I’ve tried to keep my talents hidden for so long that at times I forget what activities are acceptable, and what are not. For instance, the other day I’m sweeping out the porch, and I hear a scream that sounds like a cat has just been attacked.
Being a lover of felines, I immediately run to the source of the inhuman sound. No cat is in sight, but a little girl stands in the pathway of the woods next to my home, mouth open, senseless screams issuing out of her throat. I guess she’s about 10 years old, blond hair falling loosely around her shoulders, pretty light pink dress all mussed up as if she’s fallen.
“What’s the problem, little one?” I ask. She peers at me as if she’s seen a ghost. I’m not a bad-looking woman, tall, with medium-length black wavy hair and a figure that looks like I work out every day. But she stares at me, wild eyed, as if I’m a wild animal about to pounce. This infuriates me, since I’m a nice creature and have never harmed anyone in my life.
“Can I help you with something?” I inquire. The little girl shivers as if it’s the dead of winter, but it’s a lovely October afternoon. I shrug my shoulders and turn to go back to my house, but she begins to cry, a frightening sound that my sensitive ears find offensive. I return to her, take her by the hand, and lead her through the path, around the pond, and back to my place.
Climbing red and pink roses cover the front porch, blooming azaleas and rhododendrons decorate the doorway, large lilac blossoms scent our way from the path up to the front door. The little girl opens her mouth and says the most astounding thing: “I’ve never seen so many flowers.”
“I have a green thumb,” I respond. Her fear seems to have fled, and she observes my property as if she’s just arrived at Disneyland. A little jump of pride leaps into my heart, an emotion I don’t often feel, and I quickly tamp it down. Pride won’t do in this day and age, not if I want to survive. Speaking of which, I worry a little about my instinct in letting the little girl come to my cottage. The last time anyone saw my abode was back in 18- -, well, I don’t want to age myself. It was before the age of automobiles, anyway.
“Would you like to come inside?” I ask lightly. She shakes her head no, which relieves me, and again I query, “What’s the problem?”
“I’m lost,” she explains with a quick hiccup and a look of total desperation. I sense another emotion I haven’t felt in a while, sweet empathy. This sensation I didn’t hinder. The poor girl is obviously petrified, missing her family and afraid she’ll die in the woods by nightfall.
“Your mommy is very worried about you,” I say. I can see the mother, a petite woman in blue jeans and a light blue cotton blouse, calling up all of Robin’s friends and asking if they’d seen her. “Would you like to go home, Robin?”
She starts to shiver again and asks in a tiny, high voice, “How’d you know my name?”
Whoops, there’s that problem again, not remembering what I can do and not do and what is acceptable in this fast-paced, no nonsense, world. “Well, maybe you don’t remember, but you told me,” I say quickly. And she had. She just didn’t say it out loud, but I don’t have time to explain.
“Robin, the way home is so easy. Go back on the path we just left, and follow all the yellow arrows on the trees. You’ll be home in no time.”
The girl doesn’t budge, so I take her by the hand again and we begin to walk, but so slowly I’m afraid my stew, steaming on the pot, will boil over by the time I return. So I raise my hand over the child and a small fog of spicy aromas fall over her head, making her sleepy. We race effortlessly halfway over the wooded path, neither of our feet touching the ground, until we’re within shouting distance of the entrance to her neighborhood at the border of the woods. With a quick spell, I wake Robin, and she scrutinizes the scenery, confused.
“What a lovely walk we’ve just had,” I comment cheerily. “Now run along, Robin. Say hello to your mother.” I push her gently, and within seconds she’s running joyfully to familiar surroundings.
With a gentle tug on my sleeve, I’m back at my front door, smelling the vegetable stew before even opening the door. I inspect my surroundings. How I love living here, and have for centuries, but obviously my little whimsy of releasing the invisible spell around my home has been a mistake.
With a nod and a twist of my head, I disappear as I enter my home, ready to enjoy my lunch of turnips, parsnips, hickory and ivy, with a pinch of…well, never mind.