CHILD OF LIGHT
Today I took Robbie into our father’s old studio at the very end of our house. I knew Mom would kill me for this, if she knew, but she was out for the afternoon—or so I thought. I wanted Robbie to see it, to see where our father had done much of his work when we were little. I wondered if he would remember. I hadn’t been in this room since the day Daddy died but Mom had preserved it, untouched, like a shrine.
I opened the door and stepped in. Robbie was behind me. The room smelled of heat and dust. There was his desk standing in front of the windows. There was his drafting table, still covered with blue prints. All of his books were still in the shelves that lined the side walls. I half expected to turn and find him looking up inquisitively from his reading chair, glasses drooping on his nose.
The sun, at midmorning, streamed in from the floor to ceiling windows in the front of the room and the skylight above. Daddy loved light.
I heard Robbie’s sharp intake of breath and turned back to him. He too must feel overwhelmed, I thought. This was Daddy’s room!
He pushed me aside, gently but firmly, and entered the room, walked to the center where the sun shone on the old Oriental rug that Daddy inherited from Gran. Weirdly, Robbie dropped to his knees, looking full up into the sun, and raising his arms. Then slowly, he stood, his arms still raised, and began to chant in the language I didn’t understand.
“I wish I could have seen it. Your painting, I mean,” I said instead.
“I wish so as well.” There was an odd quality to his voice and I wondered if he ached inside like I did.
“Maybe you can still show me.” I flipped to a new page in my sketchbook and picked up the charcoal again. “What if you traced the wall, pretending to paint it again? I could copy your movements here.”
Rider stepped closer to the wall and lifted his hand. I kept my eyes on his fingers, my own hands mirroring his. When he finished and I looked down to see what we’d drawn, my breath caught.
Two trapezoidal figures, similar to the Fremont’s style. Each had two eyes and a mouth, each had a series of dots above their heads—whether hair or head dresses, I couldn’t tell. One had a necklace, the other had a thick band around the waist. Their arms joined between them, like they were holding hands.
“It’s beautiful,” I whispered, tears pricking my eyes.
“It’s us,” he said. “That is, it’s how I wish we could be.”
BEYOND THE GOLDEN GATE
A cold breeze pulled Yawa out of a very uncomfortable sleep and dream. She was in the trip’s van arguing with some girl and then all of a sudden it got very cold. The people disappeared and the bus disappeared and now she was back in her nightmare. She blinked back unwanted tears and looked around. Her captor was asleep by a very faint fire barely illuminating his young face and bald head.
She took in deep breaths in hopes to settle her pounding heart. Her backpack hadn’t moved. She eyed the darkness beyond the entrance of the cave and the comfort of the fire next to her. However a sharp pain from her still tied up wrists brought back the reality of her dire situation. She needed to get away. She wiggled her cramped toes, then tested her muscles one limb at the time.
THE DREAM (KHYR)
Fingers closing on her sword, Emelia scanned their surroundings. Birds still twittered above, snow-white sifa scampered among the branches, and the breeze whispered as if the terrors beyond the boundaries of these woods were a world away. Another place. Another time. “I’m not leaving you.”
“We do not face them alone,” the old man whispered with raspy certainty.
“No,” Emelia replied evenly. “You won’t. Not as long as I’m here.”
“Go, child,” Ayrmid murmured. “We are not without allies.”
She glanced around the sun-dappled woodlands. No one. No help here. No allies. Even the last of the little band they guarded was passed. She dragged in a tremulous breath and prepared to face the inevitable.
Focused and still, Ayrmid slowly lowered her folded hands and opened them before her, the amulet glinting emerald as a sunbeam struck its surface. “Rise children,” she whispered. “Eiroch! Cuert dein naemei.”
“Tionn eh-nahl.” Torran’s voice reverberated with a strength that belied his frailty.
“You keep yelling, anyone who didn’t know where we are…will now.”
He gave no indication of hearing her, but as long as he wasn’t bellowing maybe a chance remained. Easing her sword free, Emelia strained against the everyday murmur of the forest, waiting for the first sign of their enemy’s presence. A rustle began along the far rim of the opening, a hushed stirring that trembled in the leaves and set the birds to wing. The light beyond them faded until everything beyond the circumference of trees surrounding their stand lay shadowed and impenetrable.
Then it moved, and Emelia’s heart lunged into her throat and she covered her mouth to keep it from escaping. Limbs smashed together with a thunderous clatter, vines whipped through the air whining and cracking, and every green and growing thing became a living wall reaching upward and outward filling the space until it choked out everything but sky and sun.
BUSINESS AND PLEASURE
The woman next door ran outside screaming, tearing out her already tattered hair. She pointed at her front door. “Your father’s shooting at my dad. He shot at me. He’s going to kill him. You’ve got to do something. They’re in my house.”
Tommy yelled as he began dialing on his phone, “I’m calling the police.” As if on cue, police sirens blared in the distance and grew louder by the second.
“I’m going in. I have to stop him.”
“Wait for the police,” Tommy ordered forcefully. “Don’t put yourself in danger.”
“I have to take the chance. He could kill someone before the police get here. I can’t let that happen.” He put himself in harm’s way for animals, so certainly he could risk his life for his own father and other fellow human beings. He had no choice. It would be his fault if someone got hurt.
So he ran through the open door, hoping he would be in time. “Dad! It’s Guy. Don’t do anything. I’m here. You’ll be okay.”
“He’ll be okay? What about me? He’s got a shot gun pointed at my head threatening to blow it off.”
Guy’s blood turned to ice as he turned the corner and came face to face with the business end of his dad’s shotgun. He pulled up short beside the neighbour and put his hands in the air. “Dad, you can’t do this. You’d be no better than him and you’ll go to jail. You don’t want that.”
The neighbour who looked to be pushing 90 and barely able to stand even with the aid of a cane, shot him heated glances. “What do you mean, no better than me? I haven’t done anything. He’s the crazy one, coming in here, shooting up the place.”
“No! You have your followers do the dirty work so you can profess your innocence while you’re trying to make me look crazy. Don’t lie or I’ll blow your head off.”
“I’m not lying. You are a crazy old coot, talking about followers, and conspiracies to kill you.”
Glen raised the gun and shot the ceiling. Chunks of sheet rock and dust fell on them, coating them white.
“Last chance. Confess the truth to my son and the police when they get here, if they’re not on your dirty payroll, which they are.”
As he lazily turned away from the window, thinking of what he might do first, Doodle Dog’s tail swiped against the swishing curtain. The fabric twisted around the tip of his tail and as he walked away from the window and toward the middle of the room, so then did the curtain go with him, stretching and stretching behind him until… YANK! It came tumbling off the thin rod on top of the window frame and landed right on top of Doodle Dog, covering the little puppy from head to toe in the soft material. Doodle Dog wasn’t sure what he could do about it, but he was pretty sure the office staff wouldn’t be too happy to find the curtain yanked off the wall. Well, maybe they wouldn’t notice…
So Doodle Dog did what any little dog would do and wiggled and wiggled until he could get himself free from the tangled cloth. He backed up and backed up, wiggling his furry behind to knock the curtain off his body but his head was still covered so he couldn’t see where he was going! Soon the determined puppy came loose from the heavy curtain. Success! But just as it dropped to the floor, the edge of the rug Doodle Dog was standing upon curled up and caught one of his paws. The little floppy-eared puppy tilted this way and that as his paws tripped over the small rug. Before he knew it, the rug rolled right over on top of him, and Doodle Dog was rolling across the floor in it, a colorful twisting fuzzy bug in a rug if there ever was one! Finally the rug had nowhere else to roll and it stopped SMACK against something very hard in the middle of the room. Something very hard, very large, and very important… the main work desk with all of its important work things on top! As the rug unrolled with Doodle Dog unrolling right out of it, the little floppy-eared puppy crashed into the wooden desk in the middle of the room. The desk moved ever so slightly, but the pencil cup on top of the desk moved quite a bit more than just slightly, and was knocked off the table. The pencils skittered across the floor, rolling under this drawer and that cabinet, until every last one played a part in the mess that was slowly being made for the office staff to find. Well, maybe they wouldn’t notice…