"Mom! I'm home!" yells Geoffie as he and Uncle Miles enter the house. "You staying for supper, Uncle Miles? It sure smells good."
A woman rushes into the hall and pulls Geoffie to her in a smotherly hug. "Geoffie! I was so worried about you."
Over Geoffie's shoulder she looks up at Miles and in a much cooler tone says, "Hello Miles."
"Why'd you worry? I'm home on time, Mom." says Geoffie.
At the same time Miles is saying, "The boy is fine, Sarah."
Sarah straightens up saying, "Go wash up for supper Geoffie."
"No need for that look, Sarah."Miles says as Geoffie heads off to clean up.
Ignoring the comment, Sarah asks, "Are you staying for supper, Miles?"
"Are you inviting me?"Miles asks warily.
"Yes," answers Sarah hesitantly.
"But? I hear a but there." Miles asks.
"No talking of the Woods." Sarah warns as the two enter the kitchen.
"Do you really think that's possible Sarah? Geoffie will probably want to talk of his day."
"I suppose so. Why Miles? Why did you have to get Geoffie to go to the Woods?" Sarah asks as she sets a third place at the table.
"That wasn't my intention Sarah. One day Geoffie and I were talking. He said that he sometimes needs a man to talk to now as he is getting older. I told him he could always come to me. He said 'What if you are off on your travels when I need you?'. I told him he could always find me if he took my wand to the woods. I didn't really expect him to try it. Sarah, he's not a baby any more. He's going to ask questions."
At the sound of footsteps approaching the kitchen, Sarah hushes Miles. Geoffie enters the kitchen announcing, "Sure smells good Mom!".
"Pot roast with carrots and potatoes." Sarah remarks as she puts the food on the table.
"Yummy!" says Geoffie. "I'm so hungry I think I could eat the whole thing myself!"
"Well I'm hungry too," Miles says. "So you're not going to get it all!"
"Knowing the way you two eat, I better get mine first!" adds Sarah. The three laugh as this is a conversation they have had at so many meals before.
The conversation, led by Sarah and Miles, stays light and on a variety of subjects. It isn't until dessert that Geoffie gets a chance to steer the conversation to the Woods.
"Mom, did you know about the Whimsical Woods? Have you ever been there?"
Sarah begins to shake her head as if ready to deny it but catches Miles watching her. "Yes Geoffie I know of the Woods," she admits in a quiet voice.
Geoffie continues on, "Did you know Wisdom and Pixelle and Grinny?"
"It was a long time ago, Geoffie," responds Sarah in a sad, soft voice. This time Geoffie catches the tone in her voice and asks to be excused.
After Geoffie leaves the kitchen, Miles reaches across the table to his sister's hand and gives it a gentle squeeze. Softly he says, "Sarah, Geoffie needs to know. If you don't talk to him about it, he'll probably question me and, Sarah, I won't lie to him."
"I don't want you to lie, Miles. Just ..."
"Just what? Be evasive? Try to change the subject? I don't think that would work, Sarah. It would just make him more curious. Maybe send him on a search for the answers."
"A search? You think he might go to the Woods to find the answers?"
"I think it's a possibilty if he gets no answers from either of us. Let me help you with the dishes."
As the two of them work on cleaning up from the meal. Sarah confesses, "Oh, Miles, I just don't know what to do. What to say."
"Tell him of our heritage and his. Despite your efforts to deny it, it remains."
"Miles, Mother tried to live in both worlds. Have you forgotten what that was like for her?"
"Not at all. And she did it for us. She tried to give us the best of both worlds; her magical world as a part of the faeryfolke in the Whimsical Woods and Father's human Outer World. And we were happy in both."
"Yes, I suppose we were. We were young then. So very young."
"Well that takes care of the kitchen chores." Miles says hanging the tea towel on the rack. "Sarah?" Miles asks so gently. "I've always wondered what happened that day."
"That day?" echoes Sarah.
"Maybe it's time to talk about it." suggests Miles. "You know, he's still waiting for you."
Sarah sits on the porch swing, one foot tucked under her while gently pushing her toes of the other to cause a gently swaying.
"Is Kevin really waiting still?" she softly asks Miles. "It's been so long."
Miles, sitting on the railing and leaning on the post, answers, "Yes. He was hurt and bewildered when you took Geoffie and left. But he trusted that you felt it was what you had to do. He believes you will return when you are ready. I don't think he expected it would be so long."
"I know that it probably sounds unbelievable, but I really didn't want to hurt him."
"Then why did you, Sarah? What happened that day?"
"Oh Miles, what seemed so clear then has seemed a big muddle so many times since but I couldn't undo it. I expected him to move on .... to find another. I was afraid to find out if he had."
"You are his wife Sarah. He's not forgotten that."
"But could he ever forgive me? I've thought of returning but was too afraid. He'd have every right to reject me."
"Sarah, that's not the type of man he is. He loves you and Geoffie and always will. He has watched you both from a distance."
"I think I've known that ... felt his presence at times. I never stopped loving him either. Have you ever questioned something you did Miles but felt that you'd made a choice and had to believe it right because if you were wrong it meant all the pain was unnecessary? Do you know what I mean?"
"I think I do Sarah. One last time, I'm asking, what happened?"
"Alright. But it may sound foolish now. Please try to understand."
"Sarah, you are my sister and I love you. I'll be here for you always."
"Okay. Soon after Geoffie was born, I started to get mail from Aunt Zelda. She wanted to see Geoffie but asked that I not tell you or Kevin; that you wouldn't understand a woman's wanting to see a new baby. I didn't like to keep secrets but knew that you did not like her," Sarah starts.
"That is true. She was a battle-axe who was always trying to separate Mother and Father." responds Miles.
"She was?" asks Sarah. "I don't remember that."
Miles explains, "Being 6 years older than you, I think I saw more than you. She became especially difficult when you were a baby. When I was about 8 I overheard Mother and Father talking about her. Father was very upset about something Zelda had done and was ready to cut her out of our lives. Mother was afraid he'd later regret such an action as Zelda was his sister and only relative. So they just tried to limit her contact with us."
"Oh," says Sarah. "That must be the real reason she said not to tell of her visits."
"Her visits?" inquires Miles.
"Yes. She'd visit me at the playground or sometimes at school. She said not to tell anyone as it was our special game. She said she wanted us to be special friends. I can't help but wonder now if that was part of a long term plan.
"As I said, she suggested Geoffie and I meet with her secretly so that she could see her great-nephew. I felt an obligation to her so did meet with her a few times. She'd praise me as a mother and say that I'd want the very best for my son while planting seeds of doubt about living in the Woods. It was a few days after Geoffie's second birthday that it all seemed to come to a head. She convinced me that, if I truly loved my son, I would take responsibility and quit 'playing in the woods' and that Father and Mother had raised us in the Outer World so would want their grandson raised there as well. I wanted to go back and talk to Kevin but she said he'd use magic to make me stay and that it was just tricks that made me think he loved me. She knew what to say to have me doubt myself. So Geoffie and I went off to live with her in Metropolis."
"And for over a year no one heard from you. Kevin and I were terribly worried and looked everywhere ...or thought we had."
"I wrote letters to both of you but you never answered them."
"We didn't get them Sarah. The first I heard from you was after you moved back here. Kevin never got any kind of explanation."
"After Zelda died, I found that she had kept ownership of this house which she had inherited from our grandparents being she was older than Father. I didn't like living in a big city and wanted to move back to an area I knew and the gentler pace of a small town. Maybe I even liked the idea of being close to Kevin although afraid to go to him. Aunt Zelda convinced me that Kevin would take Geoffie and never let me see him. After what I'd done, it seemed like that would almost be fair of him but I couldn't chance losing Geoffie."
"Kevin would never have done that, Sarah."
"Oh, Miles." And then the tears came. Miles sat on the swing and gathered his sister in his arms as she wept for ten lost years.
As the tears subsided, Sarah asked Miles, "What should I do?"
"You need to listen to your heart, Sarah. You know what to do but it may not be easy. You need to talk to Kevin and you need to talk to Geoffie."
"Miles, I don't know if I can."
"I can help you when you tell Geoffie. Kevin you'll have to talk to on your own. They both love you Sarah. It'll be okay."
"Now? Before I change my mind? Will you come with me to talk to Geoffie?"
"Okay. Let's go in and talk to him."
They enter the house and find Geoffie in the den watching television.
Geoffie looks up and says "Hi Uncle Miles. Hi Mom."
Uncle Miles looks at the TV. "Watching 'Bug's Life', huh?"
"Yep," says Geoffie as he pushes the pause button. "You want to watch something else?"
"Actually, Geoffie, I think your mom and I would rather just talk with you, if that's okay."
"Sure. What do you want to talk about?" asks Geoffie.
"Well," starts Sarah, "I guess I'm ready to answer questions about the Whimsical Woods. To start with, I did know Pixelle and Wisdom and Grinny but have not seen any of them in a very long time. I used to spend a lot of time in the Woods."
"Really, Mom?' asks Geoffrie increduously. "But why wouldn't you go back then? It's a neat place. And did you see the silly people and gremlins at the Cabin? And..."
"Slow down Geoffie," says his mom with a smile. "Give me a chance to answer."
"Where to start?" Sarah wonders aloud.
"At the beginning, of course," Geoffie says in a deep voice.
"You have met Wisdom, haven't you?" responds Sarah as all three laughed together.
"The beginning it is then. Miles may need to help me sometimes. If you had gone deeper into the Whimsical Woods, you would have come across a settlement, like a small town."
"Wow," says Geoffie."I'd like to see that. Who lives there?"
"It's home to the faeryfolke of the Whimsical Woods."
"No these folke look quite human. They don't fly but do possess some magic. They have lived in the Whimsical Woods for many, many generations. Sometimes they travel through what they refer to as the Outer World to visit other settlements of faeryfolke. They try to limit their contact though with those in the Outer World. My mother, your grandmother, was a resident of the Whimsical Woods."
"Really? Wow! Mom, that is so cool." says Geoffie.
"One day when she was a young woman of 18 years she was travelling through the Outer World when she noticed a handsome young man. She knew it was not wise to give her heart to someone who was not of the faeryfolke but she could not help herself. Over the next couple of years she quietly met with her young man several times and they decided to marry. She did tell him all about herself but she could not bring him to see the settlement as that was strictly forbidden. So they married and lived in the Outer World although she frequently visited her friends and family in the Whimsical Woods. With time, Miles came along and then me. She took us to visit in the Woods often. She tried very hard to give us the best both worlds had to offer."
"My grandmother was from the Whimsical Woods?" Geoffie asked wide-eyed. "Wow! That is cool! But where are my grandparents now?"
His mother looked so sad at the question that Geoffie wished he had not asked.
"Well, Geoffie, I'll continue the story from here," offers Miles. "When I became an adult I chose to join the settlement in the Whimsical Woods. Although I was only half-faeryfolke, I loved it there and was accepted. My closest friends were all in the Whimsical Woods."
"Like Wisdom, Pixelle and Grinny?" asks Geoffie.
"They were special friends but there are many others too. I had been a very regular visitor since I was a youngster. The summer that your mom was 18, which would have made me 24, she joined me there. Our parents said they were going on a special journey and wanted us to live there until they returned which they said could be a very long time."
"But," Sarah picks up the story. "After about two years, I received a letter from my Aunt Zelda, my father's sister. The faeryfolke have a post office box in the Outer World and the Post Master would retrieve any mail and bring it to the settlement. Her letter said that she'd been notified of our parents death in an accident."
After a moment's pause, Sarah adds, "And she wanted me to go live with her."
"You never told me that part, Sarah." interjects Miles.
"I knew how you felt about her, Miles and as I had no intention of leaving the settlement then, I felt there was no point telling you." explains Sarah.
"I always found it very odd that word would go to her instead of us too. It was not like she and Father were close." adds Miles.
"True." acknowledges Sarah. "That was strange. To continue on with the story, I was 20 then and had lived in the settlement two years. During that time, I fell in love with an extraordinary young man from the faeryfolke named Kevin."
"Kevin, although a couple of years younger than I was, and still is, my closest friend."adds Miles.
Sarah smiled and looked lost in memories. She continues, "That summer Kevin and I married and the following summer, you were born."
"My father," whispers Geoffie. "You've never talked about him. You always got so quiet and so sad when I'd ask about him, that I stopped asking."
"I know, Geoffie. I'm so sorry." says Sarah. "I'll try to answer your questions now, if you like."
"If he's living in the Whimsical Woods, how come we're living here instead of with him?" Geoffie asks.
"Because ... because I made a wrong choice. At the time I thought it was right. I took you and went to live with my Aunt Zelda who had moved to Metropolis."
"Too far and too much interference for Kevin to feel your presence. I think that is why she moved there." comments Miles.
"I suppose you may be right. Now I wonder about her motivation in everything she did."
"Kevin felt your return here before I received your letter."
"Mom?" asks Geoffie, hesitantly.
"What is it Geoffie?"
"Can I go see him? Can I see my dad? Uncle Miles could maybe take me."
"Oh Geoffie." Sarah pulls her son into her arms. "I've made such a muddle of things. I think we should all go to the settlement tomorrow. Miles can introduce you to more friends while I talk with your father. Does that sound like a good plan?"
"Yes!" Geoffie exclaims excitedly. He puts his arms around his mothers neck giving her a big hug.
Miles joins the embrace and whispers in Sarah's ear, "It'll be okay. You're doing the right thing."
Soon after daybreak, Miles is on Sarah's porch knocking on her door. Sarah opens it letting him in. "There's some pancakes cooked up and in the fridge if you want to warm them in the microwave."
"No need to be so nervous Sarah," says Miles.
"Is it that obvious?" asks Sarah.
Grinning, Miles looks down at her feet. Sarah looks down.
"Oh no!" she exclaims. "I was trying to decide between the white sandals and the brown ones and I guess I put on one of each."
"It might be best if you made a decision and changed one of those." Miles says turning her toward the stairs.
Just as Sarah turns into her room at the top of the stairs, Geoffie appears from his room and rushes down the stairs to greet his uncle.
"Hello Uncle Miles! Isn't this exciting? Do you think we'll see Wisdom and Pixelle and Grinny today? What's my father like?" Geoffie pauses for a breath.
"Hello Geoffie. Yes it is. Probably. You'll soon find out."
"What?" asks Geoffie.
"I was just answering your questions," says Miles. "Here comes your mom."
Sarah steps from the stairs into the hall wearing a green sundress and two brown sandals. Her long strawberry blonde hair flows freely down her back. She turns asking, "How do I look?"
"You're beautiful Mom!" is Geoffie's enthusiastic reply.
"He's right Sarah. Shall we start our trek?"
Sarah grabs her purse and Geoffie his backpack. Geoffie remembers that Miles' wand is still in the backpack.
"Uncle Miles, do you need your wand back?" asks Geoffie.
"No Geoffie. I've a new one now. That one is yours."
"Gee thanks Uncle Miles!"
They start on their way to the north edge of town. Geoffie leads the way with his mother and uncle just a short distance behind.
Softly, Sarah asks Miles,"Kevin would have felt Geoffie's presence in the Woods yesterday, wouldn't he?"
"I would think so Sarah. Since I awoke, I've not had a chance to communicate with him." answers Miles.
"He'll know as soon as we enter the Woods today too. It'll be okay Sarah."
"Thank you Miles. I hope so."
They reach the woods and start along the path. They are quickly joined by Pixelle.
"Sarah!" Pixelle squeals. "It is so wonderful to see you again. I hope you stay."
"Thank you for welcoming me, Pixelle. I've missed you and the Woods." says Sarah.
They follow a bend in the road which starts to widen and slope down. In the not-so-far distance, is the settlement ringed by the trees of the Woods. It looks very like any small town in many ways. There are homes and shops. There were differences though too. Geoffie was sure there was no other place where a grizzly bear would be having a conversation with a person on the street; where children were lined up waiting at a corral with a sign reading: Pegasus Rides; where he felt such a strong sense of peace and belonging.
Miles leaned and whispered in Sarah's ear, "He's waiting for you Sarah. I'll keep Geoffie with me. Go to him. You know where to find him."
"Yes," whispers Sarah. "I feel him and know where he is. Miles, I'm so scared!"
Miles gives Sarah a hug and says, softly, "It'll be okay Sarah."
Miles turns to Geoffie saying, "Shall we go see what Grinny is up to?"
"Sure Uncle Miles," he replies and the two head over to see their grizzly friend.
Alone Sarah starts to walk toward one of the houses. As she enters the yard, she is swamped by memories; warm and wonderful memories. She pauses to absorb them. She had been happy here. But Zelda's letters had caused her to feel guilty about the happiness and to question it. Now she knew that magic had not created the love and happiness. It was the other way around. She walked slowly around the house to the back. Her eyes went immediately to the swing hanging from the big tree. She stopped and stared at the man sitting on the swing. If Kevin had changed in the past 10 years at all, it was only to become more handsome. Kevin stood up spread his arms open in invitation, smiled and said, "Welcome home Sarah."
Sarah ran into his arms. She embraced him tightly, with her face tight against his chest, and wept. She wept with joy at seeing him and holding him again. She wept with regret for the 10 lost years. He held her running his right hand over her hair while his left arm kept her close. He absorbed her tears; feeling both her regret and her joy. They did not need words to communicate.
When the sobs subsided, Kevin turned Sarah's head to look up at him. He'd waited so long. Even the tear streaks could not detract from the beauty he saw in the face he loved. Sarah started to speak but Kevin place his finger over her lips saying, "I know your heart Sarah and I've waited so long." His finger traced her lips. "Explanations can wait. This can't." And he lowered his lips to hers. The kiss started slow and gentle but turned deeper and more intense.
When Kevin finally raised his head he pulled Sarah as close as he could and rested his cheek on top of her head. He tried to get a measure of control.
But Sarah heard his racing heartbeat and felt his growing need. She tilted her head to look up at him. "Kevin, I need, too."
Kevin smiled at her. "You do remember how to throw up a privacy screen still, I hope. We wouldn't want to embarrass Miles."
Sarah blushed. "Oh my! Yes, I remember." Her face took on a very serious look. "There. I've blocked everyone but you, Kevin."
Kevin grinned widely and led her to the house. There would be a time for talking - later.
Meantime, Geoffie was having a delightful time with his Uncle Miles. Uncle Miles seemed a little worried at first. Geoffie had noticed his uncle's face take on a red hue at one point and just as Geoffie was about to ask him if he was feeling sick, Miles had let out a big sigh and muttered "Thank you Sarah." Uncle Miles seemed much more relaxed after that.
The pegasus ride had been so thrilling. He had been shown all of the Woods from the air. They'd even flown over that cabin. Looking down he could see the gremlins clearly. They seemed to be really busy still. The man he had seen waving a baton at the all the colorful bears, now seemed to be teaching the other people how to hug trees. As far as human behavior went, this was rather odd but Geoffie thought it rather nice too.
Geoffie and Miles talked to Grinny who had come into the settlement to pick up some tea and honey.
Geoffie found the Emporium fascinating. There was a mixture of the ordinary and the extraordinary available. Geoffie looked at the magic wands. They were all just plain black wands. None was as nice as the one Uncle Miles gave him which had been a forest green with a spiral band of glowing neon green. He opened his backpack to get it out and look at it. He was astonished to see that about a quarter of the wand, at one end was now a vibrant rainbow. Miles saw Geoffie's baffled expression and drew his wand from a pocket. It looked exactly as the one Geoffie had received from his uncle had looked. Miles explained to Geoffie, "All wands start out the same plain black. The wand isn't really magical itself. It's more a means of focussing and holding your personal magic. Any wand I have will look the same as it draws in my personal magic. It could be used by another but only for a few things and for a limited time as the wand would gradually change having the new owner's magic replacing the original. The wand in the backpack is yours now Geoffie and it is transforming with your magic replacing mine."
"I have magic?" asks a very surprised Geoffie.
"You certainly do, Geoffie. You just need to learn how to focus and use it. Your mother wouldn't have permitted you to learn before but I think she will now." explains Uncle Miles.
"Cool!" is Geoffie's enthusiastic reply.
"You getting hungry Geoffie?" asks Miles. "It's getting about time for the midday meal."
"I am pretty hungry Uncle Miles," answers Geoffie.
"Well let's head to the Dining Hall then."
As they walk along the walkway, Geoffie sees two people emerge from one of the houses.
"Mom!" he yells running to her. Just before he reaches her, he stops and looks up at the tall man standing beside her.
"Dad?" he half-whispers.
"Yes,Geoffie," the man answers and opens his arms. Geoffie rushes into them hugging his father and saying "Dad" over and over again enjoying the sound of the word as much as the man holding him was enjoying hearing it.
"Ahem," utters Miles. "Some of us are hungry."
Geoffie looks from one parent to the other and says, "Uncle Miles and I were going to the Dining Hall."
"That's exactly where we were heading too," says Geoffie's dad.
The happy group of four headed off to the Dining Hall for their midday meal and to discuss their plans for the future.
[Whimsical Woods Index]