The Pink Fairy.
Inside the hole, the air changed to a miserable chill that slid around me like a thousand icy knives moments before they stabbed into my body.
Dim green light from crystals along the walls revealed a boxy chamber no bigger than my bedroom. Dave’s fall had been short, but far enough into the earth that the way out above him was out of reach.
“I’m okay,” he called out. He had landed upon chunks of crystal that were now glowing brightest.
One of the crystals across the way exploded and sent green shrapnel his way. He ducked as a ten-inch length of faceted crystal just missed hitting his head. A smaller piece of crystal landed at his feet. It glowed brightly and must have been hot when he picked it up because he dropped it quickly and placed his fingertips against his tongue.
More green crystals around the chamber glowed brighter before they too exploded. Dave scrambled away as an emerald dust cloud rose into the air, looking dark and menacing.
He found an entrance into a crawlspace along a far wall and tried to wriggle inside, but it was too narrow. He pulled away rock and earth as more crystals exploded.
A six-inch length of green crystal whistled at him, clattered off the wall above his head, and landed on the back of his shirt. He squirmed as though it burned him, then picked it up and examined it after it fell away. He held it front of him and climbed into the crawlspace. The crystal gave him light along the way, and he held it out like a flashlight while he wormed his way to a larger passageway.
The new passage made traveling easier and quicker. He muttered a few times about finding a way out as he followed the twists and turns for what seemed like a mile. Along the way, water trickled through the rocks overhead and made the floor slippery. When he arrived at a place where outside light lit the end of the passageway, the floor sloped down. He entered and stepped cautiously along the water worn floor, keeping his footing until the slope steepened to almost ninety degrees. There, gravity pulled him down. He plummeted straight down a two hundred-foot hole like a hapless rider inside an amusement park’s waterslide before he was ejected from the hill’s interior.
The cliffs of Myers Ridge rushed past him and upwards as he fell. His sudden entry into bristly treetops along the bank of Myers Creek sounded like gunshots as boughs of pine broke against his tumbling body.
When the fall ended, he lay on his back, gasping for air on a mattress of pine needles. Then, catching his breath, he closed his eyes and rested, laughing at his predicament a few minutes later.
He shifted to his elbows and tried to sit up. His left leg seemed lifeless, so he used pine branches overhead to help pull him into a seated position. He felt around his knee through his blue jeans and, finding the green crystal that glowed brightly on the ground next to him, he shoved it against his knee, telling it to do its magic.
The crystal brightened and he clenched his jaw and screamed. Then, panting and cursing, he flexed his knee and brought it to his chin.
After resting for a few more minutes, he crawled from beneath the tree and walked into an opening. There, a column of green fog settled upon the ground. It stood seven or eight feet tall, swirled like it contained milky water inside, and moved toward Dave.
It stopped when he took a step back.
“Stay away,” he told it.
Vree Erickson stepped from the fog and faced Dave. She held out a hand to him. “Don’t be afraid.”
He hesitated anyway, then took it and embraced her as she rushed at him, nearly upsetting him as she kissed him hard on the lips.
My heart had leaped to see her again. She looked more beautiful than I remembered. I ached to touch her smooth, porcelain skin and long and silky, umber hair. She wore the same clothes she had vanished in on the day she told me she was pregnant.
Did she still carry our child? I doubted it. The story felt different.
I whispered her name, glad to see her, but surprised by the kiss she was giving Dave.
She was not quick to end it or to release her embrace. I knew I had lost her.
It was just as well, I decided. I had let too much happen with little or no thought about the outcome, or controlling the events when I did. That’s what rewrites were for. I could have made Vree love me again. But why spend so much time living in a fantasy world?
I stopped visiting Ridgewood as a character and became a disembodied godlike narrator. When I entered eleventh grade later that year, I struggled to find a protagonist and an antagonist to anchor the events I wrote about. That struggle would last for many years.