Now the question becomes not whether this will morph into a full size book, as it clearly is on its way, but rather, how much do I post? If I post the entire book, that seems counterproductive to actually trying make a career out of writing. Any thoughts, how far do I post? (Don’t worry Nik and Lisa, I’ll still send you chapters privately.)
Monday morning, as so many mornings did, found me in the garden. There were many reasons for this. For one thing, ever since I can remember, it was one of my favorite spots in the world. This was my safe place. When some sincere, spiritual soul told me to “find your happy place,” well, I knew right where to go. For another thing, I still could not shake my dream. Throughout the weekend it lingered in my mind. Sometimes it was all I could think about and other times I shoved it to the back of my head, but I could not let it go. My garden, my dragon and my eyes were all connected.
In the years when I rarely came back to Calistoga, while I was at law school, interning, and building a very different life than the one that I had now, I thought little of Daisy. I believed it was better that way. I have never liked questions without answers. Unfortunately for me, the biggest questions in my life seemed to have no answers. Was there a dragon hidden in my grandparents’ garden? Why was she hiding, from what, from whom? No, it was easier not to think about the past or question my own sanity. It was better to bury my nose in a book, to find a new home.
I succeeded in avoiding these questions until my grandfather and grandmother both passed away within a few months of one another. When I decided to come back and live in the house they had left to me, I knew I was really going back to the garden. It was a place I loved more than any other, but I also feared returning. I was going back to what it contained, whatever that turned out to be.
This Monday morning I took a deep breath, enjoying the fragrance of the air. I could smell the huge oaks, the fresh earth of my just weeded vegetable garden, the flowers and the herbs. I put my coffee aside and walked down the path. Most importantly, I looked all around me. At that moment I allowed myself a small smile. For I knew then, I was not crazy. I can only say of all the statues in the yard; this one was no statue. I looked and I knew. If that was wrong, well then, I was so far around the bend there was no coming back.
I stood looking down on the little figure. It was curled up in a tight ball amongst the roots of the old apricot tree. Vinca vines partially covered it. The statue was easy to miss. For me that jade green always struck a chord deep inside.
Coming home meant facing my childhood: Daisy, my strange ability, Tim, all of it. I had heard growing up meant putting aside childish things. For me, it turned out to mean the opposite. For me to move forward I needed to face my past. I sighed. When would Daisy come back?
“Hey, Siobhan! Where are you hiding?” came my brother’s voice.
Then I heard an answering male voice. “Check under the bed! Maybe she chickened out!” It was Tim. I’d know his chuckle anywhere.
“I heard that!” I gave Daisy one more look and blew her a kiss. Then I went to face the day.
There was no more time to wonder about dragons. My morning turned left at the corner of insanity and obsessive compulsion, never looking back. Between me, Alex and Tim, there were far too many cooks in the kitchen. Not to mention, Tim had brought two additional workmen to help with my remodel.
“Butt out, Siobhan,” growled Alex when I tried to insert an opinion.
“Yeah, honestly, what do you care?” said Tim.
“Uh, guys, it’s like, my kitchen.”
They exchanged low looks, and the epithet, “Women,” hung there, unspoken in the air.
Alex took a step back, breathed once in and then out, as though he was trying to just maintain control. “Okay, Siobhan,” he said through clenched teeth. “Where would you like the island?”
“Oh, honestly, I don’t care,” I said, enjoying teasing them both. “I just want to be able to open the dishwasher and have clearance between the island and the sink counter.”
“Right,” Tim said.
There was a brief pause. Then Tim and Alex picked up their argument as though the interruption had never happened. My brother, the restaurant owner, possessed rather strong opinions regarding kitchens.
I watched the proceedings for perhaps all of five seconds. Then I shook my head and grabbed a bagel, a peach and a diet soda. It might not be the lunch of champions, but it would have to do while I was without a working kitchen.
To my surprise, Alex and Tim joined me in less than six minutes, armed with identical food and beverages. I frowned and looked hard at them both.
“Um, guys,” I asked, “how did you wrap that up two seconds after I left?”
Alex and Tim exchanged glances and shrugged, looking guilty. Alex said, “It was just easier to figure out once you left the room.”
I groaned. “Tell me you didn’t?”
“Didn’t what?” answered Tim.
“Tell me that you didn’t just Rochambeau for my kitchen!”
“Siobhan!” said Tim.
I shook my head at the two of them. “Straight to Hell, the both of you. Start decorating your hand baskets now.”
They grinned like two monkeys, unashamed. “You betcha’!” My brother smiled at me. His happiness did not help reassure me. So much for strong opinions, I thought.
“You are making good decisions, aren’t you?” Their grins did not comfort me in any way.
Sighing, I headed back inside for another diet coke. Upon returning I was surprised to find the Adonis-like Ian with Tim and Alex. He was talking to the two of them in a low, intense voice. Then he started down the garden path toward the apricot tree.
“Hello?” I called as I walked up. I felt as though I was intruding in my own yard, but it was too late now.
I saw Ian stiffen at my voice. The garden grew darker, as though the sun had gone behind a cloud.
Ian turned and strode back to the patio. He waved one hand before Alex and Tim’s faces. He extended the gesture to include me in the motion. I tried not to frown. What was he doing?
In a quiet, commanding voice Ian said, “You never saw me, right, my friends? I was never here.” He looked at me and repeated, “I was never here. I am not who you saw.”
I watched in amazement as Alex and Tim left their lunches untouched and headed back inside to join the other workmen. I frowned at Ian. “Okay, Obi-Wan, what’s the joke?”
He came within a couple of feet from me and seemed puzzled. “You should go inside. I was never here.”
I waved one hand, impatient with him. “Yeah, yeah, I get it, ‘These aren’t the droids you’re looking for.’ C’mon, everyone has seen Star Wars. What’s the deal?”
Ian’s dark brows bent for a second in annoyance and then he regained himself. “Star Wars? Oh, of course, so humorous. Clever of you to see the gag.”
He took a step toward me. “I do not believe we’ve been introduced? I am Ian.” He took my hand in the limp fashion I think of as a gesture somewhere between a proper handshake and a kiss on the hand.
As Ian introduced himself I saw conflicting images crossing his face. For one instant I saw all at the same time a creature of pure light and fire, a dark being whose gaze made me want to crawl away in terror and the physical perfection of the man before me. It took everything I had in me not to cringe away. Of one thing I was positive, his name was not Ian.
When my eyes cleared, I saw he was regarding me with intense interest. His gaze was not malicious or even unpleasant. Ian was staring at me as a child studies at a dragonfly, as though he was curious to see what I would do next. As I continued to return his stare I was very aware of how quiet the garden had become. I could hear the voices of the men inside, working on my kitchen, but the birds in the yard had fallen silent. I could even hear Tim and Alex wondering where I had gone.
Ian took a step closer to me. There was nothing threatening about him, but I wanted to run. I wanted to very badly. I took a step backward, my heart pounding. To my relief I felt a slight breeze. Somehow, that helped me breathe again. Ian lifted his head, listening to the breeze and I thought I heard wind chimes from far away. Ian turned to me again and tilted his head in a gesture that was so perfect, it didn’t seem human. “I did not realize you had wind chimes,” he remarked.
“Yes, they were my grandmother’s.”
“You lie,” he said matter-of-factly. He did not seem upset by this. He continued, “You have been gone from this area, I think?”
“I’ve been away for ten years. Up until now I’ve only come back for brief visits.”
“And now, now you return?” He folded his arms and stroked his chin with one hand as he contemplated me.
“Yes, I inherited this house. Why do you want to know?”
Ian chuckled and wagged a finger at me. “A little fire, eh? I like that.”
His brilliant blue eyes held mine. I saw so many conflicting images I had a hard time concentrating. The desire to run away was overwhelming.
Ian took another step closer to me. “No one told me,” he mused, “what truly beautiful eyes you have. Why, it’s been ages and another land since I’ve seen eyes like yours.”
For an instant we were both still, staring at one another. He acted like he had found a talking dog. I was terrified, but could not move.
At that moment my brother and Tim burst out of the back French doors. “Found you!” said Tim.
I looked at them in relief and then snapped my head back to Ian to see his reaction. The air seemed to waver, like when one can see the waves of heat over the road, but Ian was gone. I sank to my knees and hugged myself. I ignored Tim and Alex’s exclamations and concerns. A friendly dragon, I could handle, but what was Ian?