Meanwhile, author and translator Olga Núñez Miret told me that she’s becoming quite fond of piglets, due in part to the “glowing otherworldly pigs” of Atonement, Tennessee.
(Just a couple of Olga’s books. Click here for Amazon author page.)
So with both of those things in mind, I knew I had to come up with another porcine adventure. Yet what tale for those twisty tail waggers?
I got off to a good start, but then I got stuck about two-thirds of the way to the finish. So I went to my trusty jar of “things” and pulled out three bits of paper.
Well, let’s see… Puzzle, bill of sale, and monotony. Hmmm… I think that just might do the trick. Here goes!
When Glowing Pigs Fly
A sweet breeze stirred the brown leaves that covered the area beneath an ancient oak tree. Honeybell quickly put a hoof on the page of her book to prevent it moving. She took a deep breath of the air, pleasantly scented with early blooming crocuses and jonquils. Then she settled back to continue reading her book.
However, a loud snort interrupted Honeybell. Deme frisked up to her side, sapphire blue eyes shining brightly. Her twisty tail twitched with anticipation. Honeybell glanced up but tried to go back to her reading. Deme snuffled impatiently.
“What are you so excited about, Deme?”
“Have you forgotten? Honeybell, it’s the one day of the year when we get to go into Atonement, Tennessee and play with the humans.”
“You do that more than one day a year,” Honeybell grunted in a rather admonishing tone.
“Well, it’s the only day that we don’t risk getting into any trouble for it. And it’s the only day all year when any memory of us gets removed from the humans. That way we don’t have to worry that something we do might disturb them. Aren’t you the least bit excited Honeybell?” Deme asked, shifting impatiently from hoof to hoof.
“I’ve gotten really fascinated with this book, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” Honeybell told her friend. “At first it seemed too commonplace to be interesting. But it’s gotten quite frightening in some parts. Pigs as foot stools! Absolutely horrid! Other parts are just plain odd.”
“What do you mean by odd?” Deme asked, intrigued by anything that could so completely engross her friend.
“Well take this part for instance,” Honeybell read aloud from the volume.
“Thinking again?” the Duchess asked, with another dig of her sharp little chin.
“I’ve a right to think,” said Alice sharply, for she was beginning to feel a little worried.
“Just about as much right,” said the Duchess, “as pigs have to fly….” — Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Chapter 9.
“What would be wrong with pigs flying?” Honeybell demanded. “Of course it’s very unusual, and precious few of us can… But shouldn’t it be every pig’s right to fly? If they are able, I mean.”
Deme grunted a giggle. “It’s only a story, Honeybell. Try not to be bothered by a story so outrageous that it includes a character like the Queen of Hearts, who would rest her feet on a pig.”
“That’s easy for you to say. You’ve actually flown. More than once! That’s why your eyes are bright blue,” Honeybell said with an impatient snuffle.
“You know that I can’t just fly any time I choose,” Deme defended. “I can’t control when it happens. Come on, that story is upsetting you. Everyone else has already left for Atonement. You need some fun,” Deme entreated and Honeybell reluctantly closed her book.
“Ralda, unless this is an emergency, I have to go. Now,” Sheriff Robin Warden said emphatically.
“Do you really think you should?” the woman asked in a concerned voice. “The weather people were saying we might get a bad storm.”
“A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool.”
“Shakespeare again?” the redhead asked him. “You really are a Bardolator. So in other words, you don’t care that you’re doing something foolish.”
“Do you think a weather report would stop me? When pigs fly! Ralda, I can’t explain, except that I told you this is National Pig Day, and I want to be as far away from Atonement, Tennessee as I can get! I’ll be back in a day,” he exclaimed as Ralda Lawton looked at him with a bemused expression.
The Sheriff’s car burned rubber, engine roaring until it was out of sight. Deme made a loud disgruntled noise. She particularly enjoyed getting Robin Warden involved in her play. It didn’t matter that because he had been touched by Goewin, he was one of the few humans who was not affected by the magic that made people forget the otherworldly pigs. Ralda Lawton was another such human, but her immunity had a different source.
“You have a crush on him, don’t you,” Honeybell stated with a sidelong look at her friend. “You always want him to play.”
“That isn’t so!” Deme exclaimed, but Honeybell gave a soft snort.
The two glowing pigs looked around. The rest of their drift of pigs was nowhere to be seen.
“It looks like everyone else has already gone into town, Deme.”
“We could catch up easily enough,” the blue-eyed pig replied. “Or we could nose around in the closed-off parts of Sunhold. You like old mansions and ruins,” Deme suggested.
“That could be fun,” Honeybell reluctantly agreed, still thinking of her book. “And Ralda-Esmeralda wouldn’t mind even if she knew we were there. Perhaps we should ask her to come and play in the tower.”
“I think she’s afraid of that area, especially the tower. She says it’s not safe. You know humans are not as agile as we are,” Deme told Honeybell, who nodded knowingly.
Moving toward the old estate house, Deme and Honeybell followed quietly in Ralda Lawton’s wake. Since she could remember them, they tried not to call attention to themselves.
As the woman headed to her door the wind moaned. Honeybell looked skyward uneasily, but Deme’s sense of play was contagious. So the two friends trotted to an unused extension of Sunhold that Ralda had barely explored. The otherworldly pigs, however, were already familiar with it.
There were several rooms in that wing, and it led to a turreted tower. Many places had bad flooring, so the pigs stepped gingerly. Hooves clipping softly, they made their way to a rounded area. At the center a beautiful old staircase spiraled gently upward.
[… And this is where I got stuck. Time for three random things!]
Ralda Lawton quietly came in, unheard by the pigs. She stood silently as she watched them in fascination.
“Isn’t this the spot where we found truffles once?” Honeybell asked.
“I believe so,” Deme answered with a sigh.
“What’s wrong? I know you like truffles,” Honeybell snorted.
“It’s just that we’ve already hunted truffles. We’ve already done everything we ever do. The monotony is just so… monotonous,” Deme grunted.
“You two like to root around for things, if you’ll pardon the expression. How would you like to help me look for old documents?” Ralda Lawton asked from behind them.
Startled, both pigs squealed in surprise at her unexpected voice. After taking a moment to collect herself, Deme approached the woman, twisty tail wagging rapidly.
Both pigs were intrigued by the human’s suggestion. Looking for things was like solving a puzzle. Honeybell particularly liked puzzles. She was not as bold as Deme — no one was. However, she hurried up to Deme and Ralda. Hunting for documents would be even better than truffle hunting because it was something they’d never done before.
“What sort of documents?” Honeybell gathered her courage and asked.
Ralda Lawton crouched down closer to the glowing pigs. “You smell like flowers,” she murmured.
She held out her hand, as if she meant to pet them. Then she drew it back, uncertainly. Daring as ever, Deme nudged her nose under the woman’s hand to show her the affection was accepted. Hence there was a bit of petting and scratching that delighted both pigs so much that they glowed quite brightly.
Deme and Honeybell both rolled all the way over and pounced back onto their hooves, tails wagging happily.
“I’m sorry,” Honeybell gasped. “What kind of papers were you looking for again?”
“Anything with names. Especially signatures,” Ralda told them. “Like birth or death certificates, letters, a bill of sale, anything like that. I’d like to make a timeline and history of everyone who has lived in Sunhold. I’ve gotten some information in the old cemetery, but most of the headstones are impossible to read. Besides, sometimes the graveyard was used for the entire community, not just people who lived in the estate.”
The pigs started to run up the staircase when Ralda called them back. She seemed uncertain, strangely hesitant, now that they had agreed.
“Just one other thing,” Ralda began. “Could you help make sure I don’t step on any rotted stairs or floorboards? I’m heavier than you, so you might be able to walk on places where I would fall through. Do you have any way to tell?”
“We can smell the various conditions of the wood if we are paying attention,” Deme told her, blue eyes large and sincere. “So we will mind that carefully.”
The wind howled through the drafty, rundown structure. Honeybell’s eyes widened fearfully. However, she was determined not to show her anxiety.
“Don’t worry, Ralda-Esmeralda. We will see that no harm comes to you,” Honeybell promised.
Deme and Honeybell snuffled excitedly, leading the way. Their natural glow was enough to help Ralda see in the shadowy areas, but she kept her flashlight turned on just the same.
“That room over there,” Honeybell said, trotting up to a door.
Ralda opened the door and the pigs went inside, still snuffling. She asked if the floor was safe, so Honeybell double checked. She had promised to keep the woman safe, and she would keep that vow.
Deme gave an excited grunt and her radiance became brighter. She pulled a dust cover away from a small bookcase. It was filled with old books. Ralda praised the find, but the pigs knew it wasn’t what she had in mind.
“I wonder if there’s a Bible among them,” the woman pondered. “Old Bibles were used to record the kinds of things I want to collect. I’m going to take an armload downstairs and then come back to look at more.”
“I’ll go with you,” Deme offered, remembering the woman’s concerns about the old stairs and flooring.
While Ralda and Deme went downstairs, Honeybell pulled dust covers away from a sofa and chair. With a squeal of delight she jumped onto the antique horsehair covered sofa and began tugging at a cushion. As Honeybell tossed away the pillow, she found a worn leather folio.
Honeybell knew just by the scent that she had found the kind of thing Ralda-Esmeralda wanted.
“I found something!” Honeybell squealed in delight.
The small pig picked up the folio in her mouth, but she wasn’t tall enough to carry it well. Tripping and stumbling all the way, she dragged it into the hallway and then to the railed area that looked down on the round room far below. Part of Honeybell’s mind noted the wind worsened outside, but she was completely focused on her awkward task.
“Look! I found something!” Honeybell repeated.
As she dropped the folio to shout, papers fell across the landing. Deme and Ralda were already headed back up the stairs, but they quickened their steps. Honeybell tried to nose the old documents back to the cracked leather portfolio.
The others had a long climb up the gently spiraling staircase. By the time they reached the landing both were breathing hard. Honeybell had gathered most of the papers and pushed them next to the portfolio. She pranced in place beside them while Deme and Ralda caught their breath.
The woman’s delight at the papers pleased Honeybell more than the little pig would have ever thought. However, she always shared another’s joy, so why not a human’s?
Ralda Lawton’s eyes grew wide. Her eyes were blue, but not the bright sapphire blue of Deme’s.
“What’s this?” Ralda gasped upon seeing a very old newspaper. “I’m afraid it might crumble if I touch it,” she murmured as she sat on the floor to read it. “Between the stains and the holes, I can only read phrases, broken sentences,” she commented on a sigh. “The way they used English is even different. Could it be from Esmeralda Gwynedd’s day?”
“There’s a date mixed with the stain at the top of the page — 1782,” Honeybell stated.
“I didn’t know that pigs had such good eyesight,” Ralda commented in a pleased voice.
“We don’t necessarily see better than humans,” Deme explained. “But we see wavelengths that you can’t. Besides, we aren’t ordinary pigs,” Deme added with a wink and a wag of her twisty tail.
“Their way of speaking takes a lot of getting used to,” Ralda continued reading the sheet of newspaper. “Not to mention the little holes. But it’s a report of a drowning. Dylan Aildon. Then next paragraph says something about survived by Gwy— but the rest of the name is lost to the damage. I wonder if he was one of the Gwynedd family,” Ralda speculated.
“The name sounds familiar, but from long ago,” Honeybell said softly, her eyes taking on a faraway look.
“You and your books,” Deme teased fondly.
“That’s it! One of Goewin’s books. But the name was slightly different. Dylan ail Don,” Honeybell cried, emphasizing the difference.
“The way Guy Fabdon is really Gwydion fab Don?” Ralda gasped and asked.
“Yes, Dylan ail Don was the son of Gwydion the trickster,” Honeybell explained.
As the three exchanged amazed looks, the wind tore open a window. It scattered the documents that had come out of the portfolio. A current of air suddenly lifted the newspaper off the floor and it sailed over the railing.
Ralda Lawton lunged to grab the paper, leaning against the railing. With a dull crunch the banister gave way. The woman wavered for an instant, trying to get her balance. Too quickly for the pigs to act, she fell.
Sapphire eyes bulging, Deme wished as hard as she could wish for her wings to emerge. However, she had never learned to summon the ability to fly. It only came to her unexpectedly.
“Ralda-Esmeralda! I said she’d come to no harm!” Honeybell cried as she leaped.
Honeybell grabbed the woman’s jacket with her teeth, but to no avail. They both plunged over the edge.
“Honeybell, no!” Deme screamed and ran to the edge.
Deme watched in horror as the other two plunged downward toward the marble floor far below. Abruptly Honeybell began to fall faster than the woman. Then wings sprouted from the little pig’s back and she darted underneath Ralda.
Deme didn’t realize she had done anything herself until she was beside Honeybell. Together the two, glowing, flying pigs saved the friend they called Ralda-Esmeralda from falling to her death.
She didn’t exactly land on her feet, but she was unharmed. Just as Honeybell promised, Deme thought in satisfaction.
Ralda Lawton sat sprawled on the floor. The woman seemed shocked and disoriented. She gazed at the two winged pigs, hovering just above the floor.
“Ralda-Esmeralda, are you okay?” Honeybell asked, though the woman gazed at her in mute astonishment.
“Honeybell, your eyes are bright blue now, like Deme’s,” was the first thing Ralda said.
Abruptly the wings disappeared from the pigs and they plopped to the floor on either side of Ralda. The three exchanged amazed looks.
“We’ll see you to the main house and to your bed,” Deme told her, wondering how much the experience might have rattled the human.
“Ralda-Esmeralda, are you sure you’re unharmed?” Honeybell asked, sapphire blue eyes sincere. “Can you stand?”
Ralda nodded and slowly got to her feet. “When pigs fly — I mean because pigs fly,” she answered with a wondering smile.
I hope you enjoyed this little tail… I mean tale. Mega hugs!
Copyright © 2017 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene
All rights reserved.
No part of this work may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.
All images are either the property of the author or from Pinterest unless stated otherwise.