Part two of Misplaced Fire
She came out gradually. They saw the light of her costume before they saw her. Even fully costumed and masked, no one who had met Aravis Quarterfire could not recognize her. Her movements were just slightly too fluid to be human, each motion of a limb appearing carefully deliberated to convey some type of message – the turning out of the palms that said ‘come closer,’ the claw-like angles of the fingers that said ‘use caution.’ The pace forward was just a hint too steady too, like she was floating a half centimeter off the ground, because she was.
Nesrin shook her heard with a smile. “Now that’s freedom. She doesn’t even try to blend in like I do. Sometimes when I watch her I wonder why I do it.”
Isabelle was more interested in the details of Aravis’ costume. The mask was glowing silver, which matched the elbow-length reflective gloves. She was wearing a simple crown that seemed made from the pages of a book, a blue dress that went down to her feet, and a white cape faintly embroidered in purple with the words “I will not be silenced.” The real highlight, though, was the angel wings made of fire.
Aravis advanced through the crowd at a crawl. She stayed between the people and the buildings in the thin line of open sidewalk. A little kid sitting on her father’s shoulders was the first to notice her. The child pointed, which made an older couple notice, then they tapped somebody else’s shoulder. This last person only glanced in her direction and turned back to the parade. The domino effect stopped with them.
Isabelle’s mouth hung open. “How?”
Nesrin shrugged. “When we figure it out we’ll tell you.”
Aravis drew level with a pair of college-age boys about to fight over a t-shirt. They didn’t notice Aravis, but they did calm down and let the shirt drop as she passed. A group of four other boys in fraternity shirts turned towards Aravis and snarled. Some even took a couple steps closer with their hands raised, but there was still too much of a crowd between her and them. Even so they jumped back into the metal guardrail when she looked in their direction.
Nesrin spoke again. “It might have something to do with her being dressed as one of the only people who aren’t quite welcome in this setting.”
“Who is she?”
“She’s…” Nesrin shivered. She lifted her head, eyes scrutinizing the scene until they locked on an owl swooping low over the street. She absently finished the answer. “She’s Wisdom.”
The owl had something tied on its leg. It flew to Aravis and perched on her shoulder. Aravis paused her progression to untie the message, read it, then vanished as the owl flew away.
“I’m gonna go see what that was about. Are you two coming?”
Jason scooted closer. “You’re our only way off of here. Course we’re comin’.”
Nesrin held their shoulders and a second later they were in the woods on the other side of Mobile Bay. While her roommates adjusted Nesrin took our her phone and turned on the light.
Jason held his jacket tighter around him. “Okay. Lost in the woods. Guess that’s better than dangling above death.”
“Oh venga.” Isabelle turned him around, pointed to the road right behind them, and tapped the wooden fence around the tree. “You know this place; it’s Blakeley State Park.”
Nesrin had walked to a tree. “And Aravis’ front yard. This is where her father was from.” She found a note held on the tree by an arrowhead.
Hi Aunt Nesrin. I’m at Aunt Dinah’s. See you there. Nightingale, Aravis.
“Dinah. I knew that wasn’t just an owl.” She turned to Isabelle and Jason. “Hope you’re ready for trip.” She mumbled “in every sense of the word.”
Continued next week