My entry for Supernatural Writing Contest
The grey clouds were so low they appear to be touching the tree tops. Perfect weather to fit my dismal view of life. The slate grey clouds drained all the color away. Just as AJ’s death had drained all the light out of me.
AJ was our only child. The bright spot in our lives. An honor student, never gave us any reason to worry. A perfect son. He begged us to give him some slack, let him go to a rock concert with his friends.
“Come on Mom, let the leash out. I’m 16 not 6!” AJ declared that Saturday morning.
“Okay, you can go, but call me when it’s over,” I said. I dropped him off at Rick’s house. He never called me. I heard about the accident on a special news report. A balcony had collapsed in the auditorium. Rick and AJ had been standing underneath it. The police told me the boys never had a chance. They had been killed instantly.
“Honey, we’re almost there,” Frank softly nudged me.
I straightened in the seat. If I look like I’m enjoying this trip, Frank will relax and leave me alone. Frank, always pragmatic. He did the only thing he knew how to do, to cope with the loss of AJ, with my spiral down the dark vortex, he took control. He arranged the funeral, he cleaned and packed AJ’s room. He decided we needed to get away. A change of scenery. Little does he realize that the scenery never changes for me. I only see the black curtain of despair which dropped over my eyes as AJ’s casket was lowered into the ground.
Frank parked in front of a rustic cabin. Small slabs of granite stone made the walkway to the cabin and down to the lake. One path led down to the lake to the right and another path up toward the mountain on the left.
Frank opened the truck. I picked up a bag of groceries and headed toward the cabin. The front porch framed by pea vines in full bloom. With the storm clouds over head the flowers looked dark blue, almost black. Two rocking chairs posed as sentinels on either side of the front door. Turning the key in the lock, the door glided open. A long granite counter with a double sink greeted me. An old fashion wood stove was at the other end of the counter. No refrigerator.
I put the groceries down and turned to view the opposite wall. It held a large stone fireplace, before it was a large overstuffed couch covered with a granny square afghan. Two side chairs were angled to the couch. Along the wall were stairs that leading up to the loft. The loft was directly over the kitchen giving a view of the fireplace and windows.
“Well Honey, I know it’s not much to look at, but it has all the creature comforts,” said Frank as he walked up behind me. He put his arms around me, holding me close.
“It will get better. AJ is still here.” He said placing his hand over my heart. “He wouldn’t want you grieving so.”
“But I miss him so much,” I cried. Frank held me tighter.
“I miss him too.” Frank let go of me and took the luggage up to the loft. “Honey, its been a long drive, why don’t you take a little nap and I’ll go cast some bait at the fish in lake.”
I followed behind him up the stairs. The bed did look inviting. Big fluffy pillows lying upon the checker board quilt. I took my shoes off, plopped down on the top of the quilt. Frank placed an afghan over my legs.
“Honey get some sleep, I’ll be back in a couple of hours.” I dozed off with vision of AJ running through my head.
“He, he, he,” I turned in my sleep. What is that? I groped for the light.
“He, he, he.” It sounded like a child’s giggle.
“Frank are you downstairs?” I called out.
“He, he, he.” The giggling sounded farther away like as if the giggler were going out the back door.
I put on my sneakers, jacket, and reached for the door.
“Honey, where are you going?” Frank asked as he came through the door.
“Oh just outside for a walk.” I replied trying to hide my confusion.
“Don’t go far and stay on the path, it will be dark soon,” Frank called after me as I had stepped on the path that led up the hill.
I’m not crazy I thought to myself. I know I heard giggling. A child’s giggling from my bedroom. I hiked along the winding path. The setting sun made the leaves glow like burning embers.
“He, he, he.”
To the left of the trail was a ring of stones surrounded by a ring of ancient looking oaks.
I turned around as I heard muffled footsteps run through the trees. I turned again to look at the stones. So peculiar to have boulders in a circle. The circle was perfect, too perfect for the boulders to have just rolled here during some long past ice age.
“Ssh, child, she’ll hear you.” The whisper road the breeze through the trees.
Turning again “Who’s there!” I called out. “I heard you. Now come out!” I tried to keep the hysteria out of my voice.
Watching the trees as the sun was slowly sank behind them; I needed to get back to the cabin. Frank will worry if I don’t get back before dark. I turned to go back on the path. It was gone!
Panic started to rise in throat. Stay calm get your bearings. How did I follow path up here?
“He, he, he.”
Whipping around, “Come out! Come out to where I can see you. I heard you giggle,” I yelled.
Stepping into the circle of stones, I sat down on the smaller boulder. Light footsteps followed by heavier ones were tramping around the outside of the stone circle.
“Who’s there? Come into the circle so I may see you!” I cried.
A dark cloaked figure stepped between the boulders. It carried a long staff. From the crooked shape of the staff must have been made from a heavy branch from one of the oak trees. Between the boulders small lights twinkled as the sun dipped below the trees. The twinkling lights remained just outside the ring. The cloaked figure moved to the center of the circle. I started to get up to run between the stones back to the cabin.
The figure raised its arms. The hands were as old and gnarled looking as the staff they held.
“ I am Forrestal, the care taker of this time.” The figure drew back the hood of his cloak revealing an old man, but with a face that defied time. Although he had long gray hair pulled back from his face and secured with a leather cord, his face was smooth.
“I must get back to the cabin, my husband will be frantic if I do not return,” I stammered.
“Do not worry he hasn’t missed you,” Forrestal replied.
“I don’t understand, the sun is down, he will be worried,” I started to get up.
“In this place, time passes at a different speed. Since you left the cabin, only moments have passed,” Forrestal smiled at me with gentle eyes.
“ But that is not possible. I watched the sun go down.” I insisted!
“Yes, you did, but in this place, this time, this circle of stone contains magic. Time is not counted in human terms here.” Forrestal replied.
“Time, time has stopped for me?” I asked.
Forrestal walked closer to me and sat down on a nearby stone. Placing the staff across his lap. “In a word, yes, time has stopped for you, but not just here. It has stopped in your heart. I can see the sorrow in your soul. You have not let time move forward since that sorrowful loss.” Forrestal spoke quietly.
Tears started to swell in my eyes. I couldn’t take in a breathe. I tried to speak, but only sobs came out.
Forrestal patiently waited for me to gather myself up. “This is a place of magic. Do you believe in magic?
I wiped my face on my jacket sleeve. “Magic, nonsense.”
Forrestal took in a deep breathe. “For you to believe something is real, must it take shape in front of you?"
“What are you talking about?” I asked.
Forrestal walked over to a small seedling just inside the stone circle. He tapped the end of his staff against the base of the seedling. The small tree began to grow. Within moments it was as large as my waist. He tapped it again. It stopped growing.
“He turned to me and asked “What was that?”
I stammered “a trick of the shadows”.
“Come feel this tree.” He motioned for me to come closer.
I ran my hand along its truck. It was warm and smelled of springs.
He tapped the tree with the other end of the staff. The tree began to shrink back to its original size, a seedling. Pulling a small spade from under his cloak he dug the seedling up. “It cannot stay here. It belongs on the outside of the circle.”
“Why did you show me that” I asked.
I want you to look at the world differently. Magic is everywhere, even in these stones. The life force I used to grow that tree lives in everything. You still have a life although your heart feels broken. If I showed you that life is ever rejuvenating, forever being replenished, will you return to your husband with a lighter heart?”
The sounds of giggles filled the air. The lights outside the circle swirled faster. “Close your eyes and remember your son, the day he was the happiest.” Forrestal whispered.
I reached back into my memories. The day he passed his driving test. He was grinning ear to ear. “Mom, I made it! I passed!
Hearing his voice I opened my eyes. AJ was standing before me, grinning ear to ear.
You’re here! I grabbed him in a hug. He felt real, I could hear his heart beating, feel his breath on my neck.”
“Mom, its okay, let go.” He whispered in my ear.
“No! I won’t let go, not ever!” I cried.
“Mom, my place is here now. Forrestal helped me to cross over. I will never be very far away. As long as you remember, I will always reside in your heart,” a look of bliss glowed from his eyes.
“Life is present in many forms and not all of those forms are in the realm of your human senses.” Forrestal explained. “You must open your heart and your mind to the possibilities of life existing on another plane, another level.”
“Mom, I have to go.” AJ hugged me one more time. When your time comes, I will be here.” He pressed a light blue crystal into my hand.
The giggles faded into the night. The lights swirling beyond the stones slowed and began to look like fireflies.
“Stay on the path.” Forrestal said to me. “Stay with her until she reaches the tree line near the cabin.” He said to a firefly flitting over my head.
I was sure Frank would be frantic by now. How long had I been gone? As I neared the tree line I could see the cabin. The sun had not set yet. Frank was pulling the boat up to the shore.
“Hey! You’re back! Look what I caught for dinner!” He called to me.
I closed my hand around the crystal. “I’m fine, that walk restored my energy. Let me help you with those fish.”