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Date Posted: Wednesday, October 11, 09:47:42pm
Author: BetsyG
Subject: Two _Here You Come Again
In reply to: BetsyG 's message, "One _Here You Come Again" on Wednesday, October 11, 09:23:17pm

“So... kid, you said you saw a dragon. And you walked out there anyway? That was some kinda joke, eh?” asked the cop.

“I like dragons. I thought it was a dragon or a sea monster, but it was just a mermaid’s tail.”

“Mermaids,” the young cop said, snickering. “Hope they were hot.”

George didn’t look at him. “No. They’re usually cold-blooded.” He appeared quite serious.

“Did you walk on water, kid? To get to the mermaids.”

“No. I walked on sand. And shells. And then the mermaids made a bridge for me with their tails and lifted me up. I can’t fly. Only girls can fly at this age. They start earlier than boys. They said I was only a quarter-blood prince, but they were happy to help me all the same.”

Knowing George the way only a mother can know him, I hadn’t expected a normal response. I certainly hadn’t expected quite this one. It was weird even for George, but I wasn’t about to negate it. I just wanted to hug George, hold him tightly to my heart, smell the musky-sweet scent of his soft sable curls, feel his spare flesh and slight bones beneath his yellow cotton tee-shirt and thank God for the millionth time that he was safe. I still felt shaky and sick, as if I’d had a car accident. My own bones were wriggling underneath my muscles, and my heart had still
not returned to its proper rhythm, straggling behind the rest of my body which felt as if it had run the New York Marathon. The mind-numbing fears and intense relief of the past few hours had rendered me pretty well senseless.

So had that voice.

Not him. Not him. Could never be him.

He was gone. Not a word. No such man, they’d told me. He’d never existed.

George was jabbering like a magpie. “They usually hide, dragons do, especially if they have young. Dragon eggs are very rare. They’re prized, you know. For the shells, because they’re the rarest. They can be pounded up and made in to magic powders, of course. For spells and the
like. Or charms,” he said. “I was actually looking for a hoard in the cave under the girl statue. She guards the lair, you know.”

“Does she?”

“Of course she does. Don’t you know that dragons are shy?” asked George. “They’re more like bunnies, really, unless you’ve mad them angry, or if they have heartburn. If they have young to protect, of course, they will attack--”

“Kid, you have to be honest with us. Did someone take you out there?” He looked a little pissed. The waders the cop had worn to fetch George had leaked and it looked like he’d had an unfortunate accident. “Can you give us something else to go on here, kid?

“Go on what? Go on a train?” George asked, looking up at the officer, darkest-brown eyes dumbfounded.

Sometimes George doesn’t understand phrases like ‘something to go on’. He doesn’t catch on to quips, unless they’re riddles or knock-knocks, which he loves passionately. He was reading books at three, but he has trouble deciphering the facial expressions of people he knows intimately, let alone beady-eyed cops. I saw no point in trying to explain the finer implications of the huge and confusing autism spectrum to the constables, or discussing George’s difficulty with one-on-one communication, or his strange fixations and quirks. I hadn’t wanted to him put
through this, but someone, some well-meaning person with a cell phone, had seen my son perched on the statue and called the police. I suspected it was someone other than the person who’d called me.

I would try hard not to think about the person who called.

Poor George. I’d screamed out to him like a fool. Shrieked at him to hold on for dear life. He can swim fairly well, but the waves were choppy with the bad autumn weather and I did not want him to fall.

He put up a huge fuss when the cops arrived and plucked him off his perch on the little diver statue’s shapely lap. How had he gotten out there? We might never know.

I hated seeing George like this, those officers looking at him like he had several screws loose. I refuse think of George as handicapped. He’s come so far with therapy, one would almost not guess. His IQ is in the genius category. He’s a miracle. He stopped breathing when he was born. His cord was tied in a tight knot. He was far smaller than his sister, not even four pounds, and yet he’d survived, albeit with this idiosyncrasy most doctors want to call an affliction. All I know is that he’s my beautiful son and someone for whom I’d give my life.

The surfer cop smacked a small notebook on his thigh. I wondered if was trying to talk to George that agitated him, or if he played percussion for a garage band in his spare time. I wanted to grab the thing out of his hand and smack him with it.

Okay, I know the dragon thing is weird, but George really believes it. I made the mistake of buying him this book called Dragonology a few years ago. It’s written to look like a perfectly serious book and it seems so sincere, especially if you’re a little boy who will glom onto odd
facts and figures like penny candy. Ever since he read that book, he’s been obsessed. Just like he’s been obsessed with Clay Aiken since my aunt, a voracious Claymate, showed him the Ruben/Clay sing-off on television. He was around six. Clay rocked his world. He usually has three topics of conversation: Clay Aiken, dragons and the Food Channel. Now I suppose we’ll have to add mermaids to the mix, mermaids who scattered paths of shells and pearls for little
boys to cross.

Inventing tall tales for shock value far more his sister’s realm. She’s the one who rightly should have been perched on that statue, and I do believe she’s a bit jealous that Georgie got there first, stealing her thunder. She’s had an invisible friend since she was five and she seems to have convinced everyone but me that her dear friend Daisy exists. I resent Daisy. She’s such a know-it-all bitch. And Daisy has said really awful things about me, which I truly wonder about. Like my needing Botox for my smile lines, good hair conditioner, eye-bag remover cream. Daisy says my ass is massive and I really should lay off the cream in my coffee and stop buying yoga pants because I look like ten pounds of lard in a five pound sack. Things like that. Is it really my daughter who thinks up that stuff? Is she one of those mean girls Diane Sawyer talks about on Primetime?

“I have something to go on!” said George suddenly, making me jump.

The older policeman sounded hopeful. “What’s that?”

“I’m going to see Clay Aiken again one day. If I can get tickets.”

“Clay Aiken?” asked surf cop, rolling his eyes and smacking his leg again. I’m pretty sure he said WTF under his breath. I know Internet speak. “Clay Aiken hangs around with mermaids,kid?”

It was the usual lame dig. Asshole. Just like my brother. “I don’t know,” said my son. “Daisy told me he’s one of the water folk. She's of the air. My dad happens to be one of the fire folk. My father’s a warrior, or he was until--”

“Shut up, George,” Gemma said. She sounded furious. “No one knows what you’re talking about.”

“Daisy said so. Clay Aiken lives in North Carolina, but he’s one of the water folk. They can sing, of course. And they usually have red hair and eyes like the sea, and freckles. That’s where their scales used to be.”

“Whoa,” said the young cop. “No kidding. What’s your mother, kid?”

He looked at me. “She’s just human, of course. Like you.”

“That’s a lovely sentiment, Georgie.” My aunt smiled dreamily. She gets shmoopy when she thinks of Clay Aiken. Clay Aiken has turned a woman in her sixties into a twelve-year-old.I’m not quite a fan, but grateful to him for that.

“Yeah?” said the young cop. “My ex-girlfriend is a Claymate. I hate that guy.”

My aunt said, “Your ex-girlfriend is a smart woman.” Her face said the young cop was an idiot.

“My wife likes Clay,” said the older cop.

My aunt quickly leapt up and handed him a card from some Internet fan site she belongs to. “Give it to her. Tell her to write to me. We’re going to Vegas in June. It’s perfectly safe. Maybe a bit insane, but safe.”

The young cop stared at my aunt and then at my son. “Maybe you should rethink Clay Aiken, kid. You don’t like Fiddy?”

“I don’t know about Fiddy,“ said George earnestly. “He wasn’t in American Idol.”

Gemma said something to George, that twin-speak they shared. She was really angry now. There were two coin sized dots on her cheeks. The cops looked at them in a way that said there were more nuts in this room than in a Planter’s factory. I had not really learned to decode the twin’s language, except for things like their names for each other–Dani and May--or the simplest pronouns. Fraternal twins don’t usually have a secret language, but mine do.

Gemma was telling him some secret, I knew, something she didn’t want me to know about. George gave a sigh if resignation and nodded at his sister, his eyes flashing lively and full of fire, as if he were going to argue some point with her. But suddenly he smiled the sweetest smile I’d ever seen. “He’s coming back, though, my dad. You know that. He’ll change everything.”

“What does that mean?” I asked.

“The mermaids said. They said the handsome prince was close by. And that he’s my dad and that he’s in some kind of danger. From the--”

“George, that’s silly.”

“Mommy, no. No, it’s not. The mermaids said his name is Prince Fareed--”

“George! Geez,” Gemma cried. “Shut up.”

I had heard no words past Fareed.


I knew him as Reed. And he was no prince. The room seemed to shrink, sucked dry of air.

The young policeman said something else under his breath, something like: Clay Aiken, now Prince. Hmmm. WTF?

I struggled with black doom, unable to really hear him. Somewhere the French clock on the mantle clobbered the hour. My Aunt Cecily, in whose livingroom we were standing, ceased her knitting, flitting little bee fingers freezing over a tangle of pink wool. She met my eyes, brows darting together, before her lips pursed and stayed that way in silence. What is going on? she seemed to ask.

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