This is a short excerpt from my M/G adventure story, Saving the Rainbow. I thought it might be fun for St. Patrick’s Day.
Patrick ran at a steady pace, his feet pounding on the packed earth of the well-worn path. Coming to a sudden stop, he bent to arch his back, resting his hands on his thighs, catching his breath as he looked back at his friend who was lagging behind again.
“Can’t ye keep up?” He called out in gasping syllables, his disheveled red hair hiding one eye and half the freckles on his face.
“I don’t think we should be goin’ into the faery woods.” Barry replied, as he loped along at least twenty paces behind, his breeches dragging in the dirt of the road.
Patrick’s eyes twinkled as he studied his friend. He couldn’t believe what just popped out of his mouth. He knew Barry always loved to take part in a prank, or get into a bit of mischief.
Shifting his muslin school bag on his shoulder Barry came to rest beside him, anxiety seeping out of his pores. Patrick didn’t understand why Barry was always suspicious about the adventures he suggested, and yet his friend had no problem being an accomplice when it came to playing jokes on the old school teacher.
“I think it’ll be all right. Now come on. Ye know we must be home by dusk, or our parents will be concerned about us.” Patrick’s gray-blue eyes glanced skyward under the curl of hair that rested on his forehead. There was plenty of daylight left judging by the angle of the sun.
“I can’t figure out why ye always delight in goin’ places you’re not supposed to.” Barry complained. He shook his head and wondered when Patrick had become so daring. “Ye know what they say about goin’ in there alone.” His dark eyes looked toward the woodland that loomed nearer and nearer.
“Aye? Well I won’t be alone because you’re comin’ with me.” Patrick sneered as he grabbed Barry’s arm and pulled him forward. They started down the path again as a sly grin spread across Patrick’s face.
“What’s so important in there anyway?” Barry tried to sound brave even though he was pretty sure they’d be bewitched if they set foot in the forbidden woods, and probably whisked away never to be seen again.
“I want to find a faery or a leprechaun. I’m sure we’ll find one in there and maybe I can persuade them to grant my wish. Perhaps they’ll even give me magic powers and then I can do anything that I want to. Can ye imagine what we could do with an amazing gift like that, Barry? Now come on. Let’s hurry.” Patrick’s excitement caused him to walk faster, dragging an unwilling Barry with him.
“What are ye wishin’ for now, Patrick?” Barry tried his best to keep the nervous anticipation out of his voice. Lately Barry noticed Patrick wasn’t ever satisfied, or too happy about things. What caused this strange behavior in his friend? He was determined to find out the reason for his obsession with adventures, and having to get his own way about everything.
“Are things all right at home, Patrick?” Concern showed in Barry’s face. Maybe I can do something to help.
Pushing forward, with Barry in tow, Patrick kept a firm grip and moved on. “Ye know my Pa works way too hard, and he’s not a young man anymore. I hope to find a way to make things easier for him. That’s all. Wouldn’t it be nice if he could sell the farm, especially before I have to take over?” Patrick answered calmly as if this was a trip to the miller’s to pick up some grain, instead of an adventure into the mysterious forest. If there was any way he could get out of farming potatoes, Patrick would do it. He was only twelve, but time was going by fast.
“Well I don’t think goin’ into the faery woods will help.” Barry let his gaze move toward the giant trees waiting for them at the end of the path. Reluctance swept over him. He didn’t want to be a participant in one of Patrick’s schemes, especially one like this after all the talk in the village about getting lost in the faery woods never to find your way out again. He wasn’t that anxious to get away from his sisters, his parents, or even all his chores as much as he disliked them at times.
“Here we are. Now just stick with me.” Barry came out of his thoughts just as Patrick pulled him inside the dark mass of vegetation, his fingers still clutching the neck of Barry’s brown tunic. When the boys were well inside the woodland, Patrick let go. Barry won’t run home now and will have to follow me because he’s too cowardly to do anything else. Patrick knew he could’ve gone alone, but it was nice to have the company. He hoped this adventure would do Barry some good. He reminded Patrick of a startled rabbit. The boy certainly needed more bravery, especially where magical things were concerned. How would they ever be able to confront elves, faeries, and battle demons together? Barry could never get along by himself and he wouldn’t be much good to me in such an encounter if he doesn’t muster up some courage.
The boys inched along, stepping over tangled roots that looked like twisted snakes crisscrossing the narrow path. Their feet kicked up years of rotting leaf mold, and both boys sneezed several times as fragments drifted in the air around them and resettled on the dusty ground. It was rather dark, compared to the field they left behind, and Barry kept tripping over the old roots and stubbing his toes. Patrick walked more carefully, his wiry body twisting under the trees and over the brambles, but it was still impossible to miss all the debris in the way.
“Ouch. Watch it!”
“Aye, aye,” Barry murmured, “sorry.”
“Sorry for what, Barry? Ye didn’t do anything except make me drag ye in here.” Patrick glanced over his shoulder where Barry was struggling along, and he couldn’t help but laugh.
“Ach, I thought I stepped on your foot. Didn’t ye just say ‘Ouch watch it?’” Barry tried to explain, under Patrick’s stare, as he fought to stay upright and tripped over another root. He lurched forward and bumped against Patrick’s back.
“Nay, I didn’t say anything. Are ye spooked already?” Barry shrank as Patrick glowered at him. He didn’t want to appear cowardly and tried to steady himself to keep from trembling.
Barry knew he heard a voice back there on the trail. Who was it if it wasn’t Patrick? He peered around cautiously. Anything can be here and I wouldn’t even see it. Too many branches covered the old trees. Someone could easily hide among them. Barry felt invisible eyes staring at him and he shivered, as he met Patrick’s face, and tried to put his fears aside.
“Nay, I’m not spooked wise guy. Something did speak back there. I’m surprised ye didn’t take notice of it. How are ye goin’ to find the wee folk anyway if ye didn’t hear that?” Barry stood more erect as he yanked on his tunic in an effort to straighten it. The brown garment hung lopsided on his shoulders. The wrinkles stood up in a permanent pucker where Patrick had it twisted in his hands earlier. Barry demanded that Patrick make him aware of his plan.
“Up around that bend is a clearin’ where a spring comes out of the rocks. I think that might be a good place to start.” Patrick seemed confident enough as he started forward through the trees again.
Well anything will be better than these dark woods. It’s so musty in here. Barry sneezed again and looked forward to the clearing and some fresher air. The forest was closing in and the twisted branches seemed like arms swirling around him. He shivered and wanted to get this mission over.
An excerpt from my book Saving the Rainbow
Happy St Patrick's Day everyone!