Red could hardly believe she was allowed to go to the market on her own. She waved to Mrs Applebottom who was watering her flowers, and when Red told Mrs Shrew that she was going to the market by herself, Mrs Shrew remarked, “By yourself? How very grown up.”
Red was so happy, she didn’t even mind when Mr Crow, said “Good morning Millicent.” Mr Crow was her school teacher, and the only one who called Red by her real name. Instead of correcting him, she politely replied, “Good morning Mr Crow.”
The market was busy as usual. There were lots of people gathered around the colorful stalls and shops. As Red passed the fruit stall, Mr Squirrel called her over. “Where’s your mother?” he asked.
“She’s at home,” Red replied, “I’m here all by myself.”
“What’s the inside tip?” he asked. Red just looked at him, confused.
“About the Royal baby. What does your mom think? Boy or Girl?”
“She says it doesn’t matter as long as it’s healthy,” Red replied.
“Good girl,” he said, “Here.” He held out an apple and whispered, “Don’t tell Mrs Squirrel.”
Red thanked him, but he was already gone. Mr Squirrel often gave her a piece of fruit, and always said not to tell Mrs Squirrel, even though Red was pretty sure Mrs Squirrel knew all about it.
As she munched on her apple, Red saw her friend Ivy. Ivy was lucky because she had six brothers and sisters. She always had someone to play with. Red only had one baby sister who never did anything interesting.
“Hi Ivy!” Red waved to her friend.
Ivy waved back. “Hi Red!”
Ivy’s mom looked around. “Hello Red. Where’s your mother?”
“Hi Mrs Goat,” Red replied, “Mom is at home. She said I’m old enough to come all by myself.”
“Well, please tell her I said hello.”
“Okay, I will.” Red stuck her tongue out at Ivy’s little brother Billy. Ivy giggled, so he made a face back at Red, but Mrs Goat saw him and told him off.
Red smiled. Billy was always getting himself in trouble.
As she passed the bakery, Red heard a deep voice say, “Why if it isn’t Little Red Riding Hood. Where is that mother of yours?”
Red looked up and saw Mr Bear, the baker. “I’m here by myself,” she said.
“Please ask your mother to bring more of her famous cupcakes soon,” Mr Bear said, “People have been asking for them.”
Red told him she would, then she took a short cut to the egg shop, making sure to stay away from the scary shops like the tavern and the blacksmith. Even her mom didn’t like going near them.
Mrs Chicken gave Red a big smile when she arrived at the egg shop.
“Hi Red,” she called out, “Let me see where Meg is.”
“Thank you Mrs Chicken, but first I need some eggs please.”
Mrs Chicken smiled again. “I’ll give them to your mom.”
Nearly bursting, Red said, “mom let me come by myself today.”
“Oh!” said Mrs Chicken, “Well in that case I’ll get you some eggs.”
A minute later Meg came out. Red could tell her friend was upset, even before she flopped herself on the counter.
“Hi Red,” she moaned.
“What’s wrong?” asked Red.
“Peggy has started to lay eggs already.”
Peggy was Meg’s older sister, and now that she could lay eggs, she could FINALLY leave school and work in the coop.
Every time Red asked her mom when she could leave school, her mom just said “When you’re ready.” Red wondered if she was ready now. Maybe her mom was just waiting to see how well she did at the market.
“Don’t worry,” Red replied, “I’m sure you’ll be able to lay eggs when you’re a big girl like me.”
Red realized Meg was staring at her with a strange look on her face.
“Are you trying to lay an egg now?” Red asked.
Meg exploded. “WHAT?!?” she cried. “I’m two weeks older than you, and… and,” she noticed Red’s basket, “at least I don’t carry a dolly around everywhere like a BABY!”
And with that Meg stamped her foot and stormed out, nearly running into Mrs Chicken.
“Careful Meg!” Mrs Chicken just managed to save the eggs from dropping. She put them on the counter and started filling Red’s basket. “I don’t know what’s gotten into that girl lately.”
Red moved Hazel so the eggs could fit. “I used to have tantrums like that when I was little,” she said.
It was true. Just yesterday she chucked a tantrum when her mom made her wash behind her ears.
Mrs Chicken just smiled and said, “Say hi to your mom for me.”
On her way out, Red stopped at the entrance. “It’s okay Mrs Chicken, Meg will be a big girl like me one day.”