Fourteen. Visiting the Piecks.


Both Fin and Lyric talked about the strange turn of events at their school, how the classes changed dramatically, and how both had had trouble staying awake for the whole hour of each one. “I saw Andrew just before he went to discipline. He says he has to go for three hours every afternoon for a month, but not on weekends.” Lyric lowered her voice. “He wants to go looking for the Caitlin O’Malley books this Saturday.”

Fin’s face brightened. “Good. I can’t wait.”

 The two boys who walked in front of the girls, short Jack and Paddy beside him, kept a good distance in order to avoid being seen with them, as was common of the boys their age.

 Fin shouted the question, “How much further to your house, Jack!”

 “Just a little way more,” he mumbled over one shoulder.

 “A little way? It seems we’ve been walking for an hour.”

Lyric grabbed Fin’s arm. “They live along the lake, Fin. We’re circling it now. The houses are just beyond the tree line.”

“My mother says that they’re ruining the view of the lake. Not so long ago, there were only a few houses along the shore and they were hidden by the trees.  Now the phony castles along the banks have become an eyesore.”

 “Does your mother tell her thoughts to more than you?” Lyric laughed a little to let Fin know that she was joking. But part of her worried that being so vocal could only bring bad luck to Ailinn O’Suilleabhan in that day and time.

 Before the recent events, Lyric felt a certain curiosity about the Pieck family, but now it seemed essential that Lyric know more about them since the pixies obviously had a hand in the changes at the school and Jack’s mother was one of their leaders. She watched sweet Jack Pieck in front of her walking in what appeared to be freshly pressed slacks that had somehow weathered the rigors of boy’s play. Paddy’s were wrinkled as they always were, partly because they were not made of good material, but they were not much more disheveled by the end of a long school day than those that many of the other boys wore.

“Jack Pieck!” Fin increased her pace to approach Jack. Lyric, still clinging to her arm, barely kept up. “What do you think of the new classes, the ones that started today?”

“I guess they’re fine for learning.” He didn’t seem convinced.

 “What do you think your mother and father will say when you tell them?”

“That’s easy. They’ll say that it’s about time that the students started learning, and learning well. My mother especially always talks of such things.”

 “That’s true,” Paddy chimed in. “She always does.”

 Fin glanced at Lyric and nodded slightly. “Are we almost there?”

 “Just up this ridge.” Both boys took off and scaled a small hill. Lyric and Fin followed. Just over the top of the hill, a row of monstrous brick homes, one beside the next, came into view.

A man in a yellow sweater greeted them at the gate of one of the houses. “Good afternoon, boys. And who do we have here?”

Jack opened the gate and let Lyric, Fin, and then Paddy pass through it. “This is Paddy’s sister Lyric and her friend Finola.”

 “Yes, yes.” He stretched out his hand to shake hers. “And Finola, how are you?”

 “I’m fine, sir.”

“To what do we owe this visit?”

Paddy answered for them. “They’re both curious about your family, Mr. Pieck.”

Lyric jumped in. “It’s been a long time since we met. And Paddy talks about you all the time.”

Fin interrupted. “And we’re especially admiring of your daughter Diedre. Is she here?”

“Why of course!” He put down the watering can he’d used to water the enormous lilies and irises that grew all throughout the yard.

“What’s this?” A woman appeared on the front porch, seemingly perplexed at the crowd in her yard. “Jack, dear, if you’re to bring guests home to supper, you should not do it on a night that mother is having a dinner gathering.” She went down the steps from the front porch and stepped over to a cluster of garden gnomes just beyond it. She tap, tap, tapped on the head of one of the plaster figures and it creaked, then vibrated slightly, opening and closing one eye, then the other. It raised its short arms over its head and stretched. While that one was waking, she reached over and tapped the other.

“Food preparation!” she said to them sternly, and they pivoted on one foot and turned to the door.





excerpts from the mists of na crainn

in the forest

A knife of wind cut through the leaves above the girl’s head. Their shredded remnants bolted forward and so did she, running with her arms pulling at the air.  More…

the planetarium in the attic

Configurations of stars-the hunter, the sleeper, the twins and the regal peacock-burnished the pallet of sky before her eyes.  More…