(This is much of what I wrote today for a new feature I’m cultivating on my Facebook Writer Page as well as here on the blog: Friday Fiction. This excerpt continues an existing piece, Henry & Sophia, a story of lore and legend, love and faeries, oh, and an epic battle).
Meanwhile, in the dim light of the library, Sophia stood tracing the golden embossed letters of the title. She started at the tingle that rippled through her fingers and up her arm. With a glance over her shoulder, Sophia opened the book, letting its pages flutter in the quiet room. She paused a moment, thinking she heard Henry talking to someone, but the draw of the book was strong. She tiptoed to the door and peeked through the crack toward the patio. Henry stood just past the reflections in the sliding glass door, distorted by the play of light and overlay of the reflections of ordinary objects across the glass and for a moment Sophia thought she saw a shimmering flutter of light flitting about his head, almost like a hummingbird.
Supposing him occupied at least for the moment, Sophia turned back to the book lying open on the bookshelf. Its pages seemed to emit a golden, filmy light of the faintest glow. Captivated once more, she moved toward the book. As she drew near her breath caught in her throat and she froze, staring. There, as real as if she’d taken it herself, was a photo of the meadow beside the childhood home where Sophia had spent many evenings watching the sun fade and the faerie lights flicker to life.
It was real, she thought, as memory upon memory began weaving its way through her mind and into her heart.
She ran a hand over the feathery grass in the picture and gasped, watching her hand disappear into the page, her fingertips playing over wisps of grass, chilled by the night air.
Sophia spun around, pulling her hand free of the Book and the meadow at the sound of Henry’s voice behind her in the door. She knew she couldn’t hide the fact that she was looking at the Book. She blinked several times, as if trying to focus on something in the distance. “It was real,” she said. “You were there. You were, you are . . . real.”
* * * * *
Sophia sat with her back against the fence, listening intently to the sounds of Henry’s movements on the other side, the clanking of their empty wine glasses and the creak of the swing and the groaning swoosh of the sliding glass door. After several minutes, he turned off the small orange lanterns that swayed in the evening breeze of the trees. She let the darkness settle around her and rested her head against the fence formulating her plan, which involved nothing more than sneaking into Henry’s place and making her way to the library and the book and home.
What if Henry finds me? she wondered. She took several deep breaths and decided she’d deal with that in the moment if it actually happened. Besides, she’d been living beside him long enough to know that he usually only turned off the tree lanterns if he were leaving his house. To give him enough time to leave, she sang softly through two of the childhood songs her mother often played at bedtime three times through each. Hearing no other sounds on Henry’s side of the fence, she took one final breath, pushed herself off the ground and made her way back to Henry’s.
The patio seemed so dark without the glow of the orange lanterns overhead and the sky was equally dark, a thick covering of clouds and fog dimming out the city lights and the faint glow of the moon. Inside Henry’s house everything looked dark. She fit the copy of the key she had into the sliding door and moved almost like a shadow into the living room. Hearing nothing, she began making her way down the hall to the library. As she approached, she noted a faint golden glow and stopped. Is Henry in there? she wondered. She readied her response about wanting to borrow a book after all and moved toward the room, pausing outside the door and listening for any sign of Henry’s presence. After several long moments, she assured herself he certainly was not there, peaked her head into the room, and gasped. The Book lay open to her childhood home, the portal. Had Henry gone back? Is that what he needed to tend to?
Without giving herself time to reconsider, Sophia moved quickly to the book. As she considered how one used the portal, a bookmark caught her eye. She opened to the flagged page and stared, her breath shallow and quick. There, on the page, was a photo of her father, but the name beneath the picture read, Uilleam, not William. But Sophia knew it was him. The sparkle in his eye that he had just before he smiled. The broad shoulders that she’d cried or laughed into so many times as a little girl. The square jaw and deeply-lined forehead that could make him look almost menacing if he was in serious contemplation. Sophia wiped away the tears that fell onto his picture and that blurred her eyes and read the pages that told about her father as a Chief Guardian of The Book of Lore & Legends and especially, the Magic of the Isle. Her head spun as she tried to accept that her father, her loving Papa, was once, or is he still, she wondered, a faerie. As she stood in the darkness of the library, her tears turned to weeping.