You walk into your home to find a couple you don’t know sitting in your living room, eating a slice of cake. Tell us what happens next….
“Ah-hum,” was all I said upon seeing the strange man and woman sitting in my living room, lights out, faces lit by the glow of hundreds of candles. A cake -looking very much like a birthday cake – sat on the end table between them. Both were eating slices of the cake. Chocolate cake with strawberry filling. I could tell by the smell. It was my favorite, the cake my mother always baked for my birthday.
I raised both hands in surprise, brain gradually restarting. “What the heck are you doing in my living room? And why are you fixing to burn it to the ground?”
“Oh, darling,” the woman laughed, dismissing my concerns with a wave of her hand. “We aren’t planning to burn down your house. This is a lovely little room and a lovely house.”
I couldn’t focus on the appraisal of my room and house at the moment.
“Then why all the candles?” Had some B-movie cast set up in my living to shoot some kind of witch’s coven scene?
“Darling, hardly,” the woman said with less humor than before. “A coven? You’ve been watching too many late night movies.”
I couldn’t deny the accusation. Insomnia was my friend – of sorts. I spent a lot of late nights watching bad movies. Tonight, I was actually tired and had planned to get a full night’s sleep, which explained why I was a little more than irritated at the disruption.
“Then…. who are you and why are you in my living room?”
The man put down his plate and rose. “You are thirty-one today, son.”
He was right. It was my 31st birthday. I’d forgotten. But what….. and why did he know? And why did he call me son? I should have picked up on that first but, as I said, I was actually tired.
“Look,” I said conciliatory, “I don’t know who your are or why you are here and I don’t care. I don’t want some weird birthday party. I don’t want cake or cookies or ice cream. Or presents.” A little niggle in my brain was telling me they were here for a reason. “I just want to go to bed and get a good night’s sleep.”
The woman rose gracefully to stand beside the man. “Do you ever wonder why, as you’re grown, you’ve had such a hard time sleeping? How you sleep less and less as the years go by?”
“Well. sometimes but…” I rubbed my temples. I’d had this headache for a year now. The Doctor’s couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me or any medicine to make it go away.
“Because,” she said with a soft smile, “You don’t belong here. Your body is remembering and wanting to go home.”
“What?” I winced at the ratcheting pain in my head. “Look I just want to go to bed, get some sleep, so I can go to work in the morning.”
“You don’t have work anymore,” the man told me, “at least not the same work.”
“What?” Maybe this was some sort of nightmare.
“Not a nightmare, darling. Look out your window.”
A practical joke? Did I know anyone who’d play such a joke on me?
“Look, I don’t want…” But my eyes slid to the window and everything stopped. It was pitch black beyond the glow of the candles.
Pitch black? But how……
Hurrying to the window I looked out, surprised to see it wasn’t pitch black, just darker than I had ever seen. That, however, was not what drew my attention. Where were my neighbor’s houses? The road? The street lights? Was did it look as if my house was surrounded by a forest?
The moon peeked out from behind the clouds, covering my yard with it’s soft light. Something drifted down from the sky, rain, I guess. But….
My yard was white. White? And the things drifting down, harder now, weren’t raindrops but snowflakes. In Florida?
I felt the man’s hand on my shoulder. “Don’t worry, son. You’re home now. Your mother and I will explain everything.”
They led me to a chair and helped me sit, settling back in their seats. For a moment, we were silent; me in panicked confusion, them with understanding on their faces.
“It’s always confusing, darling,” the woman assured me with a pat to my hand.
“Once,” my father started before I could comment, “long, long ago, in a land called Faire……”