The Fellowship of Sarah

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The Fellowship of Sarah

Postby shireling » Fri Oct 05, 2012 12:08 am

The Fellowship of Sarah

There are those who claim that Middle-earth is a myth. That J.R.R. Tolkien was a man of too much imagination with too much time on his hands.

But he, himself, had said that he was merely a chronicler of a time long past, a time when Dragons were all but gone and the firstborn Elves still walked the land. A time when Wizards were gasping out their last, making way for the rule of Men. And a time when a handful of shy half-sized creatures, with a love of pipe smoke, large & frequent meals, and big hairy feet, left their comforts behind and wandered into off into danger.

A danger I could only guess at, because unlike my friends, I didn’t know the story…
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Re: The Fellowship of Sarah

Postby shireling » Fri Oct 05, 2012 12:11 am

ONE

It was three o’clock and I was finally free. It was the first weekend that I didn’t have homework; it was three days long and I had plans. Me and my girls were going to spend most of it watching the two LOTR Extended DVDs back to back. They were mine and I’d already seen “The Two Towers” four times since it came out that Tuesday. Neither Jean nor Sarah had seen it yet. We would meet up at my house, the night would officially begin and I ran home as fast as my forty-pound backpack would let me.

One of the best things about the extended versions is that you can watch them one at a time and take a break between, and they are much, much better than the theatrical. We got together around 5:30 to watch the first half of FOTR (“Great! Where are we going?”), before even thinking about getting anything to eat.

We finally decided on Chinese and got the insane idea of going to the place, instead of having it delivered. We walked arm in arm down the street, belting out ‘The Road Goes…’ ignoring the stares. We must have looked interesting together – me with my cropped mop, Jean with her gorgeous henna-dyed tresses and Sarah’s caramel locks. Anyway, we got to Peking Cuisine and while we wait for our order, Jean walked over to the owner to ask about the new ‘pond thingy’ in the middle of the restaurant. She’d eaten there lots of times and was very friendly with the family that ran it. She arrived back at the table the same time as the food…

“So?” I just asked to be polite, not really interested.
“Mr. Lee told me about the pool they put in here. It’s for making wishes.”
“Yeah?” said Sarah. “Like ‘you throw in a penny’ wishes? What for?”
“Probably atmosphere,” I said. “You know, make the place a little more customer - something.”

We ignored the pool. We ate, we talked, we talked about the movie. Mostly we talked about Hobbits. No bad hair days, no ugly shoes, no excuses for the shape you’re in (due to the six squares a day) and Sarah had a dreamy cast to her green eyes.

“I wonder what it’d be like to live in the Shire.”

Jean was trying to rip open a packet of duck sauce, with her teeth – the same ones she bit her nails with.
“Give me that before you hurt yourself.” I grabbed it from her frustrated fingers and neatly tore off the edge. I smiled smugly as I handed it back. She sighed.

“I wish I could stop chewing on my fingers.”
“I wish Elijah would quit smoking.” We all hated that, but especially me. I trembled at the thought of ever meeting him while he still had the habit. It could get ugly.
“I wish I was a hobbit.” That was Sarah, vacantly chewing on her chopstick.
“Stop that! You’ll get splinters in your gums!” said Jean.
“No, I won’t.”
“Yes you will! Why do you think I switched to finger nails?”

I gave the ‘wishing pool’ the eye. Jean knew right away what I was thinking.

“Why don’t we christen the pool with our wishes?” Sarah tried to take a breath with a mouthful of Moo Goo Gai Pan and choked.
I hammered her back. “Great, we could start with wishing for an ambulance!”
“Karen, quit it! I’m breathing on my own!”
“Yeah, why not?” said Jean. “We’d be the first to use it before it’s muddied with other peoples. Come on, what have we got to lose?” I love Jean, and I can’t tell you how many times that last phrase has gotten us into trouble, but for once I agreed – conditionally.
“Okay, but I want to finish eating before we do. I need time to think. If I’m going to wish, I want to do it so that there aren’t any loop holes.”
“Yeah, like that time Homer Simpson wished for a turkey sandwich in ‘The Monkey’s Paw’.”
“Yeah. He made sure that he just got the sandwich. He said he didn’t want to be a sandwich or be turned into a turkey…”
“But if I remember it right, wasn’t the turkey dry?” That gave us pause – but not for long.

We finished what we could before piling the carryout boxes with leftover fried rice and General Tao Chicken, taking them with us to the side of the pool. It was beautiful, built up from the floor with red-brown stones. The water fell from one brass leaf to another three times before landing back in the well. It made a sound almost like wind chimes as it danced down to the surface. A pair of brass cranes stood, one on either side - one with its head poking at the stars, the other dipping its long neck toward the water. Jean went first.

“Don’t say your wish out loud or it won’t come true.” Oh, so maybe that’s why I never got that pony. She closed her eyes, waited a few seconds and tossed in a penny. I went next, trying to think of all the ways a wish to stop Elijah from smoking could backfire on him. Before long, my Lincoln had joined Jean’s. Then it was Sarah’s turn.

I thought she threw it in too fast, but what was done was done. We picked up our boxes and headed for home. None of us wanted to keep the boys in the Fellowship waiting. And none of us noticed Sarah’s coin, off by itself under the bill of the dipping crane. We never saw the brilliant blue-green glow that came from its heart before vanishing into the shadow of the rocks.
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Re: The Fellowship of Sarah

Postby shireling » Fri Oct 05, 2012 12:18 am

TWO

My phone rang off the hook. 7:45? Saturday morning? We didn’t get to bed until after 2, since Jean insisted we see both of The Two Towers Appendices. Against my better judgment, I answer.

“Yeah?”
“Karen?” I knew who it was, but the voice was higher – much higher.
“Sarah, what the hell? It’s….”
“You’ve got to get over here, right now!” She sounded hysterical.
“Why, what’s going on?”
“Just get over here! Please!”

“All right…just let me get some clothes on.” There was something in her voice that made me move faster than I would ever have thought possible. I grabbed my stuff off the floor and dressed as fast as I could, flying down the stairs, keys in hand and out the door. Sarah’s backyard joined ours so all I had to do was run, jump the short rail fence and bang on her back door. I heard her call from upstairs.

“Karen?”
“Yeah, it’s me.”
“Door’s open...”

I thought, then, that maybe it was because she was upset that she sounded so much like a chipmunk. The place seemed totally empty - it was that quiet. I figured it must be her mom’s weekend to work; a couple of dishes were still on the table. I walked through the dining room and up the steps to Sarah’s room at the end of the hall. The door was closed. I couldn’t shake this sense of foreboding as I turned the knob.

“I’m here.”

For a moment there was nothing. Then I thought I heard crying. I pushed open the door. Her bed had been slept in. The noise came from the bathroom. The hair stood on the back of my neck as I knocked on the door. This whole thing was really starting to get to me.

“Sarah? What is it?”
“Go sit on the bed and close your eyes.”
“Why?”
“Just do it! Please?” I did as she said. “Don’t open them until I say…”
“Okay.”
“Are they shut?”
“Yes, they’re shut! God, would you quit it! You’re scaring me!”
“Okay…I’m coming out.”

The bathroom door creaked. I could feel her entering the room, sniffling a little as she padded in.

“You can open them…”
“O my God! Sarah!”
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Re: The Fellowship of Sarah

Postby shireling » Fri Oct 05, 2012 9:56 am

THREE

She had shrunk.

Her honey blonde hair was very curly, and poking through it, on both sides of her head, were pointy leaf-shaped ears. Her fingers were long, and her feet – yep, you guessed it. They were big and furry on top, the hair matching that on her head. Even so, they were now too small for the cute little numbers that filled her closet. She was wearing a T-shirt that we’d bought together just a week earlier. It’d barely reached the top of her jeans then; now, it stopped mid-calf. Her peaches & cream face was red and swollen from crying, making her emerald eyes clash with her cheeks.

Normally you can’t shut me up, but at that moment, I couldn’t think of a single thing to say. I stared like a deer in the headlights. My mouth was drier than Death Valley. She started coming toward me, rubbing her eyes. I panicked, backing up on her bed until I was against the headboard, and there was nowhere else to go. I shut my eyes and made a cross out of my two index fingers.

“I’m not a vampire, you idiot!” It could have been either Chip or Dale. I opened my eyes. She still resembled an extra at Bilbo’s party.

“What happened?” She looked at me like I had scallops flying out of my ears.
“What do you think happened? We made wishes.”
“But – hobbits aren’t real! How can you become something that doesn’t exist?”
“Look at me! Do you really think that matters? How can something come true just by thinking it and tossing a coin?” She started crying again.
“Aw, sweetie!”

I got off the bed and knelt down to hug her. She put her arms around my neck, and when I stood up, I was surprised by how light she was. I set her on the bed next to me and just let her bawl into my shoulder. I looked at her ears. They were real; I could see the veins. When she moved her feet, they were completely animated. No part of them looked unnatural. They were two and a half sizes bigger than they should be in proportion to her size, and the woolly fur went from the base of her ankles to the first joint of her toes.

“We’ve got to tell Jean.”

She nodded, numbly. I picked up her phone and hit the speed dial for Jean’s number, only telling her to get to here as soon as she could. Half an hour later, there was a knock at the door. I could see her coming up the stairs, her ocean-colored eyes full of concern as their gaze met mine. A moment later, she was standing in Sarah’s bedroom doorway. Five seconds after that, she was on the floor. She didn’t faint. She just slid all the way down the wall, the color drained from her already pale face. Staring at Sarah, she croaked out a whisper.

“Your wish...”
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Re: The Fellowship of Sarah

Postby shireling » Fri Oct 05, 2012 10:11 am

FOUR

We’d all finally gotten a grip and were just sitting there, thinking. I looked at Jean, her weeping eyes now a warm teal and making her freckles seem more prominent than usual.

“Did yours come true?”
“Well, I haven’t had a finger in my mouth since I woke up.”
“But do you feel like you want to bite your nails?” She had to think.
“Right now I don’t. But then I’ve got other worries. What about yours?”
“I won’t know until it’s announced on CNN.”
“World Peace?”
“Naw, nothing as noble as that. Just for Elijah to quit smoking.” Sarah sniffed, and wiped her nose with the tissue I piled up beside her.

“I think that’s pretty noble.” I grinned at the compliment.
“It could be. If it comes true, then he won’t die before his time and he’ll live to do something to bring about World Peace – maybe.” Sarah and Jean looked at each other. Yeah, that was stupid. I did that – you know, run my mouth – when I got nervous. I still do, sometimes. But, back then, at that moment, I felt defensive.

“Hey, it could happen.”
“Yeah. In a world where bronze cranes in Chinese restaurants grant wishes, why not?” Sarah was starting to fidget. Jean was watching her anxiously. “How do you feel? I mean, do you feel like yourself at all?”
“I don’t know. There’s something going on. There’s all these songs, stories and stuff just kind of racing through my head. Every once in a while, I see stuff…”
“Like what?”
“Like I’m walking in a wood, down a path and there’s other Hobbits around. Lots of talking and laughing – music, everywhere.” Jean and I were just sitting there, drinking in the wonder of Sarah’s face. Suddenly, she got very quiet.

“Something was happening…no, it’s gone now. Well, I don’t know about you two but I’m starved.”
“There’s the last night leftovers in your fridge.” Sarah reddened.
“There used to be. I ate them when you left.” Jean stood up.
“Well, let’s go downstairs and get something before we do anything else.”

Getting down the steps was hard for Sarah. The rises were high in these houses so she ended up going down backwards, like a toddler. It was humiliating but better than taking the chance on a header to the floor. I would have offered to carry her, but I squelched it. I mean, what if it were me. I don’t think I’d like it. I looked in her refrigerator. Only Sarah and her mom lived here. There wasn’t that much to choose from.

“What sounds good to you?” Sarah piped up.
“Eggs, toast, bacon, sausage, mushrooms, tomatoes, hash browns, pancakes, waffles” – Jean stopped her in mid-inventory.
“Well, we’re about eight items shy of what you want. What about cereal, bacon and – hash browns? Orange juice?” Sarah frowned

“What’s that?” She didn’t just ask what orange juice was, tell me she didn’t.
“Ah, it’s a drink – made from oranges.” She looked blank. I poured her a small glass.
“Here, taste some.” Sarah looked at it like it was going to bite her. She took a tiny sip, and made a face.
“That’s disgusting! You wouldn’t have an ale about, would you?” An ale about what?
Jean knew what she meant.

“No…we wouldn’t. Would you like some tea, instead?” Sarah sighed.
“If there’s nothing else to be had. Where is the owner of this establishment? I’ve a few things to say about his provender.” I grabbed Jean by the hand.
“We’ll go – fetch him for you.”
“Well, be quick about it! Second breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and I’d like it before elevenses, if you please!”
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Re: The Fellowship of Sarah

Postby shireling » Fri Oct 05, 2012 10:15 am

FIVE

We went into the living room, but Jean said we’d better go outside so we stepped out the front door, shutting it behind us. While she was wearing a heavy sweater, I only had my denim shirt, which doesn’t do much for fifty-degree days.

“Is this really necessary? It’s freezing out here!”
“You’ve seen those ears. I don’t want her to listening us.”
“She’s turned into a Hobbit! I mean a real, live, mushroom-munching Hobbit! I’d love it if it did scare me so much! Any ideas?” Jean shook her head, tucking her hair behind her ears.
“At this point – nada. What time is it?”

“Almost 9:30. She can’t still look like this when her mom gets home.”
“It’s not just what she looks like. Didn’t you just hear her? I really thought being a Hobbit would be great, too. But I wasn’t thinking about being the only one or that I wouldn’t be in the Shire. This sucks.”

“Can we go over to your house?”
“No, are you kidding? What’s wrong with yours? You have that spare room in your basement, right?” I knew she’d think of that.
“Yeah?”
“Well, just tell Sarah’s mom that we’re staying over at your place for the rest of the weekend, and hope that this reverses itself by Sunday night. You got a better idea?”
Naturally, I didn’t, so that was the plan.

We worked out this big act about being sorry for the limited menu and giving her the meal on the house. Going back to the kitchen, we found Sarah sitting on the step stool. The indignant look was gone and she seemed afraid.

“Where’d you go? We were talking breakfast and the next thing I know, I’m by myself.” I changed the plan, knowing Jean would follow.
“Oh, well, we went to see if there was anything you asked for in the downstairs fridge.”
“Yeah, and there wasn’t. So can we make you those other things we do have?”

Twenty minutes, two phone books and a sofa pillow later, she was packing it in. Nobody could eat that much at one time and still move. But then Sarah wasn’t human anymore. We excused ourselves, telling her that we were going to do her chores for her. The last of the potatoes and the half pound of crispy bacon we’d left were quickly scooped onto Sarah’s plate, and she was finishing off the orange juice.

Upstairs, we straightened the baths and made up the beds.

“What’s going on? Now she knows us, now she don’t?” Jean shrugged.
“How should I know?”
“You’ve read the books!”
“Yeah, but nobody turns into a Hobbit! They’re all born that way – unless they’re an Elf or something. We need to find something for her to wear. She can’t go around in just a T-shirt.”
“My brother’s things would fit her. She looks like she’s about a 2T. What about shoes?”
“Hobbits don’t need them and they don’t wear them. The soles of their feet are like shoe leather and all that hair keeps them warm.”
“I thought that was just for the movie?” Jean looked at me as though I were an abandoned puppy that she’d love to take home, except for the three cats she already had.

“We’d better go back down. I don’t like leaving her alone...”

We found the back door wide open, creaking on its hinges. The wind was blowing leaves and other odd bits into the room. The sofa pillow had fallen to the floor and Sarah’s plate was empty, except for one half slice of bacon teetering on the edge. She was gone.
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Re: The Fellowship of Sarah

Postby shireling » Fri Oct 05, 2012 10:26 am

SIX

“SARAH! Sarah! sarah! SARAH!” We ran like crazy, in the manner befitting headless chickens.

“We shouldn’t have left her alone. Dammit…!” My chest hurt.
“Why would she just take off like this?”
“Why do you keep asking questions I have no answers for?” Jean stopped dead in her tracks. “Oh-oh, we’ve got a problem. Sarah knows the books.”
“Oh, and you’ve been yelling that I should.”
“You’d be a hell of a lot more help now if you did…I’m sorry, Karen.” I shrugged.
“It’s okay, don’t worry about it.”

“What I mean is the more she knows, the better she can look out for herself. Hobbits can sound like birds. They-they can move very quietly, and are really good at hiding from the ‘Big Folk’.”
“Big Folk?”
“People. Humans.”
“Well, we don’t want her hiding from us!”
“Duh!”
“That wasn’t necessary!” Jean froze again.

“Wait. Go back inside and get a blanket. I’ve got an idea.” I ran upstairs, remembering the one laying on the chair in Sarah’s room. When I got back to the kitchen, Jean was in the fridge and pulling out a container marked ‘turkey tetrazzini.’

“What are you doing? We don’t have time for this.”
“It’s bait.” She put it in the microwave to nuke. “It’s won’t be long before elevenses, and she’ll be hungry again. She’ll smell it, spot it – and we net her with that.”
“What about a drink?”
“Like what?”
“Like beer. We can use it in place of ale.”
“No, I don’t think so. Besides it’s white wine with poultry.”
“Aw gee, sorry, ma’am but I’m new here and don’t rate a key to the wine cellar! Com’on! We just open one and set it with the food. We’ll catch her before she gets a chance to drink any.”

We set the pasta, along with the brewski, on the bench attached to the porch. At the last minute, we decided not to open it, so Sarah would have to herself. In her Hobbit mode, she might not make anything of it. The confusion could buy us more time to catch her. I opened the blanket. Until I needed it, I could wrap the thing around me. Both of us hid inside the tall storage cupboard just to the right of the bench. It held logs for the seldom-used fireplace and made for very uncomfortable seating.

Jean cracked the door open a sliver to keep watch. And, in spite of my tortured rear, I was so tired from last night, that I just nodded off...
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Re: The Fellowship of Sarah

Postby shireling » Fri Oct 05, 2012 10:55 am

SEVEN

~December 21st, 2001~

“Oh, that was good!”

We were leaving The Regal – Sarah, Jean and me. All around us people were chatting about the film. We walked down the street, a dry snow swirling around us as we headed to our favorite little café for coffee. It was getting dark early now. The street lights suddenly switched on, keeping their date with the Christmas bulbs. There was defiance about the holiday this year, as though the nation was determined to recapture what life was before that eleventh day in September.

“I never thought I would ever see my favorite book done right, and I think I just did! No, I know I just did! This is so fantastic! It wasn’t exactly like the book, and they dropped some things, changed some stuff. Like Arwen didn’t bring Frodo to Rivendell…”
“She didn’t? Then who did?” Sarah gave me a smack across the top of the head.
“I’m not telling you.”
“Why not?” Then Jean smacks me.

“Ow! Hey, take off your rings next time!”
“Read. The. Book! Sheesh! How many times have I said that? I lent you ‘The Hobbit’ months ago and you never gave it back!”
“I keep meaning to…”
“Did you ever read it?”
“No.” Sarah went to smack me again but I ducked. Her face was blushed with cold, and her eyes were as bright as Frodo’s.

Jean was hugging herself, and almost dancing down the street. Jean is normally so – well, Jean. I mean, I’ve never seen her so excited, never in all the years I’ve known her. I couldn’t help but laugh.

“What’s so funny?”
“You! You’re the most Vulcanish person I know, and look at you! Aw, don’t get upset, please. It’s just – it makes me happy to see you so – enthused. I wasn’t laughing at you, Jean.”
“Really?”
“Yeah, really!” Sarah got introspective – hey, look it up! I had to!

“Just think how beautiful the Shire is, and how happy all the Hobbits are. God, I’d love to be one. They really know how to live.” Sarah could be such a romantic, but about Hobbits?

“I’d have thought you’d rather be an Elf. You know – tall, immortal, hot.”
“Naw, they’re stuck on themselves. Or maybe after 3,000 years they’re just tired of singing ‘I Feel Pretty’.” That annoyed Jean.
“They’re the firstborn! They created all the beauty in the world!”
“Oh yeah? But what have they done lately? They ducked the issue of the Ring from the beginning…”

We reached The Beanery and in a few minutes were cuddled up to our lattes.

For the next half hour, I became a spectator in their game of ‘Tolkien Tennis’. Sarah always had these insights and Jean, all this knowledge. Between the two of them, they’d make one hell of a MiddleEarth scholar. I tried to get back in on the conversation.

“A few of those Hobbits are plenty hot.” That slowed them down. “Like that Frodo – God, those eyes!”
“Tolkien said his eyes were brown.”
“I’m sure you’re the only one who knows that, Jean.” Now the subject was Frodo and the mystery of sacrifice, the fulfillment of prophecy, yada, yada, yada. Jeeze, this is boring. Then Sarah saved me.

“What’s the name of the one that plays Frodo?” I knew this one.
“Elijah Wood.”
“Really? Great name, it sounds like a place. Elijah Wood. Where’s he been? I don’t think I’ve ever seen him before.”
“Oh he’s been out there. Remember ‘Deep Impact’? He was Leo. And Casey in ‘The Faculty’…” She shook her head.

“I don’t remember him. I like Pippin, though – he’s got such beautiful hair.”
“That’s a wig,” said Jean. “They’ve all got wigs.”
“All of ‘em? Even Frodo?”
“Yep. Sorry to disappoint you, but the eyes are his.” My latte almost came out of my nose.

“Well, I kinda figured.
“Hey, what time is it?”
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Re: The Fellowship of Sarah

Postby shireling » Fri Oct 05, 2012 6:08 pm

EIGHT

~the present~

“Psst…you fell asleep.”
“Thanks. It wasn’t because I needed it.” Jean was busily nibbling on a finger.
“Hey, look what you’re doing?”
“Aw!” I was disappointed for us both.
“I guess that means my wish didn’t come true either...”
“Shhh…”

Sure enough, there was Sarah, nearly blue with cold, sneaking up on the tetrazzini as though it were a brace of stewed coneys. Slowly I gathered up the blanket so that there was a wide spacing between my arms. She noticed the beer can and eyed it like a curiosity in a bazaar. Very carefully, I crept behind her and…

“Gotcha!”

The throw dropped neatly over her head and I pulled it down, wrapping it securely around her as I lifted her from the floor. She was fighting me for all she was worth, kicking out with her strong feet and landing a couple of good ones on my knees. As quickly as I could, I brought her inside. Jean followed, locking the door.

Sarah continued to struggle, but didn’t make a sound. I shushed her, softly speaking her name, but she kept fighting like a wild thing. I didn’t dare try to uncover her. I looked helplessly at Jean. She motioned to the preacher bench next to the back door, opening the seat and taking out all the stuff. She put down the few pillows that were already stored inside, on the floor of it and stood by while I lowered in the agitated Halfling. Quickly, we slammed the lid and sat on it, the Hobbit feet striking underneath us with such force that we were literally a few centimeters airborne. After untold minutes of this, it stopped.

“This wish is not shaping up well.”
“You think?” We sat still. We couldn’t hear a thing from under the seat.
“Maybe she’s worn herself out. Shouldn’t we take a look?”
“Okay, but just a quick one.” We got off the seat and positioned ourselves over it before slowly lifting the lid…

Sarah was curled up, and sound asleep. Her hair was stuck in damp ringlets to her forehead, her cheeks rounded like little red apples. Except for those ears and feet, she looked like a baby taking a nap. Softly, we closed the lid and sat back down on it. I couldn’t help smiling in spite of myself, but this latest incident had taken its toll. The responsibility of taking care of her was overwhelming me.

“We can’t do this, Jeannie.”
“What? Yes, we can – we have to.” I shook my head.
“This isn’t some fantasy film. We need help. We’re both exhausted, and she’s getting worse. We can’t fix this on our own.” I thought about the ten – fifteen minutes she’d been out of our sight. “What if she’s already been seen? We take too much of a chance moving her, and with four people living in my house – and your family – it’s just too risky.”

I know she realized it, too, probably long before I did. But if I didn’t say anything, I don’t think she ever would.

“Do you remember ever saying I was ‘vulcanish’?”
“As in control of your emotions, not one to e-mote much?”
“Well, you’re the Vulcan. You’re making sense, Spock. What do we do?”
“We stay here, surrounded by all that’s familiar to her. And we tell her mom.”
“Are you out of your mind?” I smiled wryly.
“Yes. But before today, it was only a theory.”

Opening the bench, I picked up the Hobbit and Jean went ahead to Sarah’s room, turning down her bed and tucking her in. She gently stroked the fine bright hair away from the little face, tracing with her finger tip the pointed edge of one ear, and sighed.

“She really is adorable…”

I looked at the hands and feet. They were more sculpted now, and the fingers were long and tapered. The feet were high arched and the legs long-muscled, like a jackrabbit. The soles were leathery. I ran a hand over the one closest to me. It felt hard and calloused, almost like a cow’s horn. But the dense curly wool growing on the top of each foot felt silky, like the hair on her head. I know Hobbits are not thought to be attractive – unless it was to another Hobbit – but I have to say she was the most uniquely beautiful creature I think I’d ever seen. Jean looked dead on her feet. I felt like she looked.

“I think we should lie down with her. We’re both falling asleep, and if we have her between us, she won’t be able to get up without at least one of us knowing.” Jean touched Sarah’s eyelids. She didn’t move at all.
“God, she’s deep. I hope she stays this way for at least a couple of hours.” Just to be on the safe side, I pushed Sarah’s big upholstered chair against the bedroom door. It wouldn’t keep anybody from coming in, but it should keep her from getting out.

I don’t remember my head hitting the pillow…
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Re: The Fellowship of Sarah

Postby shireling » Fri Oct 05, 2012 6:09 pm

NINE

~Summer 2002~

This is the first summer break that we haven’t spent everyday together. All of us had jobs.

I was doing a kind of informal internship with my aunt. Rose is my dad’s step sister and she’s been a nurse midwife for about ten years. She asked me if I wanted to go with her on her rounds, and I jumped at the chance. Almost all of her clients said they didn’t mind my assisting her, so I was getting the education of my life. If it worked out, I could do the next summer too.

Jean and Sarah were working at Video Palace around the corner. When we could get together we watched movies they brought home. Yes, we saw every one of Elijah’s they could get their hands on. For Sarah his body of work was a revelation. She especially, loved ‘Paradise’, about a little boy who gets sent off to stay with his mother’s friends. We still met at ‘Beans’, our pet name for The Beanery, but for iced fudge ripples this time of year.

“I wish I was Melanie Griffith just so I could cuddle him. She gets to do it twice. Once when he falls asleep in her lap and then when she wraps him in that quilt on her bed. I’ve just about worn out those parts of the tape.”
“I wish I could get my hands on ‘Ash Wednesday’.” That was the one I really wanted to see.
“How’s it going at The Palace?” They both shrugged. Jean made a face.

“It’s a living. What about you? Tired of getting up in the middle of the night yet?”
“Nope, I love it. I’ve seen five births and each one was just amazing. This last one was a longtime client and her third baby, third boy. Beautiful with a lot of dark hair, came out with his eyes wide open. Her husband and she couldn’t come up with a name, so I made a suggestion…” Sarah laughed.
“You didn’t?!”
“Yes, I did,” I said, cringing a little at my nerve, “and they liked the names but in reverse, so he’s Jordan Elijah Seagraves.”

“And, since we’re on the subject,” said Sarah, “how many more days until ‘The Two Towers’ opens?” I was the self-appointed official counter.
“One hundred forty-seven, if we count today.”
“Don’t count today!” said Jean. “It makes the wait even longer. I just thought of something. We’re both off tonight. Why don’t we all get together and see ‘Fellowship’ later?”

The extended DVD was still a few months away, so this was the theatrical version. I hadn’t seen it for about six weeks and was going through withdrawal. So was Sarah, as it turned out.

“I feel like I need it.” Sarah shook her head.
“Not like I do, Karen. I really miss it. And I still want to be a Hobbit.”

I wanted to be one too, but only if the film was real. Okay, so I’m shallow. But this had been an ongoing thing with Sarah, long before the movie. And since ‘Fellowship’ came out, she was getting more intense about it all the time. We love her, so we don’t give her grief – most of the time anyway.

“I can’t explain it. I just feel that I belong in Middle Earth. I have these dreams, and everything is so real in them and…then I wake up to this.” She gave the air a backward cast of her hand.

“I’d give anything to be there. Anything...”
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Re: The Fellowship of Sarah

Postby shireling » Fri Oct 05, 2012 6:15 pm

TEN

~the present~

I opened my eyes in the same position I must have shut them. There wasn’t a lot of room to turn in the twin & half-sized bed. My watch said 2:20. Sarah slept facing me, her feet in my stomach. Better than in the back, I guess. It reminded me of the time I had to share a bed with two younger cousins and woke up black & blue. Jean was dreaming, her eyes darting beneath their lids. I hoped they were pleasant dreams. I got up and went into Sarah’s bathroom to freshen up.

I got the water as cold as I could and submerged my face in the basin. I had come to accept the fact that MiddleEarth was – is – a real place. When confronted with everything I’d experienced this day, I just had to. Not my own time, space or dimension but just as real. Through some strange chance, Sarah’s wish had accessed, or made a tear between worlds. I’d been hoping, praying, longing for this kind of thing. Now that it’d happened, all I could see was a nightmare. Like Jurassic Park is wonderful, until the inmates start chasing you.

Reaching for a towel, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror above the sink. I splashed my face again and again until all signs of sleep were gone. The phone was ringing. I got to the kitchen and stood by the answering machine, waiting to see who it was.

“Hi. This is the machine. We’re not here right now so leave a message and we’ll call you back. Thank you!”

“Sarah? Pick up, honey…Ah, I’m going to work a double, so you’re on your own for supper tonight. There’s a container of that tettrazini you like in the fridge, if you want to heat that up for yourself…See you when I get home…bye.”


This was great news. We had at least another ten hours before we’d have to deal with Mrs. Perry. Tettrazini. I looked out on the porch. It was still sitting there, with the can of beer. It’d been out here for hours, so I just dumped it in the trash. The beer I brought back inside and put with its brothers on the fridge door. Then I went back to the bedroom.

When I got there, something about Sarah grabbed my attention. Looking at her, I couldn’t get away from the nagging suspicion that something was wrong – I mean besides the obvious. I could tell she was different from when we first put her down. The features of her face seemed more defined, as if they were finally in focus. The nose had a perky ‘ski-jump’ turn to it that I didn’t remember seeing before. Did her chin always have that dimple? I shuddered. No, it didn’t.

And her silhouette under the covers was higher. Gently, I pulled them back. Her stomach was definitely bigger, much more than the result of second breakfast. And as I looked, I saw something that made me think my eyes were tricking me.

I saw it move, once – then again, like a hiccup. It did it again. I forgot myself and gently placed my hand on the spot. And a tiny foot kicked my palm…
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Re: The Fellowship of Sarah

Postby shireling » Fri Oct 05, 2012 6:25 pm

ELEVEN

~December 19th, 2002~

“That was awesome!”
“Ditto!”
“…ditto.”

‘The Two Towers’ had just let out and we were leaving The Regal, just as we had the year before. I was less than enthusiastic about ‘Towers’. Too many battles and too much angst. It would grow on me over the coming year, and I would see it more than thirteen times before it went to video, but that night I just wanted to kick Isildur’s sorry tail from Gondor to Alabama. It was all his fault and I hated what the Ring was doing to my Frodo. My Frodo. Never saw that coming.

This year we had a heavy snow after Thanksgiving and there were huge piles built by the plows in the middle of some parking lots. The crowd was even bigger this time, and we had a much slower walk. Sarah and Jean wasted no time discussing what they’d just seen. I might as well have been by myself.

“The Elves never came to Helm’s Deep, but you know, I liked it better this way. I don’t like battle scenes, but this was incredible. I heard they filmed it over 3 months!”
“Seriously? God. And it does work, bringing in the Elves. Wasn’t Gollum fantastic? The Ents, the Ents were great – I really wanted to see how they would do them.”
“Merry and Pippin getting them to fight, that was really good. The only thing I don’t like is what Faramir did. Was that Frodo or Sam who yelled ‘no’ when he said to tie them up?”
“Neither one. It was the guy sitting in front of me.”
“Sheesh! I could have kicked the other one who yelled.” I guessed.

“Not the one who called him a ‘big creep’?” I couldn’t see a problem. “What was wrong with that? It was a dark moment that could use lightening up.” Just so you know the scene, Frodo had just begged Faramir to let him go, and this guy blurts out, ‘Yeah let him go, you big creep’.

“I thought it was funny.”
“Then you’re the only one that did.” I don’t need this. I have no lack of enemies; I can take abuse anytime I want.

“I feel so loved – not…”

There's the cackle of insane laughter and I’m down in the snow, being creamed by snowballs.
“Oh, you are so going to…” I caught a snow ball in the mouth. “That had better not have been yellow!”
Jean was enjoying herself – too much, and at my expense.
“Sorry, that’s the only kind we got! Now, what was funny?”

“The guy who said ‘creep’.” They both start tickling me.
“Who?” I can’t stand it, I can’t breathe.
“All right, nobody! Nobody, okay? Stop it!”
“Yeah?” I get up.
“Yeah. Now, if you two are through tormenting me, are we going to ‘Beans’ or not?”

Sarah was nicely knocking the snow off me.
“We are. You’re buying.”
“Huh?”
“You still haven’t read the books, have you?”
“No…”

And back down I go, in the snow…
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Re: The Fellowship of Sarah

Postby shireling » Fri Oct 05, 2012 6:54 pm

TWELVE

~the present~

“EEEEEEEEKKKKKKKKKKKKK!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

I nearly jumped out of my skin. A blur ran by me and flew into the bathroom, slamming the door. Jean woke up with a cry.
“What was that?” The space beside her was empty. “Where is she?”
I pointed to the bathroom before dropping drown on the bed. Jean stood outside the door.

“Sarah?”
“Stay away! Leave me alone!” The voice had changed. It was still high, but there was a lilt to it. It reminded me of an English accent, but not quite. You just had to hear it for yourself. “Stay away!”

I crouched down and motioned to Jean to join me so that we’d be less threatening. I signed to Jean to talk to her since she spoke ‘Hobbit.’
“Let us help you.” Good beginning…
“I don’t want your help! I want to go home! Just let me go home!”
“Please, come out. We won’t hurt you.”
“Or your baby.” It just came out. Jean grabbed my arm and mouthed the word. I nodded. I could see she didn’t believe me, but right then, it didn’t matter. I urged her on.

“Keep going.”
“I know you’re hungry. And if you are, the little one’s sure to be...did you hear? Sarah?”
“Stop calling me that! That is not my name! And when my husband hears of this, you will be very sorry, I promise you! My condition is sacred, and Drogo is not one to be trifled with!”

Drogo? I whispered to Jean.
“Who’s Drogo?” She put a finger to her lips, but I saw how shook up she looked. Her voice sounded strained.

“What is your name, then, mistress?”
“Primula Baggins!” Jean seemed to have gone into a trance. I tugged on her sleeve.
“You know who this is? Who is she?” She motioned me away from the door to the hall.

“Keep it down. What’s this about a baby?”
“She’s pregnant, and I’d say pretty far along from the looks of things.” Jean went pale and wide-eyed. She stared at me.

“You’re sure?”
“Yeah, I’m sure. You remember my Aunt Rose? I’ve followed her on cases for the past two summers.” Jean was beside herself.
“But, Sarah…”
“She’s not Sarah, Jeannie. I don’t think she’s here anymore. This is somebody we’ve never met.”

“She wasn’t expecting when we first saw her! Nobody ripens like that!”
“Maybe Hobbits do. Didn’t Tolkien go into any detail about Hobbit physiology and gestation?”
“I don’t remember it ever coming up, but they’re supposed to be more like humans than any other race in MiddleEarth. Except people.”
“There’s an explanation for this. I’m not saying I’ll understand when I hear it, but I’m sure there’s one out there.” I knew what I had to do. “Listen, I’ll call my Aunt Rose. If there’s anybody we can count on, it’s her.”

Jean didn’t even seem to be on the same planet, let alone the same room. I ran to make the call.
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Re: The Fellowship of Sarah

Postby shireling » Sat Oct 06, 2012 12:05 pm

THIRTEEN

I don’t remember just exactly what I told her. It all tumbled out in a rush, but she knew me well enough to just hang up and come as fast she could.

Rose was tall, slender and had a complexion like cream. She wore her blue-black hair in two thick braids, had an interesting tattoo on her forehead (and some other places, from what I heard), and never wore makeup. There was one piece of jewelry I never saw her without and that was a plain sterling silver ring she wore on the middle finger of her right hand. The only time she removed it was for childbirth, and then it would go on a leather thong around her neck. I’d never seen her in anything but jeans my whole life.

She was the bravest, strongest, most capable person I knew. Once in San Antonio, I heard an uncle say she was like Texas toilet paper – meaning she ‘wouldn’t take crap off'n nobody.’

Rose was a kind of wise woman who, in ages past, was burned. She was the daughter of my grandfather’s second wife, so no blood relation to me. My dad thought she was weird and never talked about her; he was the only one who got upset about my apprenticeship. My fervent prayer, all my life was that if I was very, very good, God would let me grow up to be like her – without the tattoos. Well, maybe just the one on her forehead. I ran out the door to her arms.

“I am SO GLAD you’re here.”

She hugged me tightly, pressing my head to her shoulder. She let go first, but I couldn’t. I just held on for dear life. She wrapped her arms around me again.
“You’re shaking like a leaf! It's okay…now, take me to your friend.”

I wanted to run to Sarah’s room, but she held my arm. She wanted to talk so we took our time. As we walked up the steps, Rose asked me some questions about Sarah’s condition, most of which I hadn’t shared with Jean.

“Well, I could have missed something.” Rose suppressed a little smile at that. I saw it and blushed. “I really don’t know and sometimes I forget that.” She put an arm around my shoulders.
“You have a gift for the art, honey. You don’t think she’d let me examine her?”
“Not unless you can win her over. She’s scared to death of us. Rose…doesn’t it worry you at all that she’s a Hobbit?” She shrugged and looked away.
“Well, I did think I heard you wrong. But it doesn't ever do to dismiss things because they sound impossible.”

I took her to Sarah’s room. Jean was still sitting on the floor and I quietly introduced them.
We spoke in whispers.

“Is she in there?” asked Rose.
“Yes, but I haven’t heard a peep since she told us her name.”
“What is it?” Jean’s voice took on an almost reverent tone.
“Primula Baggins.” Rose’s eyes looked like two sunrises.
“You’re sure that’s what she said?” Jean nodded.

Oh, no! No, not her too! This was too much!

“Who-in-the-hell-is-Primula-Baggins?!”
“If I tell you, you’ll just have more questions I can’t answer right now.”
“Right now?!”
“Karen, go down to my car and get my bag. There’s a wooden box and satin bag next to it I want you to bring up too.”
I was dying to ask what they were for, but by now I knew better.

I found her midwifery kit on the floor of the back seat, its worn leather handles cool to the touch. The loaf sized box of carved cherry wood with its silver latch and hinges sat beside a pouch of dark green satin. I tucked the box under my arm, lifted the pouch by its black tassels and brought them to her with the kit.

“Okay…now I want you two to leave me alone with her. Go home, and stay there. If anything changes I’ll call you. You have my cell number?” Dumbly, I nodded. “It’s five o’clock now. When’s Sarah’s mother coming home?”
“Probably around midnight. Are you sure you want us to go?”
“Yes. Take a shower, eat something – just make sure I can get a hold of you if I need to.”

I felt like the weight of the world was off my shoulders as we left the house. Jean turned to me.
“I’ll come back to your place after I take care of some stuff at home. Are you all right?”
I ignored the question. “Who IS she?”

Jeannie started to say, but stopped herself.

“I’ll tell you later...”
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Re: The Fellowship of Sarah

Postby shireling » Sat Oct 06, 2012 12:16 pm

FOURTEEN

My mother had several choice things to say about not telling her where I was. I apologized profusely, swore I’d do it next time and helped get dinner on the table. I even volunteered to clean up, knowing nobody would challenge me for it, and it would go a long way toward getting back into Mater’s good graces.

By the time I’d showered and changed, Jean was back. She came up to my room, her hennaed hair still damp under a knitted hat.
“I couldn't take the time to dry it! I don't want to miss anything!”

I hadn’t seen her this excited since ‘Fellowship’. I don’t mean to give anybody the impression that she’s a stone; it’s just that compared to Sarah and me, Jean is – well – rather flat.
“Help yourself to the blow-dryer.”

I sat on the window seat, looking out across the lawns to Sarah’s house. As I watched, the lamp nearest to the window came on and I caught a glimpse of Rose as she closed the drapes. She was always in command of what went on around her. She could calm the most frightened woman with just a touch – I’d seen her do it. New fathers found courage in her voice. She seemed – no she was – so unfazed by it all. It isn’t every day that she’d been asked to attend to a client like this. I started thinking of things, remembering stuff from when I was little that I hadn’t thought of in years. Jean joined me on the seat, her shoulder-length hair resting lightly on her blouse.

“Hear anything?” I shook my head. She looked around my room. My collection of dolls and LOTR action figures spilled over from shelves and dresser to cover the walls. I’d just hammer in a nail and hang the figure from it, still in the box. Most I’d never taken out and probably never would, but there were a few exceptions.

“I see you have a new Frodo.” Jean took down the box.
“Yeah, can never have too many Frodos. You can take him out if you want to. He’s not tied to the cardboard.”
“But that ruins him as a collectable!”
I took the box from her and opened it, pulling the soft-bodied doll out by the head.

“That’s my heirs’ problem. He’s not going anywhere in my lifetime.” I handed him to Jean. She ran her fingers over the molded hair, the detailed hands and feet, the brown vest and trousers, the flock coat. The little face had a grim, determined expression above the Elvish cloak.

“He doesn’t look like Elijah to me.”
“I don’t think so either, but the clothes are soft and he’s nice to hold.” I flipped the box around in my hands...

“Who is she, Jeannie?”

Jean sighed, and hugged the Frodo against her neck, looking tearfully at Sarah’s window. I took back the doll as the water ran down her cheeks. I slid him back into the box and hung it up on its nail, as she swept away the wet with her hand, looking directly at me as she spoke.

“Primula Brandybuck was married to Drogo Baggins. On September 22cd, 1368 she gave birth to a son. When the boy was twelve, both she and his father drowned in the Brandywine River, and he went to live with his mother's family in Buckland. When he was twenty-one, one of his older cousins adopted him and brought him out to live in Hobbiton.” Here Jean took a deep breath, and when she let it out, she said, “When he was thirty-three, his 'uncle' disappeared, and left him all his possessions – including one very beautiful, but very odd ring. And when he was fifty, he left home with it, taking along his gardener, two cousins and a handful of strangers...”

My phone rang, startling us both. I picked up.

“Hello?”
“It’s all right, now. Come back over.” I hung up.

“She wants us, now.”
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