The story so far:
Remember the Dragon
She sat there at the picnic table hungry and impatient. They had ridden in the van for five hours without stopping. Now her dad was cooking on the grill at this campground. Why did they have to wait till he was done cooking? Mom could easily fix her a sandwich. Her mom, dad and older brother seemed happy to be here. She was irritated and impatient. This puzzled her. She had been looking forward to this camping trip just like the rest of them. But that last few miles seemed to take forever and it was like something had come over her. Like something was about to happen and she didn’t want to miss it. She felt like something was going on here and she was missing out.
She was about to ask her mom for at least a carrot to nibble on, when she heard young girls giggling. She turned quickly to where she thought the giggling had come from. All she saw was woods. As soon as she turned to ask her mom again, the giggling started again.
This time her mom saw her jerk her head around and stare at the edge of the woods. “You’re not seeing fairies again are you darling?”
The young white haired girl turned back to her mom with a puzzled look. She was only about ten and her hair was long thick, wavy and white. She wasn’t born with white hair. When her parents adopted her it was almost black and it really did not go with her green eyes. Her hair didn’t start turning white until she was almost four. “Fairies!?”
“Yes fairies. Are you seeing them again?” that irritating tone of teasing was in her voice.
“When did I see fairies?”
“I believe it was the last time we camped here.”
This news caught the young girl by surprise. She didn’t remember ever being here before. But then that might explain that feeling she was having about this place. She looked around then asked, “When was that mom?”
Her brother was standing there listening and grinning, “I think you were four and you were certainly a brat that summer.”
“She was only a small child then and didn’t know better,” their dad put in.
“KNOW BETTER! she knocked me out that summer saying she was a sword dancer,” he then quickly reached into an open bag of chips on the table and got a handful.
Suddenly this got interesting to the young girl, “Sword dancer?”
Lori looked up at dad and saw him grinning from ear to ear. He saw her looking at him and decided to join in with his view of things. “Kitty,” his pet name for his adopted daughter, “I can’t wait till you start dating because I know I will be able to scare off some boys telling about you wanting to learn how to fight with a sword.”
Now it seemed like the three of them were ganging up on her and she knew that she was going to be teased about this for years, but the curiosity was taking over. This was too interesting. “Ok, what does seeing fairies and wanting to learn to fight with a sword have in common?” trying to take on a serious tone.
“I clearly remember seeing you swing that makeshift sword I made and hit your brother in the head. He dropped like a sack of bricks. When I went over I nearly lost my heart when I saw how much he was bleeding from the side of his head,” her dad spoke nonchalantly as he poked and fiddled with the meat on the grill. He never started at the beginning of a story. He liked to start with the worst part first.
“If you part his hair just right you can see where you nearly killed him,” dad looked up and made eye contact with his daughter. “The doc asked how this happened and I told him. Wish I didn’t tell him. He gave me a look of disdain that made me feel that he thought I should be reported for child abuse.”
This was just too good, but it really didn’t answer her question, “Dad, could you answer the question.”
He smiled. This was exquisite, “When I got home, I took away your wooden sword and told you that you were to never play with swords again. That was another big mistake. I believe that you cried for a full week nonstop.”
“Yeah, and that was when your hair started turning white,” her brother piped in.
Lori reached up and pulled some of her white hair around to look at it.
“By the time I came up with something that would satisfy you and stop the crying, at least a quarter of your hair was as white as it is now. That scared me just as much as you scaring your dad by knocking out your brother,” her mom put in.
Don’t forget that she wanted to change her name from Lori to Kilorra. What a silly name. Wanted us all to call her that,” he turned to his dad as he grabbed some more chips, “Isn’t that why you started calling her Kitty, dad?”
Each little tidbit of info was delicious, but instead of answering her question, they were only helping her to have many more questions to ask. The frustration was unbearable, “MOM!”
“Alright boys, I think you two have had enough fun with her,” her mother had learned some time ago that when her daughter yelled for her, that she better step in and take over or her little girl would rather stalk off and sulk instead of trying to get the rest of the story. She looked directly at her husband, when he caught her eye he quickly looked down at the grill. He knew better than to continue.
“Kilorra the sword dancer Empress of Stohyer,” Allen grinned big.
“Allen, go find something to do,” his mother spoke firmly to him. He finally got the hint, grabbed the bag of chips and went inside the camper.
Lori was stunned. What did he mean by that? She watched him carefully as he walked to the camper and went inside, and then she turned to her mother with an imploring look. She really wished that she could remember all this stuff they had just told her. Before her mom could speak, she heard the giggling again from behind her. In a way she was afraid to look this time. She was afraid that she just might see a fairy or something if she did. But curiosity was also taking hold of her. She felt herself hoping that she was really hearing fairies giggling in the woods behind her. The idea of actually seeing a fairy was getting her anxious and excited.
Her mom finished mixing the tea. She stared at it a moment and then she looked at her daughter. She really didn’t want to talk about this, but she always knew she would have to tell her. Her husband and son had been itching to tease her about this for years. She had kept them from doing so until today. She felt disappointed in herself because she had gotten it started.
“Your father and I met at this campground back when we were teens. Our parents just happened to both stop here the same weekend that summer. You could say that we hit it off quite well that three day stay,” a smile of good memories filled her face. “We exchanged addresses and phone numbers and we wrote each other every week. We didn’t see each other again until my senior prom. He drove over 300 miles from college just to be my date that night.”
The bit about the 300 mile drive was old hat, but Lori didn’t know that her parents had met at this campground. “You met dad here. What has that got to do with me seeing fairies?”
“Be patient my dear. A good story should never be sold short,” she paused with a mischievous smile and moved closer to her daughter, “That next summer your dad came, got a job and a small apartment, and we dated all summer. The week before I left for college, I asked him to marry me.”
“Why didn’t he ask you?”
“I couldn’t wait and I couldn’t resist him. Almost a year later we got married out at my parents’ ranch. That was back when they still had horses. After the wedding we got on horses and rode out up the mountain. We spent our first night together in a tent, cooked our first meal over an open fire. I love thinking about that night. I guess that is why we both love to camp. So for awhile we came and camped here every summer. My senior year in college I got pregnant with your brother. We didn’t plan on it. For some reason my birth control decided not to work. My mom says that an angel took the power out o the pill.”
Lori giggled at that, “Power out of the pill. Maybe it was a fairy that took the power.”
She smiled at her daughter and ran a hand thru her white hair, “That could be possible. “I’ve heard that fairies are just one form of angel.” She gave her daughter a hug, “I graduated with a growing belly and that August your brother was born. I tell you young lady that you don’t want to be pregnant during the hot months of summer. But that is nothing to having a cast all up your leg during the summer. I’d rather be pregnant again than wearing a sweaty itchy cast and learning to walk again.”
“That was when you fell off the scaffolding at the theater, wasn’t it mom?”
She nodded, “I fell and broke my leg is seven places, had a piece of wood puncture me in the stomach and ripped my womb open. They had to remove it and I so wanted to have a daughter. It was another year before I could go back to work. I was so depressed over this, that I almost didn’t go back. I couldn’t have another child.”
“But you have me now.”
“You can thank your dad for motivating me to adopting you. The first time I held you, I didn’t want to let go and you inspired me so much that I paint all night with you cradled in my arm. You have been a blessing to me and you are very special and very talented. I think you will make a great dancer some day. You do know that is how I got you to stop crying. I started you with dance lessons. You took to that as fervently as you did the sword practice.”
“Did I really see fairies that summer?”
“I really don’t know what you saw that summer. But you must have seen something. You were missing all afternoon that day and suddenly there you were. We had been looking all over for you and I had this feeling, so I came back to the car and there you were by the fire roasting a marshmallow, as if you had never been out of sight. Your dad was about to call the police when I found you. I started questioning you about where you had been and I got this fantastic tale about seeing fairies and finding a cave and meeting an old dragon.”
“Dragon? What all did I tell you mom?”
“You told a lot. And your father was so fascinated that after we got home he had you tell it again so he could record it. Then he took those tapes to work with him so his secretary could type it up. If it weren’t for those tapes, she would not have believed that a four year old girl could come up with such a tale of adventure and intrigue. Your father wants to publish it, but we decided to wait till you are a teen before he does that. He wants your name on it and I don’t think anyone would believe you told it when you were just four.”
“You mean it’s all written down. That means I can read it. Where is it?”
“For a young girl that isn’t into reading, you sure are anxious. You will have to wait till we get home. It’s upstairs in your father’s desk.”
With each bit of info, she kept feeling like another brick wall was being placed in her way. “Can you tell me anything or do I have to wait till I get home to read it?” She felt she needed to know now. It was like she had made a promise or something. And she needed to remember what very soon or she would miss out on whatever was about to happen.
“There was one thing that I will never forget. You told about an evil man. He was dark and had no hair, not even eyebrows. You said he was not a black man like a Negro, but his skin was dark like that. You kept saying he never had to shave and he never wanted people to look into his eyes, so he wore a wooden mask over them. I got chills when you said that the dragon called him the nameless one. The way you talked about him could make someone believe you actually met him,” she seemed to shiver a little and then she took a slow deep breath, “During the week that you cried all the time, you kept saying that you had a promise to keep. I never understood what you meant, but when I took you to meet Miss Gaedon for dance lessons; you told her that learning to dance would help you keep your promise.”
When her mother said the word promise, she suddenly began to remember. She knew that she promised someone that she would come back and dance with a sword for them. That she would come back and entertain them like someone else did long long ago. Was there still time? She hoped that she wasn’t too late. She had to find the guide. Guide? Another memory came to her. She didn’t find the lair, she was taken to it. She heard the laughter again and she knew it was time to go. “Ok mom. I think I can wait till I get home. Can I have a carrot so I won’t starve before dad is done with the grill?”
“Sure Honey,” she was relieved that the subject was being dropped for now and actually hoped her daughter would forget again, but she knew better than that. She opened a container and gave her two.
“Thanks mom,” she grabbed the carrots and ran off to the swing set at the edge of the woods.
She sauntered up to the swing, looked back at her mom, and then took the seat closest to the trees. She absentmindedly chewed on the carrot, while she kept one eye on her mom and the other on the woods. She knew something was going to happen and she wanted to be able to slip away without alarming her mom. Any movement or sound that occurred in the woods grabbed her attention and she would stare hoping to see something.
After a while she began to think she may have missed out. She hadn't heard any more laughter and she still had not seen anything at all. She figured it was about time for dad to be done on the grill, when she heard someone begin swinging beside her. She turned her head from staring into the woods to the swing besides her expecting some other kid from the campground. But the girl in the swing beside her was like no girl she had ever seen before. She was tall and skinny with bright green eyes that seemed to have a glow to them. Her hair was very long and straight with twigs woven in. Her hair wasn't just one color; it was a mix of bright red, silver, gold and white. At first she thought this girl was a punker type. Then she saw the ears. They were like no ears she had ever seen before and she smelled like a cedar chest. The girl smiled at her and she literally seemed to smile from ear to ear. Her chin was also kind of pointy. And then there were her clothes. Mostly tan in color and made from some material that Lori did not recognize. The clothes, bare feet and appearance made her feel that this girl should be running through the woods like a wild wolf child. Lori thought her very pretty.
"Are you a fairy?"
The girl burst into giggles which bewildered Lori. But after a moment the girl got hold of her composure and spoke in a lilting melody, "I not a fairy, but she is."
She pointed and Lori turned to see just about a foot away was flying, with almost invisible wings, a naked woman with bright shiny silverish hair and only three inches tall.