It had been almost a year and a
half since John had seen Catherine. A year and a half since he, his younger
brother Kyle, and their neighbors Catherine, and her younger sister Lena, had
accidentally, or, rather not so accidentally, fallen through a portal to The
Other Side of the Grass.
They were the first four Gifted
Ones. A year and a half ago they were transported
to a different world where they met a winged lion named Avion, a blacksmith
named Ray, and a enraged wizard named Rehamdeshant.
For each of the four elements,
lightning, fire, earth, water, there were two Gifted Ones, one boy and one
girl. For the elements to be stable however lightning’s power must be limited,
at least that is what Avion had told them. Of course Rehamdeshant
disagreed. He believed that lightning should have most of the power, if not all
of it. Most of the citizens of The Other Side of the Grass agreed with Avion;
however a select few sided with Reham.
Now, in the chaos that followed, it became the duty of The Gifted Ones to keep the elements balanced and to end the war once and for all
John was now fifteen and in his
sophomore year of high school. He had lots of friends and good grades, what
could he possibly want more at this point? However John was not happy.
This particular Tuesday, John
opened his locker and sighed. “Are you thinking about her again?” Kestina, his
phoenix who he had befriended in The Other Side of the Grass asked. Right now
she was the size of a mouse and sat comfortably on John’s shoulder. No one on this side of the grass besides John and the other seven Gifted Ones could see her.
John nodded as he
pulled a few books out of his locker for last period. “Well don’t worry, you’ll
see her soon enough.” Kestina smiled at him, her bright red feathers glowing in
the harsh florescent light.
“How do you know?” John asked
suspiciously. “We have been waiting for a year and a half, they aren’t going to
call us back, or maybe they only called
Catherine and Lena back. I don’t know, but it could be years before they ask
for me and Catherine at the same time again.”
“Trust me, when the time is right you will all
be back in the Other Side of the Grass.” Kestina assured him as he walked down
the crowded hallway to history class. He sighed as he approached the door to
his classroom and reluctantly entered, knowing that today would just be another
day when almost everyone he saw thought he was an ordinary teenager.
Lena had been waiting for this day
for weeks. Finally she was going to be able to prove to everyone at Boulder
Junior High School that she wasn’t just another pretty face. Lena could feel
the anticipation in the room, soaring high above what it was on a normal school
day. That was because today was dodge ball day. Lena Risterra was one of the
most popular girls at Boulder Junior High school. But despite her participation
on the girls track team, she was not regarded as a very athletic girl. She was
one of the fastest sprinters in the state for her age group and she also
excelled in jumping competitions, including the long jump and high jump. Today
Lena was going to be able to prove to everyone just how athletic she was,
because today she was going to win the school wide dodge ball competition.
The rules were simple; the last
person left won the crown. There were no calls against head shots or foul play,
and once you were out, you were done. It reminded Lena of fighting in The Other
Side of the Grass. There was no referee to call Augustus out if he went for a cheap shot, so to her this was no different.
Lena got into her track starting
position behind the line, knowing she had the advantage of training on her
side. She waited patiently as the foam balls were placed on the center line.
After what felt like eternity, the whistle sounded and everyone bolted to the
center to retrieve the foam balls. As usual Lena beat everyone to the line. She
grabbed three of the precious balls and dashed backward three feet so she
would have time to react to an incoming ball. Within the first minuet, half of
her competition was gone, hit in the fray and sent to sit on the bleachers. Lena
wouldn’t end up there, she refused to do so. There was nothing that could
convince her to give up the crown, nothing that could stop her.
become princess of the dodge ball court.
As Lena glanced at the bleachers,
Kenny, one of the most athletic boys in school saw his opportunity. He threw a foam
ball as he could at Lena’s stomach. Lena however was not ready to be out, but
there were balls everywhere. Unluckily for her there were only five members
left on her team, including her, and nine on the opposing team. Even worse was that
the majority of them were helping Kenny in an endless attempt to get her thrown
out of the game.
Suddenly everything was in slow
motion, Lena could see the ball Kenny was throwing right in front of her and
his friends’ balls coming at her to the left and right of that one. In addition
to that, there was a ball at her knee height coming directly under Kenny’s.
There was almost no way out.
Almost, though, was enough for Lena.
Lena pushed herself off the ground
with her right foot and spun herself sideways with her left. Now she was
parallel with the ground soaring between the four dodge balls. Lena landed in
time to grab a dodge ball that was rolling at her feet and hit one of Kenny’s
friends square in the face.
“Dude, was that a scissor kicks, you
know without the kick?” He asked in awe as he walked off the court. Lena just
smiled and looked back at Kenny and his friend, both of them quickly took a few
steps back. She smirked slightly, she’d been working on that move for months.
Not for dodgeball of course, but for fighting in The Other Side of The Grass.
Soon it was down to just Lena and
Kenny. One of them would be the champion, and Lena knew it was going to be her.
Kenny was growing tired; Lena however had only just begun. Endurance training
for a year and a half had really helped her. She wanted to be physically ready
the next time she went to The Other Side of the Grass and it looked like all
her hard work was going to pay off before she even slipped through the potal.
As Kenny and her locked eyes Lena pulled the sweat from her brow with her powers. A few balls were thrown but the face off continued.
Then all of a sudden Lena felt it;
the one thing that she would give up the dodge ball crown for. She glanced down
at her silver starfish bracelet as it vibrated softly.
They were calling her back to The
Other Side of the Grass.
Nothing mattered more to Lena than
returning, not even the school wide dodge ball competition. This
is why when her bracelet started its second round of vibrations she smiled and
dashed out of the gym door. No one was fast enough to catch her, before anyone
had realized what had happened, Lena was on the other side of the school,
opening the portal in the janitor’s closet.
Standing in the dim light of the
single bulb inside of the cluttered janitor’s closet, Lena pressed gently on the
starfish clasp of her bracelet. Trying her best to ignore powerful smell of
bleach, she closed her eyes and moved her hands in circular motions that
overlapped each other while thinking ‘open’. A green dot appeared on the closet
floor. Lena peeked, just to see it's splendid green color, then continued the motions as the dot
expanded into a great circular, swirling, portal. When Lena had finished
opening the portal she smiled to herself and though I’m going home. Then she jumped into the portal, it closed quickly behind her bright blonde locks.
Kyle was sitting at his desk in his
room studying for his history test the next day. The area surrounding him was
covered in books and notes that he had taken out to study with. Kyle tried so
hard but somehow he couldn’t remember the French revolution at all. For the
fourth time in a row Kyle didn’t remember the name of the king that was executed.
“Larry, Lester, Lenny” Kyle raked his brain. “I miss Lenny.” he sighed
recalling the first creature in The Other Side of the Grass that he had met. “I
hate this!” Kyle exclaimed as he pushed all of his books to the floor. “I’m
tired of school and homework and chores. I’m tired of acting like every other
eleven year old boy, because I’m not.” He announced in a frustrated tone to no
one besides himself.
As Kyle raged on
about being stuck on earth without anyone but John around who knew his secret.
He held his hand above the potted plant he kept on his window sill and moved it
upward, making the plant grow from two inches to a foot in a split second. Kyle
gazed longingly at the side of the white colonial next door and wished Catherine and Lena could still be fund living inside. He missed having the girls around to talk to. John was helpful but he knew that his days
would be much better with Lena at his side as he walked the halls of the middle
school. He even missed Catherine, as controlling as she sometimes was, she was
always game for making fun of the fairies. Something John would sometimes
resist because of his past affections toward the fire fairy Selena.
Just then as
Kyle was recalling all of the good times he had had in The Other Side of the
Grass, as he had done thousands of times since he returned, he felt a faint
vibration. Looking down at his left arm Kyle saw his silver bracelet vibrating
softly against his skin. Kyle smiled and jumped up quickly. Without a second thought he began to open
the portal by pressing his tree shaped claps gently while thinking ‘open’ then
making the arm motions that Kestina had taught John and him.
When the portal
stopped expanding Kyle stood at the edge and said quietly to himself “Finally, I’m
going back to where I’m the history.” With that Kyle jumped into the great
swirling portal, already excited for the journey ahead.
John ran down
the field as fast as he could, dodging player after player until he dove into
the end zone just as the buzzer went off. John’s team had won the game and was
now going to play offs. John sighed and relief washed over is sore and
It was at times like this when adrenaline was pumping
through his veins that he could almost feel the pull to the place where he
truly belonged, The Other Side of the Grass. It was for this reason that when
John felt a vibration on his left wrist he thought nothing of it. It happened
quite often when he was thinking about it. However he knew there was almost no
chance that his bracelet was truly vibrating, he always checked it anyway, just
to make sure. As he stared down at his silver flame bracelet he could have
sworn it was moving slightly. He reached down with his right hand and touched
it slightly. He hadn’t been imagining it, the bracelet was truly vibrating.
John smiled to himself and glanced at the rest of his football team,
celebrating in the center of the field. Instead of jogging over to meet them
John turned and ran. He ran off the field and jumped the fence, running right
into the woods that surrounded the football field. He heard the flapping of
wings and noticed that Kestina had caught up with him.
“I assume I was
correct this morning when I said that we would be called back.” Kestina
smiled. John returned the smile and skidded to a stop. Here he took off his
pads and hid them behind a large tree. Kestina tossed him a pair of shorts and
a t-shirt she had been carrying for him for after the game and he quickly
changed. She then tossed him his sword. “I thought I should come prepared, just
a feeling I got this morning.” She laughed. John sighed and began to open the
portal. Kestina had taught him and Kyle how. He just thought 'open' as he was creating a circle with
his arms. Slowly the green swirling portal began to open in front of him until
it was large enough for Kestina and him to jump through. John looked around one
last time, imagining how much better The Other Side of the Grass was. Then he
jumped into the portal and Kestina followed him through.
Catherine Risterra hadn’t made any
friends in the year and a half she had attended Bolder Junior High.
Now a freshman in the local high school, Catherine was smart, but not extremely; athletic, but didn’t
participate in any sports except for lacrosse. She didn’t talk to anyone if she
could help it and those who she had spoken to still had no idea whatsoever of
who she was. The only thing people knew about her was that she had moved from
the east coast. Not because she had told them so, but because she had a certain
air to her that almost screamed it. Everything about her screamed it. The way
she dressed, the seriousness that was etched in her face, it just wasn’t meant
for the laid back society that was the western United States.
All of her classmates found
something off about her, something that convinced them to leave her to her
solitude. Even teachers noted something about Catherine. Though she was almost
completely silent in class she was exceedingly confident and found herself to
almost always be right. She went to school often enough, though a few teachers
noticed a pattern in her absences.
She often did not attend school during a thunderstorm.
Most of the teachers who noticed
this certain pattern however dismissed it as a fear of thunderstorms and let it
go without mention. She was already a peculiar girl; they didn’t think it
necessary to point out any more abnormalities.
Michel Pascarella, a sophomore at
Boulder Public High School, however was not a person who enjoyed letting things
go. He knew there was something off about Catherine, more than the other
students suggested. He had asked several of his fellow students why they
avoided her. They told Michael that they felt a chill when she was around them.
A few people in her grade claimed she was the devil, or maybe a witch. However
Michael did not believe it, he didn’t even feel the chill so many students had
claimed they felt around her.
Sometimes in the hall he would
brush her shoulder with his, just to give himself the calming feeling that came
with contact with her. At first Michael suspected maybe he had feelings for
her, but that was impossible. Michael Pascarella was the most popular person in
Boulder Public High School, he exceeded at everything he did, giving off an
essence of power and accomplishment to all that met him.
Michael was right, he did not like
Catherine but the other students were wrong. Still the chill that Catherine
gave the other students was completely real. Catherine was not a witch or the
Devil. However, she was extremely powerful, and she knew it.
Catherine Risterra was one for the
eight Gifted Ones, and she wore the bracelet every day on her left arm to prove
Catherine scratched her head and
looked up at the clock. She had twenty minutes left in her math test. She had
studied so hard, and yet for some reason she couldn’t seem to get the fourth
problem. She pulled another piece of scrap paper from under her test and began
the problem over again.
“You forgot to divide by 74.” A
familiar voice whispered in her ear.
Catherine shook her head “Vartines
you can’t help me during a test, it’s not fair. Not everyone has an invisible
dragon on their shoulder.”
Vartines shrugged, his sleek black
wings extending as he leapt from Catherine’s shoulder and landed on her desk.
He looked up at her with his big yellow eyes. “Are you sure you don’t want
help? Your parents are going to be mad if you don’t get higher than an 85 on
this math test.” He asked.
“Of course I’m sure!” Catherine
whispered hoarsely at her four inch tall dragon. She wished that they could
leave right now and fly away. All it would take would be to walk right out of
the building and press her bracelet, returning Vartines to his full size, at
least ten feet tall.
“I know what you’re thinking.”
Vartines looked sad. “I miss The Other Side of the Grass too. But don’t worry;
Avion will call for us when the time is right.”
Catherine sighed and turned back to
the fourth problem on her math test, this time she was going to remember to
divide by 74. But just as she was about to push enter on her calculator she
felt it, the soft vibration on her left wrist. It couldn’t be. Catherine thought. She didn’t dare even hope that
it was her bracelet; too many times she had imagined the vibration. She
wouldn’t let herself look. For the first time however the vibration didn’t stop
when Catherine told herself it was just her imagination. Slowly she turned her
head away from her paper and to her left wrist. To her delight, the bracelet
was actually vibrating. Catherine nearly leapt out of her seat. She flipped her
test over grabbed the bathroom pass and sprinted down the corridor with
Vartines trailing her.
Michael was at the water fountain
when he heard the pounding of running feet. Catherine came around the corner,
sprinting down the hall. Michael saw the shadow that was always on her
shoulder, gliding around right behind her. This time he was going to ask her. Michael
followed Catherine as she went into the girl’s bathroom next to the water
fountain. Not thinking twice before opened the door. He saw her standing in the
center of the bathroom. It seemed as though she was speaking to the shadow,
though Michael knew that couldn’t be the case.
Catherine rounded the corner and
was only a few feet from the bathroom where she planned to open the portal. No
one ever went in this bathroom because it wasn’t as nice as the one just inside
the other hallway. She thought it would be safe to open the portal here where
she wouldn’t be seen. She passed Michael Pascarella as she ran past the water
fountain. He always seemed to look at her funny. Vartines thought that he had a
knack for always looking him right in the eyes even though he was invisible.
But that was all Catherine thought of it, a knack, nothing worth noticing. He
was no one, but she, she was someone, maybe not here but in The Other Side of
the Grass she was definitely someone.
Catherine sprinted into the
bathroom and began opening the portal the moment she got in there. She
whispered quickly to Vartines halfway through. “I’m so excited I could almost
die!” Vartines chuckled and Catherine continued to open the portal. She moved
her arms in a circular motion and the green swirling portal continued to widen
at her feet. She smiled when she was done a feeling of accomplishment and
excitement rushed through her. Then she jumped in, feet first into the portal.
Michael saw a green swirling circle
begin to grow at Catherine’s feet, at first he thought he was just imagining it
but after he thought he heard Catherine whispering to the shadow it began to
grow rapidly. Catherine stopped moving her hands about it a peculiar circular
pattern when the green swirling circle got to be about three feet across. Then
she looked at it for a moment and jumped into it. Catherine disappeared into
the green swirling circle and Michael was overcome with shock. He ran to where
Catherine had been standing and jumped into the circle as well, not thinking
twice about how this could affect his day, and his life.
Catherine landed hard on the
ground, a little better than her last trip to The Other Side of the Grass
however. But she quickly changed her mind about that when she felt someone land
on top of her. “Lena, if that is you then get off of me; if it’s John or Kyle
then get off then give me a hug.” Catherine laughed. The person who had fallen
on top of her rolled off and she pushed herself up and turned around, expecting
to see her sister or one of her friends. Instead she was greeted by an
unpleasant surprise. The person who had landed on top of her was not her
sister, Lena; it was also not John or Kyle; it was Michael Pascarella, his
black hair ruffled in the breeze.
“You have got to be kidding me!” Catherine
exclaimed. This was going to make her day a lot more complicated than it needed
Vartines laughed “This would happen
Michael looked at Vartines, who was
perched on Catherine’s shoulder. “Is that a…?” Michael was stopped mid-sentence
by his amazement.
“Yes, I’m a dragon and my name is
Vartines, nice to formally meet you Michael.” Vartines smiled at him, showing
off his sharp teeth, even though he was only a few inches tall he was still
“Don’t tell him too much Vartines;
we have to get him to Avion so that he can clean up this whole mess. He’s got
to have a mind wiping ritual or something in that giant book of his.” Catherine
crossed her arms. “Come on Michael we are bringing you home.”
“What are you talking about? Where
are we? How did we get here from school?” Michael began asking questions.
“Shut up and follow me and I’ll
tell you everything.” Catherine insisted as she began walking through the open
field they always seemed to land on when they came to The Other Side of the
Catherine walked and talked to
Vartines who was still perched on her shoulder. They talked about The Other
Side of the Grass in hushed voices, making Michael, who was trailing a few feet
behind them, feel excluded.
Catherine’s excitement grew when
they neared The Forest of Faces. Taking a right at the sign and going into the
grove of fall colored trees. “Hey Lenny!” Catherine exclaimed when she
approached the great oak tree.
“Catherine, you’re back! I thought
I would be seeing you in a little bit, your sister, John and Kyle all passed
through here just a little bit ago. It’s been a while since I’ve seen you.”
Lenny exclaimed when he saw Catherine. Michael’s jaw dropped open when he saw
the tree, how on earth could a tree have a face, and talk?
“Yeah I know! A year and a half is
a really long time, I’m just glad to be back now.” Catherine sighed.
“Oh Catherine, you haven’t been
gone a year and a half, you have been gone thirty years.” Lenny laughed at her.
Catherine’s soaring mood suddenly
crashed a burned. “What?” She asked flatly. “How could it have been thirty
years here and only a year and a half up there?”
Lenny shrugged “Didn’t you know
that time passes differently here than in your world?”
Catherine shook her head “No I
didn’t but I guess that’s all right, I mean at least you’re still here.” She
“I will be for a while, now go,
have some fun, and beat up Reham for me or something.” Lenny nodded for
Catherine to keep going through the forest, the red and orange leaves that
scattered the ground crunched under her feet as she walked.
“Left to Lembes Right to Riches!”
The tree behind Lenny shouted.
Catherine smiled, for the first
time she was not extremely annoyed as the trees rang out their song. Probably
because she had missed The Other Side of the Grass so much that even the tress,
neither their singing nor the fact that she had been gone for thirty years
could ruin her mood. Except of course Rehamdeshant, she definitely did not miss
him, the evil wizard who wanted her and her friends dead; he was not the person
she would want to meet right now.
“Catherine the gifted one!
Catherine the gifted one!” The trees cheered as she turned left, toward the
Michael was enjoying himself now on
this journey, he was sure that he was either dreaming or completely insane.
There were talking trees and dragons, it couldn’t possibly be real!
“Here we are.” Catherine smiled as
she pulled off her leather boots. She jumped into the river and began to wade
across to the other side.
Michael looked at the muddy river.
“You can’t be serious! I am not getting back to school all soaking wet! Isn’t
there a bridge or something?”
Catherine laughed from where she
stood in the water halfway across the river. “Of course not, it’s the Lembes!”
Michael frowned “Well could we walk
around it or something?”
Catherine rolled her eyes “If you
want to walk across the continent just so you don’t get your jeans wet then
fine by me, but I’m going.” She continued across.
Michael sighed and took off his
shoes. He began wading across the river. “It’s freezing!” He shouted as the
water got up to his waist.
Catherine crossed her arms as she
stood on the grass dripping wet “Well it’s not bath water, that’s for sure!”
When Michael reached the other side
of the river he was sopping wet. But Catherine didn’t seem to mind being
soaked, nor did she seem to care that Michael was now too.
After wading through the river they
didn’t go much farther until they passed a weeping willow tree that to
Michael’s delight was not actually crying. They then came out of a grove of
trees and too the edge of a cliff that overlooked a giant castle sitting on
cliffs above the ocean.
It was the most beautiful thing
Michael had ever seen in his entire life. The sun seemed to make the whole
castle glow when it reflected off the bright blue ocean. His amazement was
interrupted by Catherine however.
“I totally forgot about the cliff.”
Catherine sighed. “I didn’t want to have to make you carry him.” Catherine told
Vartines. “But I guess we have no choice.” Catherine pressed her bracelet with
her right hand and thought to make Vartines go back to his full size. Then she
turned to Michel who was staring off at the castle. “Come on, get on, we are
going to the castle.” She ordered.
Michael didn’t know how the dragon
had gotten that big so quickly but he didn’t think that now was the time to
argue with Catherine, she looked very angry. So he did as he was told and
climbed up the dragon’s back with Catherine’s help. Catherine climbed up and
sat in front of him. She didn’t even say anything to him but somehow the dragon
knew that they were ready to go. He jumped from the cliff into the air. For a
moment it was if they were all going to fall to their death off of the cliff
but then they swooped out of the dive and soared into the air.
Michael loved the ride. He wanted
it to last longer, but at the same time he was rather hesitant. He did wish
however that he would be able to fly on the dragon again, maybe when Catherine
wasn’t so angry.