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by Nancy Tyler Glenn
Category: Science Fiction/Romance
Description: Seven-year-old Erica stumbles into a mystical place where a mysterious old woman gives her a stone. A very special stone. A Clicking Stone. Striking it against any other stone causes both to flare into incredible brilliance. Except, not everyone can see the brilliance. And Erica does not yet know the power of her Stone. Morgan moves in next door. The girls grow up together and one day, the two click stones. Knowledge of Erica's gift spreads, creating a worldwide movement of adherents to the illumination power of Clicking Stones. Still, the question remains: why do some people see the brilliance and gain energy from it, and some do not? There is no discernible pattern or reason. Throughout all these evolutionary events there is the love between Erica and Morgan--a love of extraordinary intensity and eroticism ... one that survives separation and their loving of other women, and that transcends the passing years and, finally, time itself.
eBook Publisher: SRS Internet Publishing/Artemis Press, 1991
eBookwise Release Date: January 2005
8 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [337 KB]
Reading time: 217-304 min.
~ Chapter 1 ~
Erica Demar headed into the woods on the same path she had taken the day before.
"Don't go too far from the cabin," Paula Demar called. "Your father wants to get back to town in time for President Truman's speech."
"All right, Mommy," the little girl called back. "I just want to find my ball." Her eyes searched the ground and she kicked at piles of leaves. After a while she was no longer looking for the ball, she was having too much fun kicking leaves, sticks, rocks, anything else she found.
The deeper into the woods she walked, the darker it got. "Boo!" she said to a tree. She liked to scare herself.
Then Erica wasn't scared anymore, she was frightened. "Mommy," she wailed. "Daddy, I'm lost. Mommy!"
She strained to hear her parents' voices. It was too dark to see. "Daddy!" she demanded.
Erica came up against a soft wall. She pushed against it. Suddenly she felt it give way and she fell forward on her hands and knees. "Ow! Mommy."
A soft wind churned around her. The harder she cried, the stronger the wind. At times it almost lifted her off the ground. "Help," she yelled and was surprised at how small her voice sounded. She tried to run. The wind whipped her hair into her face where it stuck to the wet from her tears.
"I'm going to die," she moaned. She could picture her mother and father clinging to each other in their grief. As she became absorbed in this fantasy, the storm subsided. There was calm.
In the distance Erica saw a flicker of light. She moved toward it. It must be a search party. She had heard the term on the radio when some boy scouts were lost in the mountains.
"I'm over here," she called. "Here I am!" She ran toward the light, waving her arms. She wasn't watching where she was going. She tripped over a tree trunk and pitched forward.
Stunned, she watched the light move closer. She looked up to see a bent-over old woman peering at her. The source of the light was an object the woman held in her hand.
"I'm lost," Erica appealed. She had never seen such an old woman. Even her father's mother, Babu, wasn't that old. She stood up, brushing the dirt, sticks and leaves off her overalls.
The old woman's eyes twinkled. "You're not lost, you just forgot where you put yourself."
Erica giggled. Then she said soberly, "I'm not lying, I'm lost. My mommy and daddy have a search party looking for me right now. I've been gone for hours."
"Probably not as long as you think," the old woman said kindly. "Time does funny things out here. Let's get you cleaned up a little." She brushed Erica's hair back with her gnarled fingers, then moistened the tip of a handkerchief with her tongue and wiped the dirt from the little girl's face.
"Are you going to take me back?" Erica asked.
"Yes, I'll go with you for a bit." The woman held the light in front of them and took Erica's hand.
"That's the brightest light I've ever seen." Erica was dazzled.
"You can see it?" the old woman questioned eagerly.
"Of course!" Erica exclaimed. "Who couldn't see it?"
The old woman chuckled from deep within her belly. "You'd be surprised how many people think they can't. Eventually, though, everybody will see it."
Erica shook her head. "They would have to be stupid not to see a light that bright."
They reached the soft wall.
"This is as far as I can go with you, child."
"But it's dark, I'll get lost. I'm scared," Erica wailed.
"Would you like to hold my light?" The old woman placed an object in Erica's palm. "Tell me what it feels like."
Erica closed her fingers and moved it around in her hand. "It's hard and smooth. It feels like a stone."
"It is a stone." The old woman laughed.
Erica returned the light to the old woman. "What kind of stone?" she asked curiously.
"One that is clicked." With effort the old woman bent down and found a smooth flat stone. She gave it to Erica. "Here, hold this. Now hold it up." With a flick of her wrist she tapped Erica's stone with her own. An explosion of light enveloped them.
"Look!" Erica squealed excitedly. "Mine lighted. How did you do that?"
The old woman chuckled. "Anyone can do it if they have a clicked stone."
Erica looked in awe at the light in her hand. "Is that what I have?"
"It looks as though you do." The old woman smiled.
"I like you." Erica hugged her. "Can I come see you again?"
The old woman shook her head. "But one day you'll come this way again and you'll go down that path." She pointed a gnarled finger in the direction from which they had just come.
"How do I get through this wall?" Erica asked. "The last time I fell through."
"Don't push so hard," the old woman cautioned. "Just pretend you're walking through water." Gently, she pushed Erica through the wall.
"Come with me," Erica pleaded, but suddenly she was alone. She felt a hot pain in her chest; her eyes filled with tears.
With the light from the clicked stone Erica easily found her way out of the woods.
* * * *
"I'm here, I'm here," she called, running breathlessly toward the cabin.
"Good." Ross Demar slammed the trunk of his '38 Chevy. He had bought the car seven years ago, a month before Erica was born. "It's time to go now."
"Did you find your ball?" Paula asked.
"No, I got lost. An old woman found me. She gave me this." Erica held the stone in her palm for her mother's inspection.
"That's nice, dear." Her mother opened the car door. Erica climbed into the back seat.
Ross slid into the driver's seat next to his wife. "What does she have?"
"A rock," Paula said.
"The old woman had one too--it made a beautiful light, just like mine," Erica said from the back seat.
Ross glanced back at his daughter. "Kids have such wonderful imaginations," he said to his wife.
Erica examined her parents' faces for a long time, then closed her fingers around her precious stone. The hum of the engine and the buzz of her parents' voices lulled her to sleep.
* * * *
When Ross Demar pulled the Chevy into the driveway of their home in Los Angeles, Erica was still asleep. "Don't wake her," he said to his wife. "I'll carry her upstairs. You go in and turn on the radio. The President's speech is about to begin."
Ross lifted his daughter's small form from the back seat. As he carried her, Erica's hand relaxed and the stone dropped, unnoticed, to the ground.
* * * *
Erica awakened in darkness.
She felt around in her bed for her stone. She got up and turned on the light and looked on the floor and under her bed. "It has to be here somewhere," she said. She looked on her dresser and in the drawers. She searched her closet. "Where is my stone?" she asked her doll, Sweetie Pie. The doll's shiny eyes stared ahead blankly.
Erica carefully opened her door and tiptoed down the hail.
Paula sat up in bed and switched on her bedside lamp. "Ross, wake up."
Ross turned over, shielding his eyes with his hand.
"I think someone's in the house."
Ross got up and lumbered to the door.
Erica turned to see her father standing in the hallway. "I lost my stone, maybe it's in the car."
"Go back to bed, we'll find it in the morning."
"No!" Erica wailed. "I want it now! It's mine, the old woman said so. I want it now!"
Paula got up and put on her bathrobe. "What's going on?"
Ross was angry. "She's about to get spanked, that's what's going on!"
"I want my stone!" Tears streamed down Erica's face, but her jaw was set.
"She's tired." Paula touched her husband's shoulder lightly. "Why don't you go down and get her rock so we can all go back to sleep?"
Exasperated, Ross shook his head and headed down the stairs, Erica right behind him.
When he opened the front door, Erica squealed, "There it is!" She slipped past him and ran to the brilliant light on the ground next to the driveway. She came back ecstatic.
"Now get to bed," Ross scolded. "I don't want to hear from you again till morning."
Triumphantly Erica returned to her room and got into bed. She let her mother tuck her in, but as soon as she was alone she sat up and played with her stone. She threw it in the air and caught it, watching the shadows play against the walls.
Finally, sleepy, she put the stone under her pillow and snuggled under the covers. Several times she lifted her pillow and light filled the room. At last she slept.
* * * *
The next day Erica had to stand in the cloakroom at school for telling a fib. Her teacher, Mrs. Adams, had asked all the children to tell what they had done on their summer vacation. Erica's eyes smarted, but she promised herself she wouldn't cry.
During recess Erica played click stone with a few of her classmates. Those whose stones lighted went home excited after school to show their mothers, and were told not to play with the little girl with the overactive imagination. Those who couldn't see the light soon got bored with the game and tossed their brilliant gems on the blacktop. Erica carefully gathered these discarded stones and took them home with her.
She vowed not to play click stone anymore. It just caused too much trouble. But the next day her stone began to fade. By the third day the light was almost gone.
She tried clicking two stones together herself, but nothing happened. Erica discovered that it took two to click.
To keep her stone illuminated she had to be inventive.
"Daddy?" Erica snuggled up to Ross. "Play click with me."
Ross rustled his newspaper. "I pay a fortune for toys and you spend all your time playing with a damned rock."
Tears filled Erica's eyes.
"All right, just once." Ross took the stone his daughter offered and allowed Erica to tap it.
Erica was happy again. She loved throwing the radiant light in the air and catching it. But as the stone began to dim Erica again became anxious. She began looking for opportunities to click.
* * * *
She was walking by the baseball field when Jimmy Clark hit a home run, the ball sailing out of the park toward her. Erica snatched it out of the air as easily as she caught her stone. She ignored the stinging in her fingers and tossed the ball to the waiting fielder.
Jimmy, the team captain, motioned for Erica to come to the baseball diamond. "How did you do that?" he asked.
Erica shrugged. "It was easy." She took out her stone and threw it casually into the air and caught it behind her back without as much as looking over her shoulder.
Jimmy looked at the others. "She's on the team."
"But she's a girl!" one of the players protested.
"Shut up!" he growled. Then, turning to Erica, "What are you playing with?"
"It's my ... lucky stone." She held it up for him to see.
"I want one," Jimmy demanded.
Erica reached in her pocket. She always carried a spare in the event she found someone to click.
Jimmy looked doubtful. "What makes it lucky?" He held it up, examining it.
"This." Erica quickly tapped the stone he was holding. She was pleased with her own ingenuity.
"Hmm," Jimmy mused. "Do you have any more of these?"
Erica nodded, trying not to let her excitement show. After practice, Jimmy walked home tossing his stone into the air. He pretended not to look around to see if anyone was watching whenever he dropped it.
The team never lost another game. The ritual before and after every game or practice was the same. Everybody clicked.
* * * *
Erica was glad when the school year ended. She was also glad when her mother informed her they wouldn't be spending the summer at the cabin. There was no one to click at the cabin.
All summer, when Erica wasn't playing ball or practicing her flute, she rode her bike down to the creek looking for interesting stones. When she found ones she liked, she brought them home and added them to her growing collection.
"When I'm grown up I can click anyone I want to," she promised herself. Then she had another worry. What if her stone didn't light when she was a grownup?