Addyson grew up in the country. Her feet were so rough from going barefoot this summer that her soles were almost like shoes. She sat looking out the window at the gravel road running in front of her house, wishing for one of the interludes. She never understood how she knew that word, just that it was what they were. Almost every time she wished for one, it came.
She jumped up quickly, slipped on her tennis shoes without tying them and was out the door and down the steep back steps before her mom could object. As she hit the last step, she heard it, "Addyson, come back here. It's your turn to vacuum these floors. Don't you be running off, young lady." The shouting was growing dim. Addyson quickly tied her shoes and began to run after leaving the steps. She ran toward the woods at the back of their house, to the woods where the fairies lived. She laughed at this because it really wasn't true. They weren't real fairies, the creatures who visited her, but almost as good. She could hear her mom's voice still in the distance, but she would give up shortly and vacuum the floor herself. She always did.
The Marsh Mallows
Allyson loved the woods more than anything: the smell of the marsh mallows, the red clay in patches on the ground, black-eyed Susans everywhere, even the lizards and snakes that scattered as she ran. The bad snakes never came near her and for that, she was grateful. She had watched her dad blow the head off a snake that was raised up and ready to strike a neighbor's child. The child was oblivious. As soon as the snake stopped wiggling about, he started playing in the dirt again. As she ran, the red-tailed hawk that seemed to always be around appeared and flew over her. It made Allyson feel safe. It had been there, above her, for all 11 years of her life, following her in all of her adventures and especially the interludes. She slowed from a run and began to just walk quickly. She heard the voices before she saw anyone. They were laughing and playing and she heard water splashing. As she walked around the area they called Palmetto Flats because the palmettos grew so thick there, she saw where the sound was coming from. Before her was a huge swimming pool with turquoise water and at least five children swimming and playing. One of the children, a Pacific Asian boy about 9 years old, called to her, "Come in, Addyson, the water's fine." She saw another child look in her direction. She was very dark and had long black hair and a beautiful face. Seeing the child's face stirred a latent memory deep in Addyson's mind, then she knew it was truly an interlude. She began to relax and to enjoy it while it lasted.
Addyson noticed that there was a blue and white striped swimsuit lying on a towel near the pool. She understood that was simply one of the things that happened during an interlude. Whatever she wanted or needed appeared, poof! She only wished that some of her math tests would work out that way. She took the swim suit into a stand of pines and changed in to it. As she came out, she brought her clothes with her and placed them on the ground next to the pool. She dove in the water, and swam to the surface with a huge grin on her face: Just as she expected, the water was perfect, just the right temperature for a warm day. She dove to the bottom and swam back up. The sun sparkled and glinted on the water. The dark-skinned girl was waiting for her at the top. "Show me that," she said. "I can't do that." For the next few minutes, Allyson showed her how to dive deep and keep her body under control while doing it. They laughed and talked as they swam. The water was like swimming in air, a perfect temperature and soft and caressing. A young boy about 4 years old came over and called to Allyson, "Play with me now, play with me." And she did. They splashed and raced and even dove off the sides. Eventually another boy, close to Allyson's age swam up to her and asked her if she wanted to race. And she said she did. They didn't race, however. They found they had perfect synergy in swimming. Swimming with him was like two of her swimming. She watched him and he was a mirror of her and she of him. They spent much time swimming the length of the pool and back. He asked her once, "Do you remember?" "No, nothing," she answered. The afternoon went quickly and Addyson noticed the sun slowly starting its descent. She didn't want to leave, but she knew there would be hell to pay if she didn't.
Addyson quickly climbed up the ladder on the side of the pool and grabbed her clothes. She ran into the stand of pines and changed, trying to dry her hair with the striped swim suit. She was searching her imagination for a story to explain the wet hair to her mom. She walked over to the pool and told them all good-bye. "Please come back soon," she called as she walked away. "Don't leave us, Addyson. Come back and play, please. We can't come back soon." But she kept on walking, telling herself it was an interlude and they never lasted - ever - and they always came back. She began to run in order to get in before dusk to avoid more trouble than she was already in. The sound of the children's voices began to fade as she ran and she remembered the love she felt for them as she swam and played with them. It was as though she knew them sometime before but she didn't remember when. Her grown-up friend Isaac had tried to explain. It was something about a veil being lifted sometimes. She didn't completely understand, though. Anyway, oh, Lord, there was Mama on the back porch, looking mad as any wet hen ever looked.
Home Again, Jiggity Jig.
"Addyson, where have you been, child? I was so close to calling the police. Where do you go? I knew when you were born, you were going to be trouble. You never cried, not once, until you were two or three weeks old. What baby doesn't cry? Now, where did you go? Why is your hair wet, young lady? How did you get wet hair? Answer that one for me, please ma'am."
"Well, Mama, there was this huge swimming pool that appeared in the forest."
"And don't be making up lies. You're not funny, little missy. You wouldn't know the truth if you heard it."
Addyson smiled at that and sauntered into her room.