Changing the Future, a Story
Part Six: Yellow Fairy, 1.
Tenth grade started with the usual business of settling into new classes and adjusting to new activities and turning them into routines. My art skills improved, I became a voracious reader, and my dreams about Vree and Ridgewood stopped, though I still thought about her. I visited her old place one sunny September Saturday but she and her family were not there. An old man and his wife had moved in, along with a German shepherd that did not like me snooping around.
I crossed the road to the left side and walked past the house that used to be Dave and Amy’s home. Where were they? Why had everyone I knew left?
The hilly road led me to an intersection at a high point on Myers Ridge. I turned left and headed downhill toward Alice Lake.
Behind me, an engine’s roar came from the intersection. Someone had ignored the stop sign. A red pickup truck flew past me, sending a blast of air and road pebbles at me. Another engine sounded behind me and I turned, expecting to see a lawnmower.
A white go-kart, dune buggy contraption drove next to me and stopped.
“Need a ride?” the driver asked. He was dark and shirtless. His long black hair, gathered in a leather tie at his neck, draped across his right shoulder and fell down his smooth, muscular chest. He climbed from the buggy. “All yours. Learn all you can about the Great Mysterious.” He turned and walked away in the direction he had come from.
“Hey,” I said. “What’s the deal?”
He stopped and turned. “Follow the fairy.” He pointed at the clouds. A silver and turquoise bracelet gleamed on his wrist.
I looked at the sky and saw no fairy.
“What’s your name?” I asked, returning my attention to the broad-shouldered man.
“If you have to ask, then you need extra help.” The man pulled a tan leather bag from a front pocket of his blue jeans, undid the drawstring, and reached inside. His large hand stretched at the leather before it extracted a smooth stone with purple and blue striations.
“Fluorite, to grow your mind,” he said, coming to me and handing me the stone. “Keep it at the head of your bed when you sleep.” He placed a cool right palm against my forehead. “She calls to you,” he said. “She comes in many disguises. That is the way of Trickster.”
He removed his hand. “Trickster is both a creator and a destroyer. In our world, Trickster is a contradictory and ambiguous being who is also a spiritual force that teaches us about the Great Mysterious.”
“What does that mean?” I asked.
“You must go,” he said, leaving.
“Follow the fairy. She’s yellow, not so easy to see when the sky is so sunny. Use the binoculars.”
A large pair of black field glasses sat on the passenger seat.
We said nothing more to each other as he headed toward the intersection and I used the binoculars to scan the sky for his yellow fairy.
I soon gave up, shoved the stone in a front pocket of my jeans, and sat behind the wheel of the custom-made vehicle. It had an automatic transmission and drove like a go-kart, picking up speed fast and zipping toward the bottom of Myers Ridge.
I drove to a beach and stopped at the water’s edge. Something yellow zipped past my left ear.
Was it the fairy?
I could not see her.
Why was I supposed to follow her?
I searched the sky and soon rested my gaze on a white bird.
No. A crow. A white crow.
A splash from Alice Lake took my attention away from the bird. A boy fell to his oars to control the rocking boat. Someone had jumped overboard. My binoculars revealed a girl swimming toward me. Once the rocking stopped, the bare-chested boy rowed to where the girl had exited the water at the shoreline.
She was drenched and dripped water from her long auburn hair and her red, one-piece swimsuit while she stood over me, quizzing me about the vehicle I sat in.
“Yes, it’s mine,” I said. I stared past her while the boy finished beaching the rowboat.
“Hey,” he said, hurrying up the sandy slope. “Nice looking ride.” He tossed the girl a white terrycloth skirt.
She caught it and said, “It’s his.”
“Cool.” The boy tugged up the waist of his dark blue swim trunks and nodded at me. “Seen anything interesting?” he asked. His gaze rested on the black binoculars hanging from a black leather strap around my neck.
“Birds,” I returned. “Mostly robins and chickadees.”
“I like the Stellar’s Jay,” he said, running a hand through his thick, dark hair.
The girl groaned. “And I like penguins. But anyone with a brain knows they’re not native to Pennsylvania.”
The boy sputtered. “Did I say they were?”
“No, but Pennsylvania only has the Blue Jay.”
“I know, Miss Sherlock Holmes.”
The girl emitted a whispered expletive and crossed her arms.
“I’m Steve,” I said.
“Nola,” the girl said. She scowled at the boy. “He’s my stupid little brother, Alan.”
Alan rolled his eyes. “Who’s the idiot who jumped in the water instead of waiting for me to row ashore?”
Nola’s jaw muscles tensed but she said nothing while she toweled her hair with her skirt. I told them about seeing a white crow fly above me. “I thought it was a sea gull, but it was definitely a crow and not an albino one, either.”
“No way,” Alan said.
“Black eyes and beak,” I said. “I kid you not.”
“That means it’s super rare and super magic,” Nola said. She had climbed into the buggy and sat on the passenger side. “I’ve read about them. White crows don’t show themselves to humans unless they have something to say. And some Native Americans say if a white crow flies overhead, circling you, it means something important is going to happen in your future.”
“But they’re not ghosts,” Alan said.
“I didn’t say they were.”
“Ghosts are a real. There are pictures and TV shows and everything about them in books and magazines. But I’ve never seen shows or read book about them.”
Nola tried to slap her brother with her skirt but he dodged her attempt. She said, “I just told you that there are books about them.”
“But no TV documentaries.” Alan shook his head. “Sorry, sis, you’re a few cards short of a full deck for believing in such nonsense.”
Nola stuck out her tongue.
“Grow up,” Nola said. She turned to me and apologized. “He’s such a jerk.”
I lifted the binoculars to my eyes and aimed them at the cliffs across Alice Lake. “The white crow flew in a long circle above me,” I said, recalling how it had glided like a hawk for almost a minute. “Then it flew in that direction.” I pointed at the cliffs. “Toward Myers Ridge.”
“That’d be awesome if it came back and spoke to us.”
Alan laughed again. “Yeah, well, I’m rowing over to the amusement park where the sane people are.” he headed to the boat.
Nola looked at me. “Care if I hang with you awhile?”
I shrugged. Alan got into the boat and pushed it free from the shore with an oar. “You girls have fun chasing your imaginations,” he called out.
“What does he know?” Nola said, searching my eyes.
I was not sure what she was looking for. It made me uncomfortable, so I studied my hands while I drummed my fingers against the steering wheel. “It’s cool,” I said. “If he wants to believe in ghosts and not white crows, that’s his business. But I know what I saw.” I felt Nola’s gaze still on me, so I brought the binoculars to my eyes and pretended to search for the crow.
“Let’s go to the old abandoned cider mill.” Nola pointed past me.
“And do what?” I asked.
“I keep an old guitar in the loft. It’s where I go sometimes to let off steam. Its windows would make a good view high up in the treetops … perfect for seeing the white crow flying around.”
Seeing the crow again intrigued me. I got out of the buggy and started toward the woods next to the cottage. Nola hurried to my side.
The air inside the woods was cool enough to make her wrap her skirt around her shoulders. The wide, well-trodden footpath we were on went past dense undergrowth and bushes and wound around curves made by hillocks and tangles of vines and thorny horse brier that sometimes seemed to stand in our way.
We reached sunlight and the summery grassland where the dilapidated two-story mill sat along a hillside where a stream ran down it.
“My Grandma Charlie owned the mill, bought years ago from one of her uncles. She ran the mill for a few years, but New Cambridge Vineyard made a cheaper, better tasting cider, so she closed the mill and concentrated solely on running her bookstore and curio shop in downtown Alice Lake.”
“Your grandmother’s name is Charlie?” I asked.
“Short for Charlene.”
Nola and I climbed to the front of the place where the field grass was not as thick or high. Gravel crunched beneath my tennis shoes where the parking lot had been.
“Come on,” Nola said as she led me to the padlocked front door.