Jed found himself sitting on the park bench in front of the local baseball field. Before he bothered to look at himself, he glanced at the tree behind him and found nothing. He then examined his hands and face, wondering if it had all been a dream.

He heard his name called out in a formal tone. To his right, a tall, older-looking version of himself marched toward him wearing jeans and a U.S. Army T-shirt. Jed would have flung from his seat to greet his father, but instead, he got up slowly and walked up to him with a collected demeanor. When they reached each other, Jed smiled and shook his hand before hugging him.

“How have you been, son?” LTC. Hayes said.

“Well, sir.”

The two were silent for a while.

“What is it, sir?” Jed said.

“You seem different…what have you been up while I was away?”

Jed’s cheeks became red. “Nothing bad, sir.”

“I know.” He clapped his son on the shoulders. “You’ve changed. You have the kind of look my men had after they came back from their first mission. What’s your mother had you doing?”

“Nothing. She’s been fine.”

“I’m not blaming anyone. I feel…I don’t know…you’re not as uncertain like you used to be. You’re…you’re talking to me like a man.”

“Thank you, sir.”

Pulling two gloves and a baseball from his sports bag, LTC. Hayes tossed the ball into the air. “How about we finally have that game of catch I promised you?”

He put his arm around Jed and led him to the empty baseball field. Out the corner of his eye, Jed looked to his left and saw the girl he had previously noticed reading the book. She was facing toward him, but too far away to know if she looked at her book or elsewhere.

He and LTC. Hayes played catch for a while. At one point, Jed threw the ball to his father, who caught it and then took his glove off to study Jed carefully.

“You can tell me anything, son,” he said. “I have no suspicions.”

“I can’t explain it, but I know you’d be proud if you had been there.”

His father nodded his head, slipping his hand back into the glove. “I believe you. When you wanted to join Junior ROTC, I was hesitant. I wanted to know it was something you were fit for. I think I know now. We’ll get that taken care of soon.”

“Thank you, sir!”

Winding his arm back, his father tossed the ball too high over Jed, who scrambled after it as it rolled on the ground and up the small hill to where the girl read. He took a closer notice of her. She seemed about his age with light blonde hair, wearing a light blue skirt and sitting barefoot with her shoes beside her.

He bent down to retrieve the ball and looked up to find her smiling at him.

“What are you reading?” he said.

She giggled. “Judging by the look on your face as you daydreamed over there, I’d say the same story.”

Jed was still. His father patiently waited for him on the baseball field.

“I’m curious to know how the story ends,” Jed said.

She looked up from her book, giving him a cryptic smile. “As good as that daydream went, I think…perhaps even better.”

***

For all installments from The Legend of Forenia: The Twilight Kingdom, click here.

Previous installments:

  1. Prologue
  2. Chapter 1
  3. Chapter 2
  4. Chapter 3
  5. Chapter 4, Part 1
  6. Chapter 4, Part 2
  7. Chapter 5, Part 1
  8. Chapter 5, Part 2
  9. Chapter 6
  10. Chapter 7