Little Danny Harris had turned four years old a few months ago, but his Uncle Ethan and Aunt Abby couldn’t travel to California for the birthday party. So when his Mom and Dad took Danny to Dad’s Uncle’s farm in Idaho, the older couple doted on him.
“Here’s ya go, Danny. A brand new yo-yo.”
“Ethan,” the Dad interjected, don’t you think he’s a little young for a…”
“Excuse me, Uncle Ethan.” Both men were a surprised that the little boy interrupted. “My name is Daniel.”
“Sure it is, Danny”. Ethan tousled the child’s hair. “Sure it is.”
Ethan turned back to Daniel’s Dad to continue the conversation, then noticed the child had stepped up onto a kitchen chair and was proceeding to use the yo-yo flawlessly.
“I guess that settles that, doesn’t it?” Ethan was victorious, while Danny’s Dad looked on in mild awe.
Everyone knew Daniel was a prodigy. Both mentally and in terms of physical coordination, he was years ahead of his age mates. Yet he was also a troubled child. Just a month ago, he was nearly assaulted by a stranger in a parking lot. Dad was right by the boy and fought the man off until police arrived. There was no motive for the attack and it terrified the child. He was still having nightmares, but little by little, he was beginning to adjust, at least as far as anyone could tell.
“Ethan, Susan and I are going to take a drive into town for a little bit. Do you and Abby mind watching Daniel?”
“Oh of course not, Gary. We love being around the little guy.”
“Daniel,” his Mom found him still playing with the yo-yo. “Dad and I are going to go on a drive. Uncle Ethan and Aunt Abby will take care of you while we’re gone. It won’t be long.”
Before the assault, Daniel would have been completely nonchalant about such and event. Now, he stopped playing, hopped off of the chair and ran over to hug her.
“I love you, Mommy.”
“I love you too, Daniel. It’ll just be for a little while.”
“Maybe we can play a game while your parents are gone, Danny. What do you say?”
“Please, Aunt Abby, my name is Daniel.”
Eventually, the boy would give up his attempts to change his aunt and uncle, but at age four, he was very insistent that everyone call him by his true given name.
That afternoon after Gary and Susan Harris had driven off, Ethan and Abby suggested the three of them take a little trip of their own. They returned before Daniel’s parents did, and with a new, toy xylophone. In the days that followed, Abby even taught the boy to play “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” on it while she rendered the tune on her violin.
However, in the minutes since they returned to Idaho from Matty’s Toy Shoppe on the other side of nowhere, Danny went back to playing with his yo-yo, trying new tricks to see how they’d work. He was only half listening to his aunt and uncle talking to one another.
“We’ve planned the seeds, Ethan. I just hope this is the right thing to do. He’s only a child.”
“He won’t always be a child dear, and we’ve been given the responsibility to help him become what he was born to be.”
“Danny has the spirit of both worlds in him, doesn’t he? That’s why he’ll be capable of all the things the owl predicts.”
“Yes he does, Abby. He’s a very special person. One of a kind. You and I can see the other world, at least enough to let some of them know of us so we can visit them. Danny, when he’s old enough, will be able to manipulate the space between us and them. Someone’s going to start a war or at least try. Danny may be the only hope of two worlds.”
“You really think the song will work? I mean Ethan, it’s just a song from a musical.”
“It’s not the music as such, but the thoughts and feelings they’ll evoke from the boy. It’s the catalyst that will trigger a profound change, one for good, when used at the right time.”
“I’ll never forgive myself if something happens to him, Ethan. Never.”
“If we don’t let him fulfill his destiny, his life won’t be the only one that will be lost.”
Ten year old Daniel Harris was in the basement of his aunt and uncle’s house in Idaho. He’d found the old yo-yo next to his aunt’s violin case. He remembered the case being covered with dust when he was down here a few weeks ago, but now it was completely clean. He opened the case and discovered the violin was well cared for and that it probably had been played recently.
“So that’s where that old yo-yo went.”
Daniel looked up to see his uncle walking down the stairs.
“I can remember the day you gave it to me, Uncle Ethan. It was the same day you got me the xylophone from Matty’s Toy Shoppe in Wichita Township.”
“I bet there are a lot of people right now who are glad you remembered all that, Danny.”
The boy thought back. There was the explosion, almost right over the toy shop, All of the windows shattered, and for a moment, he thought the store was going to go flying, just like Dorothy’s house in his aunt’s favorite movie.
There were a lot of broken plates, glasses, and such, but right before Daniel returned to this world, he looked and saw that old Matty came through it all without a scratch.
“Why can’t I tell if my friends in the other realm are okay, Uncle Ethan?”
“You will when the time is right, boy.” Ethan put his hand on the child’s shoulder to reassure him. “I suspect the answer is right around the corner.”
Daniel started to put the yo-yo down.
“Why not take that back home with you, Danny? Kind of a reminder of your summer visit here this year.”
The boy chuckled. “I don’t think I could ever forget this visit, Uncle.” They both laughed and Daniel put the yo-yo in his pocket.
“You go back home tomorrow. Anything you want to do before you leave?”
“I think I’ll go say good-bye to the animals.”
“You know they won’t say ‘good-bye’ back. Now that it’s all over, they’re just animals.”
“I still consider them my friends. I think I’ll start with Champion.”
“No. I’d like to be alone for a while.”
“You’ve got it. Just don’t be late for supper.”
“Not a chance, Uncle. Thanks.” Daniel started to leave and then turned around to face Ethan. Suddenly, the boy ran forward and embraced the old man. “I love you Uncle Ethan. I love you and Aunt Abby so much.”
“There, there, Danny.” Ethan patted him gently on the back. “We love you too with all our hearts.”
As Daniel walked up the stairs and headed for the kitchen and the back door, he realized he could see his aunt and uncle for exactly who they were, human but with something more. That distinguished them from people who didn’t have the ability to sense the other realm as well as those beings who he used to call anomalies. He knew when he saw one again, he would be able to see more clearly if they were allies or invaders.
A few minutes later, Daniel was walking to the pasture to talk to the horses. On the way, he took the yo-yo out of his pocket and started to play with it.
This concept is loosely based on Iain Kelly’s recent A to Z Challenge 2017 story series. Every day, Iain crafted another puzzle piece to his murder mystery that had me and his other readers spellbound. I doubt I can create the suspense he conjured up, but when my wife got a giant A to Z jigsaw puzzle for our two-year-old granddaughter, I thought I’d give it a whirl.
I don’t have a lot of time, so I think each “letter” will be shorter and I’m not sure I can write one every day, but I’ll do my best. This one is the next to last chapter, but the action isn’t over yet. There’s one last revelation Daniel must experience that will set the stage for the next part of his adventure.
The previous story is X is for Xylophone.
The final chapter in this series is Z is for Zebra…
…or is it the last chapter?