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Rated: E · Short Story · Family · #2193659
Where reality meets imagination.
June 2019 No Dialogue Entry. Prompt = Father - 641 words

A brisk southerly breeze buffeted Cameron Finch's chestnut hair as he stared at the moonlit Tauherenikau River; listening to nocturnal creatures scamper deep within the Tararua Forest. Something flew above him and screeched. Looking up he could just make out a lone Kaka flying toward Merchant Ridge. He dug his hands deep into the pockets of his “Pixar Cars’ Hoodie” and shuffled the stony terrain with his Reeboks.

When he was a lot younger, Patrick (his late biological father) had alleged this area to be an Elderado for Tooth-Fairies; where they washed extracted teeth, before venturing to their secret destination. Sometimes fairies left presents for children that behaved themselves during sleepovers at the Smith’s Creek shelter, a small wooden hut not too far from the river.

He was now twelve years old but still revered the area. Standing just over four foot six, with a slim waste and inflicted with a slight stutter, he was a prime target for school bullies. Aggression did not become his timid personality, but tonight he had reacted with vehement hostility. In hindsight it would have been better if he had premised the retelling of the legend to his Stepfather. Edward's terse rebuttal had taken him by surprise; as if having a whimsical imagination was something very naughty. Tactful silence would have assured harmony, but the slur against his late father’s intelligence was something in need of challenging. His outburst had been met with admonishment, infused with hurtful sentiments. He had stormed off from, and was presently trying to calm down.

His attention was drawn to a shimmering light approximately ten meters up-steam from him. Its glow brightened and he could barely make out the hazy silhouette of a man. The image sharpened and a familiar face beheld him. Calmness filled his body and taunt nerves eased. The wind ceased and forest creatures no longer stirred.

Cameron gazed dumbfounded at Patrick. Any other time he would have fretted at such an apparition, but its presence omitted a more tranquil than demonic aura. He was dressed in a long white robe tied at his amble waste line with a cord, and on his feet were Roman Sandals, giving him a monk-like appearance. His long curly hair had regrown and was hanging down to his broad shoulders, and emerald eyes sparkled with benevolence.

The apparition shifted to the river bank, came nearer and stopped a few meters from him. Patrick faded and was replaced by the image of Oscar, a once beloved teddy bear that had loved and safeguarded his younger years. It too vanished and usurped by an invisible friend named Jeremy that only he had been able to see. One by one both benign and frightening deliberations of his imagination manifested themselves. Then the light gradually dwindled, shimmered and finally vanished and he was left staring into the darkness.

A firm hand suddenly grasped his left shoulder, startling him. He shrugged off the palm and retreated a few paces. His heart chilled as his stepfather snatched his arms and drew him back. Recalling the stinging smack he had received from him several weeks prior he quickly shielded his butt with his hands, but found himself being embraced instead.

Tears welled at Edward’s whispered apology, usurping bitterness for mercy. Cameron replicated and received unconditional absolution. His mind wandered back to the manifestations. Such fantasies and traditions would forever remain in his imagination, but his stepfather’s existence on this planet, like his own, was finite. However long, quality time was too precious to waste with anger.

Cameron’s warm heart usurped the frigid night air as he negotiated the stony terrain back to the Smith’s Creek Shelter. Above them flew screeched another Kaka and nocturnal creatures continued scampering within the surrounding Tararua Forest. On and on flowed the Tauherenikau River; where it is said Tooth Ferries Wash their Teeth.

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