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Stories from the Verse
Versers Versus Versers
Chapter 10: Takano 2
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Previous chapter: Chapter 9: Slade 156
Tomiko Takano was always “Tommy” to almost everyone. She was Tomiko to her grandparents, having been named for her grandfather Tomio. She was his favorite, not just because she was his youngest grandchild and named for him, but perhaps because they shared a birthday, half a century apart. He was born in Tokyo on August 9th, 1945, the same day that his father was killed in the bombing of Nagasaki. His mother brought him to the United States some years later, but he maintained many Japanese traditions which had impacted her own life. She was also Tomiko to a few stuffed shirt teachers who insisted on proper names for all the students, and one ex-boyfriend who thought it was cool to be dating a Japanese girl but somehow seemed to expect her to be like some anime character. Otherwise, she was only Tomiko when her parents were angry with her, which probably fed her preference for Tommy.
Rising to her feet, Tommy realized a couple things. One was that many of her possessions were also here, some distance from her as she had walked away from them when this was all a bright grassy plain. This included several changes of everyday clothes, mostly shorts and tees, a pair of jeans and a comfortably oversized flannel shirt, her favorite party dress and sandals, a fair amount of her junk jewelry, a small assortment of undergarments and socks, and a pair of gym shoes. She was wearing shorts, T-shirt, and flip-flops, which was pretty much her uniform for hanging around the house, and she had her long near-black hair pulled back in a pony tail to keep it out of her way. She had thought of cutting it, but all the boys she had dated loved it long, so it stayed long. She was a couple inches over five feet tall, and slender, and when loose her hair was long enough that she frequently wound up sitting on it, which was reason enough to wear it up quite a bit. Also among her things were her cell phone and her tablet in their cases with their chargers, her school backpack but only one of her books, the English literature stories book she had been looking forward to reading, a light throw blanket she often used around the house on cold days, and a light jacket.
The other odd thing she realized was that she knew which direction these all were without thinking about it, as if some sixth sense pointed her to them when she wasn’t paying attention.
It had to be a dream.
Nevertheless, the dream wasn’t going to pack the things for her, so she gathered them and put what she could in the backpack.
The thought occurred to her that if she were going to be walking through the woods, shorts and flip-flops were probably not the best choice of outfit. It would be simple enough to swap the flip-flops for the gym shoes, but she was a bit reluctant to remove her shorts here in the open wood. Ultimately she decided to pull the jeans over the shorts and don socks and gym shoes. She was then ready to go--but to go where?
She looked around and saw nothing that suggested a direction. At this point, though, she was not worried about food or water--it being a dream, she wouldn’t need them, or they would be provided at some point. Her suburban upbringing had given her very little exposure to woods beyond a few park-like patches and a couple scattered weeks of summer camp in cabins, so this was a strange experience. She wondered how much of it came more from the stories she had heard and read than from any reality she had known.
It was at that moment that a sound and a movement caught her attention, and turning she saw someone--or something--standing in the wood staring at her. Her mind said she should know the name of the thing--a creature that was very human, standing upright with human facial features and torso but goat-like legs with horns and a tail. There was such a creature in that book Grandfather Tomio use to read to her. What was it called?
“I’m sorry,” she began. “You aren’t by any chance named--” and she broke off. What was the creature’s name in the book? It was too long ago; she couldn’t remember. The creature continued staring at her, and she then continued more to herself. “I’m being silly. Even if you can speak, you probably don’t speak English, and I don’t really know much Japanese, but you probably don’t speak that, either.”
Suddenly the creature blinked, shook itself, and then, much to her surprise, spoke.
“Are you a witch?”
It had to be a dream. There was a witch in that book.
Her first reaction was that being a witch was bad, but then she remembered that movie, the other fantasy world, in which there was a good witch as well as a bad witch. Still, she wasn’t a witch at all, and probably shouldn’t claim to be one, particularly as she didn’t know what that would mean in this world.
“N-no,” she stammered, “I’m not a witch. I’m a girl.”
Seemingly hesitantly the goat-creature stepped closer. “A girl?” it said. “I’ve heard of girls, but thought they were myths.”
“And I thought people like you--I’m sorry, I can’t remember what you are.”
“Oh. Sorry. I’m a satyr.”
That wasn’t the word she was seeking, but she recognized it. “I thought satyrs were myths.”
Of course they are, she thought. This is a dream, remember?
They continued staring at each other for a moment, and then she decided that she had no better plan than to learn what she could from this satyr, so took a few steps forward and extended her hand, saying, “My name is Tommy, and I’m afraid I’m a bit lost. Can you tell me where I am?”
The satyr responded appropriately, walking forward and grasping the hand in a firm handshake, and saying, “I’m Fleeblegar. Pleased to meet you, Tommy. Where were you going?”
This gave her pause, as she wasn’t sure how to answer. “That’s just it. I don’t remember going anywhere. I was home, and suddenly I was here, and I don’t quite know either where here is or how I got here.”
“Oh. Well, you’re about half a mile west of Old Bear’s place, and three miles east from the Long River, and a mile south of the Ancient Barrow.”
She continued looking at him, waiting for him to say something that would be helpful. He apparently realized this, so he more hesitantly added, “This place is called the East Wood? Does that mean anything to you?”
She shook her head.
“Well, where are you from?”
“Delaware?” she replied, in essence asking if that meant anything to him. He shook his head.
“Well, you’re apparently quite lost. My place is only about a quarter mile from here, so let me invite you home and see if we can figure out what to do with you.”
She hesitated. “That’s very kind of you,” she said, but seemed to recall that going home with the satyr proved not to be such a good idea for that other girl in that book. Still, she had not walked through a wardrobe, and did not really expect that walking in the opposite direction was going to take her back to--well, to anywhere. There weren’t many options here. “I think I’d like that--Fleeblegar?” she concluded.
“Very good, Tommy,” he said. “Right this way,” and started to turn in the slow way that suggested he was waiting for her to catch up.
The adventure begins, she thought. But then, it was only a dream. What else could it be?
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with ten other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #319: Quiet Worlds. Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter. It may contain spoilers of upcoming chapters.
As to the old stories that have long been here: