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    Carrie Birdsong
    Participant

    Ford’s Place
    By: Amber Rose
    “Come my boy.” The maker says.
    The boy rises from the wooden chair in front of the fireplace and, using his cane, follows the man outside.
    The night envelopes them and there is a slight breeze that blows the hair away from their faces. They quietly walk through a field of tall grass, the bright full moon lighting their way.
    After about an hour they come to a forested line that seems to go on forever on each side.
    “Walk carefully, there is something I want to show you, but I don’t want to disturb them.” The man says to the boy. The boy nods and follows the man through the trees.
    As they walk through the center of the line, the forest begins to change to warmer climate plants. It is so subtle and gradual it feels perfectly natural to both the man and the boy that tropical plants and boreal plants exist together.
    They suddenly pause behind a grouping of ferns. The man crouches before them and with his right hand parts the tops of the ferns from direct line of sight. The boy gasps.
    In a moonlit grove, sitting on a rock shelf overlooking a star-speckled spring, are creatures of exceptional beauty. Some are male and some are female, or that’s the way the boy takes it as some have long, flowing white hair and others have short white hair with bangs that cascade around their handsome faces.
    Above the waist, these creatures appear humanoid and are of varying sizes. There does appear to be a slight green tint to their skins, however, and a sort of rainbow film that the boy can only see in certain turns of the moonlight. Like the slime coat on a fish, is what he thinks.
    This makes sense, as below the waist, the creatures are scaled and have tails that flow into severely angled fins. There are also a series of smaller fins on all sides of their tails. They look natural and at first the boy wonders at the necessity of them. Then, in a flash of both moon and star light reflected off the water, a petite, female creature splashes up through the water, falls gently to the side, and plunges back under.
    The boy has seen dolphins in books and likens this display to the playful sport of those mammals. The same slim, female creature breaks the surface again and the boy sees something writhing in her mouth. It’s a fish and with a vague sense of disgust, he watches as the elegant creature tears pointed teeth through the guts of the squirming meal.
    It seems both awful and beautiful to the boy and a word he can’t quite grasp flitters across the back of his mind. Profane. Such grace and beauty causing such ugliness is profane to him as he sees thick blood coursing from the corners of the lovely creature’s perfect mouth. He starts at the sound of the man’s voice even though it is soft and low.
    “These creatures, too, are killers. They must be to survive. Originally, this place was made for children. A place where their most fantastic dreams came to real life. But the gentle creations before you knew nothing of decorum or our ideas of proper behavior in front of a child. They ate the fish no matter who was watching simply because they were hungry.”
    “It wasn’t the children who were bothered by this display. The children knew the creatures were like animals in that way and accepted it. Their parents, however, were appalled and began to worry that the creatures could not or would not discern between the fish and their children. So, even though the children remained perfectly safe with the creatures, and even though there had been no real cause for it, the parents rejected the creatures for monsters. Do they look like monsters to you?”
    The boy shook his head. The creatures had tiny sharp teeth that were scary, true, but most were smiling and talking. Even the ones that were eating with such abandon were doing it absently and routinely as if this were as acceptable as sitting at a dinner table. The boy supposed it really wasn’t that different from his dinner table. The only real difference was that he and his family ate it cooked instead of raw. They just looked like people with tails.
    “You were told you must kill your dog because it had tasted blood and because it would become a killer of all things. But the dog is only doing as its nature intended. A rabbit is to a dog what those fish are to us and those creatures. Food or sport, nothing more. There are always some creatures that take pleasure in killing, but most do it for the same reason we do. For food. For defense. This disturbs us because we do not have complete control, but those creatures do. Your dog did after years of serving you and so do you.”
    “They should have been destroyed, you see. Because they are considered dangerous by some. But it is their peace and beauty that saved them. Their loyalty to only eat the fish. Your peace and beauty will also save you. So, you must look for the peace, beauty, and loyalty in others before you decide they must be destroyed. Otherwise, you could be the one who someone wants to destroy for no other reason than disgust.”
    The boy nods at this, in agreement, though he does not understand everything the man has told him. He feels he understands the most important thing and that is what matters. Even killers have their place. A pretty, innocent-looking smile creases the boys lips, even as his eyes slowly darken.

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