The little girl ran out of the house squealing. “Buttons, buttons, lalala,” she sang loudly. She shook the button jar she was holding with every note. “Buttons are pretty, buttons are mine…”
Mem the evil fairy sat up and scowled. The sun was barely up. Who comes running around and yelling like that so early in the morning? She casually tossed a bad luck curse at the button jar and flew off to find a new tree to sleep in.
The little girl tripped. She clutched the button jar to her chest and ran into the house crying. That night, her mother got sick with a mysterious illness. A week later, her father lost his job. The water pipes burst. Rats moved into the walls. The little girl got lice. Two months later, they decided to move. The little girl buried the button jar at the base of the tree the night before they left.
After their move, the mother miraculously recovered. The father found a better job. The little girl stopped tripping over her feet. The family was glad to have recovered from their terrible patch of bad luck.
However, the bad luck was just beginning for the family who bought their old house. Somehow the home inspection missed the rats and fractured pipes. The father discovered eight new allergies and the mother had constant headaches.
Their little boy, Ned, was often sent outside to play quietly. On one of these occasions he was wearing his favorite pirate hat that he kept accidentally sitting on lately. He found a broken shovel and started digging at the base of the tree in the back yard.
He paused to try to remove all the splinters in his hands and then kept digging. Clink! Ned uncovered the button jar. He pulled it out of the dirt, and it made an ominous hissing sound as the buttons shifted.
“Hey, look! The new kid found treasure,” someone shouted. Ned looked up. There was a boy watching from the fence. Ned hadn’t been able to make any friends since moving into the awful new house. Perhaps this was his chance.
He trotted over with the button jar. There was a gathering crowd at the fence. “It’s just buttons. You can have it if you’d like,” Ned said. He handed over the button jar without hesitation. Somehow, everything suddenly seemed lighter.
“Hey, you’re not so bad,” one boy said. “I don’t need any buttons. Well, maybe the one that looks like a baseball.”
All the kids took one or two, except for Mert, who was kind of mean sometimes. He took the rest of the buttons and the jar too and stomped off. The other kids stayed to play pirates.
Ned’s luck had finally changed. His mother’s headaches and his father’s allergies seemed to vanish overnight. “We must have been acclimatizing to the new place,” his father said.
Someone finally came to fix the pipes, and the problems weren’t as extensive as they’d thought. The rats finally started eating the poison left for them in the attic. There was a terrible smell for a few weeks, but it just meant they spent more time outside.
Ned’s new friends had mildly bad luck over the next few weeks until all the buttons had been lost here and there. The playground was an unlucky place to be for a while after that.
But poor mean Mert seemed unlucky for a long time after that. He got terrible grades and awful rashes and no one picked him for anything. Six weeks later, he stepped on a rusty nail and had to stay in the hospital for a week.
His mother took the opportunity to clean out his room. She tossed the button jar, along with Mert’s collection of baseball cards that one day would have made him a very wealthy man.
The next day, the neighborhood kids visited him with handmade cards. Mert was so grateful to be remembered and included that he wasn’t even slightly mean. His luck changed after that.
However, the town now had the most unlucky, haunted landfill ever reported. Twice, filmmakers tried to come make documentaries, but it didn’t work out well for them. They stopped trying. Landfills just aren’t all that attractive to film in the first place.
Mem did eventually find a tree in a quiet place. She built herself a lovely little house inside the trunk and felt no guilt over cursing anyone who bothered her. In her opinion if they were yelling and shouting in a graveyard, they deserved what they got.