Evelyn raised her small hand, reaching for the sky. “I want to touch them.”
“Well, if you had plane you could. But even then, they’re just water. Not at all like they show in the cartoons.” Evan replied matter-of-factly.
“I know,” she replied wistfully, “but I still want to.”
The call of a crow interrupted their silent reverie and seemed to remind Evelyn of something she wanted to say. “Hey, Evan, do you want to grow up?”
“Well, yes, then I can earn money and drive a car.”
“I don’t want to.” Evelyn huffed. “Adults don’t do stuff like read fairy tales, look at clouds, and play hopscotch.”
Evan shrugged. “It’s not like there’s a law against them doing those things.”
“Well, you don’t see any adults playing hopscotch.” Evelyn pointed out.
“So what, you could just play anyway.”
“But I would be alone…”
Evan groaned in exasperation, “Listen, would you not mind growing up so much if I played hopscotch with you?”
“Even when I’m an old hag who talks like a crow?”
Evan nodded. “Even when you’re an old ha- wait, your mom let’s you talk like that?!”
“No!” she giggled. “But I like the word anyway, hag! hag! hag!”
“So,” Evan repeated, “would you mind growing up if we played hopscotch even then?”
“Nuh-uh, though I don‘t look forward to sounding like a crow, when does that happen?”
“Thirty-five I think, but that’s forever from now.” Evan assured her.
Soon their view of the sky was cut off by three figures. Three older boys whom Evan vaguely remembered seeing at some point. Evelyn sat up cautiously
“This is our spot, get out!” the middle one demanded, most likely the leader, a skinny, dark haired boy.
Evan glanced around him and noticed a few cigarette butts. He deduced that this must be the spot where the three would gather to sneak a few puffs.
Evelyn spoke out indignantly, much to Evan’s dismay, “This isn’t you’re place! My mom gardens here and she said it’s for anyone.”
“You’ll shut your yap if you know what’s good for you nag!” One of the other two sneered and stepped forward to grab her with a podgy hand.
Evan slid in between them, spreading his arms wide. “You leave her alone!” he yelled uncertainly, glaring in the boy’s beady hazel eyes. In his peripheral vision he saw the other, somewhat less podgy, redhead start to circle around.
“Oh, protecting your girlfriend four-eyes?” the leader pushed his crony out of his way then grabbed Evan and threw him aside.
Evan landed hard and slid on the grass, a green streak staining the side of his shirt.
Evelyn started crying, until the redhead smacked her hard with the back of his hand, knocking her to the ground. She lay there stunned, never having been smacked before. She looked at her fallen friend with terror in her eyes.
Hot tears of pain and anger rolled down Evan’s face as he stood. The grass nearby moved as a strange wind blew in all directions from him. Ignoring him, the leader and beady eyed boy declared their approval to their buddy’s bold slap and each announced that they were going to get their turn. Evan would have roared if he was not shaking in wrath and instead a sound between a hiss and a gasp escaped his throat as he leapt forward to deliver a punch to the redhead. But before he could the podgy one grabbed his arm and was about to deliver a left hook in the gut. But the fist never made contact. A deafening wail of rushing wind filled the park as Evan’s feet left the ground and flew horizontally, pushing the boy in front of him. The boy nasally squealed like the animal which he resembled as he looked down to see his feet dangling inches above the grass which sped by beneath him. Sharing in the surprise, Evan decided that he really wanted to stop, and he did. He fell to the ground and rolled once. However the other boy kept flying for the remaining four meters before slamming hard into the brick wall that encircled the park.
Evan stood up and turned around. He was trying to figure out how he had gotten from one place to the other. He did not have long to think since the lean boy charged at him. The grass below Evan bent into a spiral and some invisible force dug down like a drill, causing the ground below him to turn into swirling dust and soil. He wanted to avoid the boy’s onslaught but the redhead was coming from behind, swearing vengeance for his comrade.
The only route of escape was up, so he leapt up. Followed his trajectory as he fell at least five metres, landing hard on all fours a few paces away. Not particularly interested in how such things were possible, the two boys charged. Evan was still on all fours, recovering from having his wind knocked out of him in the landing. He flung his left arm up in a defensive move as he awaited the pain of fists and kicks. But instead something seemed to pull the leader from behind and sent him hurtling backwards. He knocked into the redhead and they tumbled head over heels together.
The boys turned tail and ran, indiscernible words pouring from their mouths.
Evan got to his knees, then held his head as a pain like a hundred nails pierced his forehead. The grass and soil near him was torn up and swirled around him into the sky like a large vacuum tube. He felt himself losing conscience as the force became more and more intense.
Evelyn stood uncertainly. She had been terrified by what she had just witnessed and didn’t know what to think. Her first instinct was to run and get as far away as possible. But then from inside the column of dust she heard Evan cry out in agony. Shakily she advanced and fought against the strange sensation of being pulled inwards and upwards, even though there was no wind. She forced her hand down against the resistance and tugged on her friend’s sleeve.
Finally she regained enough gumption and screamed, “Evan!”
A few moments later the movement began to calm down and at last dispersed.
Evan opened his eyes and looked at the park. Branches had been ripped from trees and the boys he had pushed away had left two lines of exposed dirt, and the grass and plants were all twisted in multiple spiral patterns.
He removed his glasses and wiped them on his shirt. He put them back on and stared in disbelief. “Did I do this?”
“Yes, but they deserved it.” She took hold of his hand, “Let’s go home.”
“I’m going to need to apologise to your mom about what happened to the garden.” his hands and knees were shaking and tingling with fear.
“The plants will grow back,” Evelyn replied frankly.
The two children walked home in silence. A bruise was beginning to appear on Evelyn’s cheek and Evan was covered in the dirt that had been flying around. But their main concern was what to say to their mothers to explain their dirty clothes.
Evan smiled as he looked in the entrance to the garden, enjoying the wave of nostalgia. He wondered how he could have forgotten such a defining moment. However he knew that by the time he was fifteen he had brushed the whole thing off as a daydream.
He let the humour of it all sink in. Now every daydream could be reality after all he had seen in the last few months. Absent-mindedly he rested his hand on the ivy covered wall. He was surprised when his fingers found themselves in a hole. He pushed the ivy aside. His forehead creased in surprise. He felt the weathered, spiral texture of the inside of the breach in the wall and looked through. He winced at what he saw as more memories dug themselves to the surface.
“Come on Evelyn!”
“I’m hurrying!” the girl’s forehead crinkled in exasperation.
When they brushed by the witch hazel bush they entered a corner of the garden concealed from view. Nothing was planted in this area because of the heavy shade of the horse chestnut tree.
Evelyn was panting heavily. Evan looked curiously at his friend. She had only ran for a mere ten metres but she seemed suddenly exhausted.
She regained her composure and spoke before Evan could inquire about her lassitude. “What is it you wanted to show me?”
Forgetting his previous thoughts Evan pointed his empty palms towards the ground. Taking a few deep breaths he readied himself. His muscles tensed. The sound of a deep disembodied sigh filled the air, becoming louder as the leaves and dirt beneath his hands rippled away as if two stones had been tossed into a pond. Slowly Evans feet were peeled off of their earthly prison until the toes of his shoes departed the ground.
Evelyn’s face glowed in amazement. “You’re floating!”
Evan nodded as he drifted further from the ground, his body wavering back and forth as if he was balancing atop a circus ball. Finally his hovering stabilised and the noise maintained that of a rushing wind through a tunnel.
“I’ve been practising every day. I wasn’t going to tell you about it until I could actually fly, but I couldn’t resist showing you.” He relaxed and landed like a feather onto the bare ground.
“You really think you’ll learn how to fly?” Evelyn asked excitedly.
“I think so. And when I do, would you like a ride?”
Evan’s eyebrow shot up curiously. “What’s so funny?”
“Oh, nothing. Just there was this fairy tale I once read. It was about a peasant girl who met a fairy, back in days when fairies were the size of people, before they shrank. His wings were broken and so he was trapped on the ground. In the end, his wings healed and he took the girl for flight and brought her to the fairy kingdom where she discovered he was the prince of that country. It’s almost as if I’m in that story now.”
“I’m not a fairy.” Evan glowered.
“I know,” she mumbled defensively. “But every now and then, I think I see little wings behind your shoulders, but as soon as I blink my eyes they are gone.”
Evan huffed and rolled his eyes. “You read too many tall tales.”
“I’m not the one flying.” she countered.
All her friend could do was push up his glasses as he reluctantly agreed with her logic.
A few months later, after both of their birthdays, she turned eleven and he turned thirteen, Evan was preparing for school.
“Bye mom, I’m going to pick up Evelyn.”
“Oh honey, Evelyn’s not going to school today.”
“Why?” Evan asked, a little more demandingly than he meant to. The trials of puberty were making him more temperamental usual.
“She fell ill last night so her parents took her to the hospital.”
Evan’s eyes widened, his heart accelerated suddenly. “I need to go see her.”
“No you don’t. She is in good hands, go to school.”
“Then call me in sick!”
“Absolutely not Evan!” His mother’s face twisted in anger which Evan hadn’t seen in a long time.
He was thoroughly cowed and reluctantly walked out the door. On the way to the bus stop he considered just walking to the hospital, but with the closest one being ten miles away, he reconsidered. Especially since he did not know which one of the hospitals to go to.
“I could do that...”
The idea he juggled in his mind caused him considerable pause. “It wouldn’t be that difficult...” He arrived at the bus stop and looked at all the other children and employees going about their own commutes. He realised there was no way he could do it in broad daylight without people noticing.
And so he went to school, sat in class, and talked to a few friends. But all these daily actions were done mechanically, his mind was elsewhere.
Fortunately the day passed quickly. He ran all the way from the bus stop to his house. Bursting in the front door, he hurried to the kitchen where his mother was reading a catalogue and cutting out coupons
“Can we go now?”
“Go where?” Mrs. MacIntyre asked.
“To see Evelyn.”
“Listen son, your father has the car and it’s going to take far too long to get there by bus, we would not get back until well into the night, and that’s simply not safe. Tomorrow is a Saturday, we can go first thing in the morning, agreed?”
Evan’s face fell and he nodded.
His mother smiled radiantly. “It really is wonderful how close you two are. I’m sure she’ll get much better the moment she sees you.” She kissed her son’s dark hair and returned to her task.
Evan walked to his room and sat by the window, watching as the sky darkened outside. He knew what to do next.