I sat on the flat top of the large boulder, looking out at the Pacific Ocean. The blue water rolled up on to the sandy beach as the sun began to set. Families were packing up their belongings to go home and eat dinner. Groups of younger adults and older teens wandered on to the beach with coolers and frisbees. They set themselves down on long towels, couples leaning on each other and watching the romantic setting unfold.
I wanted to gag.
My mother insisted on taking a vacation while my brother and step-dad stayed home in the middle-of-nowhere Kansas. Mom and I moved there four years ago, when she decided to pack up and leave our city life in Chicago for Matt Johnson, the good ol’ American country boy. We had lived with Ginny, our five year old cat, in Chicago. Life had been hard growing up, but by the time I had to enter high school, I had fought all of the bullying and backstabbing to be comfortable with myself. When Mom dropped the bomb, my life went with it.
Mom picked California for two reasons. One, Hollywood. Two, the beach. I’d been a fan of old black and white movies since I had first stayed home alone one summer and watched the classic movie channel from sun up to sun down. Hollywood seemed the perfect location. And I always loved the beach. Nothing is as perfect as the sand beneath your feet and the smell of ocean water.
I sighed and hugged my knees to my chest. Mom spent most of her time shopping, getting a massage, getting a facial, and calling back home to see if everything was okay. At first, it made sense, but by the third day of our week long vacation, I stopped expecting plans to be made and busied myself with the beach, free wi-fi, and classic movies.
I hopped down from my perch and walked the sloping sands to the water. After swimming for most of the day, I had changed into a pair of green khakis and a white shirt before coming back to watch the sunset. I left my phone in the hotel. It’s not like anyone would text or call and the less I carried around, the better. I walked past the huge group of jagged rocks that bordered the shoreline. The temperature had cooled in the shade of the large rocks and I shivered at the sudden change. I hadn’t packed any sweater or sweats because, well, it’s California and the summer. Enough said in my book.
I walked maybe three steps into the shaded area before the sand fell from underneath me and I went with it. I slammed painfully into the jagged, rough surface of the Earth over and over again. I tried grabbing a hold of the rocky surface, but my fingers only scrapped painfully against it, refusing to save my life.
And then I was in the middle of a field, surrounded by tall, green grass and wildflowers of all colors. Purple, pink, yellow, and white flowers surrounded me with their sweet smells. I felt no pain. I looked at my fingers and gaped. I vividly remembered scrapping them against the rocky surface, but they looked just as uninjured as they had before I fell. I tried thinking back to how I landed here. I had been falling and falling and then nothing. Just a flash of white light before I found myself sitting in the meadow with a bright blue, cloudless sky above my head.
I’ve had my fair share of fairy tales. I practically lived off Disney when I was a child and I felt a little too much like Alice for my liking, minus the white rabbit. I had no idea what to do, who to look for, and how to get back home. I just knew I wasn’t going to find any answer sitting on my butt.
I stood up and began walking North. The grass tickled the bare skin on my legs and the wild flower petals were soft to the touch. The sweet scents of the flowers mixed with the fresh air blown by the wind. For miles and miles, the grass and flowers stretched on and on. Not a tree nor building in sight. I kept walking, not giving up in finding some form of civilization. A girl like me could enjoy a long life here, wherever here was. In case I couldn’t get home. A girl needs a back-up plan.
“You’re here! You’re here!” A whiz flew past my ear and I ducked. The grass tickled my chin. “You’re here! You’re here!” came the high-pitched squeals.
Slowly, I lifted my head to see four colorful hummingbirds in front of me. Their wings flapped so fast there was a constant buzzing sound.
“You’re here!” squealed the yellow one in a high-pitched voice. It bounced up and down when it spoke. Talking animals...really? I thought I’d faint.
“She’s here! She’s here!” sang the other three.
“Where is here?” I asked, stepping a little closer to the quartet of birds.
“Hagan!” squealed the blue one. The purple and red ones zipped around before hiding in the tall grass next to my feet. The blue and yellow ones followed. I looked over my shoulder at the sound of movement. Sitting upright, a cat the size of a Golden Retriever blinked at me. I stared at it, taking in the large green eyes and the black and gray striped body. Black fur made the shape of an ‘M’ on it’s gray forehead, but it eerily resembled horns than a letter.
“Fiona Morgan,” it said in a smooth, masculine voice, “welcome. I am Hagan and I will guide you through Onyo. Follow me.” He turned and the striped tail twitched at the end. I frowned. I’d lived with Ginny long enough to know when a cat twitches it’s tail, nothing good ever happens.