I named her “Mikelio,” which is Hawaiian for “mystery,” because of the circumstances in which I found her. Her real name I never could pronounce properly. Knowing what I do now, I should’ve called her “Kolohe” (“naughty”) or “Pilikia” (“trouble”). But I’m getting ahead of myself.
I came across Miki while hiking in Manoa Valley, which is one of the greenest areas on Oahu. It’s also one of the most expensive neighborhoods around, but I was lucky enough to find a relatively cheap rental deep in the valley. The frequent rain was a drawback sometimes – wire hangers rusted and maintaining the yard was like constantly fighting off the jungle. But the great hiking trails and relative solitude in the midst of the city made it all worth it.
I found her quite a ways off the trail, unconscious, hidden beneath some lauae fern. I wouldn’t have seen her at all if I hadn’t been trying to pick some wild mountain apples. I have a love for these members of the myrtle family, with their pear-like sweetness and creamy-crisp texture. They’re not really apples at all, being members of the myrtle family, but I love the pear-like sweetness and creamy-crisp texture hidden beneath their rosy exteriors. I’d discovered a huge tree off the beaten path several weeks before, and was always careful to cover my tracks so no one else would find it. Because of that, when I came upon her body there was no one around ask for assistance.
My heart jumped into my throat at the sight of her – a naked girl with a dark bruise on her temple, lying in a fetal position. I naturally assumed she was the victim of an assault, and had to fight the urge to scream and run. The apparent violence was so at odds with the warm sunlight and the peaceful trickle of the nearby stream. Breathing hard, I looked around for her attacker and reached for the knife in my backpack. But everything was completely still – the forest was so quiet a tiny ‘elepaio bird started whistling somewhere close by.
It was her whimper that startled me into action. She didn’t awaken, but her expression contracted as if she was in pain, and close up I could see the tear tracks on her face. She looked like a child who’d cried herself to sleep. I quickly pulled out my jacket and wrapped it around her. She was a tiny thing – I’m not very tall but my black windbreaker swallowed her up.
Then I dug out my cell phone and tried to call for an ambulance or the police – no signal. I wasn’t that far into the valley, but the thickness of the forest made coverage spotty in that area. I know it’s dangerous to move someone with a head injury, but I had no choice. I’m strong for my size but it would take awhile to lug a full-grown woman, even one as petite as she, all the way back to the car. I would have to do the best I could.
I took a deep breath and braced myself to lift her, being as careful as possible not to jar her. To my surprise I lifted her easily. I mean, like nothing! It was like she had bird bones or something…hollow! I stood there for several seconds with my mouth open. Something felt really weird about this, and it was freaking me out. To be honest I was tempted to put her back down and go run for help instead, but then she whimpered again, like an injured puppy. Damn. I headed for my car.
I’ll spare you the details of rushing her back home. I probably should’ve driven straight to the hospital, but for some reason I didn’t. I told myself it was because my house was closer and I could call for an ambulance there, but I don’t think that was it. Some instinct told me that there was something very…different…about this woman, and a hospital might not be the best place to discover what it was.
My neighbors, a yuppie couple who work all hours, were away on a Caribbean cruise. Which is probably a good thing in retrospect, but at the time I wished I had someone to ask for help. I laid her down gently on my bed, and was about to change out of my muddy shorts and t-shirt when I heard that whimper again. I rushed over and saw her lashes flutter open. Suddenly I was looking into the greenest eyes I’d ever seen. Clear as emeralds, with black pupils. I froze for a second – you don’t see eyes like that very often in Hawaii. Come to think of it, you don’t see eyes like that anywhere.
Then I noticed the expression in them – at first confused, then widening in alarm. I spoke quickly before she started screaming.
“Hey there. Don’t worry, you’re safe. My name is Gina and I found you on the Manoa trail. Are you okay?”
She stared at me the whole time I was talking, then glanced around fearfully. I was wondering if she was suffering from shock, because it didn’t seem like she was processing anything.
“You were unconscious, so I brought you to my house. How are you feeling?” She picked up the blanket I had thrown over her and looked underneath. My windbreaker was still on her, and she ran her hand over it like it was the strangest thing she’d ever seen.
“That’s my jacket. You were…uh…you didn’t have any clothes on when I found you, so I used it to cover you up…..”
Her eyes came back to my face with a disturbing intensity. I found myself trailing off self-consciously.
“Do you understand what I’m saying? Are you hurt?”
he didn’t answer, but reached out toward me hesitantly. Uncertain, I held out my hand to take hers, but she grasped it in a surprisingly strong grip and pulled me closer. Then she reached up toward my chest, and I backed away in alarm.
Her hand stopped in mid-air, palm turned toward me. Her eyes had a reproachful look in them.
“What is it? What do you need?”
Nervously, I moved closer again. Very slowly, as if trying not to startle me, she reached again toward my chest. I felt her cool fingers very lightly brushing my t-shirt, right above my heart. She closed her eyes and became very still. Then she seemed to relax. When she opened them again, her mouth relaxed slightly…almost a smile.
Now I was feeling unsettled, and got up from the bed. “I’m going to call a doctor, okay?”
I was halfway to the phone when I heard her say “No.”
Her voice surprised me. It wasn’t the high, bird-like tone her appearance would lead you to believe. It was sort of croaky, as if it hadn’t been used in awhile. I came back and kneeled down next to the bed.
“No? Shall I call the police?”
“But…you’re injured. Do you remember what happened to you?”
I felt a sense of frustration. This was getting us nowhere fast. Obviously she wasn’t obligated to tell me anything, but I had carried her out of the forest. She was lying here in my bed wrapped in my windbreaker. What was I supposed to do with her now?
Maybe some of my feelings showed on my face, because she was looking at me in a searching manner, and seemed to be undergoing an internal struggle of some sort. Finally she started speaking again, slowly.
Thank you…finding me. You are a good person. If someone else had found me….it might have been very bad.”
“Well, it seemed like someone else had got to you before me….” I replied hesitantly. “I mean….were you attacked?”
“Not I. But my home.”
“Your home?” I asked, shocked. “What happened?”
She hesitated again. “I must tell you something…Gina?” I nodded. “I must tell you something, and you will not believe me.”
I was amused in spite of myself. “I won’t, huh? How do you know that?”
She smiled sadly. “Because your kind does not.”
I frowned. “My kind? What is that supposed to mean!”
“Gina, I am a…wood nymph.”
“A wood nymph? What do you mean?”
“Maybe you also know ‘sprite’?”
I was feeling suddenly faint. “What are you saying?”
“I am not human, Gina.”
I don’t think I would’ve been so shocked if I hadn’t believed her. If I had put it down to a delusional personality, or side effects of whatever happened to her, it wouldn’t have hit me in the gut like that. But something deep inside told me she was telling the truth. I didn’t quite understand how, or what she was exactly, but it reinforced the feeling that this woman was very unusual.
My knees were suddenly very shaky and I sunk down next to the bed, sitting with a thump and my back against the mattress. The…nymph, as I guess I would now have to refer to her….sat up and touched my shoulder gently with her hand.
“I’m sorry, Gina. I know it is hard to accept.”
“You can say that again. So….your home…?”
“I lived in a tree,” she said simply.
“You lived in a tree,” I repeated without irony. “Naturally. What happened to it?”
“Those of your kind would often build fires near my home. To cook meals? Then would place the burning coals against the trunk.”
I nodded with sudden comprehension. Charcoal grills at picnics were a common occurrence in Hawaii. People would frequently dump the hot coals at the base of nearby trees, not realizing the repeated burns would eventually kill the tree. “I’m sorry,….uh….what is your name?”
She made a sound that startled me with its wildness. It sounded very similar to a bird call…or the sigh of the wind through the trees.
“That’s your name???” She nodded. “Say it again?”
After she repeated it, I tried to speak her tongue. It was the first time I saw her laugh. It made me smile in spite of myself.
“I won’t be able to use that name, I’m afraid.”
“What would you like to call me?”
I thought for a moment, then got up and pulled a book off the shelf. “A Hawaiian name would be appropriate,” I said, flipping through the pages. “Here…one of the words for ‘mystery’ – ‘Mikelio.’ Miki for short?”
“Miki?” She tilted her head and considered that. “Yes, you may call me that.”
“Okay, Miki. So your home was burned down?”
The smile left her face and it took on an expression of unutterable sadness. “They killed her,” she said softly. “My home is not like yours,” she indicated the walls around us. “My home was living. The burns were too much. I did my best to heal her…but I failed.” She broke off, tears in her voice. “She died today…fell like one whose time has come. But she was still very young.”
“I’m sorry,” I said again. “That must’ve been very painful.”
She nodded. “I…became unconscious. I remember crawling out…and then nothing.”
I frowned. “Are you sure you don’t need a doctor? You’re still looking a bit pale.”
“I will be fine, Gina. I need to rest awhile. May I stay here?”
“Of course you can stay here. I’m still not convinced that you shouldn’t see a doctor, though.”
She set her mouth in a way that, on a human, might’ve been called a “pout.” A four-year-old human pout. “I don’t want to.”
I was tempted to point out how she wasn’t necessarily the best judge about what was good for her, but I decided to let it pass, for now. I’d keep an eye on her, and if she took a turn for the worst, I’d find someone to take a look at her….although I didn’t know exactly what kind of doctor I could trust with that information. And for that matter, what kind of a doctor would I see – a wizard?? I snorted to myself and went to the bathroom to clean up.
If you ever had the idea that sprites are these sweet little creatures with wings and sparkly dust all over them, you’ve been watching too many cartoons. Well, maybe there are sprites like that somewhere, and Miki’s just different. All I know is, she certainly wasn’t any idealized version of what I’d always assumed magical beings were like.
For one thing, there were no wings. (Miki laughed at me when I remarked on that. She said I was getting wood nymphs mixed up with fairies.) In fact, except for being unusually lightweight, and other-worldly green eyes, Miki looked just like a human woman. I came to learn that this was because sprites and humans have ancestors in common. She did have other differences – which I would learn about in time – but initially she felt remarkably “familiar” to me.
The other thing I hadn’t anticipated was her contrary nature. The stories I’d read never mentioned how stubborn wood nymphs could be. Combined with her intelligence and insatiable curiosity, it was sometimes like having an untrained capuchin monkey loose in my household.
My education started as soon as she woke up from her nap. She did look much better, angelic even, blinking the drowsiness from her eyes.
“Hey there,” I greeted her. “How are you feeling?”
“Good.” She smiled at me, looking curiously at the shorts and t-shirt I’d changed into. “My I have some covering like that?”
“Oh! Sorry.” I’d forgotten that she was still wrapped in my jacket. “Uh…would you like to take a bath first?”
“A shower? To wash up?” I realized that she might not be familiar with the idea, probably never having been anywhere with indoor plumbing before. So I led her into my bathroom and turned on the shower. Her face lit up.
“Ooo, like rain! You make your own rain!”
I laughed. “Yes, I guess you could say that. Only warmer, of course.” I showed her how the hot water controls worked.
She made a face. “Why would I want to wash in that?”
It was impossible to explain to someone who was used to the temperature of the outdoors, even if Hawaii was one of the warmest places in the world. So I shrugged and said that humans just preferred it. I left her frolicking merrily after explaining the concept of “soap” to her, even though I suspected she wouldn’t be using it….or possibly even needing it.
I looked for the smallest set of underwear and outerwear I owned. She looked to be nearly my height of 5’4″, but was much more slender. When I returned I had to explain the concept of “drying off” as well.
“It’s so the clothes don’t stick to your skin, see?” I handed her a towel. She nodded and began to rub herself with it. “Now we’ll have to buy you some of your own clothes, but these will do for now.” I held up the underwear. “You put these on first.”
“Well….because it’s more comfortable.”
“It doesn’t look very comfortable. What’s that?”
“It’s a bra.” She stared at me uncomprehendingly. “Women wear it over their breasts.”
“Uh…for support.” I lifted up my own shirt to show her.
“That is supporting your breasts? What would happen to them if you did not wear the garment?”
I flushed. “Well, probably not much, as I’m not very big. But it’s sort of for protection as well. See, my nipples are sensitive and….” I trailed off under her interested gaze. Damn it, a conversation like this was exactly why I decided not to have kids! “Look, don’t wear it if you don’t want to, okay? You look like you could get away without one anyway.”
“I do?” She looked down at her breasts. “Why?”
“Just put on this shirt.” Thankfully, she slipped it on without any more comment. “Now these are panties…you wear them beneath your shorts or pants. And before you ask why,” I held up my hand to forestall her question,” it’s more hygienic. So just do it, okay?”
She wiggled into the cotton bikinis with a slight frown. “You humans have some strange habits, Gina.”
“You ain’t seen nothing yet,” I said under my breath as I handed her the shorts. I was relieved when she was finally dressed. “Now…feel like eating something?”
It turned out Miki was a vegetarian, which didn’t really surprise me. Unfortunately, I did very little eating at home. My job as a systems analyst with a large marketing firm required a good deal of my time and energy, and my non-working hours were usually spent on the computer taking various online classes. It didn’t leave much time for cooking. I pulled out a frozen stir-fry and nuked it in the microwave, then divided it between us, giving her most of the veggies.
“We’ll go shopping at the market tomorrow, okay?”
“Yes,” she agreed, mouth full, though I doubt if she had any idea of what I was talking about.
Luckily it was Saturday, but I would have to figure out something to do with her when I went back to work on Monday. After dinner I pulled out my laptop and sat down with her in front of the TV.
“This is the best way for you to learn about humans,” I said, pointing at the screen. “I don’t usually watch television, but you need a crash course in our culture.”
“Okay,” she said, taking on my vocabulary. I knew she probably didn’t understand half of the stuff I was referring to, but she was remarkably agreeable. She watched “Everybody Loves Raymond” with an intensity that amused me. My first thought had been to find a documentary of some sort for her, but there was time for that later. If she was going to interact with people, she would have to learn their little quirks and habits.
“Holy Crap,” I heard her repeat experimentally.
“No, no, don’t learn from that guy!” I laughed. Maybe “Everybody Loves Raymond” wasn’t such a good idea.
That night I gave her my bed, and sacked out on the couch. But we’d have to find a more permanent solution if she was going to stay with me. I couldn’t assume she would, but there was no where else for her to go. I wasn’t comfortable with her going back to the forest…at least not yet.
She seemed to take to the idea of blankets pretty readily…perhaps it comes from being wrapped in a tree most of her life. Her day had been traumatic, and she fell into a deep sleep almost immediately. I, in contrast, lay awake for a long time, pondering things. Like most kids, I had grown up believing in magic – Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy. But becoming an adult meant leaving all of that fantasy stuff behind, as regretful as that was. Meeting Miki left me shaken, but most surprising was how easily I’d accepted the concept. It freaked me out that I wasn’t more freaked out. I guess, in spite of the fact that the grown-up me knew there were no such things as fairies, the inner child still wanted to believe in them.
The next day we went to the market, as I’d promised her. At first she was very shy, sticking close to me and not saying a word. But when she saw that no one in the Manoa Safeway was paying any attention to her (and why should they, she looked like everyone else), her natural curiosity took over. She wandered the aisles in fascination, and I had to keep an eye on her.
As I was busy loading up on fruits and veggies, she walked over to the nearby stand where they were selling potted plants and cut flowers. She was admiring the foliage so I didn’t pay her much attention. When I was finished, I pushed the shopping cart over to join her, and was horrified to see her stroke a drooping areca palm, turning the brown fronds green again.
“For god’s sake, cut that out!” I whispered furiously, looking over my shoulder. Luckily, no one else was around.
“It is too dry here,” Miki said, frowning. “Do you see the earth in this pot?”
“Yes, yes, it’s not humid enough here with the air conditioning,” I agreed hastily. I took hold of her arm and pulled her away. “Nevermind that! Listen to me, Miki.”
She focused her emerald eyes on mine and listened, surprised by my tone.
“You cannot do things like that!” I pointed at the now-perky palm.
She glanced over at the plant. “I cannot heal it?”
“No, you cannot do that. At least,” I amended, “not in public. You know that humans would not understand, right?”
She tilted her head at me, evaluating what I said. To my relief, she nodded. “Yes, you are right, Gina.”
“I frequently am,” I said dryly, but decided it was a good time to check out and head back home.
That evening, I sat Miki down to discuss the story we’d have to tell anyone who asked about her. She was wearing a surprisingly bright hot pink t-shirt she’d picked out in Walmart, and a pair of boy’s camouflage cotton cargo shorts we’d found that fit her narrow frame.
“I think we should say you’re my cousin from out of town,” I said. “We could say you lived in a really rural area, with mostly animals for company, so it wouldn’t seem so strange that you’re unfamiliar with a lot of things.”
She was watching my face closely, and nodded.
“Do you know what a cousin is?” I asked suddenly.
“Do you know what I mean by ‘really rural area’?”
“No,” she repeated, shaking her head.
“Then why did you agree with me?”
“That is what you want, yes?”
“No! I mean, yes, that is what I want, but you need to ask questions if you don’t understand something. That is,” a sudden thought occurred to me about the kinds of questions she was likely to blurt out, “you can always ask ME if you don’t understand something, okay? But be careful about asking things when you are talking to other people.”
“Okay,” she agreed with a smile. “Gina? I would like to go back and visit my tree.”
“Visit your tree?” I said, not comprehending. “I thought your tree was dead?”
“Yes, but I need to see to her burial. You understand?
“You’re going to bury her?? That was a big tree! Are you saying you’re planning to dig a hole and put her underneath the ground?”
“No, no, that is not what we do! But I must see she that is goes back….to where she came from?” She was frowning as she looked at me, willing me to understand. I didn’t quite understand, but I could sense from her expression that this ceremony was important to her.
“All right, I will take you back to see her. But not today, it’s dark already.”
“I don’t mind,” she said.
“Well, I do. We’re not stumbling around in the forest at night!”
She pouted. “Tomorrow?”
“We’ll see. I frequently work late on Mondays.” I saw the disappointment on her face and gave her a hug. “I’ll try to get home early on Tuesday, okay? That’s two days from now…she’ll still be there in two days, right?”
She heaved a big sigh. “Yes, Gina.”
But it turned out that Tuesday I had to stay late as well, because of a surprise audit in my department. Miki threw the closest thing I’d seen to a tantrum, saying that she couldn’t wait any longer. She’d spent her days watching TV to improve her English and tending my garden, and fortunately my neglect of said garden kept her very busy. She “healed” my dying ferns and suddenly my orchids were blooming like never before. Even the artificial waterfall which had stopped working was once again running, and the pond it flowed into was being visited by frogs and dragonflies and Java rice finches.
“This is great,” I marveled at breakfast, enjoying the tangerines from a tree that had never fruited before in the whole time I’d rented the house. “We should open a nursery or something, put your talents to work!”
She didn’t smile at my joke. “Gina, I am going to visit my home. It is okay if you cannot come, I will go alone.”
“Miki, we’ve been over this. It’s too far for you to walk on your own. Just be patient, and I will drive you there, okay? I’ll feel better if I accompany you.” I held up my hand at the protest I knew would follow. “I know you’re perfectly at home in the forest. But you are NOT at home with other humans, and the Manoa trails are very popular. We’ll go as soon as I have an early day, I promise.”
I was hoping that Wednesday would be the day, but wouldn’t you know my boss would call a meeting just as I was about to head out the door. It wasn’t a long meeting, but I knew it would be near dusk by the time I got home and I steeled myself to face Miki’s disappointment once again. But the house was disturbingly silent when I walked through the door.
“Miki? Are you there?”
I searched the house and the yard, and even peered over the fence in case she’d taken it into her head to “heal” the neighbor’s long-dead royal palm tree. There was no sign of her. With a sinking heart, I realized there was only one place she would’ve gone.
I put some water, snacks, a jacket, and a flashlight into my backpack and drove back to the trail where I’d found her. I was hoping to find her right away, but one never knew. Every year the Honolulu Fire Department rescued dozens of people who were just out for a short hike or a walk in the forest. Most of them were found, sometimes after a huge outpouring of effort which included helicopters and rescue personnel and volunteers. But some never made it back alive. The mountains and valleys were dotted with hidden gullies and cliffs – a confused stumble off the trail into brush could mean a plunge hundreds of feet to one’s death.
I knew the forest was Miki’s home, and that she was probably more familiar with it than most weekend hikers could be. But she wasn’t familiar with the world of man, and I was afraid of what might happen should she encounter human beings along the trail. Not to mention that the journey to get there was six miles of winding road through the valley. I kept an eye out for her as I drove, hoping to intercept her along the way…..no such luck.
Once at the trail, I locked the car and set the alarm. There were only a couple of other cars in the vicinity, and break-ins were common, but thieves mostly targeted rental cars, knowing that tourists had more loot. There was no one else in sight, and the sun was putting on a blazing show as it sunk behind the trees. I walked as quickly as I dared in the hazy gloom of dusk.
Much to my relief, I located Miki almost immediately. I hiked along calling her name, and just a mile from the trailhead, she answered my call.
“Gina! You are here for me!” She ran up and enveloped me in hug.
“You’re damn right I’m here for you!” My hands traveled over her instinctively, checking for injuries. Not only was she unharmed, she looked delighted to see me. “Didn’t I tell you to wait for me to come with you?” I resisted the urge to shake her.
“Yes, you did, but you do not return home till almost sunset. And you said you did not want to go searching at this time.”
“Yes, it is very dangerous to hike in the dark! I know you were feeling impatient, but in a few days it will be the weekend, and I since don’t work we could start out early.”
She frowned at me and pulled away. “But I did not want to wait till then,” she said. “And I am not afraid to be in the forest after dark. It is my home.” She gestured to the trees surrounding us. “I have played in these woods since I was a child!”
“That’s not the point, Miki. It’s always safer to hike with a partner. You never know what might happen…who you might run into. Not to mention that long walk over – you could’ve been hit by a car or something!” I knew she was probably capable of navigating the roads and my annoyance was generated by the scare I’d gotten at finding her gone. But then her expression changed and her eyes shifted away from mine.
“What is it?” I asked sharply. “Did something happen?”
“Nothing happened,” she said. But there was definitely a guilty look on her face.
“Miki,” I said softly. “Do you know what a lie is?”
She flushed. Bingo.
“There is no need to worry, I am here and I am unharmed,” she insisted stubbornly, and began to walk further into the forest. I followed right behind and took hold of her arm before she’d gotten more than a dozen steps.
“Hold it right there, young lady!” She tried to shake me off but I spun her around. “We are going to have this discussion whether you like it or not, so you may as well stop running away,” I informed her. She scowled, but stopped struggling. “Now: what happened on your way over here?”
She didn’t answer right away, so I waited her out. It might’ve been a test of wills, but she would have to accept my authority in this – her non-human status made her too vulnerable. By now the sun had disappeared, but fortunately a full moon rose overhead, bathing everything in a ghostly dim light. I was glad I’d taken some time to apply mosquito repellent, as they would no doubt be out in force. Not surprisingly, the little buggers never bothered Miki.
“Someone brought me,” she said at last.
“Someone brought you?” I repeated. “What do you mean, they brought you? HOW did they bring you? And who was it?!”
“A man. In his car. He…you say, ‘made me a ride’?”
“He gave you a ride,” I corrected. “But I don’t understand. Did you know him?! And where is he now?” I glanced around, but she shook her head.
“I did not know him. And he drove away after I shouted.”
“After you shouted?!” I was nearly shouting myself. “Why were you shouting??”
“Gina, don’t be upset,” Miki said. She put a placating hand on my arm. “He wanted me to go to a party with him. But I did not want to go. He did not seem to believe me, so I became angry and shouted at him. He became alarmed at that.”
“I’ll bet he did!” For a moment I was amused, remembering the combination of wild bird cry and whistling wind utterances I had heard from her. He must’ve thought he picked up a crazy person! But then I realized the danger she could’ve been in, and my blood pressure rose again.
“Miki, this is exactly the kind of thing l was warning you about! Now do you see why I told you to wait for me?!”
She regarded me with her head tilted to one side, as if she found my reasoning incomprehensible. “Nothing has happened, so please calm down,” she said. “Come, I want to show you my tree.”
“Wait a moment, we’re not finished discussing this!” I took hold of her arm again, but this time she set her feet in the ground and her chin rose.
“Let go of me,” she said.
“Or what? You’ll ‘shout’ at me?” I shook her slightly. “Do you even realize the kind of danger you were in?!”
The sound she made then wasn’t a bird cry. It was more like the rumble of mountain, just before a landslide covers a village. And the next thing I knew I was drenched in cold water.
“What the hell?!” I jumped back in shock, releasing her, to hear her giggle. I realized it was merely the moisture accumulated in leaves overhead, and I wasn’t as soaked as I had first thought – the chill of the unexpected shower made it seem heavier than it was. Still, my head and shoulders were quite wet, and this seemed to amuse Miki greatly.
“Oh, you think that’s funny, do you? Let’s see if you’re still laughing after I administer the hiding you’ve got coming, young lady!” I grabbed her again and dragged her over to a nearby boulder, breaking off a whippy branch along the way. I sat myself down, knowing I’d have mud stained jeans later, but figuring it was worth it to teach this brat a lesson.
“Gina! Stop it!” She was struggling, but her slender frame was made more for fleeing than fighting. It was no effort at all to up-end her, then bring the branch I had down hard several times across her wriggling backside. She still had her shorts and underwear on, so I wasn’t worried about doing any damage. But I knew the switch was making an impression, because the screech which emerged was much more like the sound of an outraged brat than any magical being. But then the branch I was using dried up to a twig and crumbled apart, reminding me that Miki was very much a magical being.
I was momentarily disconcerted, but then I heard her giggle again. “That does it,” I muttered, as I immediately reached under her to undo her shorts and pull them, along with her knickers, down to her knees.
“Nooooooo!” she shouted. And suddenly I was being pelted from above: leaves, sticks, tiny pinecones, drops of cold water – it was like a shower during a hurricane. But I grit my teeth and gave her the spanking she deserved, using my palm to deliver stringent swats over every inch of her rounded buttocks. The hail of small debris increased, with even an abandoned bird’s nest landing on my head at one point. I growled and shifted her forward even more, then aimed my whacks at the sensitive undersides of her cheeks.
I could feel even larger seed pods falling, like mini missiles against the back of my jacket. She was bringing all the powers of her forest home down upon me, and I wondered briefly if she would actually do me some violence, and send a big branch or even a tree crashing down. But I kept up the spanking, using slower but harder smacks over and over on her sit spots, until her pale cheeks were nearly glowing in the moonlight.
She gave a slight sob and the shower ceased abruptly. I stopped the spanking immediately, knowing she had had enough. I pulled her upright and she buried her face in my shoulder. I held her as she sniffled against me, rubbing her back in a comforting manner.
“That hurt,” she informed me, her reproachful voice muffled against my jacket.
“I’m sorry,” I said, and I meant it. “But it would’ve hurt more if something had happened to you because some guy couldn’t take ‘no’ for an answer!” She was silent, and I spoke again, pulling her away gently so I could look in her face as I explained.
“Miki, when you’re not in the forest, you need someone to look after you. And if that someone’s going to be me, you need to listen to what I say. I will always listen to you too, but when it comes to the world out there,” I gestured over my shoulder, “you have to accept that I know more than you do. Do you understand what I’m saying?”
Her green eyes were luminescent in the moonlight as she regarded me. Finally, she nodded. “You will not do that to me again?”
“Never again,” I agreed. “Unless you deserve it.” She scowled again, and I had to chuckle. I stood up and helped her pull up her clothing. “C’mon, let’s go bury your tree.”
She looked up in surprise. “Now? In the dark?”
“We might as well, we’re here,” I said resignedly. “But if I fall off a cliff, you better be able to pull me up!”
“I will not let you fall off a cliff, Gina,” she said happily. She grabbed my hand and pulled me with her.
The ceremony of saying goodbye to her home ended up being quite touching. That is, until I discovered that it had been home to another denizen of the forest as well, one Miki decided needed to come live with us. But that’s a story for another day.