Saturday, November 23, 2019

Rounded with a sleep

Fernando was quarterback at Naples High. A popular, dashing, but reclusive, mysterious student. He seemed to live alone. No one ever met his parents or siblings–assuming he had any siblings. 

Miranda, she of the shimmering hair and flashing eyes, was his girlfriend  Although Caliban played on the same team, as wide receiver, he was jealous of Fernando. At first resenting the fact that he was the quarterback, making Fernando the titular star player.

To make matters worse, Fernando and Caliban were both in love with Miranda. When Miranda became Fernando's girlfriend, that fueled the jealousy, but he concealed his ire.   

Fernando's home lay at the foot of a woodsy trail, with a brick gateway. The estate was enclosed by a high brick wall. Once inside, a footpath led to a log cabin on a hillside. The cabin had a balcony with a sweeping a view of the lake below. Sloping down and out from the hillside was a sprawling mossy front yard with fruit trees. On one side was a forest. On the other side a ravine with a brook that emptied into the lake. 

The estate seemed to have its own climate, impervious to seasonal fluctuations in temperature. Although the foliage underwent summery or autumnal variations in color, with the occasional dusting of snow in winter, the deciduous foliage was never denuded. Fruit trees bloomed year around while songbirds warbled year round. 

Fernando and Miranda used to walk home together after school, hand-in-hand. They hung out at his place. Before dark, he'd escort her back to her own home. One time Caliban followed them, shadowing them at a distance, to keep out of sight. Standing behind a tree, he watched them pass through the gate. After a few moments, to approach it undetected, he resumed. But when he went to the gate, it was locked. Through the grillwork he could see a footpath on the other side, but the view was cuff-off by a bend in the trail. And the walls were too smooth and high to scale.  

On one rare occasion, Fernando invited the entire team over for a post-season BBQ. They trooped down together from the high school to his house, with Fernando and Miranda in the lead. The party continued into the evening hours, with a bonfire down on the beach. Then everyone went home. 

A few days later, Caliban skipped school. He wore a backpack with a rope, grappling hook, and accelerants. He was planning to set fire to Fernando's house. But as he made his way down the trail, there was no gate. The trail continued down to the lake. No cabin, fruit trees, or songbirds. Just a narrow footpath in the forest. And the air had a frigid edge. 

Was he on the wrong trail? But how could that be? He distinctly remembered the trail. And there was no other trail. 

A few days later he skipped school again, renting a little motorboat to find the estate from the other side. But the entire shoreline was forested. No cabin on a hilltop, with a sprawling front yard. 

On graduation day, when festivities were over, Fernando and Miranda walked down to his house. That's the last time anyone ever saw them. 

Caliban was baffled. Did the estate not exist in our world? Was the gate a portal to a parallel world? Or did the estate only exist in the imagination? A phantasmagorical projection onto a real spot in space and time?