Episode Eleven

#Episode Eleven: Flowerfire

Beth (August 1991)

          Twilight had started to fall by the time Gar was done telling his story. He only had one slice of the three apples he’d brought with him left, the others left behind on the ground as they walked around the meadow and Gar had finished weaving a tale that was too ridiculous to be believed. And yet, whenever she turned around, the apple he’’d left behind in the grass was gone. Eventually Gar finished his story and started showing her some of the plants he’d discovered with his grandmother’s books. More than once, Beth flipped to a new page in her sketchbook and took the time while Gar talked to sketch out the delicate buds and open blossoms of their new discoveries. She still hadn’t said anything, and that seemed to suit Hrothgar just fine.
          As it grew darker, a gentle buzzing seemed to fill the field, as one by one fireflies began their rituals of courtship. Resting on tall grasses and the stalks of flowers, pulsing on the bark of small saplings that had grown from seeds drifted in from the forest all around them, it seemed like someone had almost flicked a switch as each one of the small lights came to life and began blinking to each other.
          “He’s real, Beth,” Gar said for the umpteenth time with the same amount of fervor as the first, “so what else is real? I mean, what else is out there? Is he magic or something from somewhere else? Can we go where he comes from? Can we learn to do the sort of things he does? Seems to me that Kaithias is proof that there’s a whole lot more to see in the world around us than we take for granted, if we just open our eyes.”
          Beth watched the apple slice vanish again, this time able to make out what she’d swear were small half-moon bites.
          Hrothgar watched the blue creature he’d come to think of as his friend lay down in the grass, staring up at Beth as he nibbled on the apple. With a big sigh and a slow grin, Kaithias stared without blinking at the girl staring down at him, but not seeing him. He closed the navy lids to his catlike eyes and hummed a small tune that Gar couldn’t identify. Was he…purring?
          Beth gaped as the fireflies rose like a blanket across the whole meadow at once, hovering in place as they greeted each other and danced and bobbed their intentions, and then gathered together and slowly followed the stream around the bend into the darkness of the forest. The moment so captured her that she had to remind herself to breathe, letting out a puff of air that caused passing glowing lights to wobble in front of her as they made their way along the water. She found her fingers itched once again to sketch the scene, but instead found them reaching out to slide into Gar’s own as they watched in silence until the last of them were gone.
          “For right now, Gar…this is all the magic that I need.”
          Together they gathered their things and followed the river of light out of the forest and back into the world.

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