The next day was bright and sunny…and even warmer yet. Kyra had forgotten about the pen she’d thrown in the trash the night before as soon as her sister asked her to come to the park and play. The two girls spent much of the day there playing with friends from school.
Greenville Park was just north of downtown. Today, many of the children from Greenville played on the playground or swings. Next to that sat the open grass field where Kyra, Lea and their friends played kickball.
Kyra stood in the outfield. She hated being in the outfield. No one ever kicks that ball to me! She complained to herself while watching a group of girls chasing one another around the playground. Kyra sighed. I’d rather be running around than standing here in the hot sun. She began gliding her foot through the grass turning the blades side to side examining how the colors changed slightly. She had become so distracted that she barely noticed the familiar sound of the large red ball whizzing past her. Her teammates began to yell, when Kyra turned to see the ball vanish into the woods behind her.
“Oh, nuts!” Kyra dashed off after it. The sounds of the kids screaming and yelling waned behind her as she entered the woods. Sounds of crickets chirping and leaves rustling took over. It was like she had entered a totally different world. It even smelled different; like school desks and fireplaces.
The bright red ball easily stood out in the green leaves and brown dirt within the woods. She climbed over a fallen branch and retrieved the ball when a noise startled her. Kyra gasped when she saw a strange figure standing between two trees. It vanished right away. Kyra grabbed the ball and ran back out into the field. Lea awaited her, and she was very unhappy.
“What took you so long?” Lea barked. “They all scored!”
“There was someone in the woods, Lea!” Kyra was scared.
“What did they look like?”
“It was tall and had red skin and horns on its head.”
“Stop fooling around, Kyra!” Lea began to laugh and turned away. She quickly ran back to the pitcher’s mound to face the next opponent dismissing her sister’s story as a vivid imagination.
Kyra turned to face the woods. They were tall and dark. The trees shuddered against the wind when it blew. She knew something was in there…even if her sister didn’t believe her.
“KYRA!” voices shouted.
She turned around just as the kickball smacked her in the face. It knocked her to the ground. The ball went straight up into the air, and as she laid flat on her back in the grass the ball fell back down into her stomach. Kyra caught the ball to end the game…by accident.
The girls made their way back home pedaling madly on their bikes. Lea followed behind Kyra, just to make sure she made it home safely. Kyra loved it too, because she got to lead…it made her feel grown up.
Greenville Park was 10 blocks from their home. They rode along the sidewalk passing some townspeople as they walked. Many said hello and called them by name, while others smiled or nodded. Greenville was a small town. Everyone knew everyone here.
The image of the figure standing in the woods stuck in Kyra’s mind. She replayed it over and over again trying to remember each detail. She thought it looked familiar, but that couldn’t be. It wasn’t human.
“Watch out!” a man shouted as Kyra nearly ran over his foot. She had been so distracted that she had to slam on her brakes to stop before she slid out into the intersection.
“Kyra! What are you doing?” Lea mothered. “That hit to the head must have scrambled your brains. You have to stop at the intersection! I will take the lead until we get to the bike trail. Okay?”
Kyra frowned but didn’t argue. She had way too much on her mind right now to bother fighting with her sister.
They travelled a few more blocks before leaving downtown. There the girls met up with a bike trail. It was designed for the children of Greenville to ride their bikes safely to downtown or school without being near traffic on the main streets. The bike trail would lead them straight home.
The buildings from town were replaced with homes on one side and trees on the other. The wind felt good as it shielded them from the warm sun.
Lea stopped to see if her friend Juniper was home. Kyra waited as Lea went to her friend’s house, which sat just off the bike trail.
Just then, something caught Kyra’s attention from the woods. Standing in the trees, staring directly at her, was the same figure…a creature. It was red and did have spikes protruding from its head and arms. Its face was dirty and eyes yellow.
Kyra was surprised, “No way!”
The creature smiled at Kyra, but then disappeared back into the woods.
“Swampy?” Kyra said.
“What?” Lea asked as she climbed back onto her bike.
Kyra just pointed.
“Not funny, Kyra.” Lea put her helmet back on her head and pedaled off. “Come on Kyra, Juniper wasn’t home.!” Lea called.
“Lea wait!” Kyra cried out. “I have to tell you something!”
Kyra begged her sister to stop peddling. She needed to talk to her before they got home. Lea finally stopped at the end of their driveway when Kyra offered to clean Lea’s room if she would just listen to her.
Kyra explained that she recognized the figure in the woods at the park, and that she saw it again just a few blocks back. Lea, however, didn’t care. She just believed that Kyra’s mind was playing tricks on her in the heat. Kyra was angry.
“I’ll show you!” Kyra barked. “At home…in my notebook!”
Once home, Kyra dashed up the stairs to her room. Lea followed, but not as quickly.
She believed her childish sister was playing some short of game of make-
Kyra began flipping through the pages of her drawing notebook. The first ten pages were filled with creatures and animals of all shapes and sizes.
“Kyra, I’ve seen all of these,” Lea was growing impatient. She began tapping her foot just as their mother does when she waiting for them to clean their rooms.
“I’m looking for something spific,” Kyra said.
“Specific!” Lea corrected.
“Whatever!” Kyra continued to scan each page before flipping to the next, when suddenly she stopped. “What the what!”
Lea had lost interest and was staring out the window when Kyra reacted to what was on the page before her.
“Where is he?” Kyra sounded defeated.
“Who?” Lea leaned in to see the page. It was blank except for a title at the very bottom of the page where Kyra always named her creations. “Dinosaur,” it read. “Hey, where’s the drawing Kyra?”
“I..I don’t know. It was here last night,” She became frantic. “This page feels like something got spilled on it.” Kyra rubbed her fingers across the page. Kyra’s mind began to wander. She flipped to the next page. It too was empty except for the name, ‘Spinja’. Kyra gasped. She turned the page again. ‘Manti’, was all it read. Then, ‘Swampy’. Kyra stopped immediately and turned to Lea. Her eyes wide.
“It’s the ink!”
“Ink? There is nothing on that page.” Lea was beginning to worry that her little sister was suffering memory loss from the kick ball incident.
“No, ink from the pen.” Kyra’s mind began to race, trying to piece together what had happened.
“That piece of junk you were crying over last night?”
Kyra didn’t replied, but began digging into her trash can next to the desk. It was gone.
“Dad took it, Kyra,” Lea explained. “He knew how upset you were, so he grabbed it last night after you fell asleep and returned it to the antique shop.
Kyra grabbed hold of Lea’s shoulders and shook her while she shouted. “I need that pen!”
“Kyra,” her dad’s voice cut through the tension.
The two girls turned and smiled awkwardly. He stood in the doorway, just as he had last night. In his hand were three new pens.
“I purchased you some drawing pens today on my way home from work,” He knelt down beside her and smiled while rubbing her shoulder. “I am sorry your new pen didn’t work. Hope you make some great drawings with these.”
“Dad where did my pen go?”
Laughing nervously he answered, “I returned it to Mrs. Verbeek’s this afternoon. Don’t you like the new pens?”
“Oh…yes, dad. I am sorry. They are great. I just wanted to keep the other pen.”
He gave her a strange glance.
“It’s an antic pen, dad. It looked really cool,” Kyra fibbed.
Lea sighed aloud at her sister’s error, “Antique,” she corrected in a muffled tone.
“Okay, well I can call Mrs. Verbeek and ask for it back.”
“Thank you!” Kyra smiled widely.
“But, we’ll have to pick it up Monday, because we are going up north this weekend.”
After their father left the room, Kyra and Lea returned their attention to the notebook.
“Do you think its invisible ink?” Lea whispered.
“It must be! These drawings I made…they are all gone!” Kyra said with excitement finally realizing that the antique shop pen must have been something special.
“How is that possible?” Lea grabbed the notebook and flipped through the pages. She had seen these drawings. Kyra always showed them off to the family once she had finished them. She knew that Kyra hadn’t just written these names down to scare her. The artwork was actually missing from the page itself. “Kyra, there are some pages stuck together.”
Lea pried the pages behind “Swampy” with her finger nails. This page too was blank, but still damp. The name on the page was partly missing too.
“What does this say, Kyra?” Lea pointed to the partial lettering at the bottom.
“Waxie!” Kyra replied. “I loved him.” Kyra felt sad. These were some of her favorite drawings and now they had vanished.
“What happened to your drawings?” Lea struggled to pull apart the final page that was stuck to “Waxie”. When she finally succeeded Lea returned the notebook to Kyra.
“Frumpkin?” Kyra was positive now. “It’s the pen…well actually the ink from the pen,” Kyra attempted to explain how ink had spilled from the pen last night onto her drawing of Frumpkin. “Frumpkin’s drawing was the last one I had done. The ink spilled onto the back of his page last night.”
“The ink must have bled through the pages onto the others, Kyra. So that pen is filled with invisible ink?”
Kyra flipped back to the page with ‘Swampy’ written at the bottom. “No, I think it is much worse. This is who I saw in the park!”
“Swampy?” Lea said, her heart dropped into her stomach.
“Not invisible…magical. The pen brought my drawings to life!”