Gaden hadn’t seen the light of day in a week. He hadn’t seen his family in even longer. Months had gone by since he had joined the exhibition to find a passage through the complex cave system of the Tirdanthe Mountains. He never wanted to go underground again.
The cold air was wet with the expected smell of damp earth. It was the whiffs of putrid decay that unsettled him.
It started when she was five. She would walk through the alleys and streets and pick out the shiniest pebbles she could find. Each stone had caught her eye because it had a sheen or glimmer of something unique–maybe a streak of rosy pink or a shimmer of gold flakes.
Each was pocketed away to be carefully cataloged and stored on a shelf in her room. Her mother wanted her to take them outside.
“Let’s move it to the right just a bit more. If we push it all the way to the wall, the trap door will be fully covered. No one will ever know it’s there.”
I felt calloused hands lift me up, straining against the weight, and then all four of my legs landed firmly once more on the stone floor. Only the leg that rested on the loose stone felt a little wobbly.
And there I sat, in the kitchens of the Redstone Inn, bearing a secret I wasn’t able to share.
Sam raised her face to the bathroom mirror and faced reality one more time. The red-rimming around her eyes had lessened but the puffiness was still there. Any remnant of her concealer had been rubbed off during her hasty attempt to dry her eyes on the walk over to the bar. The prominent dark circles under her eyes gave her the look of a loser in a boxing match. After shuffling around in her purse for a few seconds, she dug up a sticky tube of drug store concealer, along with a strawberry fruit strip wrapper and small green toy apatosaurus.
Summers in Minnesota are hot and the days are long, with the last rays of sunlight sticking around to nearly 10:00 PM at the end of June. It was one of those long evenings that I found myself staring at our cordless phone, trying to decide if I should call 911 or not.
The old man sat on a bumpy stone wall overlooking the harbor and watched the men and women docking their sailboats. Wood gleamed in the morning sun and brightly-colored sails caught the eyes of the other onlookers. Each had their favorite team but everyone knew who would win: the gallant Flaming Dragon and its bold red and gold sails. Thanks to the deep pockets of city’s wealthiest citizens, there were rarely any other victors.