Cereal Authors, Excerpts, Fantasy, Fiction, Ramblings, Ruth Davis Hays, Uncategorized, YA

Realms of Light — A fanfic continued

Again, a disclaimer:  I do not own, nor did I create, these characters. I wrote this as homage to my favorite writers, J. R. R. Tolkien as well as Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman. — Ruth Davis Hays

 

Chapter 2

 

Days came and went more merrily for Frodo.  He had met with Tasslehoff every day since the kender had left his hobbit hole.  Together they talked of adventures and times long passed.  They shared favorite paths and favorite habits such as pipeweed and ale.  Frodo introduced Tasslehoff to all his old friends, some the kender had met on his own and some he had simply seen from afar.  Sam joined them occasionally for a long walk and a good talk, though to be honest with himself Sam found the kender rather tiring and he would often make the excuse that Rosie would miss him if he stayed too long.   He was amazed by Frodo’s ability to listen to the kender’s almost continuous chatter.

“He’s a stronger soul than I.” He would say as he would make his way back home to his wife.

In his time with Frodo and Tasslehoff, Sam wondered at the fact that Frodo never mentioned to his new friend about his own great adventure and the important part that Frodo had played in the saving of his own world.  The Ring had been mentioned, but Frodo skimmed over it and talked of others’ adventures and dealings.  The missing finger was never mentioned at all.  Sam tried to tell Tasslehoff once or twice about Mr. Frodo’s amazing journey, knowing that it would rival the kender’s many tales of heroism, but Frodo would quickly switch the topic to either Sam’s bravery or someone else’s part.  This worried Sam.  He felt that Frodo was doing himself a discredit by not telling of how he had destroyed the Ring and saved Middle-earth.

“To be honest, it was Gollum that actually got the ring into the fire, Sam.” Frodo would remind him each time Sam brought the subject up between them afterwards.  Then he would give Sam that knowing look as if to say, “You know this, you were there too.”

Reluctantly, Sam would drop the subject.

 

One afternoon, Tasslehoff popped his head into Frodo’s front window and invited the hobbit to come to meet his cousins.  Frodo, who had been on the verge of dark thoughts, readily agreed.

As they walked under an overcast sky, Tas explained, “I don’t really know if they’re my cousins or not.  We kender rarely keep track of such things as family trees or distant relations.  But, Uncle Trapspringer is Gintilli’s uncle too, so we must be related somehow.”

Frodo simply smiled.  He was growing quite fond of the strange habits and quirks that kenders seemed to have.  They were refreshingly different from his fellow hobbits.  Normally he would have questioned the kender further, but today he was a little distracted.

Earlier that morning, Frodo had accidentally slammed his right hand in the wardrobe door.  The pain had been sudden and over with quickly, but it had succeeded in bringing his attention to his missing digit again.  For a few minutes after it had happened, Frodo felt the ache in the four fingers on his hand, but at the instant that it had occurred he could have sworn that the absent finger had been in pain as well.  He had pondered this for hours.  He had been trying experiments with his fingers to find out if he could really feel anything from that maimed spot or if it had been his imagination.  He had concluded that it was his imagination and this had put him into a sullen mood.

Tasslehoff’s invitation could not have come at a better time.

Though the weather was gloomy looking, it was cooling to the skin and held a certain crispness to the air that reminded Frodo of autumn days in the Shire.  He breathed deeply and emptied his mind of frustrating thoughts.  Half listening to Tas’s chatter, he watched the landscape around them change.

They approached a small, cottage with a thatched roof and a tall, heavy limbed tree towering over it.  Frodo stopped and gaped at the size and sheer beauty of the tree.  Tas stopped as well and noticing the hobbit’s reaction looked rather pleased with himself.

“It’s a Vallenwood tree.” Tas said proudly.  “I made it myself.  It’s a little bigger than the ones back home, but I thought, ‘if I’m going to think up a Vallenwood tree, why not think up the biggest one I can?’ so, Tah-Dah!”

“It’s beautiful.  Do you live in that cottage?”

“That!?” Tas shook his head.  “No, what fun would that be?  That’s where Flint stays.  I stay up there.”  The kender pointed to the branches of the towering tree.  Nestled among the leaves was a sprawling tree house with wandering catwalks zigzagging through the branches.

Frodo gasped in astonishment.

“I always wanted to live in a house like the ones in Solace.” Tas chirped merrily. “I told Gintilli about them once and she thought ‘Why not make one?’  So, we did.  Don’t worry, it’s bigger on the inside than it looks.”

With that, Tasslehoff bounded towards a ladder made of wood and rope.  He stopped only to make sure that Frodo was following him and then scurried to the lowest walkway and waited.

****

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Cereal Authors, Character Quotes, childrens stories, Excerpts, Fantasy, Fiction, Life, Literary, Musings, Ramblings, Romance, Ruth Davis Hays, Sci-Fi, Uncategorized, YA

Realms of Light — A fanfic

Hello, before I return to Jorthus or undernoticed artists, or even rambling creative thoughts, I thought I would present a portion of a fan-fiction story I began many years ago. I had read some Fanfic, but had never tried it. I heard that it is a good writing exercise and a way to get the creative juices flowing when stuck on one’s own work. I gave it a try.

Now, I must say upfront that THE RACES, NAMES, OR PLACES MENTIONED ARE NOT MY OWN. (I elaborated on some concepts presented in two of my favorite bodies of work, THE LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy and DRAGONLANCE CHRONICLES.) That said, there may be some spoilers to those who may have never read the books or watched the movies/cartoons. But, mainly, this was just for fun.

Again, a disclaimer:  I do not own, nor did I create, these characters. I wrote this as homage to my favorite writers, J. R. R. Tolkien as well as Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman.

Chapter 1

It seemed that weeks, or months, had passed since his arrival here.  It was difficult to trace time.  Daylight came and went with no real sense of urgency.  Here he was just beginning to understand the concept of eternity.

Existence carried on much like it did in life in this Resting Place, as it was referred to by its inhabitants.  One could sleep if tired, or eat if hungry.  Though the need was not as strong as it had been in the previous life.  Here one did things out of habit rather than necessity.  Food and drink were delicious and would fill the stomach, but there was never a point of real hunger.  Only the enjoyment of taste and smell would drive one to partake of the bounteous harvest of this peaceful land.  And of course, the mere love of eating is all the motivation a hobbit needs to eat his fill.

The Resting Place, a spirit realm that reaches to all of creation, was the mingling of many races from many worlds in peace and harmony.  Here to rest, to recover from pains of both mind and soul.  The physical pains were left behind on other planes.  This was a place of healing and learning, if one was willing to heal or learn.  Some residents in this land of glory were still clinging to old ways and seemed loathe to give them up.

This realm was extraordinary.  It was a reality, in form and feel like the physical realities that the inhabitants had left behind, but clearer and brighter.  Only spirits dwelt here, but not as a ghost or haunt might in the physical worlds; here all things were spirit so that when one reached out to touch a tree, it was actually the spiritual form of a tree and therefore tactile to one.  The clothes and manners of those dwelling here were the forms chosen by them from their memories.  They had homes that suited them and lands that were pleasing to them.  They dwelt in happiness and contentment, for the most part.

The only discontent here is what they brought with them and would not release.  That is why most were still here.  Some spirits learned to move on to other realms, to find other greater places to dwell.  Some remained here out of fear, some remained out of ignorance, and some remained out of loyalty to those that were not ready to move on.

Those that feared what was beyond this realm, quailed and shrank from learning how to move beyond.  Those that did not wish to move on out of loyalty were allowed to visit both realms, and those that did not learn how to move on, were allowed to stay as long as it would take to learn.

But, some here stayed out of shame.  They are those that could not or would not let go of their hurts.  They did not feel that they should move on.  The light beyond gave them little comfort, mainly guilt.  They had a choice to make.  To let go of their pain and move forward into the light of the Realm Beyond, or to fade into the comfort of the shadows and stay here forever.  Or worse, to slip into the darkness where no hand or light could touch them.

On this particular day, the sun shone through the round window of a hobbit hole.  Not an extravagant hole, a modest hole.  Tastefully decorated, and just the right size for a single, male hobbit. The hall branched off onto a study, a bath, a bedroom, a sitting room with a large fireplace, and most importantly, a well-stocked kitchen.

Frodo Baggins sat quietly in the patch of sunlight that streamed in his sitting room window.  He had been reading one of the books from his shelves.  Books he had remembered from his youth in Bag End.  As his desire to read the story he had picked out dulled, the words on the pages had dimmed to nothing.  Now, he sat with a book of blank pages lying open and forgotten on his lap, staring out the window into the meadows and forests beyond.

He had wandered that countryside when he had first arrived, as most souls do.  Exploring with an insatiable curiosity and undisguised wonder over the beauty and glory of these lands.  But, over time, he had grown weary of the same sights and paths.  He had settled into this little home and began to study other things.  Things closer to himself.  Things about himself.  Things, he was not altogether comfortable about dealing with alone.  Avoidance had been his next tactic to pass the time.  He tried to occupy his mind with other things so that it would not stray onto paths of the soul that he rather not tread.  He wrote stories.  He read stories.  He took short and frequent walks, baked large amounts of food, and even learned how to do his own gardening.  He gave many dinner parties and had tea with Sam and Rosie every day that the weather allowed.  Which was practically every day.

He tried to limit the time he was allowed to sit alone and think about the things that had passed, or what could have come to pass.  When the dark moods came upon him, he would retreat into his comfortable little hole and hide from the queries of others.  They wanted to help him feel “better”, but could not.  Only he could do that, though he did not know how.  At these times, he felt restless, though venturing out seemed impossible.  He wanted company, but all those he knew would know too much about his troubles.  He felt lost and alone, and the brighter the day shone outside his house, the darker the shadows seemed inside.

He was in one of those moods now.  The books had lost their appeal.  The meadow seemed too bright, a brightness that would expose his darkness to all that saw him.  He wanted to hide.  He wanted to escape.  He wanted something.  Something else.  Something that was not in this small, close hole and something that he had yet to find outside.

Slamming the blank book closed, Frodo kicked his footstool aside and went to the bookshelf to replace the book.  As he slipped the book into place his eyes fell on his hand.  Though spirit matter, his third finger was still missing.  He had thought it odd at first.  When he had asked about it, some spirits had suggested that perhaps a strong power had separated the finger even at the essence level of being and that the matter would regrow with time.  That had confused him.  Although the ring had been on the finger at the moment of separation, Gollum had thrown the digit away.  It would have been burned to nothing in Mount Doom.

Perhaps as I should have been

Sam had suggested that he had grown accustomed to not having it and the spiritual form was simply adjusting to that perception.  That was too kind and, Frodo felt, too easy an explanation.  It was easy enough to hear those around him say that he was forgiven for any wrongs, for they only knew as much as he had told them.  It was easy for them to say that the missing finger did not mean anything, for they did not know what was in his heart.  They had not been in his mind at the moment it had been lost.  They did not know, could not know.

But, there was one here in this realm that would know.  The Master of this Realm could see into his heart and lay bare his mind.  He would know.  He did know.  Although Frodo had not faced Him yet, he felt that perhaps he had already been judged.  Some dark part of his heart whispered to him that the finger was gone forever to be a reminder of what he had done.

How can I forgive myself …

His musings were cut short by a noise at his door.  It was not a knock.  It sounded as if someone were trying to pry open his door lock.  Curiosity stirred inside him for the first time in months.  He moved to the door and placed his hand on the center knob just as the thing swung open.  He jumped out of the way with a startled cry.  He was not sure what to expect on the other side, but the form that met his eyes took him by surprise.

There, crouched in the center of his doorway was a Halfling.  But not in form nor dress, a hobbit such as himself.  This being was slender, slightly taller in height than Frodo himself, dressed in an outrageous colored tunic, leggings, and boots with a fur vest.  His ears had small points, similar to an elf’s and a wide, child-like excitement in his brown eyes.  He had chestnut colored skin that wrinkled as he smiled up at the astonished hobbit, and his long, brown hair was tied up in a topknot that overflowed down his back.

At the sight of Frodo, the figure leaped up with one hand extended and introduced himself in a frenetic, high-pitched voice.

“Hello! Pleased to meet you.  I’m Tasslehoff Burrfoot.  Your door is fascinating.  Too bad it wasn’t locked.  Nobody locks their doors anymore.  It’s terribly frustrating.  I heard there were other halflings about, ones that I’m not related to and came looking.  There seem to be a lot of doors in the ground around here.  Do you all live underground? Is it hard to keep the grass roots from dropping dirt on your head?  Are there any tree roots in there?  Do you live alone? Are there a lot of others like you?  What do they call your kind?  I’m a kender.  We come from Krynn.  It’s not around here, but we seem to end up here anyway.  Where are you from?  Which world, I mean.  There are so many.  I’ve met a lot of fascinating people around here, wherever ‘Here’ is.  Why do your feet look like that?”

This strange individual had barely stopped to breathe in his excited speech and had shook Frodo’s hand and pushed past him to explore the hobbit’s hole uninvited.  Frodo was momentarily at a loss for what to do or say.  He stood by the open door with his mouth agape, watching the kender manhandle just about every item in his home.

“Oh, I…uh, who are you? And why are you here?” he stammered, as he closed his front door.

The strange little fellow waltzed up to him again and smiling, shook his hand again.  He spoke very slowly and with exaggerated clarity.

“I’m sor-ry.  I did-n’t kn-ow that you were fee-ble-mind-ed.”

Frodo almost laughed at this but felt a little insulted as well.  He pulled his hand out of the other’s grip.  “I’m not feebleminded!  You just took me by surprise is all.”

“Well, then.  I’m Tasslehoff Burrfoot.  I’m a kender from Krynn.  I died, I guess.  And after spending some time with my friend Flint, he’s a dwarf, we came here with the rest of my friends.  Except Fizban wasn’t around at the time, which kind of disappointed me.  But, he’ll probably get around to it later seeing as he’s busy being a god on Krynn and all.”

Frodo saw his eyes begin to wander onto the shelves again and decided to keep the kender’s ramblings on track.  “You died on Krynn, you say.  Where is Krynn?” he asked conversationally.

“I don’t really know.  It had three moons and was far from here, I think.”

He stopped to think hard on the subject and this allowed Frodo a moment to get his bearings on this intrusion.  The fellow did not seem to be hostile and neither did he seem to be in a hurry to leave, so Frodo decided to find out as much as he could about him.  He had heard mention of other “little folk” in this realm, but after extensive wanderings and never seeing any halflings other than hobbits, he had given up the search.  Now, out of the blue pops this kender.

“I’m sorry, I do not mean to be rude.  My name is Frodo Baggins.  I’m a hobbit.  That’s the name for halflings in Middle-earth.  That is from where I hail.” He tried to be polite for he had no idea what kind of temperament a kender might have if insulted.  Had he known a kender’s temper, he would have counted himself lucky that he had chosen the course of diplomacy instead of ordering the creature out of his home.

Tasslehoff came back to the present with a snap.  “Baggins!  I’ve heard that one before.”

“You have?” Frodo was astonished and intrigued.  A faint cloud of paranoia slithered under his heart as well.  What was being said about him?

“Yes, I met a Baggins fellow just yesterday.  Is it a common name?”

“Well, no, not as common as some.  Did you meet Bilbo?”

“Yes, that was his name.  Slightly older than you.  Likes to talk about dragons.  He walked with me for quite a while, then said he was hungry and went home.  If I’d known that he lived in a hole, I would have gone with him.  I’ve never met anyone that lived in a hole before.  Well, no one that intentionally lived in one, anyways.  We were so busy talking and walking that I didn’t really see how odd his feet were.  Do all hobbits have feet like that?”

Frodo smiled, his suspicions gone.  “Yes, I believe they do.  Are there other…kender?  I had thought that I had explored this land well enough, but I’ve never seen one of your kind before.”

“Well, that doesn’t surprise me!” Tasslehoff said knowingly as he plopped into Frodo’s favorite chair and placed his colorful boots on the ottoman.  “We kender rarely stay in one spot.  Besides, something that I’ve noticed about this place is that if you don’t expect to see something or someone or somewheres, then you probably won’t.  It’s kinda like the Abyss in that way.  You have to Think about going somewhere new before you can get there.  Me, I’m always looking for someplace new, so I usually find it.”

Frodo found himself being pulled into this conversation as he sat on a small, wooden chair near his fireplace.  This lively visitor had certainly gotten his mind off his troubles.  Now, his interest peaked, he was anxious to learn more of these other halflings and this other world.

“Abyss?” he queried as he started to brew some tea out of habit. The kettle hung from a small hook in the front of the hearth so the tea-water stayed warm.  “What is the Abyss?”

Tasslehoff seemed astonished.  “You’ve never heard of the Abyss? Well, let me tell you about the time….”

The kender went off on a long and rambling tale of a land of the dead that he had visited by accident where dwelt, at that time, a dark goddess of great beauty and power.  He told of gnomes and mages and a time-traveling device.  There seemed to be no end to the kender’s ability to talk.  One tale seemed to blend into another and Frodo felt that he might need to take notes in order to keep things straight.  Little did he know that with Tasslehoff, repetition of a tale was par for the course.   Though, the tales often varied with the mood.

The time passed so quickly listening to the kender, that when Tasslehoff finally came to a halt in order to put a sweetcake that Frodo had given him into his mouth, the hobbit was shocked to see the window behind Tasslehoff was dark.  Frodo jumped up, “Oh, It’s night.  I’m terribly sorry, I didn’t notice the time.  I’ve kept you far too late, Tasslehoff.”

“Call me Tas, all my friends do.” He hopped up as well, though he seemed confused as to why he was being ushered to the door.  “Am I late for something?”

Frodo was taken aback. “Oh, I assumed that you would want to be home by dark.”

“Oh, no.  I don’t really have a home.  I’m staying with my cousin, Gintilli*, for right now because she’s new here.  Her place is huge because she hasn’t decided whether she’s staying or not, yet.  She takes care of her half-sister, who doesn’t go anywhere, so she made a big house so she could explore without leaving it.  But, I don’t have to be there all the time.  I’m trying to get Gintilli to leave with me, but she feels bad about leaving her sister alone.”

“So, you are not expected somewhere for the night?” Frodo asked cautiously.

“Oh, no! I can stay all night if I want.  Don’t worry about me.  I don’t really get tired much anymore, so I can talk all night and all day!  In fact, that’s why Flint went to visit some gully dwarves he’d met a few months back.  He said that I needed the rest. Though, I thought it strange at the time, since Flint can’t stand gully dwarves.  But, I’m not a bit tired. So, I went exploring.”

Tas settled back into the sitting room and began eating again. Frodo was not entirely sure how he felt about the prospect of Tasslehoff staying all night in his home.  He was not properly prepared for a guest.  He did not wish to be a bad host, but he was not really ready to be a host in the first place.  At least, not to an overnight, and possibly indefinite, guest.   He had enjoyed the kender’s company and his tales were new and fascinating.  The kender, himself, was cheery and talkative, albeit a little intrusive and blunt at times, but Frodo was flustered, nonetheless, at this sudden turn of events.  He hurried to the kitchen to check his cupboard for proper meals.  He could not let a houseguest go hungry.  Then he looked for fresh linens and inquired about the kender’s sleeping and bathing needs.

“I’m fine.” Tas grinned. “I’ll just stay awake.  And I bathed before I left the house.”

Though, from his description of who he had visited in the last few days, there was no telling when he had “left the house”.

Tasslehoff watched Frodo bustle about the house for a while, then decided to follow him in case he went anywhere interesting.

“You don’t need to make all this fuss over me!” Tas chimed in behind Frodo, who seemed startled to find Tas there.  “I just came to visit.  The food is delicious though.  Do you make it yourself?  Gintilli and I usually just ‘think’ stuff up.  Did you know that you can do that here?  Just think about something hard enough and it shows up.  Like magic.  Though, I daresay the cooked stuff you gave me did taste better than the food we got.  Maybe we didn’t think about the flavor of the food hard enough.  Do you have anything to drink around here?”

“Yes, of course.  I have some ale and some mead.”  Frodo led him to the kitchen where the two settled for a while.  Frodo started a fire in the small fireplace where he heated his pots.  Tasslehoff took one sip of the offered ale and began another tale of his world that told of an inn that was renown for the best ale in the land.  The Inn of the Last Home, it was called, and it was in the town of Solace where he had lived for a long time with his dwarf friend, Flint, and a half-elf named Tanis.

Frodo listened intently, spellbound by the kender’s enthusiasm and descriptive tales.  Krynn was a world of dragons that talked, some good and some evil.  Humans, elves, gnomes, dwarves, and kenders fighting draconians, dark mages, and minotaur.  He told of his adventures with his closest friends, Flint and Tanis, along with a pair of brothers, Caramon and Raistlin, a knight named Sturm, and an elf maid called Laurana.

They had saved their world from the dark goddess by blocking her from entering the physical plane of Krynn and killed the bad dragons with ancient weapons called Dragonlances.   He talked about the love between Tanis, the half-elf and the young, beautiful Laurana that was a scandal among the elves, and of the sultry relationship Tanis shared with a captivating human woman named Kitiara, who was a half-sister to the twins Caramon and Raistlin.  He even went off on a tale about a wooly mammoth that he encountered as well as sharing a few stories that he knew of the adventures of his Uncle Trapspringer.

Frodo learned quite a few things out about Kender during all this talk as well.  They love to tell tales, they get sidetracked easily, and they seem to have no concept of personal property.  He listened and asked questions until he found himself fighting to keep his eyes open.  He was in the habit of getting a good night’s sleep, though he did find that he was not as tired or sleepy here as he had been in life.  The need for sleep seemed to rise out of habit rather than necessity, as many things did in this realm.  As he realized how weary he was, he also looked around to find that they had eaten nearly everything he had had in his larder.  He had not really been aware of time passing as he listened to Tasslehoff’s tales but they had been sitting for quite some time. Looking into the sitting room, he saw that the sun was shining into the room.  How long had they been talking, he wondered.

Tasslehoff was about to launch into another tale when a knock came at the door.  Frodo jumped up with a hasty, “Excuse me” and went to the front door.  He noticed that his legs did feel a bit odd.  Not as though as they had been asleep, like they would have if he had sat for an extremely long time in Middle-earth, but like he simply had to get used to walking on them again.

As he reached for the doorknob with his right hand, he stopped cold.  For a brief moment, he thought that he had seen his missing finger.  His heart skipped a beat.  Then it was gone again, as if he had imagined it.  He began to ponder this odd phenomenon, when the knock came again and jogged him back to the moment.

He opened the door, and there stood Samwise Gamgee.  He looked a bit worried, wringing his hands and shuffling from side to side as Sam used to do when he was upset.  As soon as he laid eyes on Frodo, he seemed to relax.

“Oh, there you are, Mr. Frodo.  I thought something had happened to you,” he said with an exhale of relief.

“No, Sam.  I’m fine.”  Frodo ushered his old friend inside with an outstretched hand.  “Come in, come in and will you please stop calling me, ‘Mister’ Frodo.  We are all equals here, you know that.”

“Of course, I know it, but it’s hard to remember it.”  Sam tried to explain his reluctance to give up what was a comfortable habit.  “I’m just so used to thinking of you, and referring to you like that, Mr. Frodo.  If you get my meaning.”

Frodo had tried to break Sam and Rosie of the habit ever since he had seen them again and knew that it was probably futile.  They would call him that until they no longer felt the need to do so and there was nothing he could do to change it.  He smiled and sighed as he led Sam into his kitchen.

“Well, there is someone I’d like you to meet,” he was saying and then stopped.  The kitchen was empty.  “Now, where’s he gotten off to?”

“Who, Mr. Frodo?” Sam asked, curious at his friend’s good mood.

“Tasslehoff.  I wanted you to meet him.  He’s a fascinating fellow, Sam.”  Frodo was peeking around corners and behind furniture as if his visitor was playing a game of hide and seek.  He had wandered from room to room and after peering inside a wardrobe and finding nothing, he stopped with his hands on his hips.  He suddenly noticed Sam staring at him as if he were completely insane.

“He was here a moment ago,” he said in his own defense.

Sam decided to try a new topic.  “Not to interrupt, but I came over to see if you were alright.  Rosie and me was worried about you, seeing as how you usually come over to tea before dark.”

“Oh, I’m so sorry, Sam.  I meant to come over last night, but I met Tas and we started talking and he started telling his tales.  I lost track of time.  Please give my apologies to Rose.” Frodo halfway gave up his search for the kender, though he wondered where he had gone so quickly.

“Well, we don’t expect you to live your day around us, mind you.  But, seeing as how it has been two days, I just thought that I would pop by and see if you were …well…”

Frodo stopped in shock.  “Did you say two days?”

“Yes, Mr. Frodo.  When we didn’t hear from you.  Well, we got worried.”

“Two days?” he repeated to himself in wonder.  Then he laughed.  A full-hearted laugh.

Sam smiled to see Frodo in such a wonderfully good humor and began to chuckle as well, though he did not know what they were laughing at.  It was just good to see Frodo laugh again.

“No wonder I was running out of food,” Frodo wiped a tear from his eye.  “We sat and talked for two days!  And I didn’t even know it.  No wonder I’m so tired.”

He sat down on a nearby bench and held his head in his hands as the laughs became less hysterical, then rubbed his face and scalp to wake himself back up a bit.

“You mean, that you haven’t slept in two nights, Mr. Frodo?”  Sam seemed worried again.  “That can’t be good for you.”

“I don’t think it really matters that much in this realm, dear Sam.  Don’t worry over me.  You did that enough in life.  But, I do apologize for missing tea, and not giving any notice or explanation.  It was just that Tasslehoff talked almost non-stop and all he had to say was so very interesting.”

“If you say so, Mr. Frodo.”  Sam sounded as if he was beginning to doubt if this Tasslehoff really existed.

“I’m not crazy, Sam.” Frodo chuckled, he began to doubt that statement himself, though.  “I found him trying to pick the lock on my front door.  It seems that is a common thing that kender do.”

“Kender?”  The tone implied that Sam had heard of them before.

“Yes.  Have you heard of them?” Frodo jumped up.  “Where have you known that name from?”

Sam looked as if he were caught with something that he should not have had.  “Oh, I believe that Gandalf had mentioned that name to me.  Just a few days ago.”

“Gandalf?”  Frodo contemplated this new information a moment, then shrugged it off.  “Well, he did say that he had met quite a few new folk around here.  And he did say that if one is not expecting to…”

He got a sudden thought and shouted.  “Tasslehoff?  Are you still here?!”

This outburst startled Sam, but he was even more startled when a voice from two rooms away answered.

Frodo smiled triumphantly.  “Sam, I want you to meet Tasslehoff Burrfoot.”

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*Gintilli Dibbertill is a kender created by my best friend for role-playing the DRAGONLANCE role-playing world by Wizards of the Coast. The Player Character claims relation to the Burrfoot clan, though that is unsubstantiated. She and her sister do not appear in any books or movies.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

That is the beginning of my fanfic. I hope you enjoyed it. It was fun to write and it filled a need in me to give Frodo a place to deal with feelings over his ordeal and possibly move on to a relationship as the other hobbits had done. Yes, it is a love tale. I had a crush on Frodo ever since seeing the 1978 animated movie The Lord of the Rings.

If you liked it or would like to read more of it, please leave a LIKE or a comment to let me know. Thank you for joining me in this little experiment!

Dellani Oakes, Sea of Destiny

Sea of Destiny – Conclusion

sea of destiny cover “In a bold move that shocked high society, billionaire heiress, Emily Geraci married a little known dance instructor, M. Kyle Scott of Orlando. Scott is the son of former dance instructor, Amy (Jerome) Scott of Tampa and the late Michael K. Scott. The wedding was held at the Davenport Dance Studio in Orlando. Among the guests were the dance instructors, Scott’s former co-workers from The Webster Agency, students from the Davenport Studio and members of the crew of Ms. Geraci’s ship, The Serendipity.

The bride was attended by Miss Vera Stapleton of Cocoa Beach. And Ms. Carmelita Porter of Orlando. The groom was attended by his brother, Christopher Scott of Key West, and his son, Randall. The Reverend Daniel Burke officiated.

The reception followed aboard Ms. Geraci’s ship, The Serendipity. The couple will honeymoon in Cancun, Cozumel and Belize. Upon returning to the States, the family will reside in Orlando.”

Kyle read aloud from the Orlando Sentinel. “Look, Emily, we rated page one of the wedding section.” Kyle tossed the paper down on the bed before following it, to lie on his back in front of his wife. “Have I told you this morning how much I love you?”

“Several times just moments ago,” she giggled, popping him with a pillow.

“Oh, hit me again, baby!”

“Did I marry a closet masochist?”

“Yeah, into bondage.” He replied in a gruff, teasing tone. “I’m completely trapped in your eyes and tied up in your love.”

“Shut up and kiss me, bondage boy.”

Her lips were descending on his when the door to their suite flew open and Mindy flung herself on her father’s lap.

“Rosie’s cryin’, Daddy.”

“Where’s Vera?”

“Her’s seepin’.”

“Honey, when Rose cries, Vera will take care of her. That’s her job now, honey.”

“Okay!” She squished her father’s face, puckering his lips. “I wuv you, Daddy!”

Emily got the same treatment. “I wuv you, Emily!”

“I love you too, sweetie. Now go on out so Daddy and I can get a shower.”

“You gonna come play with me?”

“I about an hour, honey,” her father replied.

“Okay. I’ll come get you in an hour.”

“How about two?”

“Daddy!” Mindy looked disgusted, hand on hip. “Who’s gonna play wif me?”

“Wake your brother.”

“Okay!” She bounced out.

Kyle locked the door behind her, barricading it with a heavy table. “We have to be quick, my bondage queen! The pixie princess will be back soon unless her brother can occupy her.”

“Was it a mistake bringing the family with us?”

“Could you be separated from them for a minute?”

She giggled, shaking her head.

“Me either. I love you, Emily Geraci-Scott.”

“Shut up, Kyle, and kiss me.”

THE END

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Sea of Destiny – Part 55

sea of destiny coverKyle quits his advertising job, and works as a dance instructor. One day between classes, Emily arrives. With his baby daughter, Rose.

“Vera didn’t want to keep her. She hasn’t got room for a baby in her life, so I offered to adopt her. Because she’s a part of you, Kyle, I kept her.”

“She’s beautiful, Emily.”

“She’s ours, Kyle.”

“I don’t understand.”

“I figured out what I want out of life, my new life because of your father. I want you, if you’ll have me. I love your kids and I love you and….”

He took her in his arms, kissing her deeply, trying not to squash the baby between them. She cried in protest, wiggling between their chests. Laughing, Kyle pulled back the blanket, gazing into her astonishing blue eyes.

“What’s her middle name?”

“Nadia.” She emphasized the second syllable. “It means hope.”

“Rose Nadia,” he repeated solemnly. “Everyone!” He clapped his hands sharply, getting their attention. “I want you to meet someone. Emily Geraci, I’d like you to meet my salsa students. Emily is a former student. The best I ever taught.” He glanced at her, eyes twinkling.

“And I’d like to introduce you to the newest member of our dance family. My daughter, Rose Nadia.”

It took nearly three minutes for them to stop cheering. Kyle stood with Emily, accepting the congratulations of his students. Attracted by the noise, his co-workers came in to see what was going on. Soon, nearly everyone in the studio knew about Emily and Rose. His daughters were next door in ballet and came over to see their new baby sister.

“But where did she come from?” Mindy asked, squinting at the baby.

“I’ll explain later, honey. Isn’t she pretty?” Kyle said.

“But I’m ‘posed to be the baby, Daddy.”

“Now you’re the big sister. What do you think of that?”

“I dunno. I guess that’s okay.”

“Way to go, Dad.” Cindy teased him. “So this is what you were up to the night you didn’t come back to the ship?”

“Like I’d tell you.”

She nudged him. “Naughty boy!”

“Just don’t you bring one of these home anytime soon.”

“Gawd, Dad! Yuck!” She took Mindy and went back to ballet class.

Kyle carried Rose around the studio showing her to everyone, accepting their compliments and congratulations. Finally, after all he’d been through, everything was coming together. He felt like he was walking on air, floating a mile above the ground.

Emily watched him work the room, her eyes glowing. Cindy came back into the classroom after ballet, carrying her workout bag. She flopped down on a chair next to Emily.

“So, you and Dad getting married?”

“If he wants me.”

If? You even need to dignify that stupid statement with a response?”

“He hasn’t officially asked me yet.” Emily laughed, hugging Cindy. “Would that be alright with you?”

“Yeah! He needs to be happy, Emily. Being with you was the happiest he’s been in ages. Being without you, that’s the most miserable I’ve ever seen him. Even after Mom died.”

“Is he enjoying what he’s doing?”

“He loves it. He goes to work and comes home smiling. He never did that at the office. This is where his heart is.”

She watched Emily watch her father for a moment. Making a sudden decision, she leaned over to the CD player, pushing the play button. A slow love song by Faith Hill started playing. Cindy pirouetted to her father’s side, taking the baby from him. With a gentle shove, she pushed him across the room to Emily. He held out his hand and she took it as the music wrapped around them.

Kyle and Emily danced together as if they had done it all their lives. Gradually, the other instructors and the students joined them, dancing as Faith Hill sang Breathe. The last notes of the song ended. Kyle leaned over, kissing Emily, holding her close.

“Marry me,” he whispered.

“Of course,” she replied.

© Dellani Oakes

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Sea of Destiny by Dellani Oakes – Part 54

sea of destiny coverKyle comes home to find out that Carmelita and the children have a surprise party for him. He’d forgotten his birthday entirely. Not only that, his friends and co-workers are there, as well as his brother. Chris makes a rather off-color comment to Carmelita.

“Oh, you think so, huh? You think you’re enough man for Lita?”

“I know I am. I’ve got all you need right here.” He grabbed his pants.

Carmelita eyed him speculatively. “Maybe so, sugar. But do you really think you need to be educating your brother’s children at their tender ages?”

“Um… I’m guessing the right answer is no?”

She leaned over, kissing him on the lips. “That’s correct.”

The party broke up around midnight. Mindy was asleep on the couch, curled up with Slycarp the cat. Kyle carried her up to bed while Chris helped Carmelita clean up.

“This was a good thing you did, Lita. He needed this right now.”

“How did the meeting with your dad go?”

“Not great. I’d say it was epically bad.”

“That’s a shame.”

“Cheese it, Pinky, the cops.” Chris said in a funny gangster voice.

“You’re talking about me. My ears are burning.”

“Course we are. It’s your birthday. You’re the topic of the day.”

“Let’s change the topic. I need a beer.”

“Doesn’t someone have to work tomorrow?”

“No. I talked to Web. I’m extending my leave of absence.”

“You are? Mr. Type A, workaholic is taking personal leave? Why?”

Kyle popped open a beer, handing it to his brother. Opening another for himself, he took a long pull on it before he said anything more than “Drink.”

“What’s wrong, baby? Something’s preying on your mind.”

“I got a call just before coming back here. Mom called from the home.”

“Is she okay?”

She’s fine. Dad’s gone, Chris. He died this morning.”

His brother downed the bottle of beer, asking for another. Together, they got progressively drunk. Lita kept them supplied with bottles and helped them to bed when they got too unsteady to stand.

Kyle was less wasted than his brother, so he helped take Chris to bed, then stumbled to his own. As he walked out the door, he saw Carmelita lean over and kiss his brother on the lips.

“Sleep well, baby. Maybe next time you can rock Carmelita’s world.” She tucked the blankets around him, turning out the light as she left.

* * *

Days passed, flowing calmly into weeks, drifting into months. After his father’s memorial service, Kyle tendered his resignation. He’d been toying with the idea of starting his own dance studio, setting that in motion backed by his former advertising clients. Until that came to fruition, he worked full time at the dance studio where his girls took ballet. He taught jazz, tap, ballroom dancing and salsa. Building up a clientele, he was establishing himself as one of the best adult dance instructors in the Orlando area.

He was between classes, preparing for his Latin dance class when the door opened and a dark haired woman walked in holding something in her arms. Kyle was facing the mirror taking a drink from his water bottle when he caught a glimpse of her. Something about her smile and the way she held herself was familiar.

“Emily?” He spun around, nearly losing his balance. “What are you doing here?”

“I brought someone to see you.”

The bundle in her arms moved, gurgling. He covered the distance faster than he would have thought possible.

“I’ve named her Rose,” she smiled up at him. “Isn’t she beautiful?”

“She’s gorgeous. I don’t understand. What are you doing here? Why did you bring a baby?”

“Can someone else take your class for a few minutes?”

“I don’t know. I guess….” He spoke briefly to his partner who got the class warming up while he took Emily outside.

“Tell me about Rose.”

“She’s your daughter.”

“My—my what?”

“The night you spent with Vera. Yes, I know it was her. It’s okay.” She stopped him before he could apologize. “Grief makes us do stupid things and God knows you’d already had more than your share. Vera found out she was pregnant and came to me wondering what to do. Because you and I were friends….” She faltered, her gaze dropping.

“Emily, I’m so sorry….”

© Dellani Oakes

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Sea of Destiny by Dellani Oakes – Part 53

sea of destiny coverAs Kyle gets home, he receives a call from his mother that his father is dead. She insists that he talk to the woman from the nursing home, in order to make a decision for disposition of remains.

“That’s it? You can’t just assign his body to someone?”

“Usually the family likes to decide. When someone passes….”

“He’s dead, Marjorie. It really doesn’t matter. Eenie meenie minie mo.”

She laughed nervously. “I’m sorry?”

“Pick one. Put my mother back on.”

“Yes, of course.” She sounded puzzled and somewhat disgusted.

“Sonny? When are you coming back down?”

“I’m not, Mom. You’re going to have to do this by yourself. I can’t be any part of this.”

“But someone has to decide….”

You decide. I hardly knew the man. The short time I did know him, I didn’t like him much.”

“Michael Kyle, he was your father!”

“Don’t call me Michael. And don’t try to guilt me into this. I’ll come for a memorial service, but I’m not deciding any of this.”

“You’re being harsh, Kyle.”

“No, ma’am. I’m finally being my own man. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to spend time with my family.” He hung up.

The house was abnormally quiet. Usually by now Mindy had run screaming down the stairs, flinging herself at his legs.

“Carmelita? Kids?” He walked through the entire house, calling and listening.

Puzzled, he thought he saw someone in Carmelita’s apartment that sat perpendicular to the back of the house. Figuring it was the one place he hadn’t looked, he tapped on the door. Trying the knob, it wasn’t locked. Pushing it open, he called Carmelita and the children again. Thinking he heard a noise, he walked further in.

“Surprise!!” They jumped at him from every imaginable hiding place.

Not only were Carmelita and the children there, but all his friends and coworkers. Laughing, he picked up Mindy who was finally attacking his knees.

“Wow, to what do I owe this honor?”

“It’s your birfday, Daddy!”

“Silly Daddy,” Cindy kissed him.

“God, Dad, can’t even remember your own birthday? You are getting old.” Randy punched his father on the arm thirty-four times.

“Did we surprise you, Daddy?”

“You did, munchkin. I thought you’d left me for a better looking dad.”

“You’re the handsomest daddy ever! I’m never leaving you.”

“Thank you, princess.”

She mashed his lips together, giving him a big kiss.

Carmelita had outdone herself with the meal. She’d prepared all his favorites: lasagna, Caesar salad, and homemade garlic bread. The others had brought their specialty dishes just like a potluck dinner. Web presented him with a case of his favorite wine and a new, very fancy pneumatic bottle opener. To properly initiate the opener, they used it on a bottle of his birthday wine.

“You’ll notice, my friends, that every bottle is from 1978, exactly the same age as our esteemed birthday boy.”

“Great year for both wines and boys,” Kyle quipped as he took a sip. “Damn, that’s good! Thank you, Web. Thanks everyone. This is the best birthday ever.”

He couldn’t remember his birthday from last year. It fell in the middle of one of Margo’s chemo sessions and he had forgotten it until he got a notice that his driver’s license had expired.

They were just sitting down to dinner when Chris walked in grinning like crazy.

“You knew too?”

“Sure I knew. Mindy called me, didn’t you, Princess?”

“Uncle Chris!” She launched herself at him, swinging from his forearm. “You came!”

“I told you I would, sweetie. I had to make it look good for Dad. Had to fool him.”

“You’re a sneak, kid.”

“Hell yeah, sneak. Pass me a beer, Bruno.” He said to Randy. “Lita, I’m staying with you tonight. Any woman who cooks like you do needs me in her life.”

“Oh, you think so, huh? You think you’re enough man for Lita?”

“I know I am. I’ve got all you need right here.” He grabbed his pants.

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Sea of Destiny by Dellani Oakes – Part 52

sea of destiny coverChris runs out of the building, followed by Kyle. Chris’ anger brings on an asthma attack and he has no inhaler, but the nursing home gives him a breathing treatment.

“Someone should tell his family,” the nurse said.

“I will,” Kyle said. “I’m in the way.”

He strolled down to his father’s room. He could hear his parents laughing and chatting quietly. Leaning in the doorway, he cleared his throat.

“Chris is having an asthma attack. First he’s had in fifteen years. It’s okay, don’t bother to get up, the doctor and nurse are treating him and he’ll be right as rain in a few minutes. Meanwhile, what can we chat about that makes us feel like a family for a little while before Daddy kicks off?” His voice was calm, his tone cold. The fury building in him dissipated suddenly, leaving him lightheaded.

“I’m sorry you two couldn’t work out your problems. I’m sorry that car hit me. The brakes on my bike didn’t work and I couldn’t stop. I remember that now. It’s too bad you left, Mike. You missed some good years. You missed meeting my wife, who was a truly remarkable woman. You weren’t there when our children were born, you weren’t at her funeral. You left a hole in our lives for a few years, but you’ve got a bigger one in yours. I don’t want the bullshit about how Mom didn’t want you around or you had to learn to control your gifts.

“You couldn’t handle working at some boring, shitty job for the rest of your life. You couldn’t deal with the responsibilities of being a husband and father. Now you’re laying your death at our feet. Poor pitiful you, sacrificed yourself for others. Well, what about my sacrifices? Or Christopher’s? I forgive you, old man, since that’s what you want. I forgive you because it’s pointless to be angry with an emotional cripple.” He headed out the door, then turned to address his mother. “Mom, I love you. Take a cab back to the hotel. I’m taking Chris and we’re leaving.”

“So much for me being strong for you, huh?” Chris laughed weakly as they headed back to their room.

“None of us anticipated how hard that would be,” Kyle said.

“You did. You fucking knew already and you didn’t say.”

“I already went through it once. Look how well I handled it. How do I prepare you for something like that?”

“I dunno.”

“If I’m ever like that with my kids, you have my permission to shoot me.”

“You never would. But can’t I shoot you anyway?”

“Nice, I’m feeling the love.”

“I need a beer.”

“No way. You just had an asthma attack. I’m not letting you drink beer.”

“Spoil sport.”

“Dipshit.”

* * *

Kyle drove home the next day feeling better about his life than he had in a very long time. True, he still wasn’t back with Emily, but he held out hope that they could work it out. He had to hope that Mike was right, they were meant to be together. Despite his short comings, he did have a little bit of an inside track. Kyle was just walking in the door when his phone rang. Digging it out of his pocket, he saw a number he didn’t recognize.

“Hello?”

“Sonny?” It was his mother. She sounded terrible.

“Yeah. What’s wrong, Mom?”

“It’s your father, Sonny. The home called me a little while ago. He died this morning.”

His fingers went numb. Dropping his bag, he had to hang onto the back of the couch, clutching his phone so as not to drop it too.

“They want to know what to do with—with him. I didn’t know. I just can’t decide….”

“Listen, Mom. Someone at the home should have papers.”

“Can you please talk to them? There’s a lady here. I’m at the home right now.”

“Sure, Mom. Put her on.” He sighed resignedly.

“Mr. Scott? This is Marjorie Cunningham at St. Matthew’s.”

“Ms. Cunningham, I just walked in my front door. What do you need from me?”

“Your mother is very distraught, Mr. Scott.”

“I got that. What decisions need to be made? Surely he had some kind of will or a letter of intent?”

“Yes, we have that on file.”

“Then what do you need from me?”

“He wanted to be cremated. We need to know which facility to send him to for preparation.”

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Sea of Destiny – Part 51 by Dellani Oakes

sea of destiny coverAs Kyle anticipated, the meeting with their father is emotional for their mom and shocking for Chris.

Kyle moved a chair behind his mother, helping her sit. He and Chris also took chairs near their mother, several feet from their father. Mike held out his hand to his younger son.

“Pleased to meet you, son. You look much like I remember. Only you lost that baby fat.” His blue eyes sparkled with tears, but he blinked them away. “One of the girls will bring tea shortly. I’m not allowed coffee these days.” He coughed. It was a deep, rattling, raspy sound. Grabbing a tissue, he held it over his mouth.

Kyle offered him a sip of water, which he accepted with a nod of thanks.

“You look a lot worse than you did a month ago.”

“Time catching up with me. How is Emily?”

“I don’t know. I haven’t seen her. She and I went our separate ways.”

“That’s a shame. You two belong together.”

“You’re an expert on relationships now?”

“No. And expert on Emily. Once I heal someone—a part of them belongs to me for a time. At least that’s how I explain it. I see into their hearts for awhile. She cares about you.”

“Apparently not as much as we hoped.”

“What happened hurt her.”

“Yeah, well you’d decidedly be an expert on that.”

“Kyle Scott, you apologize to your father!” His mother entered the conversation in a shrill voice. “That wasn’t nice.”

“It’s alright, Amy. Let the boy say what he needs to. I didn’t expect—this to be easy.”

“What did you expect?” Chris asked.

Mike laughed softly, ending in another cough. “I don’t know. Boys, I know what I did was harsh, callous—but I couldn’t put the call off any longer. When I healed Kyle, my gifts burst free like the Fourth of July. There was this incredible fireworks display inside me and I had to learn to control it. I also knew I had to be in a position to share it with as many people as I could. I couldn’t do that selling life insurance.”

“Why didn’t you ever come by? Or call?” Chris asked. “You could have done something.”

“Your mother didn’t want me around. She made that very clear.”

“And you were in the habit of doing whatever she said?” He made a rude noise, rolling his eyes.

“I knew I couldn’t continue to be a husband and father. It was the worst decision I ever had to make.”

“And the most selfish,” Kyle added caustically. “And you accuse our mother of being selfish. I’d say annulling your marriage to become a priest takes the cake on selfish.”

“Kyle always put everyone else first,” Chris said to his parents. “When you left, he took care of us. He was seven—seven! He took better care of me my whole life than either of you. I’m truly sorry you’re dying, Mike. I bet you were a real special guy. But the fact is, the only person I feel sorry for in this room is my brother. So save your apologies and your platitudes, cause it makes no difference now. He’s screwed, you’re dying and Mom’s a basket case.”

“What about you?”

“Me? My problem is I can’t commit to a relationship longer than six months, my track record to date, because I’m afraid I’ll end up like my parents. So you’re selfish, she’s controlling and I’m dysfunctional. It totally sucks that the only reason you’re contacting us now is because you’re about to die. Did it occur to you that maybe we’d have liked to meet you a long time ago? What good are you now? What the hell good are you?” Angry, he left the room, nearly knocking over the woman with the tea.

Kyle followed him, running after his brother. Chris barreled out the front door, stopping several feet from the door. He was crying, his body heaving and convulsing with the violence of his tears. Kyle caught up with him, helping him to a nearby bench. A statue of St. Francis stood silent vigil over the shady retreat.

“Shh, calm down, Chris. You’re gonna hyperventilate. Have you got an inhaler with you?”

“N—no.” He hiccuped, gasping. “Can’t—can’t br….”

The receptionist poked her head out the door. She’d seen them run out and thought she should check on them. Kyle bellowed at her to get help.

“He’s asthmatic.”

Moments later a doctor and a nurse were outside with a wheelchair. They took him inside, giving him a breathing treatment.

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Sea of Destiny – Part 50 by Dellani Oakes

sea of destiny coverKyle has a long talk with his brother, who continues to be unmoved by their father’s illness or presence. After lunch, they head upstairs, when Mindy calls. She asks to speak to Chris.

Kyle handed his phone to Chris.

“Hey, princess. How’s my favorite five year old niece?”

“You’re so silly. I’m your only five year old niece. You’re as crazy as Daddy.”

“Not yet. Daddy’s old.”

“He’s not old! Nona’s old.”

Chris sputtered, wiping the phone where he spit on it. “Don’t let her hear you say that. She’ll cut your hair.”

“No, she won’t. Her likes my curls.”

“She does? Maybe she wants to make a wig so she’ll look younger.”

“Stop that!” Kyle snatched the phone, covering it with his fist. “She doesn’t need more nightmare material. Nona won’t really cut your hair off to make a wig,” he assured his daughter. “But Daddy’s going to shave Uncle Chris bald and toss him in the ocean and make a buoy out of him.”

“Why are you gonna make him a boy?”

“Don’t worry about it, baby. What did you have for dinner?”

“Lita fixed Mexican mac and cheese.”

“Mexican mac and cheese? What’s that?”

“I don’t know, but it was yummy. When are you gonna come home?”

“I told you, I’ll be leaving here Sunday.”

“Are you gonna see Miss Emily while you’re gone?”

“I don’t think so, baby.”

“I like Miss Emily.”

“Me too, Mindy. I need to go now, sweetie. Love and kisses to everyone.”

“Even Randy?”

“Even Randy.”

She giggled, making kissing noises in the phone. “Silly Daddy!” She hung up, still laughing.

“That kid is far too precocious for our good, Kyle.”

“No kidding? You’re an expert on my kids now?”

For a reply, Chris punched him in the arm.

The brothers stayed up late talking over old times. It had been years since they’d had a good bitch and bull session, so they used the time to their advantage. They had a lot of things to talk about before they saw their mother. As much as they loved her, they could only tolerate her in very small doses.

“You know she’s gonna fall completely to pieces, right?” Chris said the next morning as they were getting dressed for their visit.

“Yeah. Already anticipated that.” Kyle pulled three clean handkerchiefs from his pocket.

“I’m here for ya, bro.” Chris produced three more with a smirk.

Their mother arrived in a perfumed, fluttering pink cloud. Her dress had more frills and ruffles than either man had ever seen on one garment.

“She looks like a piñata,” Chris whispered.

“I was thinking a peony or crepe myrtle.”

Either way, she was very pink and frilly. Chris drove Amy’s car to the retirement center where their father had come to live his last days. It was beautifully laid out like an old Spanish cloister complete with a chapel and mission bell. Inside, it smelled of antiseptic and incense. A nurse’s aid led them to Michael’s room, tapping on the door before opening it.

“Father Mike, your family is here.”

“Come in,” came the feeble reply.

Kyle was appalled by the sight that met his eyes. Gone was the robust man he’d seen in Mexico. This man looked ready to drop any second. He was seated in a low rocker with a hand carved rosary clutched in one hand. Candles burned on a small alter as well as a stick of fragrant incense. He smiled, holding out his hands to Amy.

“You look beautiful, Amy. Just as lovely as I remembered.”

Amy burst into tears as she walked across to take his hands. Squatting gracefully at his feet, she laid her head on his lap. He patted her blonde curls absently, his lips moving silently as she wept. Kyle followed with a handkerchief, but Chris hung back.

“Father Mike, I want to introduce you to my brother. Chris, this is Father Michael Scott.” He thought meeting him in an impersonal way would make it easier for his brother to handle.

Even though he was prepared for the meeting, Chris was stunned. This was his father. The man who had given him life. A complete stranger. Wrestling with himself, he forced a smile.

“Hi,” he gasped, walking stiffly forward.

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Sea of Destiny – Part 49 by Dellani Oakes

sea of destiny coverKyle and Chris meet up in Miami the day before their mother’s arrival, to talk about their father. Chris says he doesn’t care about the man, but Kyle is still wary of how to break the news that their father is ill.

Chris tossed his duffel bag on one bed, flinging himself after it. “I need a beer and a burger. Can we get lunch while we talk?”

“Sure. Want to get it sent up?”

“Why bother?”

“I thought you might prefer to speak in private.”

“There you go acting all mysterious again. No, I’d like to sit in a proper restaurant, have beer on tap and talk to my favorite brother.”

“Only brother, dipshit.”

“There you go, spoiling my illusions of a large family.”

They went to the dining room and placed their orders before Kyle would tell Chris anything.

“Why all the mystery?”

Kyle signed heavily, wishing someone other than he was the one telling Chris all this. He went into detail. His younger brother’s analytical mind liked details. It was funny what he latched onto.

“Am I supposed to cry and raise a scene? I told you, I don’t remember the man.”

“When we see him tomorrow, could you pretend to care a little?”

“Not really. I’m doing this for you, not for Mom or him. You need me right now. I leaned on you my entire life, you fought my battles, took the blame ninety percent of the times I should have got my ass torn up. You’ve been brother, father and best friend my entire life, Kyle. Since Margo got sick, it’s been my time to let you lean on me. I can’t do shit else, big brother, but I can be here when you fall to pieces.”

“What makes you think I’m going to?”

“Dude, I’ve never seen you look so bad. No offense, but you didn’t even look this bad when Margo died. There’s too much on you right now. You need to get good and drunk and get laid.”

“Done that already, remember? Got me in worse trouble.”

“Well, you already screwed the pooch with that relationship. What does it matter now?”

“I’m trying to put it back together. I’m making progress.”

“How would she know?”

I’d know. Unlike you, baby brother, I have a few moral standards.”

“Yeah, that’s why you knocked up Margo before you were married and cheated on Emily. Right. Morals.”

Kyle was furious. He felt the flush of anger rise from his chest, up his neck, making his ears burn. Chris didn’t miss it, he chose to ignore it. He knew he’d pissed off his brother. Since he was speaking the truth as he saw it, he felt no remorse.

“I married her, didn’t I?”

“When Mom insisted.”

“I’d already decided. Telling Mom was a courtesy.”

“She didn’t see it that way. She saw it as you slapping her in the face because she was pregnant when she and Dad got married.”

“At the time, I didn’t know that.”

“How could you not? I knew that from the time I was tiny.”

“I didn’t remember. After my accident, a lot of pieces didn’t fit anymore.”

“What accident?”

“On my bike. I got hit by a car and almost died.”

“Oh. I’d forgotten that. I was what, two, three?”

“Three, not quite four. It was right before Dad left. It’s the reason he left.”

“Because you got hit by a car? That makes sense.” Chris took a swig of his beer.

“Because Mom wouldn’t let him see me. She wouldn’t let him try to heal me.”

That took some explaining. Somehow, Chris’ brilliant mind had managed to miss the fact that their father was a faith healer. Because he didn’t believe in it, of course it couldn’t exist. It was one of the things Kyle really disliked about his little brother.

Kyle’s phone rang as they got on the elevator. It was Mindy. “Hey, baby.”

“Daddy, when are you gonna be home?”

“Day after tomorrow.”

“Is Uncle Chris with you?”

“Yes, he is. He’s standing next to me in the elevator.”

“He is? For real?”

“Yup. Want to talk to him?”

“Yes, yes!”

© Dellani Oakes

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