Fairy Rider By Leonie Roderick
As the train slowly leaves the station, Dillon sinks down onto one of the seats, waiting for inspiration to strike him. What is he going to do with his time until he gets there?
He opens his carry-all and feels around for the book he bought and has been waiting to read. Opening it he can’t summon the energy to concentrate on the written words.
Suddenly he feels bad. He shouldn’t have given that money away. He should have bought his mother some stupid gift and told her it came from his grandmother.
He feels for his wallet and opens it up.
There is enough money to feed a small army.
His parents were generous as always and he banks most of his allowance. For this trip his father gave him even more than usual, not wanting him to get hungry or thirsty.
He smiles wryly. Just how much did the old man think he could eat and drink? It’s not as if the trip will last that long. If only it is possible… He would have liked to keep going for a long time, or at least until the holidays are over and he can get back to his grandmother. At least there he goes to school and sees his friends during school hours.
His grandmother told him to get his mother something nice. Nice! What would she like to have? She always enjoys receiving flowers, but they die and then there is nothing left. Maybe he should get her a C.D. She likes listening to choir music when she has the time. Not that she spends so much time listening to it. Back in the city, she was always busy rushing around, getting ready for one court case or another.
What is she doing now? He presumes she has lots of time to listen to her C.D- collection now. Does he even know her collection? He doesn’t want to duplicate what she may have.
Maybe he should get her a book. She has always liked to read – even if it was only all those dusty court files.
Or perfume? But real perfume is quite expensive.
He counts the notes in his wallet.
Yes, he has enough to buy perfume.
Does she still wear Estie Lauder?
Better not buy any. She could have changed her mind about it. She is a total stranger to him, he realises with a pang. She isn’t the same mother he knew once. She was a good mother then, even if she was terribly busy. She made time for him and his hobbies.
He will ask the conductor and when the train stops for a while he will go in search of a present for her.
The next station is another big one and he hastily jumps down to the platform in search of a curio shop.
There is nothing like it. A rather questionable little kiosk sells books and he asks about C.D.’s but there is none. There isn’t even a glimpse of a perfume counter. There are magazines and one or two small books.
‘For Mum’, reads the title of the first one and he grabs it.
It is a small book with a pink cover and written in bold black letters, highlighted with gold on it. Opening the pages he almost gags. It’s filled with sentimental inspirational pieces with pictures to match.
It’s a really girly book and he can imagine a daughter buying this to give to her mom, but a man! Never ever! It’s just too sentimental and so sweet it might make him nauseous. Besides, his mother would never believe he wanted to give it to her. She would probably think he is being sarcastic.
Well, so much for the idea of buying her a present at one of the stations.
He rushes back to the waiting train.
At least now he will have more time to think about a suitable present.
As the train leaves the station he looks out of the window.
The country looks wild and filled with trees and bushes – really dense. Even with the tall grass he can see it’s dry. They need rain; he thinks and watches as the wind blows through the yellow grass. Everywhere he looks it’s the same picture: Too many trees and too much dried yellow grass with spiralling red dust devils.
He wonders about the small town his parents are living in. Is it the same sort of environment? How do they cope? Sure they were used to a jungle, but a concrete one, nothing like this. There isn’t even a house to be seen – only the bush and more bushes.
He shakes his head. It feels…it feels abnormal to think of his cultured and sophisticated parents choosing to live in a place similar to this.
Both his parents are waiting for him at the station and they hug him to them, one at a time.
“Oh Darling, I’m so glad you came. We missed you so much,” his mother whispers.
His father grabs two of his bags and makes for the entrance, as if hijacking his bags would help to keep Dillon there.
Dillon feels instantly ashamed. His parents are so openly glad to have him with them and he was so angry with them. He should give them a chance to explain.
Not only do they act strangely but they look it as well,
His mother is dressed in a light flowery summer dress with low-heeled sandals on her feet and nearly no make-up. What happened here? What happened to her dress code? She had the power suits and subtle jewellery down to a fine art. He can only think of her in those tailored twin sets with the discreet pearls around her neck and in her ears, her hair taken up in a sophisticated style with artful strands escaping around her face. Now her hair is in a casual shoulder length bob – neat, but ordinary.
The old man is even more of a stranger. Gone is the three-piece suit with the Dior tie and handmade Italian shoes. His father is wearing grey slacks, a sports shirt – no tie – and sneakers. Sneakers? When did his father start preferring sneakers to smart Italian shoes? Something weird is going on.
The idea of aliens taking over his parent’s bodies isn’t that far-fetched anymore!
Once in the Land Rover he smiles at the change in their transport. In the city his father had a blue Porsche and his mother loved her green Jaguar for their personal transport. For family outings they used the pretentious Mercedes. After being used to the more fancy cars he can’t but wonder why they are now driving around, in the four- wheel drive? It sure may be more practical and serviceable, but what happened to their city cars?
His father stops in front of an old-fashioned café.
“Come on Dillon, we are going to have ice-cream…” his father announces to his astonishment.
He can’t believe his ears.
“Your father loves the ice-cream here. We are always stopping to get some,” his mother explains and slides from the car.
Dillon follows them into the darkened interior of the small room and joins them at a corner table. He is still reeling from one shock after another. He feels totally stunned.
It’s nearly impossible to think of having ice-cream in the middle of the day, in the middle of the week? When did this happen and why or rather how? His father was forever busy in the city. There was never time to go, for ice-cream treats in the middle of the week. Over weekends he was too tired to drive around and enjoy the simple things in life. He did make a point of appearing at Dillon’s sport days, though.
He waits for his father to order as the man seems to know what he wants.
The elderly woman, with her hair in a neat bun and clean washed face, smiles at Dillon.
“I’m so glad you’re here,” she tells him. “Richard and Meav missed you and told me so many stories about you.”
Dillon feels the warmth of a blush stealing into his cheeks and wishes it away with fierceness.
Why is he feeling ashamed? It’s not his fault his parents went bonkers and decided to give everything up and rush away from the city before they even explained the situation to him.
“I like living here, Dillon,” his father tells him quietly. “Your mother and I have time now to enjoy life again. We are sorry we had to leave you behind, but there will come a time when you can come and join us. Don’t think we are not busy. I have my patients and your mother has her clients. These people are just as entitled to the best help and service they can get as those living in the city. We love our new lives, the people we meet and our new circumstances in this town. Don’t think it’s so small. It’s actually quite a large place. Wait and see. When you can get around and get to know the inhabitants you might be surprised.”
“It’s so beautiful here,” his mother tells him.
Remembering the grey bushes and dancing dust devils he saw from the train window, he is amazed. Could she really think it’s beautiful here? She, who was used to the green cultivated gardens of the rich city dwellers.
He looks out into the street and sees the red earth between cement slabs.
“It’s terribly dry…” he says softly.
“We have summer rains and with the hot climate it really gets dry here. But wait until the rains come. We were told it turns into a paradise…”
Dillon watches his mother’s enthusiasm. When did he last see her so happy and relaxed?
Then for the first time, he really notices her. Not her clothes or hair – but her.
She looks pretty with her sparkling eyes and natural colour in her cheeks.
Their ice creams arrive and he is astonished to see how his mother digs in. In the city she was always watching her weight. Now she is eating ice-cream?
His father has ordered the whole menu it seems.
He watches in amazement as his father starts eating from the top layer of nuts, cherries an small wavers.
Well maybe there is some magic at work here.
Once back in the car he thinks about his mother’s love for this place.
Maybe, just maybe, there is an enchantment to be found here. Beauty is after all in the eye of the beholder. Maybe this dry bushy world has a charm and fascination all of its own.
“Dad, do you have a plant park here? You know a sort of nursery?”
“Yes of course we do. Why?”
“Will you please stop there for me? I made a promise to Gran…”
Yes that is what he will do. He will buy a tree. A present for both of his parents! Something that will grow into a big tree, something to nurture and watch over and enjoy, when he is gone. He likes the idea – likes it very much.
He smiles warmly and doesn’t notice the relieved look his parents share.
There you go, Chapter 3 and 4. Leonie and I decided to treat you with two chapters today. We hope you enjoyed and would love hearing from you