Dandelion Fire, by N.D. Wilson

The sun was edging below the western clouds, and it’s light chased the wind across the fields. Every green and gold intensified whiled the clouds grew darker, saddled on the glow. A long, low rumble vibrated in the air….
-N. D. Wilson, Dandelion Fire

Blake the cat had joined them, and he lay on his side in the bending grass, batting at a dandelion as golden as the sun. More golden. It had a yellow fire all its own, and the sun was adding to it, frosting it, wrapping its light around the weed’s petaled head. Blake batted again, and Henry slid off is seat and knelt in the grass.
The dandelion was glowing. It couldn’t just be the sun. Henry blinked, and the glow was gone. He was staring at a bright little lawn pest and nothing else. He let his eyes unfocus, something in his mind realized, and time rushed through, leaving him untouched. He wasn’t starting at the dandelion, he was staring through it, at something else, behind it, in front of it, filling the same space.
Henry’s head throbbed, and he almost blinked again. The rest of the world drifted away. The wind was gone, and his bones ignored the thunder’s drums. There was a word singeing the tip of his tongue, a thought nearly captured by his mind.
And then he saw it.
At first it looked like fire, like the flower was burning. But nothing wilted away, nothing blackened and turned to ash. It lived in the fire. Or, the fire was its life. But as Henry stared, ignoring tears that streamed out of his unblinking eyes and a pain carving his initials inside his skull, he saw it differently. He was looking at a thing, a shape, a symbol, a writhing, changing word, a scattered, bursting story. And then, for a moment, it all came together, and he was hearing it. He was seeing a dandelion. Hearing a dandelion. Hearing the orange and the yellow, seeing the sour milk crawling in its veins, tasting its breath….
-N. D. Wilson, Dandelion Fire

The dream started in Henry’s toes. They were bare, and they were wet. Henry curled them, felt them dig through something cool and spongy, felt water seep up between them.
Wind stroked his face, strong but not violent. Constant. He pulled in a deep breath, a lungful, a headful of his imagining. It was sweet, with salt around its rim.
The soft applause of a thousand rustling trees surrounded him….
-N. D. Wilson, Dandelion Fire

The thick-bellied trees towered above him, groping into the sky with their distant leaves. On one side of him, they climbed even higher where the ground rose steeply. Above him, the canopy was not as dense, and as he turned his head to the other side, he saw only blue scattered with fast-roving clouds. He was at the base of the hill, on the edge o the island, where the trees met the sea.
-N. D. Wilson, Dandelion Fire

When dawn came, Henry was standing on the roof of his mother’s house. She had stood with him for a while, under a cloak, in the rain and the now-slow sea breeze. Together, they had watched the clouds begin to break and part in front of the laughing stars….
-N. D. Wilson, Dandelion Fire

In the city square….Men and women sang, swaying and swinging lanterns with colored panes—red, green, orange, yellow, blue—while young girls danced and spun in the stained-glass light.
-N. D. Wilson, Dandelion Fire

She looked like her daughters. She looked like something made from trees and starlight. The breeze combed her dark hair. Her eyes caught the moon’s light and threw it back into the world.
-N. D. Wilson, Dandelion Fire

The wagon stopped. Fat Frank jumped.
Wood splintered, and the wagon rocked. The soldiers at the tail slipped off…
-N. D. Wilson, Dandelion Fire

…Watched a single, slowly twisting flower say its name, and that name was a poem, and that poem was the history of the world—or all the worlds.
-N. D. Wilson, Dandelion Fire

“Call a pickle a peach, it’ll still make you pucker,” Frank said.
-N. D. Wilson, Dandelion Fire

“He stands for all laughter, aged honey, naps in the sun, and high-sky winds. He stands for troubling the troublers and freeing the foxes and liberating treasures and eating grapes. He stands for doing as he pleases and keeping to hisself. And chestnuts. He stands for chestnuts.
-N. D. Wilson, Dandelion Fire

The two girls climbed with moonlight on their backs.
-N. D. Wilson, Dandelion Fire

He swung his legs around and braced his knees against the wall. There was life here in the attic, strength in the wood, in the cold air above the roof and the endless grassy plains.
-N. D. Wilson, Dandelion Fire

“How did you reach me?” Monmouth asked.
“With an impressive acrobatic feat,” Frank said. “A meeting of grace and power. Like figure skating.”
-N. D. Wilson, Dandelion Fire

“Pride is a brittle bone,” the captain said. “Easily broken.”
“Envy is a worm,” James said. “Consuming souls.”
-N. D. Wilson, Dandelion Fire

…His own voice, and his own memories…came rushing back. An old man, a smiling woman, girls laughing, treetops rustling in the sun outside a high bedroom window.
-N. D. Wilson, Dandelion Fire

He wasn’t far from the little faerie hall, he knew that, but spotting it was never easy. It wasn’t supposed to be, not even for a green man.
-N. D. Wilson, Dandelion Fire

Hyacinth looked at him. “Your tale has not reached its end.” She smiled. “Nor has ours.”
-N. D. Wilson, Dandelion Fire

And then his vision shifted. He could see the wind. Like a great snake, like a river dividing and uniting, climbing the mountains and resting in the valleys, the breeze surrounded everything beneath the sun. The trees, an army of life, shouting their glory and their strength, grabbed at the wind, the sun, the air with uncountable twisting, growing, laughing fingers. And rocks stood in it all, anchors of history, their stories towering and slow, patient and unforgetting.
-N. D. Wilson, Dandelion Fire

“Go, Beo.” Henry turned and looked up the rocky slope, through the roaring life of trees and the mumbling of stone. He wished that he could learn every detail, smell every leaf, slap every boulder, that he could catch more of the thundering waterfall in the small bucket that was his body.
-N. D. Wilson, Dandelion Fire

She stood and pulled Henry to his feet. The field was all dandelions, but Henry didn’t care. Again Grandmother took Henry’s face in her hands and smiled into his eyes. She wiped his tears with her thumbs, and then she leaned forward and kissed him on the head….
Straightening, she lifted his right hand. “Sweet boy,” she said, and then laughed with beautiful, wet eyes. “You are a prince among weeds.” She kissed the back of his hand and then his palm where the dandelion bloomed. “It is your birthday, and here is your blessing. For you may the weak have love and the strong have fear. For you may the darkness break. May your life be a truth, and your death a glory. It is your birthday, and here is your gift.” She lifted his necklace from his shirt and gripped the worn silver pendant. “What strength I have left in this world is yours. What love I have left in this world id yours. What courage, was sight, what joy, what hope, all that remains of me and in me, all that remains of your grandfather now becomes yours. You are heir to it all. May it strengthen your arm and brighten your fire.”
Henry felt the heat rush into him, the heat of a lifetime of summers, the laughter of a lifetime of feasts, the love of wind and grandchildren. He felt old, like ripened grain, like the burned field, and young as the morning.
-N. D. Wilson, Dandelion Fire

Henry and Henrietta spent days on their aunt Tilly’s roof, leaning against the wall beside Zeke. And when Henry was with his brothers, or walking the hills with his father, Henrietta went alone, and she and Zeke said nothing, but kept their eyes out past the jetty, where white lines rolled toward the shore, and the sea beat out its pulse against the cliffs.
-N. D. Wilson, Dandelion Fire

He felt full, crowded with blood and heat. And he felt calm. There was new strength inside him, and he was wealthy with a love for the world, for the smell of the breeze and the texture of the stone, for the height of the hill and the deep moss green of the fields that spread beneath him, for the gently journeying clouds wandering far from their mother the sea. He had smelled his aunt Dotty baking bread and heard his mother singing in her garden, he had stood beside his father and his uncles, he had seen his sisters smile and heard his cousins laugh, he had felt a ball hit the sweet, sweet spot on a wooden bat, and he had held a breathing frog in his hands. He had seen the raggant fly. These things and a thousand others made him rich. A quiet song was pulsing through him, a dandelion telling its story of ash made green and green made gold. A story of death and separation, of strength and reunion and death again. The story was his name.
Henry couldn’t move. He couldn’t speak. He could only sit, and with every sense and more straining inside him, could feel.
“You, lad, have a strange look about you,” the faerie said. “The world is in your eyes.”
Henry blinked and inhaled slowly, and filling his lungs was like walking through a quiet, whispering crowd.
-N. D. Wilson, Dandelion Fire

Henry nodded.
“You are a fool,” the king said.
Henry nodded again.
Nudd, lord of the Second World, Chestnut King, snorted into his beard and then sighed. “Little green brother,” he said quietly. “I find that I have love for you.”
-N. D. Wilson, Dandelion Fire

Mordecai knelt on the rooftop with his eyes closed….He could feel his wife and his daughter, the struggling of his son. But his mind stretched elsewhere. He groped in the sea, and with its strength, he pulled down winds from the sky’s roof, where storms are laziness and hurricanes are sleep.
-N. D. Wilson, Dandelion Fire

She was alive. Even in all this darkness, that spark brought him hope. Henrietta looked up, and he smiled at her, the little girl he’d raised in the Kansas wheat.
Penelope cried, but Henrietta smiled back at her father. She’d gone into the fire and come out alive. The blaze was bigger this time, and they were all in it.
-N. D. Wilson, Dandelion Fire

Heat flowed into him. Strength came to him through every sense and climbed up through his feet. His lungs and eyes forgot their burning—no fire fears the smoke—and he looked up past his father’s leaves, up at the towers, up at the sun. He felt like he had at Badon Hill, first seeing the roar of glory and life. Beyond the sun, he felt darkness, and cold, and further light, worlds spinning, constellations laughing, galaxies whipping around their poles. Behind him, in front of him, the seas rocked in their beds. He could feel their vibrations; he could touch their strength. They offered it. He was an island in a storm.
-N. D. Wilson, Dandelion Fire

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