The crossroads. This spot in the park had always felt somehow holy to her. She had never been exactly sure why, but it was the kind of spot she could imagine fairies gathering, leading their enchanted changeling away from the mourning Titania. She left coins or little bits of food here sometimes, nestled amongst the plants gathered in the shade of the thin elm trees, knowing they would be useful to some chipmunk or squirrel. She had no doubt that their spirits were just as playful and powerful as fairies or anything else. Maybe it would bring her good luck.
It wasn’t until early August that the sweltering heat really kicked in, dragging the humidity of the still-cold Sound along with it. Seeking shelter in the coffee shops that were miraculously air-conditioned and leaving all the windows flung wide open. The days were so endless here, the sun not cutting any slack until after nine o’clock. She had dim memories of running through sprinklers in her childhood, wondering if people really opened fire hydrants in the big cities. Sun tea and lemonade mixed together, nothing hot for dinner. That Twilight Zone inside her head sticky as the sweat.
A fine layer of it was coating everything around her, like pervasive, long-held guilt. The wooden sidewalk that ran its circulatory system through the old mining town, now candy-coated into a tourist trap, rose a good four feet over the ground, but the sometimes ferocious wind still spread the grains of sand across everything its airy fingers could touch. She ducked into one of the neutered saloons, ordering a sarsaparilla over the clatter of slot machines. Through the grimy windows, she could see that the wind was kicking up again, the enemy of all trying to be clean.
She felt like such an explorer, out here blazing a brave and unknown trail with her Girl Scout troop, nevermind that the path had been flattened into bland submission by hundreds of feet before theirs. She had procured a fat and bumpy stick early on and now slammed it into the ground with a satisfying thump in time with each step. Birds chirped in secret code to each other as they passed, and her best friend Molly captured a bewildered toad, managing to keep it in her pocket for a moment until the troop leader firmly insisted on his release.