Authors: B. Roman
Janice removes her dark glasses to reveal the bluish bruises under her eyes that are a constant reminder of the attack she suffered a few days earlier. Though ready and willing to press charges and withstand a public trial, she was unable to positively identify the toughs who carjacked her. It was night, their faces were in shadows, their clothing was dark, their hands were strong and rough. They were boys, however. That she did know, by their voices. Older teens, but still boys. Her car was found the next morning stripped and abandoned on a side road leading out of town, and the case was chalked up to random gang violence.
Aunt Dorothy touches Janice's arm compassionately. “I'm just so sorry for what you went through, Janice. You know this is not what Port Avalon is about. We won't tolerate hate and violence here,” Dorothy affirms.
“I appreciate that, Dorothy. But tonight, let's talk about more pleasant things.”
“You finally kept our dinner date,” Isaac says, trying to be light-hearted. He had wanted to find the thugs himself and beat them to within an inch of their lives. “The good news is we are finally here to celebrate our engagement.”
The entire family is at the table, the same table in the same restaurant on Lighthouse Point where they all convened to celebrate David's 16
birthday and graduation some months earlier.
“Let's make a pact that whenever we have good things to celebrate, it will always be here,” Sally suggests.
“If we can keep these two from talking about work,” Dorothy teases Isaac and Janice, both renowned workaholics.
“Well, it's hard not to revel in the economic resurgence of Port Avalon. Not to mention the raising of Cole Shipping from the economic grave yard,” Isaac boasts. “And I just can't wait to see the country stand up and take notice when we launch the Millennium Miracle Ship.”
The brainchild and “baby” of Isaac Nickerson and Cole Shipping, the Millennium Miracle Ship will travel the world bringing medical care and educational tools to the poor, sick, and disenfranchised people of all nations who need them.
In a fervent and unrelenting solicitation campaign, Isaac and Janice had pulled in four million dollars' worth of pledges in the form of cash, supplies, and services from philanthropic organizations worldwide. That would barely cover a one-year tour, but Isaac and Janice both felt confident that the project would be supported well beyond that.
Throughout dinner, David has been distant and somewhat petulant. He recalls the previous dinner party celebration as one of the happiest of his life. It was a milestone for him in graduating at the head of his class a year earlier than the other students because of his innovative computer skills, and getting that Blue touring car, an exact replica of the one in his Coronadus adventure - or was it his illusion? - and seeing Sally dance again, without her crutches or braces. Or was that an illusion, too, like his communicating with his dead mother? No, not for David. The others may not believe him – Dad, Dr. Hilyer, even Sally who once believed everything David said. But David knows the truth. It was real.
As the family chatters and reminisces happily, beautiful music begins to emanate from the Mermaid's harp as she glides serenely by their table. Seeing her atop the automated faux lily pad floating in the restaurant's decorative pond, it is a moment of
for David, a recollection of that memorable night when he could actually hear the music, and no one knew he could, except Sally…
“Do you hear that song?” David had signed to his sister inconspicuously.
She nodded and signed back, “It's the mermaid singing.” Then, with a start she asked him, “David, can you -?”
David had put his fingers to his lips to silence her.
Sally signed discreetly, “Can you hear her?”
“I hear something - music that I've heard before. What is it?”
“I don't recognize it, yet I do. Wait. I'll find out.”
Trying to be nonchalant, Sally asked the others at the table if they knew the name of the song the mermaid was singing.
Isaac thought a moment but couldn't place it.
“It's an old song, I know,” Janice said. “But the title escapes me.”
“Fascination,” Dorothy told them. “You know. The waltz. '
It was fascination, I know
,' ” she sang.
“Oh, yes.” They had all nodded in agreement, and then continued their animated conversation, filling the air with joyous laughter.
But Sally knew it was not that old song, that it was something else. “Something mysterious and magical, isn't it?” she signed to her brother, and he nodded.
The biggest shock had come when David got a closer look at the Mermaid. She was strikingly lovely, identical in every way to the beautiful young girl he had fallen in love with, with the same golden hair cascading softly over her shoulders almost to her waist, and the same full, inviting, yet forbidden, lips.
Then he saw the pendant around her neck. It glistened in the spotlight, a beautiful Rose Crystal pendant just like the one he had brought back from the Island of Darkness after it become the Kingdom of Light once again, and gave to Sally.
It can't be. It just looks like it,
” he had thought then.
And when the music had resonated from the Mermaid's golden harp and the words flowed from her full, soft mouth…“
Moon Singer, Moon Singer, take to the sea, fly on the wind where the sky used to be
…” David knew it was her.
Saliana! Princess Saliana.
Astonished and delighted beyond belief, David had risen slightly from his chair to acknowledge her, but just as magically as she had appeared, Saliana transformed back into the restaurant's performer again, older, with dark hair instead of golden.
“David?” Dorothy had taken his hand in concern. “Are you all right? Too much dessert?” she joked, in her usual lighthearted manner.
“Uh, yeah. I'm stuffed. Um, Sally?” he said, turning then to his sister, “would you like to dance with me?”
Sally's eyes widened. She hadn't danced since before the accident. “Dance? With these?” She motioned to her crutches, propped against her chair.
“It's okay. I'm strong enough to hold you.” David helped Sally to the dance floor as Isaac, Dorothy and Janice watched, dumbfounded. As if on cue, the Mermaid had taken a break from her harp playing and popular music had begun to pulsate from the overhead speakers.
Alternately signing and speaking, Sally and David conducted a secretive conversation, while smiling and pretending casualness. All this, while trying to maneuver on the dance floor, was the kind of challenge both siblings loved.
“Sally, whatever happened to the Rose Crystal Pendant I gave you?” David asked.
“It's gone, David. Daddy gave it away to some charity when he donated the rest of Mama's things.”
David's heart had sunk at the loss. “Why did he do that!”
“It was an accident. I put the pendant in one of Mama's jewelry boxes and Daddy picked it up without looking inside. I went to look for it last week and it was gone.”
“I think I know where it went.” David's eyes searched for the Mermaid.
“Really?” Sally pleaded, “Oh, please get it back for me!”
“I'll try. If the person who has it will part with it.”
“Oh, David. Keep dancing with me. Here comes one of my favorite ballads. Can you feel the beat?”
David picked up on the rhythm quickly as Sally swayed in his arms. He was thrilled to see his sister's eyes light up as she danced again, even though he mostly carried her weight.
Soon, Sally was lost in the music, her gaze far away in a fantasy where the handsome prince glided on the dance floor with his beautiful princess. The crutches were no hindrance to her movements; they seemed not to exist at all. Refusing to accept her disability as a reality, her body followed her spirit's lead.
When the Mermaid had taken her place again on the lily pad, and gently plucked the strings on her harp, the Rose Crystal Pendant emanated a magical radiance until only its glow was seen, only its transcendent energy was felt. Sally's crutches fell away and she pirouetted with arms outstretched, free and elegantly alone…
“David. David where are you?” Isaac calls pleasantly across the table, trying to penetrate that faraway look in his son's eyes. “It's time to go.”
“Huh? Oh - oh, yeah. Sure.” His mind now snapping back to the present moment, David scoots his chair away from the table and stands. He reaches over to pull Sally's chair out and help her up. Reality intrudes on his happy reverie that Sally had been healed and could walk and dance unaided, and his mood darkens again.
At home later, Isaac confronts David about his moodiness almost ruining the celebration of his and Janice's engagement. “I'm telling you now, David, if you don't agree to see Dr. Hilyer voluntarily, I'll take steps to make you do it.”
“You can't force me, Dad,” David yells. “I'm old enough to make my own decisions.”
“Well, the decisions you are making lately are not those of a mature young man. And while you're under my roof, you'll do as I say!”
“Well, then, I'll get out from under your roof!”
“Don't be ridiculous. This is your home. I don't want you to leave, David. I just want you to -”
“To what? Do as you say? Be what you want me to be? What you
“What's that supposed to mean?” Isaac snaps, defensively.
“You know what I mean. You never accepted the fact that I'm different. Ever since I went deaf you refused to accept me as I am.”
Isaac is heart stricken. “That's not true and you know it.”
“Do I? Why did you never like me to sign or even learn to read lips? Always pushing medications and vitamins and surgeries on me.”
“I wanted you to get well. To hear again. Is that so wrong?” he pleads with his son.
“No. You wanted me to be perfect!”
“That's ridiculous. And unfair.”
“But it's true. Mom was the only one who accepted me, who helped me accept myself. Until you killed her!”
Isaac is crushed by this accusation. A knife through his heart from his own son. He thought they had resolved the issue of the accident that killed his wife, David and Sally's beloved mother. He sinks into a chair, all the energy drained from his face and body.
“The truth is, David,” Isaac confesses with a weary voice, “I felt guilty for your deafness. You inherited the gene from me. It runs in my family and yet I never was affected. It skipped me and inflicted you instead.” His voice picking up energy, Isaac emphasizes, “That's why I wanted to do everything to get you well!”
“Your way! Without giving me the chance to decide for myself what I want, what kind of treatment, if any, I want!”
“That's the problem,” Isaac bellows. “You don't want any treatment. It makes no sense at all!”
The yelling and fighting are more than Dorothy can stand and she storms into the living room to confront them.
“Stop it, both of you. Isaac, you're being rigid and narrow-minded. And David, you're being disrespectful. And that, I won't tolerate. I love you both so much – and – and – an -”
Dorothy's speech suddenly slurs and a panicked expression fills her eyes. The right side of her face droops sadly downward, and her right knee buckles, dragging her down to the floor.
“Dorothy! What is it!” Isaac and David both grab her and support her to the couch. All she can do is make indistinguishable utterances.
“Dad! What's wrong? What do we do?”
“I think she's having a stroke. I'll call 911.”
Paralyzed on her right side, with her left side mildly affected, Dorothy's prognosis is only fair. She could regain some, but not all, of her motor skills with medication and extensive therapy, according to the doctors. But, after a few days in the hospital, Dorothy insists on coming home for rehabilitation. The family rallies around her, happy she is once again in familiar surroundings, and for a few days there are no fights, no conflicts. The Nickerson family bonds together as they once did in happier times, in their love for each other.
As always, David yearns to converse with his aunt and visits her in her room, which was once his own room, on the third floor of the Nickerson house, with its expansive view of the ocean and the family cemetery. Situated cliffside at the far end of the property, adorned by uniquely shaped cypress trees, is his mother's grave watched over eternally by the marble angel that came to life one fateful day…or did David just imagine that, too, like all the other bizarre incidents everyone thinks he has hallucinated?
The nurse has just finished bathing Dorothy and combing her silver hair. At the sight of David, Dorothy's eyes light up and she smiles, a bit of color coming back to her cheeks. Pleased that her patient is comforted, the nurse leaves the two of them alone.
Dorothy cannot speak clearly, but she can sign with a shaky left hand. “Hello, my dearest nephew,” she moves her fingers slowly but correctly. “Why the sad face?”
“You always wanted this room,” David reminds her, “but this is not how I want you to have it. I hate seeing you like this. If I hadn't messed up so much with Dad this wouldn't have happened.”
“Not your fault. Just life.”
“Aunt Dorothy, I never did tell you everything about the Moon Singer. I kept getting sidetracked.”
“I know. Me, too,” she signs. “Tell me now. I have nothing – but time.”
David straddles the hardback chair next to Dorothy's bed, and rests his arms on the back of it.
“Remember when you suggested I try to communicate with Mom, tell her what I was feeling, all the hurt and anger over her being gone? Well, I went to her grave. I took the crystals like you told me. I used them the same as I did the first time, and I had another - another adventure - only this time I didn't go to the Island of Darkness, I went to a strange city called Coronadus.
“So many things happened there. There was a woman who was very powerful. She believed in a lot of the things Mom believed in. She looked just like Mom. I - I think she
Outside Dorothy's room, Isaac and Sally overhear David's conversation with his aunt, and the preposterous story he is telling her. Isaac is furious and when David comes out of Dorothy's room, he confronts his son, pulling him by the arm out of Dorothy's earshot.
“I don't appreciate you eavesdropping,” David snaps, the animosity returning.
“I wasn't. Sally and I just happened to come up to see Dorothy and heard you. What kind of craziness is this – adventures, crystals, Island of Darkness. And seeing some woman who you believe is your mother? What's got into you, David?”
“It's all true, and Sally knows it. Tell him, Sal. Tell him that you know.”
“Oh, David. I've stuck by you and I believe everything, except…” She starts to cry, “…except the part about Mom. I don't know why, but I'm scared to believe it.”
“Yet you believe all that other silliness?” Isaac fumes in exasperation. “I don't know about you two.” Clearly in conflict, Sally goes to her room and closes the door.
“I wish you would talk to Dr. Hilyer, David. You're irrational.”
“But, Dad,” David implores, “don't you think it's possible that there are other places, other dimensions beyond this one? That we can communicate with people from other worlds?”
“Men have been trying for hundreds of years,” Isaac says, emphatically, “and no one has been successful. There are no UFO's or ET's.”
“I'm not talking about aliens or other planets, Dad. I mean people like us but in another time and place – the afterlife, maybe, or a parallel universe…”
“David. What's happening between us? We used to be so close. You've changed so much. I hardly know you anymore.” Deflated, Isaac shakes his head and retires to his room.
“Dad, when you've been through what I've been through, it definitely changes you,” David calls after him, but Isaac is behind the closed door and does not hear him.
Back in his aunt's room, David takes her hand. Though she can't say the words, the look in Dorothy's eyes speaks volumes of love for him.
“I know you believe me, Aunt Dorothy. And I promise you I will find a way to prove it to everyone else. And I'll find something to make you well again, the same way that Sally walked again. And this time, I'll do it right.”