My youngest daughter, Pearl, delivered a mysterious statue to my little beach house the last time she was here—which was far too long ago and my heart hurts missing all three of my babies. As for the figurine, I recognized it right away as a Guanyin (“Kwan Yin”) because, well, I didn’t take art history and world religion for nothing.
To discover why I was visited with this piece of art, I have tried and failed to reach Uncle Claudius, my guardian since I became orphaned at the age of four and a man who leads a life as mysterious as the appearance of the Guanyin. His house is filled with such priceless artifacts as the dainty statue (which I think is carved from something rare). I keep racking my brain for memories of her on some dimly-lit mahogany shelf, of which there were many in my uncle’s home. This wasn’t a gift. Pearl said I was to “keep it in my care.”
Since Pearl dropped off the Guanyin, which for all I know could be worth millions, it has been sitting in my entryway and has greeted me calmly each evening when I come home from long days at the gallery. Tonight, as I write next to the fire, she sits on the coffee table in front of me and shimmers in the firelight. In the pulsating glow, it almost looks like she’s breathing.
I tap my pen against my cheek then lean over to pick her up. She’s surprisingly heavy. I give her a gentle shake but don’t hear anything like diamonds rattling around inside. I set her down again and stare at the fire. I am transported to Federal Road under the full moon and Julian’s kiss. The fire crackles and brings me back to my living room. The Guanyin seems to smile like she knows something I don’t.
I pick up my wand, which is next to me on the sofa. The jewel tip sparkles wildly in the firelight. I whisper to it, “Spike (because that was the name my wand liked most when we were tramping through the rabbit hole), are you awake?” The tip glows a brilliant blue and seems to nod at me. “Can you find out what is inside the Guanyin?” The tip glows purple and the jewel twirls around.
Once again, I whisper because I know the wand can decimate buildings and command oceans, weather patterns, and all flora and fauna. Since I haven’t really learned how to drive it yet, I am cautious. After all, I don’t think Uncle Claudius intended me to blow the statue to smithereens. Or…maybe he did.
Phoebe (in a soft voice): Okay Spike. Do your thing.
The wands morphs into what looks like a long stemmed pink rose made of glass and Phoebe points it at the statue. A thin ribbon of light spins out from the petals and wraps the figurine in pink light. There is a humming sounds. The Guanyin rattles slightly on the table, like a train has rumbled past.
Phoebe (whispers): Careful.
Suddenly the statue quakes violently.
But the ribbons of light continue to ripple to the statue and the statue seems to grow more and more transparent.
Phoebe pulls Spike toward her and sticks the wand under a sofa cushion, causing bright sparks of light to shoot through the cracks between the cushions. She sits on the cushion to quiet the wand and leans toward the Guanyin, which looks like a crystal ball now, only in the shape of a woman. Inside the crystal ball, Phoebe sees a blue sky. It’s a scene on the island, but it looks like a long time ago. There is only the lighthouse with no other buildings in sight. Inside the statue, now very much acting like a crystal ball, a horse and buggy come into view. A woman sits in the buggy with the reins in her hands. She wears black from head to toe. The dress style is Victorian. She wears a black veil that hangs off her hat. She’s alone.
Phoebe leans closer to the statue.
The woman stops the horses next to what looks like a sandy beach access through thick scrub. A wind has kicked up. The veil blows off her face for an instant and Phoebe gasps.
Phoebe: I think I’ve seen her before! That’s…no. It’s can’t be!
The woman descends from the carriage and ties the horses to a piece of driftwood the size of a full tree. She goes toward the beach. The Guanyin crystal ball allows Phoebe to follow the woman through the tall beach grass and onto a deserted beach. It was South Beach! But over a 100 years ago.
A flock of ravens appear, hoover over the woman and then settle around her. There are hundreds of them. They watch the woman intently. The woman pulls something out of her pocket that looks amazingly like Spike, who has gone quiet under the cushions.
The woman in black extends her arms above her in a big V, the wand aimed at the sky. A cloud forms above her and swirls larger and larger until it covers the sun. The birds begin to fly in circles around the woman, who’s clothes flap violently around her, almost like great black wings. Or maybe they are wings! Because she begins to rise in the air, the birds swirling around her like she is a dark sun and they are its dark stars. Lighting crackles from the tip of the woman’s wand as she soars higher and higher, disappearing into the eye of the growing storm.
The crystal statue darkens and becomes more solid. Now it is opaque and glows serenely in the firelight of Phoebe’s living room.
Phoebe: Whoa! Grandmother?
Balthasar—one of the little fairies.
Briggs—Phoebe’s oldest child. A son.
Chelsea—Phoebe’s middle child.
Chip—Phoebe’s divorce attorney.
Cindy—The wife of a murdered man.
Claudius (Uncle Claudius)—Phoebe’s guardian (her parents died when she was young).
Clementine—one of the little fairies.
Cooper—Phoebe’s friend. He owns a hardware store.
Dixie Special—a murder victim.
Eileen—Phoebe’s house benefactor.
Ernesto—Ernesto was hired by Eileen, Phoebe’s house benefactor. He’s an alien. Like from “up there” kind of alien.
Errol—Animal Control in Wrightsville Beach.
Fred—Animal Control in Wrightsville Beach.
Glade—One of the little fairies.
Gus—the leader of the little fairies.
Hilton—the brother of Chip, Phoebe’s attorney.
Irving—One of Phoebe’s guardian angels.
Julian—Phoebe’s love interest.
Liliana–Phoebe’s great-great grandmother, who was a very powerful and legendary fairy who went dark
Lucy—Phoebe’s friend. She owns a bookstore.
Maude—One of Phoebe’s guardian angels.
Mrs. McGillicutty—Phoebe’s nanny when she was a child
Pearl—Phoebe’s youngest child.
Phoebe Quest—A divorced mom who has hit rock bottom in a messy divorce and who is slowly rebuilding her life in a new location after her ex takes custody of her children. Added to her struggle is coming to grips with the news that she is, indeed, a fairy and, as such, has some sort of mission to help the world.
Sheila Gantree—Phoebe’s business landlord. Sheila is also mayor.
Thor—an angry fairy from a faction called The Extremists—he runs a surf shop.
Uncle Claudius—Phoebe’s guardian (her parents died when she was young).
White Rabbit—Phoebe’s annoying conscience.