Fairy Rider by Leonie Roderick
It is Sunday and Dillon rolls out of bed and lazily makes his way to the kitchen where his parents are already busy attending to breakfast.
“You stayed out late last night. It reminded me of exam-time when I always felt you hadn’t slept enough,” Meav tells him.
“Something went on at Land’s End, last night. I think the ghost hunt went down,” Dillon changes the subject
Meav put her cup down with more force than necessary. “Oh, can’t they keep to their own properties and leave that poor woman alone?”
“I want to get to church and hear what happened. I watched them from our place but couldn’t see much in the dark.”
“Dillon, I hope you weren’t part of the hunt! Please tell me you respected Mrs O’Shea’s privacy.”
“I never set one foot on Land’s End, Mom. I watched from behind a tree and wished I could have been the owl which was flying around looking for his dinner. I would have liked to have heard and seen everything.”
“Thank you for keeping well away from trouble. Did Delia O’Shea know they were there?”
“I could see something was happening but I couldn’t hear what was being said. She was there with a camera flashing madly and then the police arrived and later on more cars came. I think it was the parents of those hunters.”
“You know a lot of details for one who stayed safely behind a tree…” Richard challenges him.
“I don’t know for sure, I’m guessing an awful lot.”
“Eat your porridge and go and dress. I can’t wait to get to church either,” Meav says.
“I hope the two of you know what happened to the curious cat?” Richard Young tries to burst their bubble.
Once in the car Dillon tells them how the cousins drove up to the farm that day.
“Were they traveling on the road? Not only on their farm but on the road going to town?” Meav asks, shocked.
“Mom, Peter Baintree tried to make me out as some sissy because I don’t take one of your cars to drive around in behind your backs. I told him I have too much respect for maintaining the law.”
Meav gives her husband a meaningful look. She remembers the morning well when he wanted Dillon to show he was a man and break a few rules!
Richard, reading that look, quickly complies:
“Dillon, I’m proud of you. It shows you are responsible and when it’s time
for you to get your driver’s license, I’ll be the first to congratulate. I even promise to
take you shopping and you can choose your own car. But mean while I’m proud of you.
There are reasons for certain rules. Those Baintree cousins are so stupid. Driving
around in cars doesn’t show you are suddenly a man. It shows you are a child playing at
being a man.”
“Dad, you don’t need to give me the lecture again. I heard it the first time and have been obedient.”
They arrive at church and go in. This morning the three Youngs are in different states of anxiety and don’t appreciate the tranquil organ music.
Dillon wants to hear what happened the night before, Meav is glad her son is obedient and not the rebel Richard wanted him to be. Richard wanted Dillon to disobey a few rules but not to be stupid. In her mind there is a very fine line between the two.
Dillon sees more teenagers in church this morning than the last time.
As soon as they have sung the last hymn and the last prayer is said, he rushes outside to take on a nonchalant stance to meet up with the cousins.
As he isn’t supposed to know about the fiasco, he asks casually:
“How did it go last night? I was worried about you and wondered if you were caught. I wanted to phone and ask but it seemed impolite. I didn’t want to wake you or your households.”
“Why should you worry about us? You made it clear you didn’t want to have anything to do with us,” Peter Baintree says aggressively.
“I worried because I think Mrs O’Shea is one bright lady. My mother told me she didn’t like people to visit her uninvited. She has a security system to dream of and is also aware of the smallest thing that happens on that farm. Peacy Maclowa told me of a time he went to see his uncle and aunt who works for Mrs O’Shea. He is sure she was aware of his visit from the first foot he put on Land’s End. He was sure she was waiting for him…”
“This is Dillon Young,” Peter introduces him grudgingly to the other teenagers who have come to join them.
“Oh, you are Dr. Young’s son. Your parents hoped you would join them,” a girl gushes and Dillon wonders if he is going to look at all females and find them wanting, after seeing Elva in person.
“I’m here and plan on staying until I finish my matric,” he says shortly.
“But Dillon isn’t going to attend our school. He is thinking about home schooling…” Peter says nastily.
Dillon bites down a hasty answer and shrugs his shoulders. “I’ve talked to my parents and am not sure what will be the best way to go. I’ll miss my old school and may even go back to the city for short periods of time.”
“Oh, that old school just happens to be a private school and the most expensive one in the city…”Peter remarks with a sarcastic grin.
“Is it? I never thought to check up but as it seems you are so interested I’ll take your word for it. I was happy there and thought it a good school. By the way, what do you have against private schools? I can assure you we worked as hard as you do in your school and the teachers were as strict about homework and good manners as I’m sure the teachers are in all the schools over the country.”
Dillon doesn’t know how long he can keep things sweet. This guy is obviously looking for a fight.
He ignores Peter Baintree and turns to one of the gushing girls and asks:
“How many of you went on the hunt last night?” For the life of him he can’t call it a ‘ghost’ hunt.
“We were eight and the police came and nearly took us to the police station. They called our parents to come and collect us. My parents were so angry and I have been grounded for a month! Believe you me, that was my last ghost hunt ever.”
“Your parents were angry?” Peter Baintree asks amazed. “My parents saw it for what it was: A childish prank and some natural high spirited fun. We can’t help it if the woman is paranoid.”
Dillon watches the Baintree cousins with raised eyebrows. Typical, he thinks. They would see nothing wrong with their children trespassing and playing havoc with another person’s life. Why is it that there are people who teach their children respect from an early age and then there are people who think they have the right to all they want, even if it’s causing hurt and disruption?
“Dillon has a girlfriend in the city,” Norma Baintree announces as if it’s a juicy piece of news. “He calls her Dream-Girl.”
“Wait until you meet her. She is the most wonderful girl ever. I’ll invite her to come for a visit and then you can see for yourself. We’ll have a party,” he announces before realising what he is doing.
“A party like the ones you gave in the city?’
“No, I think we’ll cool it down a bit to fit in with our surroundings. I don’t think you are ready for one of our really good parties,” Dillon tells them tongue in cheek. He wasn’t ever such a big party attendee, but he will never confess or discuss the fact in front of the Baintree cousins.
“Oh you mean you used drugs?” Peter asks sarcastically.
Dillon laughs. “We didn’t need drugs to have a good time. There were a few fools who used to shoot up but they quickly disappeared into their own worlds.”
“You mean they were thrown out of school?” gushing girl asks.
“No I mean they didn’t fit in. Drug users lose the ability to have fun and enjoy themselves if they are not on a high. We got tired of them and ignored them. I don’t know if they are still alive – for all I know they could be dead by now. It’s a shame; some of them were a scream when they were not using and quite bright.”
Just listen to me, talking the talk, using the popular words, he thinks.
“Dillon,” Meav says softly. “Come, we must go. I’m waiting for that important call. Next time you can introduce me to your friends…”
As Dillon walks away with his mother he wonders how much of that nasty conversation she heard.
Once in the car she says:
“Was it necessary to play the big city hot shot and what’s up with all the talk about the wild parties? Didn’t I ever teach you the first lesson of living a good life: never lie? There is no girl to show off! What will you do when the time comes and you can’t produce? Never lie when you can’t put out. Better still – never lie at all – period. You know the worst criminals started off by telling one simple fib and then was forced into telling more and more to cover up the first one.”
“By that time I hope to have the situation under control and Dream-Girl will be here.”
“Dillon, what do you mean? Did you meet her? Who is she? Is she the girl you used to talk about when you were younger?”
“I can’t talk about it – yet. Believe me Mom, there are reasons to keep quiet. Can you both keep up the pretence of a girl waiting in the city?”
“Dillon I know you. I know you were provoked into the conversation this morning. I heard that awful Baintree-child harassing you. But what is this? Is there a girl or not? You have never kept secrets from us. What is going on?” Richard demands in his quiet way.
Dillon has an enormous respect for his father’s insight. His mother may be the lawyer in the family and she can do her word when she wants to but when his father gets going, it means a whole different game – one where he usually does as he is told.
“There is a girl. She is beautiful and alive and in danger. Dad, I have my reasons for keeping quiet. I promise you l shall tell you as soon as it’s possible. Give me time to sort it all out before I ask for your advice and most likely help.”
“Is this trouble? Should we be worried?” Meav asks anxiously – her mothering radar kicking in!
“No Mom, you have nothing to be afraid of. The situation only needs a lot of time and planning. Don’t worry about me, I’m not the one in trouble but Dream-Girl may be… It’s not trouble like you think,’’ he quickly reassures them. ‘’It’s nothing to do with breaking the law or criminal behaviour. Dream-Girl may have a problem to overcome and she will need all the help we can give her…”
His father watches him in the rear-view mirror and then nods. “If you want time you’ll have it. You know we’re always there for you and we’ll do all we can to help you- should you need it.”
“I know Dad. That’s the wonderful thing of having parents like you. I’m sorry I forgot it for a time – but now I know where to go.”
“We’re a family, Son, and families stick together – in good, as well as bad times.”
“The Young-family is for sure the best of the best.”
Being this open hearted Dillon makes use of the golden paved way:
“I want to ask you to forgive me for being so hard-headed in not believing in you. I’m sorry I hurt you. I should have known you would never do a thing to ruin my life. I don’t know why I saw your move here as a personal insult. I should have trusted you…”
Meav wets her lips and tries to sound casual.
“Oh, we are in agreement: Mother knows best!” she teases lightly.
Dillon shifts to the edge of his seat and wraps his arm around each parent from behind.
“Parents know best!” he corrects her.
In Richard something grows happy and light. He remembered the conversation he has had with his wife shortly after Dillon came. He remembered how he told her how glad he was that Dillon was rebelling at long last. He was afraid Dillon was too much of a sissy, but he was afraid to mention the sexual aspect to his wife. He had thought it unnatural for a boy of his son’s age not to have an interest in the opposite sex. And here it is! Dillon is a normal boy, or nearly a man! What is more – there is a girl! A Dream Girl – no less!
He should have known! He should have trusted Dillon!
He can’t wait to meet her! Dream Girl!
Just the name evokes numerous pictures in his head!
Peacy is waiting for him when they get home. He is sitting behind the computer trying out his newly acquired skills.
Dillon smiles as he sees the concentration with which his new friend is working.
“I wish I were as good as you.”
“You will get there, Peacy. Give yourself time. I have been working on the computer for years and should know my way around.”
“You are quick,” Peacy compliments him.
“Let’s go outside. I thought you would come in tomorrow. What are you doing here on a Sunday?”
“I wanted to get away from home. The family is coming over for lunch…”
“You’re lucky to have a large family. We’re a small family with only a few uncles and aunts – some of whom I don’t even know. I feel poor in comparison to you. I think I would have enjoyed having cousins coming over to visit. Can you imagine not having any family at all?”
“Like those Baintree cousins?”
“Oh gee! You’re right! I would rather be alone than having people like those for family.”
In the sticky heat they go to where Darling is standing in the paddock. Both make a fuss of the horse.
“Is there anything you want to tell me, Dillon? Is that why we’re standing here in the sun, looking at a horse?”
“We aren’t standing in the sun; we’re standing in the shade…”
“Oh, excuse me…” Peacy laughs at Dillon and he can’t help the amusement lingering around his mouth, displaying those white-white teeth.
Dillon shrugs his shoulders – Peacy already knows him too well.
Dillon laps into a silence. Peacy watches him and waits patiently. After a minute Dillon says:
“There is something I want to ask you and I don’t know how. I don’t know how much you are aware of and how much you can do without getting into trouble?”
“You don’t trust me! I understand. You don’t know me and you don’t know if I’m reliable…”
“I trust you Peacy – maybe too much. This problem I’m about to burden you with can complicate your life enormously.”
“That may be, but you’re also my friend and, at this moment, my best friend.”
“Thanks Peacy, I can’t tell you how much it means to me.”
“Do you need help, Dillon?”
“No, I’m good. But there is another person who needs help and I don’t know where to start.”
“Oh, you’re talking about Dream-Girl, of course.”
“How do you know I was talking about her?”
“There is only one person who gets you as worked up to this point and it’s that girl.”
“She needs help – desperately, Peacy.”
“What’s wrong? How can I help her?”
“She needs to get a new identity. She needs to start over on a clean slate.”
“Dillon, you’re talking about your neighbour’s daughter. The one that was supposedly buried in that grave between the twin peaks…”
“How do you know she’s alive?”
“I saw her when I visited my aunt. I told you I went to see them and that was when I saw her – only for a moment. At first I thought the ghost story was true but then I realised she was a real, live girl.”
Dillon is amazed. “You kept the secret even without knowing what it was about?”
“I thought they must have good reasons for faking her death. I was waiting to see what was going to happen next, when you arrived. I’m right, aren’t I; you are the next instalment in the fairy-tale?”
Dillon smiles wryly. “You are so sharp, look out or you’ll cut yourself,” he tries to lighten the sudden sombre atmosphere.
Peacy stays silent, waiting for his friend to explain what he wants.
“I hope I shall be the hero and win the fair princess, but that only happens if I can save her from the bad people,” Dillon says dramatically.
“I thought so. When you started talking about those people who you are expecting to arrive I guessed they were the Dream Princess’s enemies.”
“They want her. If they can find her they will take her away and lock her up.”
“Why are they after her? What does she have that they are craving?”
“She has a gift – call it a talent if you like. Those people would like her to use it for ill gain.”
“What is this gift she has? Or can’t you tell me?”
“She can predict the future… She can tell who is special and a chosen one – gifted with the “shine”. That is the name they gave this ability in the country they’re from. This gift is only to be used to do good things and never for selfish reasons – only to help and save people. Only these bad people would exploit it and her…”
“I understand. We have people like that in our culture too. They are rare and they don’t advertise their gifts either. You must have heard of Modjadji, the rain Queen?”
“Who hasn’t heard of that lady? Apparently, Delia O’Shea’s sister had the gift and these people came and took her away. The family never saw her again.”
How much could he tell Peacy? It’s a complicated tale. It would be better if he kept to the bare facts.
“When Delia fell pregnant she was afraid for her child. She knew if her child was one of the gifted, she would lose her and never see her again. Rather than giving up her baby, she chose to disappear to a country where she and the baby would be safe. Land’s End was a shelter for her but still she didn’t take any chances. She didn’t let Elva attend school, giving out that the child was sickly. Then she took the final precaution and faked the child’s death. It meant Elva could never lead a normal life and go around like a free person.”
“What are you planning, Dillon?”
“She’s dead and buried for all practical purposes. If only we can get her a new identity. She could make her appearance here as a new relative or friend and live freely and happily.”
“I see where you’re going.”
“The question is – where do we find a person to do a registration that would look authentic and could stand the deepest scrutiny?”
“I have a cousin who works in registration here in town. He could do it for us but not for a white girl. A black girl wouldn’t be a problem. You know my people don’t always register or registered, their babies. There are numerous children running around who are still under the radar.”
“Do I understand you correctly? A white girl would be a problem but a black girl may get away with it? How can we manage it?”
“I think we should send a woman to go with the girl and say it’s her child and she now realises the child wasn’t registered. This child suddenly needs to have an I.D. document as she is now older and wants to be educated. If the story is believed there will be no difficulty with Internal Affairs…”
“That sounds like a good idea.”
“Not really, Dillon. There are a few big problems that could cause your Dream- Girl a lot of grief”
“What are you talking about? I don’t see any problems. That is if we could only find a woman who would pose as the girl’s mother without giving our secret away.”
“You may not see a problem but I do. The girl would be registered as a black girl and have a black name!”
“Dillon, not everyone is as open-minded as you are. I can’t think the Baintree cousins would welcome your Dream-Girl if she were classified as black…Remember how they reacted when I showed up the day they were visiting you? They couldn’t get away fast enough.”
“Peacy, the Baintree cousins have the same problem as so many of us do. It’s not that we don’t like or trust you. It’s all about feelings of guilt and shame. Never think it’s a trifling matter. Let me assure you guilt and shame are a lethal combination – and people hate to feel in the wrong. Mostly that is one of the reasons they react like hateful racists.”
“I think we should ask my mother to pose as Dream-Girl’s mother. She likes and respects Delia O’Shea. When my dad died, Mrs O’Shea was one of the first and only outside of the family to come and help us. She sent us some money. My aunt and uncle brought it to us. My mom was worried about the funeral costs and when that money arrived she was so glad. She is still sending money from time to time… I’m sure my mother would like to help them. Should I talk to my mom and talk to my cousin? I could hear what he has to say.”
“Peacy, talk to your mother and when she says yes, let her talk to your cousin. I’m sure Dream-Girl would be proud to carry the name you choose for her.”
“I can’t talk to my mother today, not with all the visitors in the house.”
“Wait until tomorrow and we can ask her when she comes to work.”
“My mom likes working here. Do you know your parents are planning a
home industry? My mom is helping them to look into it.”
“Is that what all the talk about embroidery is about? I wondered. I‘m sure my
Mother can’t even thread a needle or sew on a button! At least I’ve never seen her doing it.”
“My mother thinks this is going to help our family and the women are all at our
house today. They are so glad and enthusiastic. All they are talking about are ideas and patterns. I never realised how many different patterns there were and how handy my aunts were. That is part of the reason why all my aunts are descending on us today. They are all bringing their best patterns for inspection. My one aunt brought a pair of slippers for my mother. You should see it. It’s beautiful and looks like it was bought in a store. You should hear all the ideas they’re throwing around.”
“I’m glad for your family, Peacy. Are they going to find a place in town to start
“You are behind on the gossip – I guess you were to busy settling in. No,
they’re going to work here. When the builders come to build our home, they’ll start on the shop as well. At first it’s going to be one big room. Your mom promised to help with the paperwork until one of us can take over. My sister is already angling for the job. She thinks it’s neat and cool and she’ll receive some extra money with which she can help out my mom.”
“You know so many things are happening! I’m losing track of all the changes.”
“Not to worry, Dillon. Dream- Girl will always be there for you.”
“Yes, Elva will be part of it…”
Now that he knows her name he likes to use it. It fits her so perfectly. His fairy Child!
The end is ever creeping over… before this week is finished the whole boook will be posted…. can’t wait to see your comments that day…