Kyra sat at her drawing table, Gossamer Pen in her hand. She twisted the pen around in her fingers amazed at how smooth its sides were. The thousands of tiny stones that made up the pen reflected the morning sunlight coming in from the window.
Kyra set the pen down gently beside her notebook. She flipped through the pages as she had nearly every day since that night she brought home the Gossamer Pen. She paused just before reaching Waxie’s page. Kyra sighed deeply, then flipped the page revealing him.
She smiled. This was how Kyra wanted to remember Waxie, unharmed.
A knock at the door startled her. Kyra didn’t verbally respond. She calmly closed the notebook and safely put the Gossamer Pen in her back pocket before walking to open the door.
Lea stood in the hallway, and this time her friend Juniper was with her. “Ready?” Lea asked flatly.
Kyra nodded as she looked Juniper up and down attempting to understand why she stood in the hallway. Juniper was already beginning to bounce with excitement. Kyra gave her sister a disapproving glare. “Really, Lea?” Kyra asked, noting her sister had brought a friend. “This isn’t play time.”
“She really wants to help.” Lea walked beside Kyra downstairs as Juniper followed eagerly like a puppy.
The girls entered the kitchen. Mom and Dad sat at the table. “You girls are up early,” Mom announced surprised to see them. “Good morning, Juniper.”
“They must be giving away candy in town,” Dad added shifting his attention away from his laptop for a moment.
“Ha ha, very funny, Dad.” Lea had begun to display those lovely teenage attributes. The first being parental annoyance under all circumstances.
“Where are you three going so early?” Mom questioned while stirring her coffee.
“We are…going to the park,” Kyra scrambled to answer. It was where they were going, but she didn’t want to explain any further. She feared what the next question would be. Her dad opened his mouth to speak. Kyra felt her stomach squeeze. No, don’t ask why, she thought.
“Have a good time girls.” Dad immediately went back to work on his computer. “Don’t be late for dinner.”
The wind rushed across Kyra’s face as she pushed to keep pace with Lea and Juniper as they peddled their bikes towards town. They were almost four years older than Kyra and quite a bit taller too. The bike trail around town was pretty empty so Kyra buried her head and furiously peddled after them. Lea would occasionally turn back noticing her little sister lagging behind. After waiting for Kyra to catch up, Lea and Juniper would blast off again, quickly outpacing her. It wasn’t intentional. Lea was just way too ambitious this morning.
The girls reached Greenville Park in record time. Kyra was out of breath when she arrived a few moments later. Lea and Juniper anxiously awaiting her. The park was looking far different today than it had yesterday when they encountered Frenemy.
It is going to be much harder to find Frenemy today, Kyra thought. She parked her bike and chained it to the bike rack next to Lea’s and scurried after her big sister. Kyra suddenly realized how ridiculous Juniper appeared as she stood next to Lea wearing a bright lime green tank top and orange shorts. Yup, she most definitely gets dressed in the dark.
A bright morning sun hung like a giant eye over Umber Forest. It glared off the metal swing set and one swing was still down. It lay in the trampled grass. Lea hesitated when she saw it. She shared a glance with Kyra. Juniper’s head nearly popped off as she swung it from side to side attempting to watch both girls. Lea moved on before Juniper got the chance to ask the first of a hundred questions swirling in her fevered mind.
Children were running and chasing one another around the playground while others had begun a game of kickball on the field to their right. The three girls had run right through the center of the park on a determined mission…get to the woods at the back of the park and find Frenemy before anyone else did. They stopped just outside the trees. Lea looked up as the tree before her swayed gracefully almost waving her inside the woods.
“So where is this crazy cat?” Juniper giggled.
“It’s not a cat, Niper,” Kyra scoffed.
“Don’t call me that,” Juniper’s smile flipped upside down in a split second.
“Yea, Kyra, don’t call her that,” Lea attempted to scold her sister, but a slight smile showed on her face.
Kyra found it amusing to find new and inventive ways to wipe what she believed to be the world’s biggest fake smile off Juniper’s face…and she excelled at it.
“Alright, what’s the plan?” Juniper eagerly awaited the call to action. Her eyes landed on Lea. Silence. Then they moved to Kyra. Nothing. “What! No plan to catch this crazy cat thing?”
“Frenemy is not a cat, Niper!” Kyra barked.
“Don’t call me Niper.”
“Don’t call her a cat!”
“Be quiet!” Lea scolded through gritted teeth. “Stop arguing you two. We have to work together on this.” Lea paused for a moment to see if they would comply, and when they did she continued. “We don’t have a plan, Juni. We just decided to come back to the scene.”
“What scene? Scene of what?” Juniper asked excitedly.
“I told you what happened last night before we left the house. Were you even listening?” Lea sounded frustrated. Her friend had an annoying habit of forgetting things that she had just talked about.
“Oh, yea. Sorry forgot. So, now what?”
“There!” Kyra pointed into a dark area in the woods to their right. She led them down the tree line to the spot. It was like a portal to another universe…between two trees was a dark black area. It was the only place that they were unable to see into the woods.
Screaming and playing echoed from behind them. Kyra’s chest thumped heavily with each heartbeat. Her tiny frame barely containing her excitement and fear.
“Is this such a good idea,” Juniper asked, her voice shaken. All her eagerness to be a part of this plan had now evaporated. She appeared keen on running in the opposite direction.
“This is where we’ll find her.” Kyra took a deep breath. “Frenemy’s in there…I can feel it.” She mustered the courage to walk into the woods. The sounds from the park were quickly swallowed by the trees. Lea placed her hand on Kyra’s shoulder. Juniper grabbed Lea’s free hand squeezing it so tightly it hurt.
The three girls slowly moved deeper into the woods searching for any signs of life. It was like walking in a shadow. The sunlight shown through the trees on either side of them, but almost nothing in the line they followed. Wind blew through ruffling the branches. The air felt heavy. Kyra stopped suddenly causing Lea and Juniper to collide.
“Ouch!” Lea said rubbing the back of her head.
“Sorry, Lea,” Juniper replied while rubbing her forehead.
“SHHH!” Kyra demanded as she held up her tiny hand. “I can hear something,” She whispered, leaning closer and closing her eyes to concentrate.
“I don’t hear anything,” Lea whispered. “What do you hear?”
Kyra pulled the Gossamer Pen from her back pocket and gripped it firmly in her right hand like a wand. She readied herself for anything. Her breathing became short and quick. The surrounding woods grew even darker as they moved deeper. Even the size of the morning sun wasn’t enough to overcome the thickness of the trees. They had finally won the battle choking out the light from above.
“Kyra,” Lea whispered. “How much further should we go?”
Kyra stopped. A chill ran up her back. “Someone is watching us,” She announced in a hushed voice hoping only Lea would hear.
“What was that?” Juniper squealed as a faint voice came from their left side.
Kyra swung quickly pointing the Gossamer Pen in that direction. She gasped at what she saw. “Don’t move!”
“AHHHHHHH!” Juniper screamed and began to run.
“Juni, wait!” Lea called. She didn’t know whether to stay with her sister or catch her friend.
“Go get her!” Kyra yelled. Her panic was short lived. Kyra bravely pointed the Gossamer
Pen at the creature that stood before her. It was not Frenemy. This creature was
far different with a yellowish-
“No, don’t! Please, Creator!” Its voice was fearful.
“Manti?” Kyra sounded relieved. She turned to her sister, “Go get, Niper!”
Lea suddenly realized, that Kyra knew this creature. It must be one of her drawings. It looks familiar. She thought. “Juni, come back!” Lea called again.
Juniper skidded to a stop. She hadn’t gotten too far away as she wasn’t the most graceful runner.
“Manti,” Kyra sounded relieved. “You aren’t safe here. Frenemy will hurt you.”
The large headed bug gave Kyra an odd expression…even for an insect. “Frenemy?” He questioned.
Kyra corrected herself, “Swampy.”
“Ah, yes, Swampy,” Manti replied. Then, pointed behind Kyra.
Frenemy appeared from the shadows with great speed and snatched Juniper. She leapt into the nearest tree.
“Let her go!” Kyra shouted. She now pointed the Gossamer Pen directly at Frenemy.
“I will trade you for her, Creator,” Frenemy said. Her yellow eyes burning with anger. “Give me the pen or I’ll drop her.”
“No, don’t!” Lea pleaded.
“You’re outnumbered, Kyra shouted.”
Frenemy cackled maniacally. “If that is what you believe, Creator. You may be talented but you are a foolish girl.”
Kyra eyed Manti wondering if it were true. Is Manti working with Frenemy? She moved closer to get better aim refocusing her gaze on Frenemy. She closed one eye and pointed the Gossamer Pen directly at Frenemy’s pointy head. “Bring her down, now!”
“Or, what, Creator! You will ink me. Don’t be a fool. You wouldn’t think about it,” Frenemy said.
“Oh, yes I would!”
“And risk hitting the girl?”
“It wouldn’t work on her, Frenemy!” Kyra snapped back.
“Are you so sure?”
“It didn’t work in the grass last night, Kyra. She is lying?” Lea reminded her sister about the flaming torch that had fallen in the grass.
“Am I!” Frenemy shouted to gain Kyra’s attention. “The ink wouldn’t hurt her, but I bet the fall would. You ink me and I’d drop her.” Frenemy let her words sink in for a moment. “I offer to you again, Creator, a trade. Hand the Gossamer Pen over to Manti and I will bring her down …unharmed.”
Juniper whimpered. Tears ran down her face.
Kyra’s attention suddenly shot back to the insect creature standing very closely behind her. How do I know if any of my drawings can be trusted? Kyra wondered. She knew that she couldn’t let Frenemy hurt Juniper. Waxie’s image laying in the grass last night popped into her head. Kyra didn’t want anyone else to get injured because of her.
She lowered the pen.
“Kyra, no,” Lea solemnly replied.
“Yes, that is a good girl,” Frenemy sneered.
Kyra stood defiantly, “bring her down right now and I will give Manti the pen in return.”
“I have your word, Creator?”
The smile was so devious when it crossed Frenemy’s red skinned lips. It was as though the devil had arrived in Greenville and just won over the land. She lowered herself down clutching Juniper around the waist. Juniper’s feet touched the ground.
“Let her go!” Lea demanded.
Frenemy evilly glared at her, but released Juniper who dashed over into her friend’s arms.
“The pen, Creator.”
Kyra turned and handed the Gossamer Pen to Manti. A sinking feeling emerged in her stomach. What have I done? She thought.
Frenemy smiled in a sinister way. “Bring me the pen!” She confidently ordered.
Manti took one step forward and looked directly into Kyra’s eyes. He raised the Gossamer Pen and shot a stream of ink at Frenemy. The devilish beast evaded the ink blast and screamed with anger. She rushed from the area and disappeared into the woods.
“Run!” Manti announced and he dashed toward the park.
The girls followed. Kyra peered over her shoulder. Frenemy gave chase screaming in a hysterical frenzy while jumping through the trees above. She swung from branch to branch attempting to catch them. Manti turned and fired a blast of ink over his shoulder to keep Frenemy away. It missed, but the angered creature swung violently to the side to avoid getting ‘inked’. The branch snapped causing Frenemy to slam into the tree truck and fall to the ground.
The girls and Manti reached the edge of the woods. Manti stopped suddenly as if afraid to exit.
“This is for you, Creator,” He held out the Gossamer Pen for Kyra to take. “Thank you for trusting me.”
“You’re welcome,” Kyra replied as she quickly took the pen and placed it within her back pocket. She jumped up and hugged Manti. “Thank you, Manti!”
“You betrayed her,” Lea said realizing that he would be in great danger. “You won’t be safe in the woods.”
“Swampy has become very dangerous. I will avoid her as much as possible. I suggest you do not come looking for her again. Not until I can gather the others to assist you.”
Frenemy screeched in anger. It echoed through the trees sending a shiver up Kyra’s back. Lea gasped. Juniper whimpered…again.
“Go, Please!” Manti ushered the girls from the woods. “I cannot follow.”
“Thank you,” Kyra called out before chasing after Lea and Juniper. They hastily gathered their bikes and left Greenville Park.