Changes, Part 5
Today is my birthday. I find it fitting to feature a character I created on my birthday many years ago when I was a teenager.
Julianna “Julie” Michelle Douglas, 13
In the beginning, I named her Lucinda after an older sister I almost had. She was big sister to Kenny (named Lenny back then) and was a schoolteacher. Years later, I renamed her Susan and moved her to Pittsburgh. She remained a teacher.
She became the younger sister in 1999 when I started a work-in-progress with the working title Let There Be Dragons. I spent three years writing Let There Be Dragons until I shelved it in favor of another story called Kismet. The short story below is a reworked chapter of Let There Be Dragons. Faithful followers of my blog will recognize it as The Pink Fairy WIP featured here, beginning October 20, 2012 and running for five chapters.
Julie went through several name changes over the years before I chose Julianna as a keeper last year.
Green Fairy (A work-in-progress chapter featuring Julie)
A splash came from Alice Lake. Julie Douglas sat up on her beach towel, lifted her binoculars from her satchel bag, and scanned the lake. Her tanned, bare-chested brother Kenny fell to his oars to control the rocking red rowboat. Someone had jumped overboard and now swam toward her. Once the rocking stopped, Kenny started the outboard engine and followed the swimmer. Amy Conrad stood and hurried out of the water and onto the beach, then waited next to Julie while Kenny anchored the boat in the shallow water.
“Doesn’t he look sexy in those blue swim trunks I bought him for his birthday?” Amy asked.
“Ew.” Julie made a face.
“Hey, sis,” Kenny said with a grin as he approached. He was barefoot, like Amy. “Have you been spying on Mr. and Mrs. Jackson’s nephew again?” He pointed at the black binoculars hanging from a black leather strap around Julie’s neck.
Julie sighed and removed the field glasses. “Ha ha, very funny.” She grabbed a tube of suntan lotion from her bag and squeezed some on her reddened forearms. Unlike her older brother, she had to suffer through several sunburns before her skin tanned.
“Isn’t that him spying on you from his bedroom?”
“What?” Julie twisted to look at Mr. and Mrs. Jackson’s red and white two-story cottage next door.
“Relax. He’s with the Jacksons in New Cambridge for the weekend.” Kenny chuckled. “He’ll be disappointed he missed seeing you half naked in that hot pink boy-tease micro mini dress.”
“I’m not half naked. And this isn’t a micro mini dress, moron. It’s my new strapless sundress.”
Kenny held his palms out. “Okay. Jeez. Sorry.”
“I think it’s adorable,” Amy said, sitting on the foot end of Julie’s towel. Water dripped from her golden hair and red, one-piece swimsuit. She was careful not to drip any water on Julie’s sketchpad of various bird drawings. She lifted the binoculars to her eyes and scanned the lake. “Seen anything interesting?”
Julie flipped her long dark hair from her shoulders and rubbed lotion on her upper arms. “Mostly robins and chickadees. Some cardinals and blue jays. Nothing exciting.”
“My favorite bird’s the Steller’s Jay,” Kenny said. He removed a yellow T-shirt draped over his right shoulder, put it on, and ran a hand through his shaggy brown hair. “Seen any around?”
“Ha ha, very droll, big brother.” Then Julie added under her breath, “Dork.”
Kenny’s grin widened. “So I like the Steller’s Jay,” he said. “Sue me.”
“And I like penguins. But anyone with a brain knows they’re not native to Pennsylvania.”
“It’s not my fault they don’t live in Pennsylvania.”
“You two remind me of Dave and me on those boring family vacations we get dragged on every August,” Amy said. She placed the binoculars next to Julie’s sketchbook. “We’re going to Yellowstone next month.” She pretended to stick a finger down her throat and regurgitate.
“I love Yellowstone,” Julie said. “All the wildlife and geysers and Lewis and Clark Caverns. Awesome.”
Amy rolled her eyes and shook her head. “Yeah. Awesome.”
A green birdlike creature zipped from the sky and circled Kenny’s head. He swatted at it as if it was a bee trying to sting him. Julie laughed when he stumbled and fell on his backside before it flew away.
“Was that a hummingbird?” he asked, peering at the sky.
“I don’t think that was a bird,” Julie said.
“What?” Amy asked. “Why not?”
“Um … well…”
Amy frowned. Then, “Of course it was a hummingbird,” she said and laughed. “What else could it be?”
“A fairy,” Julie said. “She dropped this.” She plucked a twig from the sand. “I think it’s her wand.”
“Whoa.” Kenny sat forward to get a closer look.
“She was very beautiful, with a girlish humanoid body all covered in green hair from head to toe,” Julie said.
Kenny nodded. “Makes sense. It seems silly to think they live outdoors and are bare skinned like us. I never bought into the idea that they make tiny fairy dresses on tiny looms and sewing machines to keep warm and dry.”
“Whoa, wait a minute,” Amy said. “Are you two serious?”
“Well, what did you see?” Julie asked.
“But fairies aren’t real.”
“But you saw one.”
“It’s okay. I never believed in fairies either, even after seeing my third one up close,” Julie said. “But they’re real.”
“Wait. Time out.” Amy looked up at Kenny who still studied the sky. “It was a trick of the light. Fairies are not real.”
“It’s cool,” Kenny said. He scooted across the sand until he sat next to Amy and faced her. “And nothing to be afraid of.”
“I didn’t say I was afraid. I said they’re not real.”
Kenny shrugged. “Some people believe fairies are real and some people don’t. Some people believe all fairies are female. Some say leprechauns are real but trolls aren’t. And some people believe in vampires but not werewolves. It’s how things are until we see them with our own eyes.”
“This is nuts,” Amy said. She closed her eyes and sighed.
Julie pointed at the elm and maple trees separating her parents’ cabin property from Mr. and Mrs. Jackson’s property. “There are probably more of them, all of them living in the trees, blending with the leaves so we can’t see them. I’ve read that they only appear at dawn and twilight, but I think we’ve proved that theory wrong.”
Amy snorted. “Yeah, well, I think I’m gonna go to the amusement park where the sane people are,” she announced. She hurried to stand up but her feet shifted in the sand and she fell back to her spot on Julie’s towel. Kenny caught her by the upper arm and kept her from falling against him.
She pulled from his grasp. “Ouch. You scratched me.” She pushed him away and inspected her arm.
While Kenny peered at Amy’s scratch, Julie said, “I wonder why the fairy buzzed your head, Kenny. They don’t usually show themselves to humans unless they have something to say.”
“She did make a noise that could have been her talking to me.” Kenny looked up and shrugged. “It sounded like she said yellow stone, but I couldn’t make it out too well.”
“We were talking about Amy going to Yellowstone,” Julie said, excited. “Yellowstone. Say it. Yellowstone.”
“Just say it. I wanna see if she returns.”
“Yellowstone,” Kenny said, looking at the sky.
The fairy flew from a maple tree next to Mr. and Mrs. Jackson’s cabin and circled Kenny’s head. He kept still and closed his eyes.
“What is she saying to you?” Julie asked a moment later when the fairy circled Kenny’s head faster and became a green streak.
“Yellow,” Kenny said. Then, “No … not yellow. Arrow. Arrow stone.”
“This … is too freaky,” Amy said. She licked her lips, then stood and stumbled when she backed away from Kenny and the fairy. “I-I … I need to get out of here.” She turned, took a step, then yelped when her feet left the ground and her body lifted a foot into the air.
“Don’t move,” Kenny called out. “Nobody do or say anything
“Let me down,” Amy cried out. She kicked her legs. “Let me down right now.”
Julie jumped to her feet and hurried to Amy’s left side. “Don’t be afraid,” she said, encircling her arms around Amy’s upper legs. “And stop kicking.” She pulled Amy down.
As soon as Amy’s feet touched ground, she fell forward and took Julie with her. The girls landed on a damp, hardwood floor. Julie rolled to her back, sat up and picked up the twig she was certain was a fairy wand.
The large, rectangular room was dingy and musty smelling in the dim light that entered three broken windows and a missing slat along the wall closest to Julie. A red squirrel scampered across the floor and disappeared through the missing slat. Rodents squealed and scurried in the ceiling where a labyrinth of cobwebs festooned from it. Thick dust covered the floor, and Julie’s bare feet stirred it into the light as she went to the nearest window and looked out at a jungle of trees.
“Is this someone’s house in the middle of the woods?” she asked.
“We’re in Myers Mansion.” Amy stood and shivered.
“You mean the creepy place next to your house?” Julie turned and grinned at Amy. “Awesome.”
Amy started toward Julie, then stopped and threw her arms in the air. “Something weird just happened to us and you think it’s awesome. How is this awesome, Julie? Explain it to me.”
“We just teleported. How many people do you know can say that?” Julie peered at the sky. “We seem to be in the same time period, so that’s good. I wish I had my phone to find out for sure. And we could find out what the fairy is doing.” Julie turned and faced Amy. “She said arrow stone to Kenny. She was telling him about a compass.”
Amy crossed her arms. “You speak fairy now, do you?”
“Please don’t make fun of me.”
“No. Seriously. What if arrow stone means flint or any of the other stones people used to make arrowheads?”
“Because the fairy didn’t say arrowhead.”
“So what’s the difference? Huh? Tell me, Miss Smarty Know-It-All.”
“I…” Julie turned and looked out the broken window again. “I can’t tell you how I know.”
“Fine. I’m going home and do my best to forget this ever happened.”
“You’ll make fun of me.” Julie swiped at a tear crawling down a cheek.
“What do you mean I’ll make fun of you?”
“Because you don’t believe in magic.”
Amy was silent for a moment. Then, “I was transported from Myers Lake to Myers Mansion by a fairy who talks to my best friend and his kid sister,” she said, walking up to Julie and putting an arm around her shoulders. “I’ll believe anything you tell me as honest to goodness truth.”
“Promise you won’t tell Kenny or anyone else what I’m going to tell you.”
“It begins with my mom’s grandmother and great-grandmother. I found an old diary in the attic last month inside a secret bottom of an old storage chest. My mom’s grandmother wrote it, and she talks about a time when fairies became afraid of showy mortal humans. That’s what she called them, and she said hunting parties went into the woods and captured and killed any fairy they found.”
“I thought fairies were … I mean, are immortal.”
“Only the good ones are immortal. The dark ones can be killed with silver.”
“What is a dark fairy?”
“Most of the time it’s a fairy who is changed by dark magic, either by accident or on purpose. And sometimes it can be a mortal human turned into a dark fairy by evil magic.
“But not everyone was afraid of fairies. People like my mom’s grandmother and great-grandmother accepted their differences and were kind to them. The fairies often took these people to their world. The last time my mom’s great-grandmother visited, she returned pregnant and was accused by her neighbors of having sex with a fairy.”
“The book doesn’t say. The village doctor and judge found her guilty and burned her alive like they did to witches back then. My mom’s grandmother was so angry and frightened that she lived in the fairy realm for a long time until she returned at the request of her brother to die of old age and be buried on her family’s homestead. She wrote in her diary that all of her children were fathered by a fairy prince.”
“Wow. That means—”
“Crazy. I know.”
Amy let go of Julie. “That’s how you knew the fairy meant compass when she said arrow stone.”
“It’s like she and I are connected. Her words formed a picture in my mind. She was doing the same to Kenny before she sent us here.”
“Do you think she really lives in the trees at Alice Lake?” Amy asked. “Or in a fairy realm, like the one you spoke of?”
“Probably both. The realm’s entrance would likely be someplace where there are rings of toadstools or rock circles. Fairies like to live under hills that have old trees, or under willow trees near lakes.”
“Like Alice Lake.” The words were barely out of Amy’s mouth when heavy footsteps below the room caused her to look at the door. “Listen,” she said in a loud whisper. “Someone’s down there!”
The footsteps started up the creaky old stairs.
Julie followed Amy to the doorway and peered down a dingy hallway that led past three closed doors on the left and two closed doors on the right. The only light came from a few holes in the roof. It lit the monster’s yellow massive face when it turned at the top of the stairs. Julie fell back into the room and held a hand to her mouth to muffle a scream.
The only exit was through a window. If she and Amy hurried, they could crawl across the branches there and escape before the monster reached their room.
“Come on,” she commanded. “Follow me.”
But Amy remained at the door, peering down the hallway.
The muscle-bound, apelike monster brushed past her. Red eyes locked on Julie. In two strides, the monster was nose to nose with her. Startled by the sudden approach and the rotten stench that came with it, Julie stepped back, but not far enough as a right hand shot out in a fist. Pain shot through her abdomen. She sat down hard, fell on her side, then brought her knees to her chest and gasped for air.
“Julie, what’s wrong?” Amy hurried into the room and smacked off the monster’s back that sent her staggering backwards against the wall.
“Go.” Julie sucked at the stale air, breathing hard, in and out, almost panting while she tried to catch her breath. “Go. Save … your … self.”
“What happened?” Amy asked, crying out alarmed.
The monster glared at Julie. “You’re trespassing. You need to leave.” It stepped closer. “Give me the magic stick. Or do I have to get mean with you again?”
“Yes,” Julie said, still breathing hard, “I mean … here.” She handed it the twig. “We’re going.”
“Quickly,” the monster demanded, sending spittle onto Julie. It pointed a long, thick forefinger at her. “You have to the count of ten to leave this place, or face my wrath.”
“Fine.” Julie sat up.
She stumbled to her feet.
She went to Amy and took her by an arm.
“Come on. We’re not welcome here.”
“Trust me. We have to go.”
“Five. You’re almost out of time.”
She pulled Amy into the hall.
She cursed and hurried to the stairs, almost missing a step on the way down. Amy’s quick reflexes kept her from falling.
The front door groaned and tried to resist their exit. Outside, daylight barely penetrated the thicket there. Vines of ivy ran wild, choking life from the trees and gripping the house in a spooky death hold.
Amy pulled at Julie and stopped her from running onto the path of spongy lichen that led to the front gate.
“What’s going on?” she asked.
Julie rubbed her sore stomach and looked at the house.
“The monster didn’t want us there,” she said before the ground trembled beneath their feet. A white flash came from the front of the old house, followed by a hot wind that pushed at them and knocked them on their backs. Julie reached out against the wind and found Amy. They embraced as debris of wood, leaves and grass flew over them. For several seconds, Julie thought the world had ended in an atomic blast.
When the wind stopped, she sat up. Then she jumped to her feet and raced to where the old house had stood.
Amy caught up to her, turned in a circle next to the lot filled with the house’s charred debris. “How is this possible?” She sounded stunned. The white flash and hot wind had uprooted the nearest trees and stripped them of their leaves, branches, and bark
“I don’t know,” Julie said. “It’s like magic happened here. Big magic.” She sat on the ground, drew up her legs and wrapped her arms around them. She said nothing for several minutes. Amy sat next her and hugged her own legs. By the time the birds and squirrels and other animals returned from wherever they had gone during the disturbance, she stood, offered Amy a hand, and helped her to her feet. Both girls brushed dirt from their backsides. When Julie turned back, a green fairy hovered in front of her.
“You gave Gulbrier the wand. He has crossed dimensions to change the past. You and your brother must use the arrow stone to find and stop him before he destroys us.”
Both girls stared wide-eyed as the fairy flew away.
“I heard her,” Amy said. “I heard the fairy speak to you.”
“I caused this to happen,” Julie said. “I have to fix it. But I’m just a girl.” She turned and faced Amy. “What am I gonna do?”
Amy took her by the shoulders and said, “We go to my house, call Kenny, and make plans to get that wand away from Gulbrier. I know some people who are pretty savvy about magic and the supernatural.”
“You’ll do that for me?”
Amy looked at the destroyed house. “I’m doing it for us.” She took Julie by the hand and hurried her onto the path.