(The Strange Visit at Lake Helena part 2)
Calliope, Dottie’s littlest kid, could not forget Alex the water boy.
Almost everyone else seemed able to forget the excitement of talking to a boy from another world magically through the lake. Not Calliope. She had spent many days visiting their beaver friend, Carver, as he fashioned his stick collection into the “most formidable dam yet” in hopes of seeing Alex again.
“Mr. Carver, it hasn’t rained in a long time.” Calliope called loudly as she approached the lake’s edge in the fresh morning air. She had come for another visit and her momma said it wasn’t wise to sneak up on him in the morning after he’d been working all night. Carver could get a little jumpy at the end of his work day.
“Oh! Hello little one. Are you here to tell me about our missing rain again?” Carver asked while rubbing a little debris off his front.
Calliope nodded at him with wide eyes. “Well, it is odd. We usually have oodles of rain by this time. And I’ve been thinking about what you said. If Alex only came to talk to you when it was raining, then we just need more rain.” She jumped up on the dam to look over the edge at the mound in the water. “Did you add another story to your lodge Mr. Carver?”
“I did indeed. It’s got five levels.” Carver said with his chest puffed out and a wide grin. “I’m pretty sure there will be a Mrs. Carver Von Hundersmith pretty soon.”
Calliope hadn’t met his intended bride yet. Her momma had said she was very nice, but a little fussy. “Is Miss Paris a little fussy, Mr. Carver? That’s what momma said. What does that mean?”
“Oh! Well… some people call it fussy, I guess… but Miss Paris is a classy beaver. She likes things pretty and nice.” Carver answered.
“I think I’m fussy too then.” Calliope said with a serious expression. She hadn’t thought about it before, but compared to her siblings she cared much more about how neat the wood stack was and how her little tail looked in the lake’s reflection than any of them did.
“Maybe you and Miss Paris will be good friends one day. She can teach you about fussy things. As for me, I would be happy to tell you all about dam building and lodges today. Are you here for that lesson I’ve been promising?” Carver asked.
“I was hoping it would rain and I could talk to Alex again in the lake.” Calliope was too honest of a little goat to fib and say she wanted to hear about dams and lodges. “Thank you though Mr. Carver. I’ll come visit again soon. And I’ll come speedy quick if it rains.” Then she jumped from boulder to boulder away to the path leading home.
Carver watched the littlest goat bound off toward home and let his mind wander off toward breakfast, sleep, and the wish for rain.
Dottie and her kids had just finished dinner after a quiet evening and were getting settled in for the night. They all squished into one corner of the cozy cave, layered on top of one another. Calliope was near the edge closest to momma and began to fall asleep. Her tail twitched involuntarily as her breath slowed and she let out a contented sigh.
“Callie! Callie dear!” Dottie said as she shook Calliope awake.
“What mamma?” the little goat croaked as her eyes began to open. “What’s wrong?”
“You were talking in your sleep. Well, more like shouting.” Dottie said.
Calliope nuzzled her face in Dottie’s neck and then opened her little eyes fully. “I was talking in my sleep?” she asked while looking around the cave to see if her siblings were awake.
“Maybe you should tell me what you were dreaming about. You were shouting, ‘The pig is not allowed in the lake!’”
Calliope giggled. “Oh! I remember that! There was a pig, not Nadia our neighbor, but a pig we don’t know, and she was getting in the lake where we saw Alex. It was starting to rain and I didn’t want the pig to mess up the water so I couldn’t see him if he was there again.”
“Callie, I think you need to stop expecting that water boy to show up again.” Mamma said as she touched her forehead to her littlest kid’s forehead.
“But…” Calliope started and didn’t know how to finish the sentence. Then she thought about it more and said, “I think he needs help momma. I think he needs a friend.”
Dottie smiled at her with warmth and understanding. “Well, in that case. Let’s try to get some sleep and not worry about pigs we haven’t met. Maybe it will rain tomorrow.”
“Yes. Momma. I hope so.”
Dottie and her four little kids went in to town the next morning. Calliope, running along in the back was thrilled to see clouds in the sky, but a little disappointed that they looked so white and puffy… not dark and stormy.
“Good morning Myra!” Dottie called out to the tiny hedgehog as she crossed in front of them to the bakers.” Dottie always announced the small critters as they approached so her often distracted kids wouldn’t jump on anyone by accident.
“Hi there Dottie! Isn’t it a beautiful day?” Myra replied.
“Don’t you think we need rain?” Calliope interjected, with her head poking under her momma’s neck at the hedgehog.
“Oh! Rain! Is it going to rain? Nobody told me… I have a lot to get done very quickly if that’s the case.” said Myra shuffling off into Tom’s Bakery without even saying goodbye.
“Callie, you just scared poor Myra. She can only carry a few items at a time and now she’s going to be overwhelmed thinking rain is on the way.” Dottie said.
“Sorry momma. I just said we need rain. We do need rain.” Calliope said kicking the dusty road with her hoof.
“Dottie!” Cried another voice!
Calliope was thankful. It’s always so nice when another grown up comes around at the start of a parental lecture and they have to cut it short.
“Good morning Nadia!” Dottie said as she walked over to the pig. “You know my little Callie had a dream about a pig in a lake last night. Isn’t that funny?”
“She did? Ohhhh.” Nadia said with her mouth wide open and a look of great surprise. “Do you know what that means Dottie?” She asked.
Dottie cleared her throat. “Does it mean something?”
“Oh yes!” Nadia said gravely. “I am sure it does.”
“Do you know what it means?” Dottie asked.
“No. But it means something. You can be sure of that. And probably something to do with good luck. Pigs are always good luck, you know. ” Nadia replied.
Dottie stood there unsure of how to reply. Nadia was a bit superstitious, as most pigs are. Although, she was also very smart. She once found an entire mushroom grow in only five minutes. It was remarkable.
Calliope, still trying to shake off the Myra incident, hid out behind her siblings while her mother and Miss Nadia talked. A little crow named Cramer landed on a stump right next to her and said, “I heard you had a weird dream.”
“You did?” Calliope asked stunned.
“I was sitting on the sign above your mom’s head just now. Those two were talking about it.” The bird said casually. For Cramer, overhearing conversations was exceedingly common. Creatures just forgot he was there, sitting overhead. Or maybe his ears were so small that they didn’t think he could hear them. He heard all sorts of chatter. Most of it was about sales, gardens, plans for parties and recipes. But every now and then he heard something juicy. Once he heard about a boy who tamed a wild horse and then became King. But the most amazing part of it was that the King took the horse with him to every country he won, like a co-regent. That was a fun one. So far today, Calliope’s dream of a pig in water was the best he’d heard.
“I didn’t want the pig in the water.” Calliope said.
“Sure. That makes sense.” Cramer nodded. “I have a friend that can tell you what your dream means.” he said and flitted up to a tree branch above the path. “I can show you where she is. Just follow me.”
Calliope looked down the path to her momma who was still talking to Miss Nadia. She could just ask real quick while they were talking and go ahead with Cramer for a little bit. Standing around while grownups talked made Calliope antsy.
“Momma, I’m going up the street with Cramer. I won’t be long.” the little goat said. Without waiting for a reply she hopped off to follow the crow flying above. “Wait! Hold up Cramer!”
Calliope hopped up onto a large embankment just outside of the busy main street. She could see the crow circling above her and away from town.
“How far are we going, Cramer?” she yelled up to him.
“Just to the falls. We’re almost there.”
Calliope jumped along, beginning to feel that she was farther than she intended to go. But, she consoled herself with the reminder that a journey always seems longer on the way there than on the way back. That’s what momma always says. Or is it? Then she worried she had that backwards.
“Just jump the ravine up ahead and we will be right there.” Cramer called down to her and spiraled down among the tree tops.
The little goat rushed up to the ravine and skidded to a stop. It was as wide as her cave. She hadn’t jumped so far in one leap before. She trotted along the edge, hoping to find another spot to jump that was closer to the other side.
“Come on! You can do it. Just run up to it.” Cramer called.
“Is there another way around? I don’t want to jump it.” Calliope said peering over the edge.
“Nope. This thing is miles long.” Cramer shouted down from above where he was making circles to look the length of the ravine.
“Maybe I can jump down on the cliffs and then back up?” Calliope said.
“Going over it is the way to go. What if you get stuck down there?” Cramer asked.
“I’m the jumping kind, not the leaping kind. I can do it.”
“Poor creature.” Cramer said under his breath.
“What?” Calliope asked as she paced the edge looking for her best jumping option. She felt it was suddenly very warm here in the sun.
“Nothing. Nothing at all. Just find the golden spot and get to it.” Cramer replied from a cliff on the opposite side of the ravine.
Calliope jumped down the closest side in quick little jumps. She landed on one edge and then another. Making her way to the bottom where a stream of cold water was bubbling along rocks and boulders.
Cramer flew down to the bottom and began tugging at some grass along the edge of the stream while he waited for her. He heard a loud splash and looked up.
Calliope was hopping around in the stream. Splashing in shallow puddles.
“I made it down Cramer! Did you see me? Hop, hop, hop and here I am!” Calliope was beaming with pride. “And this water feels so good. It’s a lot cooler down here isn’t it?”
“There’s the whole issue of going up the other side…” Cramer said flying up to the middle of the cliff.
The little goat looked back up and felt like a sunflower seed on the forest floor. It was a really long way up.
“Do you think your friend could just meet us along here somewhere?” Calliope asked, scanning both directions. The thought just occurred to her that she would need to do this all again to go back. She felt a weight on her heart, tugging it down.
“Just get going. It must be so wearisome to not be able to fly. We could have been there and back twice by now if you were a bird.” Cramer said.
Cramer may have intended to wound Calliope’s feelings but she was very proud to be a little goat. She would never want to be a bird. She charged at a boulder below a cliff and bounded off to the edge, and then did it again and again. She made a zigzag across the face of the ravine until she jumped up to the top.
Breathing hard and panting she said, “I did it. I made it up. And I’ll do it again.”
“Finally.” Cramer said rolling his eyes. He didn’t want to admit that he was moderately impressed. But, he still felt flying was always the best way to go.
“Now, where?” Calliope asked, trying to sound not tired but ready to go.
“It’s just a bit farther.” the crow said as he led the little goat down a slope away from the ravine to a small waterfall. It was crashing down into a pool of clear water.
Off to one edge, lying in the mud, was a large and odd creature Calliope had never seen before. It had a wide tummy and a snout like a pig but longer. It’s ears were upright like a donkey and it was part charcoal colored and part white with rather short legs.
Calliope was about to shout hello when Cramer landed on her head and said, “Shh. Be very quiet. Tapirs don’t like a big commotion.
“Tapirs?” Calliope whispered looking cross eyed trying to see Cramer on her head.
“Yes. That’s my friend’s mom.” he replied.
“Oh.” the little goat was relieved. Tapirs looked a little fierce and she would rather meet a big one with her momma around.
“Follow me.” Cramer said as he flew around a large boulder away from the pool.
Calliope followed him around the boulder trying to be as quiet as she could. When she rounded the corner she saw a little brown and white striped creature staring at her, nose to nose.
“Hi!” said the little tapir. “I’m Tilley.”
“I’m Calliope. It’s nice to meet you.” she replied. There was something about Tilley that made her think she would be very good friends with her for a very long time. She didn’t know why, but that’s just how she felt.
“Alright. Tell this one your dream. She’ll tell you what it means.” Cramer said, matter of fact to Calliope.
Tilley put her little head down and looked embarrassed. “Is that why you came?” she asked, looking at each of them in turn.
“Calliope had a crazy dream about a pig in a lake.” Cramer said. “Go ahead. Tell her.”
Calliope looked down at the gravel and shuffled from side to side. “Sorry. Tilley. Cramer just said I should come to you. But, you don’t have to tell me anything about my dream. We can just visit and go back home. My momma is probably worried by now anyway.”
Tilley walked over to a little grassy spot and sat down with her front legs between her back legs. Calliope didn’t think it looked very comfortable.
“I don’t know what people’s dreams mean. Supposedly that is something that runs in my family, and my mom says it skips a generation so I should have it, but… I don’t. Cramer got your hopes up for nothing.” Tilley said. Her shoulders were slumped and her eyes looked wet.
Cramer flew up into an oak tree and rubbed his beak on his wing. He had heard some donkey’s talking about Tilley and what she could do when he was sitting on a fence post nearby. It wasn’t his fault they were wrong. How was he supposed to know?
“Tilley, I had just your basic dream about a pig messing up a lake. That’s all. In my dream it was about to rain and I was afraid she would make the lake too wavy for me to see Alex if he showed up from the other world.”
Tilley perked up. She hopped onto all four feet and got closer to Calliope. Nose to nose. “Did you say someone was going to talk to you from another world? In a lake when it rained?”
“Yep. But that part is real. I actually did talk to Alex once. But it hasn’t rained again.” Calliope said.
Tilley paced in a circle, muttering to herself. Then she said, “I dreamed of that very thing Calliope. I didn’t dream of a little goat, but of a person talking from the other side of a lake when it rained.”
The two little creatures looked at each other with wide excited eyes.
“See. I knew there was something about Tilley.” Cramer flew down onto Tilley’s back and held his proud head high.
Just then, a small drop fell on Calliope’s head. And then another.
Tilley and Calliope said together, “It’s raining!”