Author: Julian Miles, Staff Writer
“I once met an elven prince, did you know?”
Grandma’s been in and out of deliria for a week, it’s good to hear her sound so strong.
I smile down at her.
“You told us all about that in ‘The Elf from Mars’.”
Her eyes catch mine and she gives me the little smile I love. It’s the one that means grandma’s about to share a secret.
“Oh, tosh. They were all based on him. If I’d written a book about a girl getting lost in the woods and meeting an alien, it’s the only book I’d have ever done. A space elf and his daring human girlfriend roaming the galaxies? Same core, but way more room for adventures.”
The smile turns rueful.
“Meant I could weave a romance from the infatuation I had.”
“Infatuation? With who?”
“Do a dying woman a favour, Addie. Put the pieces together.”
Is she serious, or seriously off in la-la land while sounding sane?
“I can read you like a book, young lady. I’m back. This is my last day, I’d guess. Clearer in my head than it’s been for a long time. So, get me a sip of something and I’ll tell you one last story.”
After drinking, she settles back with a sigh.
“I was fifteen. Didn’t have a clue what to do with the good looks that had come upon me. People started paying attention. Jealousy, lechery, teenage betrayals, and hormones. It didn’t mix well. I lit out for the woods to sort my mind.”
“By the time I’d sorted my mind, I’d gotten myself lost. In my own back yard! My grandpaw woulda been ashamed of me. Well, there I was, trying to think of a way out when it strolled into the clearing looking like a render of the perfect man done by a lady artist. Plus pointed ears, but lacking dangly bits.”
“Shame on her.”
We both giggle, then she carries on.
“We walked and talked. Elbadirel was a prince doing his hundred years of civic duty by scouting frontier star systems.” She sighs: “By the time he escorted me home, I was in love.”
“You wrote nine books after an alien encounter?”
“Not just one. I was thirty-five when he rescued me after my car broke down one winter night. He hadn’t aged a day. I nearly died of shock. We talked for hours, he escorted me home, and I realised I was forever in love.”
Half-jokingly, I ask: “Again at fifty-five?”
“Yes. It was wonderful. Seventy-five, too.”
“You’re ninety-four next month.”
She shakes her head.
“I’m not going to make it, Addie.”
* YES, YOU ARE. *
The room fills with rippling light. Something comes through the wall!
* TIME WAS, I ASKED YOU TO BECOME MY ELIADREL. TWICE. NEVER HAS IT BEEN ASKED THRICE. UNTIL TONIGHT. WILL YOU COME AWAY, GENEVIEVE? *
Grandma gives him a smile that nearly breaks my heart.
“I should have said yes that first time, but I was scared. No longer. I accept.” She points at me: “What of Addie?”
* WRITE THE NOTE SHE WOULD HAVE FOUND. THIS WILL BECOME A DREAM. *
The most gorgeous man I’ve ever seen smiles at me while rippling light drowns my mind.
I called the police after spending hours frantically searching the snowy woodland. Her note said she’d gone to walk forever among the trees, and not to cry as it was her choice.
They never found her.
Sometimes I dream the Elf from Mars came and took her away. I think she’d have liked that.