The Pink Fairy.
Inside the woods, the air cooled even more. Lisa pulled the damp towel around her. The path they were on was well trodden and it went past dense undergrowth and bushes and wound around curves made by hillocks and tangles of vines and thorny horse brier growths that sometimes seemed to stand in the way.
“Almost there,” Dave said when Lisa asked how much farther. They reached sunlight and the summery grassland atop Myers Ridge and soon Dave drove up to his dad’s abandoned house.
“Does anyone live there?”
“I grew up here on weekends before my dad moved to Pittsburgh. He sold it to my grandma, but she has my mom check on it from time to time since we live close by.”
“I see it’s posted against anyone trespassing,” Lisa said as she pointed to a white sign taped to the back door.
“Don’t worry, we’re not trespassing. Come on.” He shut off the buggy’s engine and led Lisa to the padlocked cellar door. He produced a key from beneath a rock, and then led the way down the leaf-filled, musty steps, into a big, dim old cellar whose only light came from the entrance through which they had come. At some distance from where they stood, they saw a flight of wooden steps leading up to the main floor. And to this Dave led a cautious Lisa.
She paused at the foot of the stairs. “Why are we here?” she asked.
“Follow me,” Dave commanded. “We’ll be able to see better when we get upstairs.”
“Not until you tell me why we’re here.”
“Don’t be afraid. Just follow me and we’ll be done in no time.”
He bounded up the stairs.
Lisa folded her arms beneath the beach towel, shivered as she glanced around, and then followed until she found herself in a rear hallway of the old farmhouse. She called out to Dave and he answered from a long, high-ceilinged room ahead. She found him inside where daylight from the windows filled the room and revealed cobwebs festooned from ceiling corners and its crystal chandelier. Dust covered the wood floor, and they stirred it into the sunlight as they passed into a stately but similarly vacated dining room, past a wall of empty bookshelves, and to creaky stairs that led upstairs through a long hall surrounded by deserted bedrooms.
“Wait here,” Dave said before he disappeared into the farthest room for a moment. When he reappeared, he held an old pair of field glasses.
“My other binoculars,” Dave said. “They’re not as powerful as these—”
He held up the pair hanging around his neck.
“But you’ll need something to help look for the fairy.”
Lisa accepted the binoculars and went to a window to try them out. From her vantage point, she could see the blue stretches of Alice Lake beyond the cliff-like edges of Myers Ridge and the great reaches of surrounding woods known as Ebony Forest.
“They were my first pair of glasses,” Dave said; “belonged to my dad. My mom gave them to me a couple years ago when I got interested in watching birds. I remembered I had hidden them inside my old closet.”
“Is that when you saw the fairy?”
“No. I saw her the first time this year at my grandma’s bookstore in town. I was reading one of my bird books when she bumped against the glass of a window and left a streak of sweat on the glass.” He went to the window, stood behind Lisa and looked out, over her head. “I have a feeling she’s trying to get me to follow her. Whenever I see her, she darts away, comes right back and darts away again. I think she wanted me to follow her here at Myers Ridge when I saw her at the lake.”
“Do you think she’s here, somewhere outside, looking for you?”
Dave shrugged and stepped away from the window. “I don’t know.”
“Wait,” Lisa said. “I think I see her. Yes. There she is.”
Dave hurried back and quickly looked through his bigger binoculars. “That’s her, the pink fairy. See her, Lisa? Look at her long, fiery red hair.”
The fairy swooped through the air and darted above the window and the roof where it hovered a moment before it zipped off again toward Alice Lake.
“Do you think she wants us to follow her?” Lisa said. The words were barely out of her mouth when they were startled by a sound of footsteps below them.
“Listen!” Lisa said, pressing close to Dave. “Someone’s down there!”
The footsteps stopped. Then the stairs creaked as the person below began their ascent.