Jewels of Kidron is magical realism for teens and adults
Enjoy this excerpt from Jewels of Kidron, the best in magical realism for teens and adults.
Excerpt from Jewels of Kidron
“Geez, a griffin!”
Angelina kicked frantically. The griffin screeched a cry of triumph and seemed to take no notice of Angelina’s efforts to escape. Banking into the wind, the giant winged beast made a wide turn heading deeper and deeper into the Woods. It shifted its excruciating grip as it flew, and the force of the talons let up for just a moment. Squirming madly, Angelina was able to free her right arm. Frantically she swung it out just as the griffin’s tail twitched her way.
“Gotcha!” Angelina cried.
She tightened her grip and yanked hard. It was hard enough to throw the griffin off balance, and they began a free-fall spiral toward the trees. Branches cracked as they crashed downward. Leaves slapped at her face, bark scratched her arms, and she prayed that she’d land on something softer than a tree trunk when they finally came to a stop.
Angelina was buried in leaves and feathers with moss in her mouth. Now her scrunchy was gone, and moss and twigs were tangled in the hair that hung in her face. Spitting out the moss, she sat very still.
Where was that griffin? She knew she couldn’t afford to stay on the ground with that thing. Legends said they could be as fast on foot as they were in the air. She had to get up into the thick of the trees where that beast wouldn’t be able to get its wings spread to fly.
She listened intently. Nothing.
Wait. Something was moving above her.
Slowly looking up, it took everything she had to not burst out laughing. That dumb griffin, now screeching in frustration, was strung out upside down, tangled in the vines and branches.
“You deserve it, you jerk!” Angelina taunted as she picked herself up and brushed off the debris. “It’ll take a week to get out of that mess!”
In a flash, Angelina disappeared in the thick growth of the Woods. Focusing on what to do next, she was unnerved by the feeling that she was being watched. She could have sworn she saw faces in the shadows of the trees, but when she turned to look, they disappeared. There were definitely voices, but she couldn’t make out what they were saying.
The truth was that she was beyond being afraid with all that had happened today. All Angelina knew was that she had escaped but now was more lost than ever, and it was going to be dark soon. Breathless, she figured she’d put enough distance between her and the griffin, and now she could afford to rest. She ripped the torn sleeve off her blouse and used it to wipe the blood off the scrapes on her arms and legs.
“I loved this blouse. Gross!”
Upset by the condition of her favorite tunic, she pulled it off over her head and tied it around her waist. Ordinarily, she would rush to a mirror to be sure her hair was all back in its place after upending it by pulling clothes over her head. There was no reason to bother now.
Squatting to sit on the ground, she crossed her legs underneath her and dropped her head into her hands. She had no idea where she was. The lush green canopy was so thick above her that she couldn’t tell one direction from another, and what sky she could see showed the promise of rain again.
“Mom,” she cried.
Her head knew her mother was too far away to hear; her heart ached with hope that someone, anyone would. Her voice echoed off the rock walls around her: Mom, Mom, Mom.
With a start, her hand shot to her throat. The air rushed out of her lungs. Sighing in relief, she fingered her most precious possession, the necklace her mother had given her for her birthday.
“It’s still there,” escaped from her lips.
The pendant was half of the design. Her mother’s sister had the other half. Angelina had refused to let her mother know how honored she really was to have been given such a special gift. Now she wished she had. She would tell her mom, “thanks.” If she ever went home again.
Drip, plop, plip, drop. It began to rain again; this time, she didn’t have the dog’s rug. Angelina’s fingers searched anxiously for something to give her cover, to keep her dry. Finally, on the edge of a large rock, she was able to pry up the lip of a blanket of moss and, pulling gently, a section large enough to cover her slipped loose. The black dirt below was warm and dry. She slid into the space, pressing her back hard up against the rock for safety.
The rain fell for hours, but she stayed dry, warm, and safe in her hiding place.
As it stopped and the full moon came out, Angelina began to hear sounds. Voices, whispers, faint giggles, and gentle sighs. If she weren’t so tired and hungry, she would have sworn it was the trees. They seemed to bend down with the wind as if to study her, curious about her.
“Great. This can’t get worse. I’m all alone, starving, and exhausted and I’m hearing voices. Gawd.”
She pulled the moss tightly up around her chin. She could have sworn she heard the wind whisper, “I’m here.” Above her was the sound of something shifting in the branches. The wings of a great bird spread widely as it silently took flight, crossing the moon and gliding into the darkness.
An owl had been watching her.
Then she felt something brush her cheek gently. Creepy. She pulled the moss up with a firm tug. She jerked her shoulders in tight as she felt someone or something tuck her in. Her eyes scanned the darkness wildly to see what was out there. She couldn’t see anything, but she sure felt its presence, whatever it was. In the wind, she heard faint voices crooning what sounded like a lullaby.
“I am not sleeping tonight,” she said to them.
But she was too exhausted to stay awake and strangely, she slept peacefully.
At dawn, she awakened to the sun’s warmth as its rays slid between the leaves. Bright slashes cast tiny prisms as the light bounced off the rounded drops of rain left behind from the night before. She lay still, opening her eyes slowly.
Where was she? Not home. Not in her down-filled bed. The air smelled of roses, jasmine, mint, pine, oak, and so many other scents in an intoxicating blend. The aromas were individually familiar, yet together they were something she’d never experienced.
As the fog of sleep lifted, she began to remember where she was, or more accurately, that she had no idea where she was. A quickening flashed through her head. Panic, fear, and confusion swept over her, dissolving the peace from last night.
“I’ve got to find a way out of here,” she said to no one.
She knew she should walk downhill and follow the water. Villages were always built very near water. She headed up the mountainside, hoping that if she got high enough, she could see a great distance.
She walked for miles while eating berries along the way. At the crest of every hill or turn in the trail, she was amazed at the brilliance of the colors and the intensity of the smells. She’d never seen anything like this in the woods around her house. The farther she walked, the bigger the flowers and trees got until the dandelions were the size of basketballs and the trunks of trees were so vast it would take three people holding hands to circle an aspen. The fragrance of wild roses was as strong as any perfume she’d ever smelled. The meadowlarks were singing with such joy. Hummingbirds darted all about her, seemingly curious about her ears. She laughed out loud as she gently brushed the insistent tiny birds back from her face.
“This isn’t funny! I’m lost!” she scolded them.
Rounding a bend as the trail topped yet another hill, Angelina gasped. Before her were acres and acres of delicate yellow and orange flowers that seemed to go on forever. She couldn’t resist reaching out her hands on each side to touch the blossoms and see the colors wave gently as she caressed them. She left the trail to wander waist-deep into them, wondering if they smelled as scrumptious as they looked.
Suddenly every blossom in the field rose and burst into flight. Thousands of brightly painted butterflies flew in circles like leaves as they were picked up by the whirling winds of fall. Round and round her they flew. She twirled until she was dizzy with delight and sank to the ground in wonder.
Then, they were gone.
“Wow.” She could have sworn she heard a faraway sound of applause. She stood, still not sure what to think. “This place is so weird.”
As lost as she was, Angelina knew she should be more discouraged, but it was almost impossible to feel fear and delight at the same time. This place was so wondrous. Nothing in this part of the Woods resembled anything in her woods. She was hearing things she’d never heard before. The smells were more intense. Colors were deeper and brighter.
But she couldn’t tell which direction she was heading because the sun was hidden by the dense tree canopy. When she did get out in the open, where there were clear skies, the sun seemed to come from everywhere. Finding east or any other direction was impossible.
And she was sure the trees were moving.
Just when she was certain she’d identified a landmark, a cluster of trees, or one with a distinctive knot hole, she turned back to get a visual picture of where she’d been. It didn’t look anything like what she remembered. The trail seemed to appear out of nowhere and disappear behind her as she traveled. She couldn’t be sure if she was walking in circles.
Occasionally the clouds gathered like thick, billowing waves of sea foam, covering the sun. Dark shadows lurked as if woven in with the sun’s rays.
Exhausted, she plopped to the ground to get her bearings. “Wow, what a mess.”
Angelina pulled on the loose threads of the holes in her leggings, swearing with frustration. Behind her, she heard someone — or something — gasp. She grabbed a stick and spun around to confront whoever had snuck up on her, but no one was there. She was still very much alone.
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