It’s that time again! MidWeek Flash and a new photo. This time a historical photo of bomb-blasted Italy. Again, I was avoiding the dark post war images that immediately sprang to mind. The what if time stopped postulations…
And then I set myself a challenge. I picked something silly and told myself (via a friend) to write about it. Here’s what ended up happening. You’ll have to let me know if it produced a worthwhile piece or not. Again the challenge is here on Miranda’s blog. And you (yes, you reading this right now), you should go write something yourself!
Rumors of Yumon
We walk the haunted forest in the late afternoon, my daughter and I. The rain’s aftermath is sure to leave us mud-speckled, a disappointment to her mother, but I’m not bothered by such things. I firmly believe an adventure without dirt is just a stroll.
Oh, how I used to race rings around my own father here, ages and ages ago. The tower hasn’t changed in all that time. I love to see the delight in her brown eyes, the skip in her step. She finds this place as magical as I did… I do.
Skeptics abound in this day and age, but I believe the tales. I believe in things unseen.
As we climb, the tower greets us first. Its gray façade of even stones lifting up out of the summer-green leaves, pointing to the sky. She has to crane her head back to keep the top of it in sight as we emerge from the dense trees to the small meadow where the building sits. At least, what’s left of it.
It’s an odd structure, placed at the edge of the meadow instead of aesthetically centered. No paths lead up to the door which is in fine shape and always closed. The walls are straight and even, the square corners and slanted roof crafted with far greater accuracy than my people are capable of. And although time has darkened the stones and misted the windows, it is surprisingly well-preserved.
Except the broken end. The wall on the side where the trees start is missing. In fact, the building looks as if it’s been cut with an axe. The straight break runs up the tower, too, and through the center of the clock face that gazes out from the top floor. But there is no slant of rubble tumbling off into the forest. No debris to trip on. The building just ends, its rooms open to the wilds.
How it got here and who built it are a mystery none have yet unraveled. Some say it’s an elaborate hoax. But I think it is real. Fantastical. Improbable. But real.
“Tell me the story again, Daddy.” Her voice is high-pitched with excitement as she skips in circles in the meadow. She darts up the fallen trees and bounces from the end like the kid she is. My feet want to follow her, but I’m supposed to be the adult. Still this place affects me even now. Makes me feel young and wild.
“Have you ever seen one?” She asks, breathless. “A yumon?”
“I have,” I say, eager to feed the magical bent of her thoughts.
“Tell me again,” she commands as she spins in circles and then stops to stare up at the tower where the half-clock can no longer tell time.
“I was here the day of the Shuddering. Part avalanche, part thunderclap. And suddenly the building appeared in a flash of magic, torn from another world and dropped here, bringing with it creatures I’d never seen before.”
“The yumon,” she says, eyes wide.
“They looked like short, dull Fae, wingless and brown. And they had no magic. They were frightened and we tried to nurture them, but they didn’t survive long. The poor things must have been terribly injured by the magic. They shriveled and died in just a few decades, so quickly it seemed they were barely here.
“I can’t believe anything could survive without magic,” she says with a skeptical adolescent snort. “Not even Fae can do that. Arwena says your fibbing or stupi…”
I cock my head at the insult, but she looks away.
“Well Arwena is no longer invited for strawberries,” I say.
“Oh Daddy, don’t be mean.” She stomps her foot and shakes her mane at me. But as we walk around and through the building, looking at the little grey reflections of the creatures on the walls, I can see her imagination bubble up again.
“What if…. such things really did exist?” she whispers.
“Then the universe is far larger and more wondrous than we previously thought.” I answer.
“I think it’s better that way,” she says, “with more magic.”
I dip my horn to tenderly touch the nub in the center of her forehead and whicker my eternal love.