dapple \DAP-uhl\, noun:
1. A small contrasting spot or blotch.
2. A mottled appearance, especially of the coat of an animal (as a horse).
1. To mark with patches of a color or shade; to spot.
1. To become dappled.
1. Marked with contrasting patches or spots; dappled.
Dapple derives from Old Norse depill, "a spot."
Toby flinched at the sound of rubber soles on wet grass. Ever since his dad had started training him to recognize footsteps and different sounds, he’d grown more aware of his surroundings. He knew who those footsteps belonged to; only one person he knew skipped everywhere she went.
He didn’t acknowledge the cheerful greeting. He carefully filled in the lines on his sketch of the demon his father had brought home earlier. If he got the drawing right, his dad was going to let him do all the autopsy sketches. He was taking advantage of the light summer breeze and sunshine, plus his father had burned the meatloaf again and the house stank.
Undaunted, Viola sidled closer to Toby. She bumped his elbow, peered over his hunched shoulder. “What’cha doin’?”
“Drawing. Don’t you have someone else to annoy, brat?”
“Nope.” Grape-stained lips pulled back to reveal two rows of even, purple teeth. “Livy and Mom are makin’ dinner, and I dunno where Bas went.”
Toby growled under his breath when she bumped his arm again. He shoved her away and went back to work shading in the Dundalk’s dark fur coat. If he was lucky, Viola would go away when she didn’t get the attention she wanted.
“You’re doin’ it wrong.”
His head drooped forward. Long, blond bangs fell into his eyes. He brushed them off his forehead and glared. Viola merely shrugged and stood on the toes of her pink tennis shoes. She leaned over his arm to point at the picture. Her long, auburn ponytail tickled his nose. He tugged on the neon pink rubber band in retaliation.
“Hey!” She swatted his hands, stuck out her purple tongue.
“I am not doing it wrong, brat.”
“Yes you are.”
She rolled her eyes. “Are, too.”
“I. Am. Not.” His nostrils flared, eyes narrowed as he contemplated dipping inside her mind. A quick change of her thoughts would send her back inside the house and out of his hair.
“Are, too. Are, too. Are, too.” She sucked in a quick breath. “Are, too to infinity!”
He snorted. Was that really supposed to work? Remembering his grandmother’s constant admonitions to be nicer to little kids, he resisted the temptation to alter her thoughts. “It’s fine the way it is, Vi.”
“Nah-huh.” She shook her head. The end of her ponytail lashed his cheek. He slapped two hands on her cheeks to keep her from doing it again.
“What’s wrong with it, then?”
“It’s supposed to have spots. You know, like the horses. White and black spots.”
“Like the horses.” Toby released her face and plopped back on his chair. He didn’t believe Viola, but to humor her he grabbed the book by his feet. With her staring at him intently, he flipped to the correct page.
“See, I told you!” She jabbed a short, pale finger at the picture of a Dundalk before twirling away.
He ignored the girl dancing merrily behind him. He couldn’t wrap his mind around the fact that she’d been right. Rather than a smooth, unmarked coat like he’d been drawing, the Dundalk’s coat was dappled. It was a good thing he’d done the sketch in pencil.
“I was right and you were wrong.” Viola spun around his chair, tugged on his ears. “I was right and you were wrong.”
“Yeah, but you’re still a brat.”