Suddenly, Homer started to bark and Mara jumped up, disoriented and stunned. She could hear someone trampling through the dried leaves.
“Rats!” she heard a familiar voice call out, “I thought I could sneak up on you and scare you, but I forgot about that fierce guard dog of yours.” Jason came around the corner, walked over to Homer and scratched him under the chin affectionately. Jason was tall and gangly, like a big puppy himself, not too sure of his size. Mara, still dazed, looked up to see a girl following Jason through the trees. She was pretty with a woollen hat over her dark, frizzy hair, dressed in a long warm coat and an outrageous purple scarf that Mara recognized.
“Hi there,” she said, “I hope we didn't disturb you. You looked lost in your own little world, sitting there. Were you doing the energy thing we learned in class today?” Mara now recognized the girl, Rose. Not feeling quite able to speak yet, Mara simply smiled weakly as Rose came over to pet Homer too.
“You remember Rose from school, Mara, she just transferred in last week,” Jason explained. “She's my cousin, and she's just moved here from the country. My mom wants me to show her around.”
“Hi,” Mara managed to say. “I didn't know you were cousins. This is my dog, Homer.”
“Ohhh, I just love animals,” Rose bent down and giggled as Homer gave her a big, sloppy kiss. Mara tried to stop him, but Rose protested, “I don't mind, he's a sweetheart. Homer, as in Simpson?”
“No,” said Mara hesitantly, “as in the poet. I love mythology.” She didn't know why she said that, no one ever understood. Maybe the ground would swallow her up if she looked at it intently enough.
“Really? Me too!” Rose crooned at Homer. “He's such a gentle dog. I like a good legend myself. Nothing like the Trojan War to keep me up all night.”
“You read Homer?” Mara could not believe it. She didn't know anyone who read mythology for fun or who kept themselves up at night reading.
“Yup,” Rose replied. “Those ancient Greeks sure knew how to tell a tale. What do you like better, the Iliad or the Odyssey?”
Mara opened her mouth to answer when Jason rolled his eyes and interrupted, “Ugh!! I can't stand it! I knew you two would get along, you both like all that same weird stuff. Can't we talk about something else? I get enough of this at school.”
“All right,” both Mara and Rose laughed. Mara was intrigued, though, by this girl who seemed to have the same interests as her.
“Speaking of school, what were you doing out here, Mara, it was that energy experiment from Science class today, wasn't it?” Rose asked.
Jason looked up from petting Homer, “Yeah, is that what you were doing? Neat experiment, eh? At first I thought that McNulty was off her rocker when she explained what we were going to do, but then I really did feel something. I'm still not sure I understand what it was, though. How about you two?”
Mara looked at both Jason and Rose, feeling apprehensive. She was not sure what exactly to tell them about what she had been doing. She was not even sure herself about what she had seen. Rose interrupted her thoughts, almost as if she could sense Mara's unease, “I felt something today in class too.”
Mara nodded. “I was just sitting here, watching the water and thought I would see if I could do it again. It's an interesting feeling.”
“And did you?” Jason asked. “Did you manage to create that energy again?”
“Yes,” was all that Mara replied. She could not tell them about the tingling, the colours, the trance like feeling, or about the butterfly or faerie or whatever it was. After all, it was probably just her imagination playing tricks on her. She would have to think about it later, not now. She did not want Rose and Jason thinking she was some kind of weirdo, especially not now that she had met someone who she had so many things in common with. Besides, neither Rose nor Jason had mentioned anything other than the energy field, the rest must be all in her head.
“I really liked the feeling,” Jason confided, almost whispering. “I know the other kids were making fun of it, but I really felt something today. I would like to understand it more. I hope McNulty explains it tomorrow.”
Mara laughed, partly to break the tension she felt and partly because of Jason. “What, you are actually looking forward to school tomorrow? That's a first!”
Jason smiled, “I know, hard to believe, right?” He looked out at the river. “But there is something to that energy.” Homer whimpered and Jason resumed petting him, then turned to Rose. “We had better be going,” he said. “I told my mom we would be home on time for dinner. She hates it when I'm late.”
Rose nodded, “All right, but maybe we can all meet up for lunch tomorrow at school? Science is right before lunch, isn't it? We can talk about this more then.” Mara sensed that Rose knew she was bursting to say more but was holding back.
“Okay, see you then,” Mara said. She put the leash back on Homer for the walk home, all the while thinking to herself that it could not possibly be dinner time already. How long had she sat there? She could have sworn it had only been a few minutes, but it must have been at least an hour.
“See you then,” Rose echoed.