A MEMORY FROM CHILDHOOD
A shadow fell over the garden. Phoebe noticed a bank of dark clouds moving across the sun, now past its peak and beginning to set far down the valley. Her heart sank.
“Okay,” Abby said. Now I really have to get you back.”
Phoebe took a last look at the cliffs and forest in the distance. It was a world she had never seen before, and looked so intriguing and inviting, yet scary too. Reluctantly, she turned and followed Abby, crawling back through the wall of thorns and vines. A cloud of gnats buzzed around her, getting in her ears and eyes. Mosquitoes were settling on her bare arms. The light became dim and murky, and gave the forest a different look than before. Small animals moved around them, making faint noises. Living things seemed to lurk in every shadow. The ominous croaking of a bird came from just over her head, and something howled in the distance.
Phoebe limped along, close on Abby’s heels, clutching her charm for good luck. Her knee ached, and felt weak and wobbly as they descended a small hill through loose dirt and stones. The path home seemed to not even exist, as if they were wandering aimlessly. One bad slip and I’m back on crutches, she thought. I can’t even see where I’m going.
The stream finally appeared just ahead, and the haunted house came into view. Phoebe glanced over her shoulder at the forest retreating behind her, and saw nothing but darkness. A breeze rustled the leaves, and she shivered in a cold sweat.
Standing behind the haunted house, Abby and Phoebe stopped and looked at each other. “I guess I’ll be heading toward town,” Phoebe said hesitantly. She was reluctant to go home. The puzzle of her life was still in complete confusion.
"I’ll be walking through the forest,” returned Abby. “Come back soon.”
Phoebe moved across the clearing toward the road, with a nagging feeling that she should have said something more. She limped home slowly, her knee aching. In her mind she could see Abby walking through the forest, and felt as if they were walking together. Suddenly she felt a drop of water hit her neck, and then another. Soon the rain was smacking against her in giant, stinging gusts, forcing her to lower her head and protect her face.
At Penny’s house she climbed the steps and then slumped down on the porch, protected from the storm. Exhaustion settled over her. Leaning back against the wall near the door, she relaxed and watched the rain falling in sheets around her. She closed her eyes, and drifted off into a doze. A delicious relaxation ran right through her. Images flashed by in the darkness, of Abby in her garden, with the cliffs in the distance and the storm clouds above. The voice of the green man drifted with the wind, infiltrating every corner. The clouds began to part until all she could see was a vast blue…
Phoebe opened her eyes and sat up with a start. The rain had stopped. The sun had set. She was feeling wet and cold. Groggy with drowsiness, she fumbled with the chain around her neck and pulled her dreamstone charm out where she could see it in the fading light. The blue in her dream had brought back a memory from when she was very young. She struggled to remember.
In amazement she recalled being in her parent’s bedroom as a small child, seeing a rough irregular stone at eye level nearby on a table. One smooth pale blue side seemed to open into the gray stone, like a window into great depth. She moved closer and closer, fascinated, and gazing into it saw the Good Fairy hovering above her, glowing with a shimmering light. The Fairy looked at Phoebe and smiled, and stretched out her wand with the silver star gleaming and radiating down. Phoebe looked around, and discovered that she was on the floor surrounded by toys and blocks. All the toys were becoming unfrozen, transforming, coming alive. She and everyone she knew, the whole town, became alive and part of the living world. And a clear, high voice proclaimed: “This world is my kingdom!”
In a flash Phoebe recalled being interrupted by her father, who quickly took the stone away. He’d looked into her eyes with concern and asked questions. Phoebe got the impression that she’d done something wrong. She never saw the stone again. That had all happened a long, long time ago yet it seemed like yesterday.
She sat up in confusion, overwhelmed by a shocking feeling that something life changing was happening. Her whole body shivered.