The I-5 highway runs somewhat parallel to the train tracks for a lot of the distance between Seattle and Portland. It’s not perfect by any means, but I could see the long line of Amtrak Silver in the distance for much of the drive. Eventually, my speed had me passing even the front of the train, and I found myself alone with my music on the highway.
In another mood, I might have loaded an audiobook; that day, I just wanted to be able to think. Not just about how warm Stefan had been lately– both literally and emotionally– but also about what I was going to do about Tierney Ríocht. Had I really agreed to meet with Jean-Marc once more? Was it just so I could get him to go back to his own world with Evander? What did they think I was going to do for them? What was I willing to do?
I sighed and focused back on the road. The transition to the 205 came before too long, and I took it for a few miles before getting off so I could get some dinner and groceries. I found myself exhausted and just wanting to get home, but there were things I knew I was out of at the house. Eventually, I was able to sit down at the kitchen table with my Thai curried chicken and vegetables and just relax. I actually left my suitcase and the heaver, non-perishable groceries in the care while I ate.
I was half-way through by the time I felt better enough to message Stefan.
Did the train put you to sleep yet?
Not even close. How was the drive? Are you home?
Yeah, I’m home. It was uneventful.
That’s good sometimes.
Heh. Yeah, I’m not complaining. You gonna eat on the train?
No way; I’m getting roast chicken later.
You’re catching on. 😉 BTW, are you gaming later?
I would if I could, but I’ll probably just end up unpacking and getting ready for bed.
Can I at least text you ‘good night’ later?
Sure you can.
Once I had everything in from the car, I found that I had enough time to start a load some laundry and check some things on my computer until it was ready to toss into the dryer. I texted Killian that I’d made it home, and he sent back pictures of himself and Larsa at the Seattle Space Needle. Larsa texted me separately to show me the flowers Killian had gotten set up on their table for their reservation as a surprise. It was adorable seeing the way they were with each other.
It had already been dark outside for a long time, and as I let them get back to their fun, I laid down on my bed and stared upward. Like I mentioned before, I’d chosen a room with a four-poster bed; the top fabric of this one was brocade in lavender and cobalt, with stars and crescent moons and blazing suns in the pattern. My thoughts drifted back to Tierney Ríocht, and I realized that I hadn’t even seen that sky there. I’d only ever been in that one room, that sort of dance hall.
I sighed. Heavily.
What was that place, anyway? I had to figure it out, because being in denial about it or thinking I might really have a fourth floor in this house was too much. My brain was not computing it well. And really, could it be all that bad to visit another world? What was the point in reading and writing about them if all I ever wanted them to be were stories?
My phone chimed, and I rolled over to read a message from Stefan.
‘The skies are painted with unnumber’d sparks,’ he’d quoted; ‘They are all fire and every one doth shine.’
You’re full of quotations today, I replied.
Maybe I’m a little inspired.
That’s good to hear.
You haven’t been chatting much since you got home; you tired?
Yeah, and then some.
Well then, I bid you a very fond good night.
I put the phone back on its charger and turned off the last of the lights in the bedroom. The door was closed, the windows locked, the curtains drawn– even the ones around my bed had me safely enrobed. As I settled in among the blankets, I pondered to myself why it might be so bad to be able to visit another world, one with magical beings in it.
The trope idea aside, wasn’t it just a question of danger? Was Tierney Ríocht dangerous? Evander was intensely kind, and as nobly as he’d behaved, I felt that he could ward off all sort of bad things. Were that even bad things there– things worse than the satyr? I could at least find out. The important thing was that nothing– and I mean nothing, not even my visions of elves and knights and dragons– took my away from my best friend in the whole, entire world.
A quick but playful dance for your viewing enjoyment: