Chapter One The wild lands of Cordoba, Spain April’s pencil shattered. She was an excellent pencil breaker. She groaned and grabbed another one from her bag. Her history teacher gave her a look. Scattered […]
The wild lands of Cordoba, Spain
April’s pencil shattered. She was an excellent pencil breaker. She groaned and grabbed another one from her bag. Her history teacher gave her a look. Scattered around the sand colored classroom‘s floor were dead pencil carcasses. Yikes.
“Nice,” whispered Brooke.
“It’s not a laughing matter.” Brooke laughed, and April rolled her eyes. Brooke was her best friend. At least in Spain she was. A couple of months ago April had moved from Baltimore to Spain because her Spanish professor father had come to study in Cordoba. So here she was in her international school. She sighed and turned back to her work.
“Do you want to go to the La Mezquita Cathedral for a picnic during lunch break?”
Asked Teresa. She was a native Spanish speaker but her English was really quite good. Since the students were encouraged to speak their second language out of class, April was her perfect English speaker; though nobody really spoke their second language out of class except for the English-speaking kids who didn’t have much choice if they wanted to have friends.
“Sure.” Smiled April. “Oh, sorry, Si.”
“¡Tu español está mejorando!“
“Merci beaucoup!” Said April, bowing.
Something that April had to get used to was the very different schedule of Spain v.s. the U.S. In Spain, school ran from nine AM to five PM with a two hour break between one and three, so you could leave school during that time to eat lunch. Since it was only November, she was still getting used to this. Tereza led April up to the Cathedral. Outside on a picnic blanket sat Nour, Gala, Rosa, and Brooke. They looked very peaceful.
“¡Hola!” Brooke was from Switzerland and spoke English, French, and Spanish fluently, but the rest besides Tereza spoke little to no English. It was a fun lunch, but it felt like a hundred degrees out, even though it was November. Rosa had brought a frisbee and the girls decided to start a game, passing and chasing after it. The plaza around the Cathedral was blocked off by tan walls, but nonetheless April managed to throw the frisbee over them.
“BRO!” Shouted Brooke.
“¡Haha, búscalo!” said Nour.
“Vamos. Geet.” Getting the frisbee was a shameful fate. The frisbee had gone over the west wall so she headed that way. She came out of the plaza onto the street and checked along the wall. Hmm, it wasn’t there. She walked along the street and looked all around– still nothing. She noticed a little wooden area up the street. It was odd that she’d never noticed it before; they ate lunch here a lot. Maybe the frisbee was up there.
For some reason her hair stood on end as she entered the woods.
“Ow!” she shouted. A small thorn bush had poked her. She rubbed her leg. Then she noticed something neon a little ways into the woods. It had to be the frisbee! She ran up to it. Perfect, a frisbee! But it wasn’t Nour’s frisbee. It was another frisbee. What a coincidence, she thought. Well, the frisbee could still be here; in fact, she saw something up to the left. It was a bit of an effort to pull it out of the tree it was stuck in. What… It was another frisbee. She looked around. More frisbees surrounded her! And there were balls too. Was that a whole bike? A skateboard? What was going on? Nah this is too trippy, thought April as she grabbed one of the frisbees and ran for it. Once she got out onto the street she ran straight to the plaza.
She saw her friends chatting. “Gente!”
“Tomó un lar-” Nour was cut off by April.
“I was in the forest next to that street on the west and I saw like five hundred frisbees and like balls and bikes and skateboards! They were everywhere! But I couldn’t find yours!” April was too weirded out to speak Spanish.
“What?” Gala asked “ No entiendo.”
Brooke raised an eyebrow. “ There’s no forest on that street. Cordoba is like a desert, there aren’t any forests. Maybe it was a mirage.”
“Um, no.” April said “ Because how would I still be holding-” She lifted up her hand to find nothing in it. “ What? But-but…”
“No frisbee!” They were all raising their eyebrows at her. Even Rosa, who had no idea what she was talking about, looked doubtful.
“I think you need to lie down.” Said Tereza.
“¡Español por favor!” Said Gala.
“Lo siento. Creo que Abril debe tomar una siesta.”
The voices of her friends trailed off. Was April going crazy? Nour took her hand and led her inside.
“You really should go to the nurse, Abril– I mean, April.” Saadet, who sat next to April in Spanish, said as she tapped her on the shoulder. “You look really ill. “
“I am really ill.” April felt like throwing up. She raised her hand.
“Abril?” Her Spanish teacher asked.
“¿Puedo ir a la enfermería?”
As soon as April was out of the classroom she barfed in the trashcan in the hallway.
On the way home April was burning up. Her parents didn’t have a car and relied on public transportation, so walking home was pretty painful. She called her parents letting them know she would be home soon. It was only a ten minute trip. When she got home her parents set her down in bed tenderly with an ice pack on her forehead.
“Okay, you should just lie down for a while,” Her mom said.
“Okay…” She trailed off.
The next morning April was still sick.
And the morning after that.
Finally relief came. “Dad? I feel better…”
“Really? May I take your temperature?” Her father said.
“Oh good, your fever has broken. Let’s keep you home today just in case.”
April lay back down. While she was sick she’d had some weird fever dreams: flashing lights, maps of mysterious places, and a heck of a lot of frisbees. Her phone buzzed.
“hola cuando vuelvas a la escuela? “ Read a text from Nour.
“mañana” April texted back.
She thought for a bit while she peered up at the ceiling. I really need to find the frisbee woods. I need to know I’m not crazy. I need to know. I remember the plaza, and where it was on the west wall. There was only one day left of school this week, so she needed to take advantage of it.
On Friday she packed some extra stuff in her bag. She planned to go to the woods before school so she woke up early. She had 45 minutes to explore the woods.
“Why the rush?” Her brother asked.
“Gotta meet with my teacher because I missed stuff.” Nigel raised his thick eyebrows at her. She rolled her eyes. “Bye.”
The Cathedral’s plaza was just a little out of the way to school. She stood right at the doorway to the beautiful cathedral and found the west wall, heading out the entrance onto the street and–
Nothing. It was just a street branching onto another street. No, that’s not…right. April was not crazy. But if nothing was there… She felt defeated. Then she had an idea. She grabbed a ball that was in her bag and ran back into the plaza, tripping a little but too distracted to care. She looked around, found the west wall, and threw her ball at it. After a few failed tries, she finally got it over the wall. Then she grabbed her bag and went to the western street. Was that-? Yes! The forest was there! What was going on? A forest that only appears when you throw a ball or frisbee? Now she was worried. Was she going crazy or was this…magic? No, that would be crazy, she comforted herself. But she still approached the forest nervously. She was glad there weren’t people around to see her. Her hair stood on end again as she entered the forest. She saw several balls and frisbees, and this time she saw more objects and noticed that the forest went on for a long long time. An abnormally long time. Cordoba has an average temperature in November of 65˚ which, when combined with the lack of water, meant there wasn’t much forest. Something was in the air. It was gold, almost like dust, and it smelled like vanilla.
“Ow!” Shouted April as she tripped and fell flat on her face. A piece of gold dust settled on her hand. It looked like a piece of gold leaf but it moved through the air like it was moving through water. She saw an odd glow in the distance. She walked towards it, careful not to trip again. She pushed aside a bush and…
It was… a small female figure about five inches tall with long golden hair that fanned out across the forest like fog. She had tan skin and was wearing a short white dress with no sleeves. A long train of white followed her. Her eyes were closed, but she was standing up. No…not standing, floating. Suddenly her eyes opened and stared right into April’s. She floated higher and came to eye level with April, who felt like she couldn’t breathe. What was happening?
“Hello. My name is Cayetana.” April rubbed her eyes. Did it just…speak?
“H-Hello…?” April whispered slowly.
“We’ve got a lot to talk about…” Said…Cayetana?
“Um…can I get back to this meeting? I’m available next week.”
Cayetena looked majestically worried. “What?”
“I don’t think I’m really ready to discuss my impending descent into madness. Could we talk at 5:30 later today perhaps?”
“Um…okay..?” Cayetana said, looking confused.
April skidadelled out of the woods. She could not handle that right now – she just ran to her school, not looking back. Did she really just postpone her meeting with a faery to after school? She’d have to tell Brooke about it and make her come with her. She couldn’t do it by herself.
“Brooke!!” April collided with her friend.
“April!!!!!!! You’re back!!?”
April had almost forgotten she had been sick. “Yeah, yeah, anyways come with me!”
“Huh? What is it?”
April grabbed Brooke’s pale hand and ran along the corridor to the bathroom. Thank goodness there was no one in there to eavesdrop. “Okay, Brooke, this is going to sound a little crazy but… do you remember when I lost that Frisbee and I told you about that forest?”
“You mean that one you hallucinated because you were sick?”
“No! I mean, well yes, but I went back this morning!”
Brooke put a finger over her lips. “Shh, you’re safe now.“
April smacked her hand away. “No! I went back and I saw a faery!”
“A faery?” Brooke asked. “I’m pretty sure you shouldn’t be at school today if you’re not feeling well.”
“Fine.” April was getting tired of explaining. It would be easier to show her. “ Come with me after school to go see it.”
Brooke sighed. “Well, alright. I’m just worried about you. Seeing things is not a good sign, April.”
“I’m not seeing things, Brooke! You’ll see after school.”
They walked to class in annoyed silence. “Bye,” April muttered.
“Bye,” said Brooke.
April’s leg was bouncing up and down at top speed all day. She was so impatient to get out of school and go to the woods that she barely focused on her class.
Aya, a kid in April’s Spanish program whispered from behind her. “Why were you gone so long?”
April felt even more anxious since the intensive Spanish for non-Spanish speakers class meant she couldn’t leave for lunch on Fridays. She still had hours to wait.
“I was kidnapped by faeries,” April replied, seriously. Aya laughed.
It was almost 5 o’clock. And…the bell rang. April grabbed her stuff and headed towards the door.
“April, come stay with me!” Said Mr. Jimenez, calling for April, who rolled her eyes in the other direction and then turned to smile at him. “We should go through your missing work–”
“Can we please do it at a later time? I have something urgent at home.”
“Oh, of course.”
“Thank you so much, so sorry!” I hope my parents don’t find out about that one.
Brooke was waiting outside the door. “That took you a while.”
“Yeah, I got held up. Let’s go!” April almost forgot her backpack in her rush to get out of the school. She ran down the stairs while Brooke laughed.
“Are you unironically skipping?” She said.
“You got a problem with that, fool?” April honestly just wanted to go as fast as possible.
“Can you please explain to me where we’re going and how and why?” Brooke asked.
“It’s hard to explain, you’ll see.” She swung through the ivory pillars into the Plaza de Mezquita, then led Brooke to the middle of it.
“What…?” Brooke asked.
“You’ll see.” April threw the ball at the west wall and it soared over the top. Hole in one.
“Hey, is that my ball-?”
“It doesn’t matter!” April savagely yanked Brooke over to the west entrance of the Plaza. “Ah yes! Here it is.” April caught sight of the forest a second before Brooke, who looked over her shoulder.
“What…” Brooke’s eyes were as big as dinner plates. And no, not Tapas like a salad bowl. Full dinner plates – and you can quote me on that one. The forest was there. Brooke was very interested in plants and as she looked at it, she saw plants that should not have been growing in Cordoba. Plants that shouldn’t even be grown anywhere in Spain. And plants that should not be growing together. And plants that shouldn’t be growing at all. There is no way that was a Sitka Spruce, an Alaskian mega tree, growing next to a Plumeria Plant which was grown mainly in Hawaii. And…
“April, that flower right there, is a Cooksonia, the first Vascular plant we know about.”
“Oh, cool,” said April causally.
“No April. Not cool. That plant went extinct 25 Million years ago. “
“Wait, I don’t understand…”
“Yeah, me either,” said Brooke. As an avid plant lover she was very confused. “April, I know you said this before, but there is something going on with these woods.”
“See, I’m not crazy!” April laughed.
Brooke looked down at her hands. “Am I…on drugs?”
“What, no! Are- No!”
Brooke looked worried. “ Let’s just go,” Said April.
“No, April, stop. We’re not going into the creepy woods that aren’t always there.”
“I’ve already been in, it’s fine.“
April ran in and Brooke hesitantly followed her. She grabbed a Cooksonia plant on the way in and put it in her backpack. They were both in the woods now. Frisbees and small playable things suddenly emerged from the brush as they walked.
“Whoa, you weren’t kidding about these frisbees.”
“Yeah. I definitely was not.” April stopped. “ This is where I saw Cayetana.”
“Do you mean Cayenne? I thought that it was grown mainly in East Africa. I didn’t know it was this far north!!”
“No, not Cayenne! Cayetana, the faery!”
“Wait WHAT? Kanye??”
“It’s actually Ye. Get it right Brooke. “ April looked like Brooke should have known what she was talking about. “Y’know, that faery I told you about.”
“Yeah, I did not believe you.”
“Hey!” Said April sadly.
“Would you have believed me if I told you I saw a fairy in mysterious fake woods that most certainly do NOT exist?”
“Ok, fine, that’s fair.”
“Anyways, did you talk to this faery?”
“Yes, it told me its name. And it asked to talk to me.”
“Wasn’t it already talking to you?” Brooke interjected. “ Also isn’t “it” a little insulting?”
“It- I mean she wanted to talk to me about magic, I think.”
“And so did you?”
“No, I told her I was free at 5:30.”
“WHAT?! You blew off a magical Cayenne faery to go to school?!”
“I didn’t want to have to deal with that!” April looked upset. “ It was too much for one poor little 14 year old to handle. Yikes!”
“Well, what time is it?”
“5:28” So close, yet so far.
“Um… “ Said Brooke. “What is that?” April whirled around. What was that? A small purple glow was radiating from the brush a little ways away. April ran to the spot to find a small…portal? Hole? Purple hole? It was very small, big enough for a faery to fit through but not much else.
“April…what is that?” Said Brooke, her hand shaking. Suddenly something came out of the portal. Brooke jumped back and grabbed April covering her mouth. April objected but Brooke pulled her behind a bush.
“What did you do that for?”
“We don’t know what that thing is!” Exclaimed Brooke who looked frightened and worried.
“It’s a faery! What can it do!”
“Well lemme tell you something it can do: hear you! Shut up!” Brooke covered her mouth again. Then they heard another voice.
“Ugh, where are they?” Said a disgruntled voice.
“They’re here. Behind that bush.” Said a calm and deep voice. Brooke and April looked at eachother, eyes wide. “Come over here, you two. There’s nothing to be scared of.”
“That sounds very suspicious,” said Brooke.
April rolled her eyes and stood up. “Hi there!”
“April!” Yelled Brooke. “ We’re being subtle.”
“By hiding behind a bush?”
“Yes.” They both looked around and then at the two figures floating in the air in front of them.
“Wow,” Said Brooke.
The first one had tan freckle-covered skin, and the most fabulous hair. It looked like her head was on fire. She was wearing a short orange and red dress with a large fiery skirt that fanned around her. She had two wings on her back which looked like stained glass. They seemed to be decorated with an animation of her fighting a fire-breathing dragon. The wings barely moved, but somehow were always moving.
“Oh my god,” said Brooke.
The other one was the complete opposite. Her long blue hair looked like a cascading waterfall which dripped to the ground. Her skin was smooth and dark. She was wearing what seemed to be a blue romper which looked like a blue leaf with veins, but sparkled with large water droplets. It had a belt which looked like a rain cloud. Her wings were also stained glass with water droplets animated.
“Hello there?” She asked. “My name is Dew.”
“We’ve got a lot to talk about.”