Posted by: Kathryn Hulick | February 20, 2008

Dutch Island

Jamestown, Rhode Island. July 14, 2007.

Chad and Ridge Sillhouette

This is the first chapter of the children’s novel I’m currently writing.

“Do you ever see things out of the corner of your eye? Like a flash of light, or a shimmer of movement, but when you turn to look, nothing’s there?” Nora spoke in a whisper, her figure silhouetted against the pale peach of the evening sky over the bay. Aaron didn’t answer but she knew he was listening. “Sometimes I hear things, too. Like a bell from really far away, or faint music but when I hold my breath and strain my ears, it goes away.”

Aaron nodded. He was watching the strip of land across the bay. Dutch Island. On the northern edge, a lone wall of arched windows rose above the trees. The rest of the structure had fallen brick by brick into the underbrush years before Aaron and Nora’s great grandparents had laid eyes on their plot of ocean-side property in Jamestown, Rhode Island.

“There was something there. I saw it. It was the third window from the right.” A light had blinked three times, there where a wall separated sky from sky. Nora pulled her knees into her chest and sat with her chin resting on top. A lock of blue hair fell in front of her eyes. She barely felt the rough stone against her callused bare feet as she sat beside her favorite cousin at the pinnacle of the largest rock on this side of the bay. It stood sentinel over the waterfront; a giant boulder perched like a stone head on a huge, sloping base. Scamper up the slope, and they could sit on top, feet dangling over nothing, king and queen of the world.

“It’s the unicorns,” she said. “The movement, the bells, the light you saw. It has to be them.”

The unicorns she meant weren’t horses that happened to have horns growing out of their heads, or even the pink and glittery cartoon creatures most little girls love. These unicorns were different, and Nora guarded their fragile existence. She’d let them into the world in the first place, years ago, when she’d told Aaron about their slender, deer-like bodies, eyes deep as midnight pools, and horns of melted starlight.

“But they were never real. Just stuff we made up. Kid stuff.” Aaron was tall for a thirteen year old, with thick dark hair, muscular arms and legs, and deep-set eyes. His voice had already changed, but Nora could hear through it to the stubborn child trapped inside. She was a month older than him, but still looked about ten. Except for that one lock of blue hair in the midst of the blonde.

“You still believe in them,” she said.

“Yeah? How do you know.”

“You keep looking over there. Like you’re going to see something in that wall again. If this is all just your imagination, why’d you call me out here?”

“Could be something else. Maybe someone’s camping out there.”

“That window is a hundred feet off the ground!”

“Well, maybe it was a helicopter.”

“You don’t really think that.”

“Ok, fine, it was a UFO.” He grinned. Nora smiled, but she didn’t laugh. She knew that he knew that this was serious.

They stayed on the rock as the sky cooled from orange to cream to pale blue and finally black. Nora and Aaron looked at each other. Let’s go? they were thinking, but then they both saw it, out of the corners of their eyes. A light across the bay. It was bright blue, as bright as a star, but too low against the island to be one. It flashed from that same window once, twice, three times. Nora let out her breath in a warm whoosh. She had been holding it.

“Wow,” she said.

Aaron nodded. “That’s it. That’s what I saw.”

They waited, two still, silent statues on sentinel rock, but the light did not return.

“It wants us to follow,” Nora muttered.

“What?”

“That light. The unicorns are calling and they want us to follow.” She stretched out her legs and let them dangle over the edge.

“If you say so.”

“I know so.”

Aaron knew better than to ask how she knew so. There would be no stopping her now. She looked like she wanted to leap off the rock and fly to the island.

“Nora, let’s go up to the house and talk.”

“But…”

“We can’t go over there now, in the dark. And it’s getting chilly out here.”

They climbed feet first down the smooth, sloping edge of stone. They didn’t need to see. Their bare toes and fingers knew sentinel rock better than any living room, yard or creaky old porch.

You had to go through the porch to get into the house. Of course he was there. He was humming something and waiting for them. Waiting to ruin everything.

Chapter 2

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