Call The Rainman with Featherstones
Chapter Two - The News
(Please read and review. It makes us better writers.)
Ferwren didn't think it was possible to learn so many things in the matter of one week. In fact, she thought she learned more about a single person that week than she had learned collectively all the years she had last been awake.
Firstly, she found out that Ms. Donatella was not only August's caretaker but also his step-mother. She was neatly perked everyday to every weekend from dawn until evening with her unsoiled suit and narrowly squeezed nose.
Oh, how Ferwren was beginning to simply hate that nose.
August's father, Augustine Noah Orwell the second, was a very busy man. He came to visit rarely, usually contacting his son through forms of long-distant communication such as email and telephone. Whatever that was. He went around the whole country. He was a developer, making homes for humans. Ferwren wasn't entirely sure of what that meant, but she wasn't too interested in finding out.
August liked to paint. Sometimes, when his room was devoid of other human life for a couple of hours, he would slowly get off the bed and move silently towards the corner of the room. The way he moved was like he was walking a tightrope. His arms were shoulder-level, balancing him as he went. His steps were calculated, small, and hesitant. Ferwren wondered if he even dared to breathe on his little trip across the carpet.
He had an easel hidden behind the drapes against the windows. It was made of metal poles. Ferwren was rather glad he didn't have one made out of wood—she'd seen enough of her dead spirit-folk as it was.
He had oil paints and canvases big and small. He even had oddly crafted knives—palette knives, he called them. He had hues of red and yellow and blue and everything mixed and in between. He had wide and petite palettes, thick and thin brushes and all that stuff. Stuff. August said that word a whole lot. He also used the word "like" at various and unnecessary occasions, as though a habit when he spoke.
And boy did he talk.
It seemed he was a run away steam train when he started talking about something. Ferwren had the fortunate pleasantries of hearing everything, being his constant companion. She often had the urge to turn into her human form only to take a blanket and stuff it in his mouth. But of course, there was no way in all of Time was she going to do that. So she sat in her basket, growling every so often and paws over ears just to keep herself from going stark raving mad.
But then, there were times when August would simply pause and he would stand still for a very silent moment. Then he would start talking as suddenly as he had stopped. Ferwren would stare at him and she would always notice his hand clutched over his heart, as though he were holding something fragile. Something like a baby bird to his chest. But when he let go, there was nothing.
When August painted, he never painted his room or anything he had. When he painted, it was always something outside his window. A tree, the meadows, the garden below, maybe a flower he could see on the balcony. Sometimes he would be creative and give the wind a magnitude of colours to describe the way the wind felt on a hot, sunny day. His hand went up and down and the paints would swirl and twirl across the canvas like a perfect river of tasting to the eye. Sometimes Ferwren padded over to watch. She would sit a meter away from him, hardly paying attention to his babbling but absorbed in his work.
There was something about him that reminded her of someone she had met a very long time ago. Someone who was completely the opposite of him but longed for escape as much as he did. Someone who had painted for long hours and was always alone.
Ferwren couldn't remember who that someone was.
"August, August, August—" Very suddenly, someone burst through the door. Or rather, two.
A little boy and a little girl were huffing and puffing and laughing. They raced around the room, jumping on his bed, leaping off a chair, skipping around a table, stomping on the carpet and dancing around the closet doors. They were there, then over there, and there, and there, and there…
Ferwren covered her ears.
August was laughing. The children ran to him, finally stopping for Ferwren to get a good look at them. The little girl had narrow, dark eyes and black, straight hair that was tied into two braids. She was short and had a flat nose, a rounded face and sand-dune yellow skin. The boy seemed to be the complete opposite. He had wild masses of black, curly hair and dark tree-bark brown skin. His eyes were round and large, his teeth as white as clouds.
"August, August," they were chanting, jumping up and down and giggling like mad. They looked at his painting of a white rose and added their comments, "It's supposed to be a white rose," "Roses aren't purple," "That's purple," "You need more white," "August, August, August!" And it went on.
August continued to laugh all the while, showing them how to make purple out of blue and red. He took the canvas off the easel and put it against a wall, then he walked to the other side of the room and studied it.
"I think it looks pretty real from back here," he said. The other two dashed to his side and examined it too. "See how the purple makes shadows in the rose?" August sad. "I think it looks pretty neat."
The boy cried out, "Neat-oh August-oh!"
"Ty is writing poems for a school contest," the girl said. "He's trying to make everything rhyme now."
August looked at Ty, "Really?"
"Yeah, Daddy-oh," Ty smirked.
"He sucks at it," the girl added.
Ty glared, "Am NOT!
"I still think Amy's better," the girl sniffed. "She knows more words than you do."
"You're just jealous that the teachers are paying more attention to me than you." Ty shot back. "'Look at me! I'm Grace! Everyone should love me!'"
Grace looked ready to boil him in a tub of soup. "At least I try harder in school than you!"
"Yeah, yeah, yeah," Ty stuffed his ears. "There's the whole 'Mom loves me more' part."
"Mom loves me more!" Grace shouted.
"No, she loves me more!" Ty shouted back.
Back and forth, back and forth.
Ferwren couldn't handle it any longer.
What was it with these noisy brats? Why couldn't they just be all humdrum for the beauty of silence?
She thought that howling would bring the peace she wanted and it would end just like that. But no. In fact, she made it worse.
Suddenly she was being cornered and lifted out of the basket and thrown between four human hands, petted and hugged and then in the middle of a screaming fit. It was like a nightmare. A horrible, horribly awful nightmare.
And everything stopped.
August took Ferwren from the two children and set her down gently. Ferwren ran back to her basket and curled up, hoping to die.
"Sorry August," Grace said quietly.
Ty nodded, "Grace is sorry, you should forgive her—OW! Okay, okay, I'm sorry too."
The two children stared at the carpet, awaiting August's reply.
"You guys are way too excited," he said. "Where's your mom anyway?"
Ty beamed. "She's in the kitchen with the other maids and servants."
"She told us to play out back," Grace tried to explain, "But Ty decided to come visit you so I followed him."
"Nuh uh! I was following you because you wanted to tell August about how you did on your geography test—"
"—which I got an easy A on and you failed, you numbskull—"
"—that's right, so you disobeyed mom and I followed you—wait, did you just call me a numbskull?"
"All right," August cracked a smile. "I get it guys, I get it!"
"Is that your puppy?" Grace pointed towards Ferwren, still whimpering slightly.
August nodded. "My dad got it for me as an early birthday present."
"Neat-oh!" Ty said "Can we pet her, pleeease?"
"I don't think she'll like it very much," August said. "She looks pretty distressed right now."
"Yeah," Grace nudged the young boy. "You're going to scare her again."
"Me? Scare her again? What about you? You can be pretty scary, Grace."
"I'll drown you in a bathtub! How's that for scary?"
"Run for your life, it's the Bathtub Lady!" He jumped up onto the bed and scrambled away from her. "You should get your own theme song, Grace."
Grace grabbed for his arm but he was too fast. Ty jumped up on a chair. "Nah nah, nah nah, nah nah, nah nah, BATHTUB GIRL!"
"I'LL KILL YOU," Grace grabbed Ty by the waist and down they went, sprawled on the floor trying to kick and punch each other.
Then someone else came in through the door. It was Ms. Donatella and one of the maids.
"Tyler! Grace!" The woman squeaked weakly. She threw a nervous glance at Ms. Donatella who look royally irritated and then whisked the children up from the floor. "I am so sorry about this," she bowed. "Please don't mind them, Master August, these two are crazy. I'll make sure they don't come in to bother you again."
"I should hope so, for the sake of your employment, Mrs. Rachel," Ms. Donatella sniffed. "This being one of the hundredth times."
August tried to defuse the tension. "It was fine, really!" he said. "Tell them to come by whenever they want."
"I don't think so, August," Ms. Donatella glared at him. "The doctor had strict orders of by which I am going to follow excessively." She looked over at Ferwren. "Starting with your... dog," she said dog the way you said I'll hang you with chains. "As soon as you forget about her, she'll be gone."
"I won't," August said defiantly. "I'm not going to forget about her."
"You have so many other lovely things," Ms. Donatella waved. "Seems a shame you pay so much attention to painting and a dog."
August didn't glare, but by the way he scrunched up his nose, Ferwren could tell how much he wanted to. "Please leave."
Ms. Donatella and the boy gave each other a long, hard stare. Then she motioned for the servants to come in, placing his lunch on the table, and the door closed.
Then all was quiet.
Ferwren could finally enjoy the silence.
August sat down on a chair, head slumped on the table. Heavy breathing muffled in the room.
Ferwren padded over to him cautiously. He was holding his hand to his chest again.
Ferwren growled a little, and when he looked down, she tilted her head to the side, wondering where her food was.
Instead of giving her food, August got off the chair and hit the carpet hard with his knees. He picked Ferwren up and hugged her tightly.
Ferwren's initial reaction was to freak out and squirm out of his arms, but then she realized something:
He was shaking.
Ferwren mentally sighed to herself and stilled for as long as he hugged her. And when he finally let go, Ferwen sat quietly at his feet as he ate lunch. Her appetite was more or less gone.
That night, Ferwren woke up to the sound of tapping on a window.
A storm was brewing outside and light rain pellets were striking the glass panes with more and more force. She got off the bed and wandered to the balcony. That's when she saw something glowing at one of the glass panes. Something small but distinctly blue.
"Ferwren!" someone called from the other side.
Ferwren watched as the blue glow flew over towards her. "Ferwren?"
Ferwren glanced back towards the bed. August was asleep.
She knew there was no other way to open a balcony door than to use human hands to open it. But she also knew it would be dangerous if August was to wake up and see her.
Ferwren decided to take a chance anyways.
Brown fur turned to dark, tree-bark skin and foot-length black olive hair. Paws to hands and arms long and thin, and hind legs stretched to human length. These types of transformations didn't happen often since Ferwren didn't always need them. When she did, they were quick and only out of necessity.
"Morfae?" Ferwren called quietly and opened the door. It was always unlocked.
"Ferwren!" The blue glow shrilled gleefully. "Oh, great woodland Mistress, oh, dear Lady of the fair Spiritfolk! I feel the vanquishing of all strife gallop head-far westward where—"
"Cut to the chase, Marfae." Ferwren closed the door with a click! and crossed her arms. "I'm tired and I'm not in the mood right now."
"My Lady!" Morfae sputtered in surprise. "Thy rashness of words have become exceedingly rude! What a knave the council will think thou art, a Humor such as choleric! Oh, but thou should be sanguine! Not—"
"Pissed?" Ferwren filled in. Morfae gave her a look of horror. "Well, what was I supposed to say? 'How now, who calls? Oh, Morfae! Sweet maiden of mine eye! What is the council's will?' I mean, com'on."
Morfae crossed her arms too. "In Honesty's hands, yes."
"Well, I'm not." Ferwren said.
"Yet stubborn as ever," Morfae concluded. "But I am ever so happy to bring joyous news."
Morfae explained how most woodland creatures were able to run away in time before the flood and how they all thought Ferwren had drowned. But then they saw the great machine bird pick her up and Morfae was sent to follow it.
"He saved my life," Ferwren said. "I am in his greatest debt."
Morfae opened her small mouth like she wanted to say something, but then decided not to and closed it.
"My people want me to come back, don't they?" Ferwren guessed.
"Oh, they ever so do, Mistress!" Morfae pleaded. "The council will not listen to a word and t'is not the only thing they will not speak of." She lowered her voice. "Great Mistress, there is word spreading faster than a bird's wingspan that a dark and evil force is upon our woods. Thou hast the power to help, Lady Mistress! I beseech you!"
Ferwren looked beyond the balcony and down at the gardens.
"I don't think I can, Morfae," Ferwren finally sighed. "I would if I could," she added quickly, "But I'm in debt. You know how that is. And I…" Ferwren remembered how August clutched his heart in a broken manner and how Ms. Donatella fed him those sharp words and her dark looks all week. Maybe it was her woodland spirit responsibilities kicking in or maybe it was because she hated owing people things, but she knew she couldn't leave just yet. "I still have things to take care of."
Morfae was silent for a few more moments. The winds got craftier and were becoming more and more forceful, blowing and bellowing hearty laughs in their faces.
"I understand, dear Lady Mistress," Morfae finally said. "As long as safe harbors bear near, do as thou wilt. But do not fear! I will return!" Then the blue glowing creature flew off and disappeared.
Ferwren began to shiver a little and decided to go back in. But just as she reached the door, she saw someone was staring at her.
It was August.
He was awake.
And that's when she freaked out.
Thanks to everyone who reviewed! Warmed my heart!
I will try to update at least once a week. Thank you for all the support,