-tiny toothpick sword. I waited until it was cool enough to pick up, and then put it in my pocket.
* * * *
The angel didn't like being in the hamster cage, though Millet seemed to love him. She kept following and nosing him, even when he pushed her away.
Mia and I both watched.
"What are you going to feed him?" I said.
She shrugged. "He can eat hamster food."
The angel rattled the sides of the cage bars and chattered at us in its chittering language. Millet came up behind him and nudged him. He yelped and ran to the opposite side of the cage, trying to hide behind the wheel.
"Does he even know how the water bottle works?"
Mia poked her finger through the cage, attracting Millet's attention and leading her away from the angel. "He'll learn."
The angel tried climbing on top of the wheel, probably to get away from Millet, but wound up going around in a circle and being dumped into the hamster fluff at the bottom.
I left Mia to watch and felt the little sword in my pocket.
* * * *
When Ma and Mia were sleeping and the whole house was quiet except for the squeaking of Millet's wheel, I snuck into Mia's room to get the angel.
He was on top of the water bottle, trying to undo the latch at the top of the cage. He saw me and fell off. He started chattering his tiny, tiny rage at me.
I held a finger to my mouth. He quieted.
I undid the latch and pulled him out, making sure not to get his wings caught in the door. As soon as he was out, he started squirming. I hurried out of the room before Mia could wake up and went to my room.
"Shut up!" I said, trying to undo the lock on my window one-handed. The angel kept on chattering and wriggling until I'd finally got the window open.
I set him down on the sill. The first thing he did was try to fly out, only to be stopped by the window's screen. He looked at me, confused.
"It's to keep bugs out," I said, pulling the little sword out of my pocket. His eyes lit up when he saw it.
"Listen," I said, holding it away from him. "I'm sorry about Mia. She just doesn't know any better. And I'm sorry it took so long to get you out."
I handed him the little sword. He looked thoughtful.
"I don't know how to turn you big again," I said. "Normally whatever she does wears off once she's done thinking about it, so you should be good by tomorrow or maybe the day after. In case it doesn't wear off, do you have something back home that could fix you? If not, I'll have to try and get her to undo it."
The angel emphatically shook his head at that.
"So you have someone at home to fix you?"
"Good. I can't get the screen off from inside, but I'm pretty sure you could cut through it okay."
He grinned and the sword shone bright white for a second. The next thing I knew, there was a hole at the bottom of the screen and something that looked rather dove-like in the dark was flying off into the distance.
* * * *
"The door was open to my hamster cage this morning," Mia said at the breakfast table the next morning.
"Oh?" I said, waiting for my pop tarts to toast.
"Did Millet get out?"
"No, she was fine." She shook the carton of milk up before pouring it into her cereal.
"Did anything. . . else get out?"
Her forehead scrunched up. "Anything else? Like what?"
The pop-tarts popped up.
"Nothing," I said.
It was a quiet breakfast.