The day that Denis Linden Hoedemaker left was the day that everything changed.
He was wise and knowing as an old man that day, with an uppity nose and squinting eyes, standing on the corner of the street in a pair of scuffed shoes whose soles flapped in half-hearted protest against the concrete. He was eighteen, and it was a glorious age.
The first time I heard about Lion’s Tooth, I was convinced that one day I would make a wish and it would come true. I would meet my prince charming and we’d go on all these fantastic adventures together; we’d slay giants, fight beasts, fly on purple dragons, and even stumble across a hidden dwelling of dancing fairies.
I was six.
It was the same year that I told Pop I was going to learn how to play the harp.
He had laughed, his deep bellowing chuckle and mussed the top of my strawberry blonde curled head.
“So I’ll have a Harper who plays the harp?” he chortled, his blue eyes twinkling like the stars over our heads.
Like any determined six year old, I crossed my arms seriously, cocked my chin towards the pale moon, and said, “I will Pop. You’ll see.”
Sprawled beneath the summer sky, I watch the rays of buttery sun dance across my vision. Clouds slant like uneven blinds against a blue window. The great
expanse stretches above us, seemingly endless, turning the whole summer the same, glaucous hue.
“You will go blind without your sunglasses on,” Denton tells me. His body stretches, cat-like and lethargic to my left. To my right, Ranko and his sister
Marna are corpse-like, and still but for the rise and shrink of their bellies, the only sign that they are alive and breathing.
I press the back of my forearm to rest against the bridge of my nose and shield my eyes. An explosion of color, my flesh set on fire, red, and glowing at
the edges where the sun still leaks through.
“Harriet, did you hear what I said?”
“HEY!” Rufus exclaimed, giving the hood of the obnoxious orange Corolla a slap on its hood. He glared in the direction of the driver, but only because the sun was shining in his startled green eyes.
“Watch where you’re going!” the city driver shouted after him, voice gruff and aggressive.
Rufus didn’t dignify this with a response. The street light was clearly red and the white crosswalk man was blinking halfheartedly across the lanes, signaling any and all pedestrians forward.
But that was New York City for you and you just didn’t expect apologies from city drivers.
The educated wear silver in their hair. It is supposedly an honor, to be adorned with headpieces, glinting like the moon, that make the rest of the villagers bow as the bearer of such a mark passes. Silver turns commoners to stone, it is said. Silver is designated for only a few, they say.
There are tales they tell you, when you are a child. I remember, sitting on a burlap sack beside the fire pit in the center of the Gathering Place, small and pale among the older villagers who were weathered and browned from too many days under the sun.
They were gods, among us — the people who wore silver in their hair. Continue reading