"One forty-five to four fifty is four hours and five minutes, not three hours."
"Huh? What?" I look at my computer screen again. "Oh, you're right." I highlight the incorrect number with my cursor and type in the righted digits.
"And you spelled recalibration wrong in that paragraph."
I sigh. "And I have to fix those the's. I put the 'e' in the middle again instead of the 'h'."
Princess Issachella gives me a smile, not smug, but with just enough jollity in the gesture to make my lips curl in mock irritation. The black puppy sitting on her lap yips happily and tries for the umpteenth time to jump on top of my laptop.
"Oh, no!" Issie makes a wild scramble for the naughty pup, her blonde hair flying. "Ollie, you are behaving very badly today. If you give us any more trouble, I shall send you back to your kennel." But she cannot stay angry at the dog for long, because as soon as she finishes the ebony head a kiss. Ollie, the rascally pet that he is, returns her love in a very wet and sloppy kiss of his own.
"Do you see any more mistakes before I send this off to my dad?" I peruse the document before me, daring myself to find that which I had just asked of Issie.
"No, I see nothing more that should concern you." Yet, even as she says it, a wrinkled furrow claims her brow.
"Now what?" I groan.
"What do all these words talk about anyway? I see many words I do not understand. Electrical. Engineering. Indutrial. Combustion. Am I saying them correctly?"
"Yep, your phonics teacher did very well, Issie."
She blushes and makes a pretense of scratching Ollie's neck. She's been in that position most of the afternoon as I've been working, bent over her pup, cuddling him and whispering in his furry ear. I invited her to sit with me as I worked because she wanted to listen to some soundtracks with me, an easy invite, in my opinion, because I always play soundtracks while I type. Unfortunately, I couldn't hook her on my favorites, like HTTYD, but we were content to compromise and play the soundtrack from Ever After three times. Seems Issie likes George Fenton's score as much as I do.
"This is a typing job I'm doing for my dad. See, here?" I hold up the stapled papers sitting on my knee. "This was all handwritten out and for my dad to include it in the website that he's designing, I have to type it all out so he can just copy and paste it. And the paragraph," I throw my eyes over what I have brightened on my computer screen, "talks about alternative energy systems."
"You got that from your title at the top of the page, Kiri."
"Yeah, guilty, but I'm not an energy expert, Issie! This says stuff about gas and coal and ash and bio-fuels, and I don't think I could tell you what the economical and practical differences of those are! My brain is already fried from trying to figure out all the times and schedules that I had to add up." I rub the aching spot on my temple. "Too many numbers. And I had to teach two math classes this morning."
"Fried? Like chicken?"
Issie releases a startled yelp and almost drops Ollie as she jumps up. I don't scream, but in my haste to view the speaker, my hands slip on my laptop, but I catch it before it hits the ground before turning around.
A short, honest-faced little girl with black hair blinks at us expectantly. "Well?"
"Well what?" Issie asks while Ollie barks simultaneously.
"She said 'er brain's fried." The girl responded solemnly. "My sister fries chicken, an' it comes out all brown an' crispy. Is 'er brain like that?"
"No, no, Dee. It's not like that at all." I try to keep the smile off my face, knowing that if I laughed it would not go over well. "I only meant my brain is tired from thinking too much."
"Then why did ya say fried?" Dee plants her fists on her hips.
"It was only a figure of speech," I explain.
Dee cocks her head. "Well, I don't get it, so maybe ya shouldn't use it. It ain't good."
"Isn't." Issie corrects.
"You are not supposed to use the word ain't because it isn't a real word. Instead, say isn't."
"Is too a real word. My pa uses it all the time."
"And who is your father?"
"Teslan Bon'ostel. Best innkeeper in Yartella!"
"And you are..." Issie raises her eyebrows.
"Oh, botheration." I heave a sigh. "Where are my manners? This is the first time I've ever had characters from two different stories visit me at the same time. Issie, this is Lyndee Bon'ostel of Dron."
"I'm eight!" Dee chimes in.
"And Dee, I'd like to introduce Princess Issachella Fierte of Findenland and the Twelve Kingdoms."
Issie drops in a curtsey befitting one of her rank, but Dee only gapes, her little mouth hanging wide open. "She's a princess?"
"A real princess?"
"Yes, a real princess."
"I ain't met one o' those before!" Dee gives me an awe-filled stare. "She's right pretty."
Issie mouths isn't under her breath, but a genuine smile steals over her face at the little girl's words.
"An' who's this?" Dee points at the black ball of fur under Issie's arm.
"This is my dog, Ollie." Issie holds him out so Dee can pet him. Ollie, at first, objects to the new position as he had grown rather fond of his spot under Issie's arm, yet when he sees it's all for some new attention, he settles down happily and yips with delight.
"Kiri, why don't we got princesses in Dron?"
"Well, Dee, that's because while Dron is a kingdom like Findenland, it's ruled by a lord instead of a king."
I give her a blank stare. Why? "Uh... because it is. I don't know why. You'd have to ask the government officials and the people who founded Dron that. They haven't told me yet."
"But Dron is made up. You made it up! Why doncha know?"
I shrug. "There are a lot of things about my stories and my fictional countries, and even my characters, that I don't know. I find them out as I write the stories."
"Well, ya should 'ave figured it out 'fore ya wrote the stories. An' ya should put a princess in Dron. We need a princess." Dee gives Ollie another fond rubbing. "I 'afta go back. Pa will be lookin' fer me, an' I ain't got time..." her eyes dart quickly to Issie and she backtracks on her words, "isn't got time ta stay. Don't ferget ta write ma story, Kiri. That's what I really come fer. Ta tell ya that." Then she slips away.
"I isn't got time ta stay?" Issie giggles.
"Yeah, she's not that good with grammar."
Issie grins at me. "I noticed."
I give her a grin in return. "She's only eight."