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By Calliope NJO
School let out for the summer. That news caused excitement with everybody shouting and high fiving each other. For me, it meant I had to return to Meadow Grove.
I walked in the door, surprised by red and pink balloons tied together on the chairs in the dining room. Happy Birthday banners draped from the ceiling that spanned wall to wall. I called out and searched but nobody answered. That marked my chance to take off. I enchanted the main entries so they forgot about me as soon as they walked inside. I could not bother with the lingering decorations. I had to go.
Tears pooled in my eyes. It had been a wonderful stay filled with learning experiences that might serve me later. If they only knew how much I treasured them.
I heard a jeep behind me. I watched as it pulled into the driveway and saw Alarik smiling. “Hey. Shrimpy,” Alarik said, as he stuck his head out the window.
No. He couldn’t be home yet. Not until tomorrow.
“Hey.” He got out. “What am I? Chopped liver?” He spread his arms out.
“Alarik, I don’t have time. I have to leave.” A solitary crow sat at the top of the tree.
Alarik gripped my arm. I whistled a spell to influence my feathered friend to bombard him. It worked and he let go.
Mortals ran slower than us so it would take him longer to catch up to me. I did not expect him to get back in his car so soon. I remembered the neighborhood and a field of fruit and Sycamore trees divided the upper and lower areas.
I ran to that and weaved in and out to avoid him. It also gave me the opportunity to ask the birds for help. They would fly in his direct path which might make it difficult for him to see.
While I continued to Meadow Glen.
The sun rested about midway in the sky and I required rest. I walked from then on and saw a trailer park ahead. Most filled with senior citizens as this one advertised.
My desired destination lay in the direction of the central highway. If I knew Alarik, he would use it and I needed that path, so I did not have an alternative. Maybe wait until full dark to minimize the chance of being caught.
I waited in the city park. Homeless people, gang members, and a few wanderers passed through. I tried to stay hidden at the top of a tree. When the streetlights turned on, I continued my trek.
My parents should have come back home, confused by the decorations that lingered. I could not worry about that. I hoped that Alarik returned home too. It did not feel good to be forgotten, and they were wonderful people, but I did not have a choice.
I made it to the entrance at last. The sun had not risen yet. I sat under a sapling while I wondered where to put my mortal clothes. I should have taken them off when I started this journey.
I took them off and stashed them in a hollowed tree trunk. My true nature came through once I took the clothes off. My hair turned white. I felt horns break through on each side of my head. My hands shifted from mortal to claws. A fine, ivory fur grew on my skin. I imagined my eyes transformed into vertical pupils as I saw more color and more definition.
When the sun finished rising, I transformed into a Forest Helper. I looked to the right of me and the staircase appeared. I thought I would never see it again. It had been so long.
Trees canopied overhead as wooden steps led the way skyward. Home lay a few—
“Hey. Shrimpy. I know you’re here. It’s the only other place. Come on.”
I could not figure out why the persistence. He should have gone home to be with his mother and father.
Something a little stronger would help. I only needed ample time to climb the hill. He would never see it or me.
A female mountain lion roamed the territory, often in pursuit of food. I whistled a tune to encourage her to make herself known in voice only. Maybe that would scare him away.
“All right,” Alarik said. “That’s enough. I ain’t giving up. Never have. Never will. I will discover your secret. It’s gotta be about that prick, Steve.”
My— oh no. He could not have heard the whistles. The whistle spells occurred in a range beyond their hearing spectrum. How did he hear them? I could not change back into a mortal. No regress once the final transformation took place.
“This has nothing to do with him. Strange you call him a prick without knowing him.” I had no choice. I walked out to show myself. “How did you find me? Why are you being so insistent?”
“S… S… Skye?” Alarik opened his eyes wide and blinked. He shook his head a couple times. “What the …? You’re an animal?”
“There is no name for us. Forest Helpers seemed the closest description. You must go.” A mountain lion cub stepped out.
His mother made herself known as she growled. The cub looked at both of us before he left. Alarik stood there, transfixed on me.
Only a few of us had the ability to impress an idea into mortals. Those that did remained with the group and never left. I never tried. I did not know.
I imagined him turning around and leaving the area. All that he experienced from the point of my arrival up to now would be forgotten. “Turn around, Alarik. Go home. Be with your parents.” I needed to rely on the spell I cast on the house to do the rest.
He did leave. I wondered, though, how long it would last before he got the idea to try again. The worst about all of this—I could not forget the experiences.
I walked up the hill and felt the air change. A new scent hinted in the breeze as I heard my people calling out. I returned home. A joyous moment meant to be celebrated, but much work had to be done. The Leprechauns would come soon.
Please visit Calliope’s blog and follow her! https://welcome2019march.blogspot.com/