To Honor, Love, and Cherish…All the Days of Our Lives

Within every family there are those who are the foundation. In the Moreau and Broadmeadow families, Theresa (Broadmeadow) and Ray Moreau—to paraphrase from another story—were the rock upon which the family was built.

They were both born in 1928—although Ray is much younger because Theresa robbed the cradle— and have been married for seventy-one years.  Think about that for a moment…seventy-one years. Some people don’t live that long, let alone stay married to the same person.

But in their case, there was never any doubt it would turn out this way.

The Broadmeadow clan—Edward, Catherine (Szpila), Theresa, Rosemond (Alves), and Joe (my father and namesake)— were a prolific bunch with a plethora of off-spring. There were myriad cousins of all age levels. Whenever there was a holiday, special occasion, or just a nice afternoon, we always seemed to find our way to Bellmore Dr. in Pawtucket or Redgate Rd. in Cumberland once the Moreaus moved there.

Christmas was almost always at the Moreau’s. There’d be someone dressed as Santa handing out gifts for everyone.

Every year we would also have a family picnic.  I recall one incident which reflects the sense of humor Theresa embraced.  This particular year the party was at our house on Harriet Lane in Cumberland.

My father and I were getting things ready in the backyard just as Theresa and Ray arrived.  As we were walking out to meet them, my father sunk knee deep into the apparently overfilled septic system. He struggled to extract himself, with me doing what I could to help—which wasn’t much.

Theresa happened to walk around the corner at that exact moment. I could see by the look in her eyes she recognized the seriousness of the situation and ran back toward the front of the house, I assumed to get Ray and my cousins, Bobby and Dave, to help.

Seventy-one years ago they promised to love, honor, and cherish each other. And they kept every word.

Which she did.

But before she actually let them help, she whipped out her camera and took a bunch of pictures. She was laughing the entire time we hosed my father off.

But it was during those difficult moments every family experiences that the true nature of Theresa and Ray shone through. Whatever the issue, health matters, divorce, unplanned pregnancies, death, they were there as a source of support and comfort.

They shared their own difficulties, surviving the passing of their two boys, Bobby and Dave. Yet even in their sons too short lives, they were remarkable parents and took much pride in their boys. And they experienced the joys of becoming grandparents.

Yet it is their enduring relationship of more than seven decades that is the most awe inspiring.

Back in the 60s and 70s cars came standard with front bench seats. Girls would often sit in the middle seat, near their boyfriend driver, as a sort of symbol of young love.

We all did it when we got that magic driver’s license.

So did Theresa and Ray. They only stopped when they bought a car that didn’t have a front bench seat.

Even the bizarre tradition of the padiddle (perhaps it was a local Cumberland or Rhode Island custom of unknown origin) of the two front seat lovebirds, close together on the bench seat, kissing each other when a car with one headlight out approached.

Theresa and Ray did that as well.

Words are incapable of showing the enduring love of Ray and Theresa Moreau. Seventy-one years ago they promised to love, honor, and cherish each other. And they kept every word.

Now that they are in the twilight of their days, these images say it all.

We could all learn a lesson from these two special people. With people like Theresa and Ray Moreau gracing this planet, there is hope for humanity.

Black Panthers and Rt. 146: The Mixed-up Mile

If you got your driver’s license in Rhode Island before they connected Rt 146 to 95 South, you had the unforgettable experience of driving what was known as the Mixed-up Mile. This is something we often did on our summer treks from Cumberland to Scarborough Beach in our search for nubile young women in bikinis to charm (most of whom, okay… okay… ALL of whom, ignored us.)

For those of you unfamiliar with this once challenging gauntlet, Rt. 146 ended, forcing drivers to navigate the narrow side streets near Chad Brown up to Douglas Ave, weaving your way back onto the highway.

For some reason or another, likely the results of a no-bid contract going to the Governor’s daughter’s boyfriend’s mother’s third cousin who was also related to the Governor,, you could connect directly from 95 North to 146 North but not 146 South to 95 south. The necessity slipped their mind.

It is one of those things unique to Rhode Island.

For those of us from the suburbs—white, young, and hopelessly un-urbanized—1972, the year I started driving, presented another challenge. This was the era of anti-war protests and urban rioting over racial disparities (sound familiar?) when many American cities were ablaze with tension.

The Black Panthers, the Black Lives Matter of a earlier generation, which, through the prism of official law enforcement pronouncements of the time, amounted to the world’s most dangerous terrorist group—apparently our standards were lower then—presented an additional challenge to running the gauntlet of the Mixed-up Mile.

The Panthers would gather at the red light right off the exit from 146 selling the Black Panther Newspaper. Each time we approached the exit, we’d make sure the doors were locked and the windows tightly shut, no matter how stifling hot it might be, and hold our breath hoping we didn’t catch the light.

Update

As a side note. The Panthers were always dressed in suits and ties, as an early reader of this piece reminded me. They were the best dressed terrorist group of that era. I wanted to add this important piece of information to the original.

As we started onto the exit, all eyes focused on the light. We knew the timing by heart. If you hit the exit and the light stayed green until the corner straightened out, you were golden. If not, and the dreaded Yellow Caution light came on, you were trapped.

Eyes locked straight ahead to avoid any eye contact, we did our best not to draw any attention to ourselves, hoping our pretense at not noticing anyone would grant us protection. Sometimes, lost in conversation as we took the exit, we foolishly left the windows down.

As the realization took hold we would catch the light, too late to close the windows without painting ourselves as targets, our heart rates climbed, and we resigned ourselves to buying yet another copy of the paper.

Now, all these years later, I realize that we never had one moment where anything other than a polite request was made if we wanted to buy the paper. Not one threat. Not one challenge. Not one hint of violence.

The fear came from our own ignorance.

Some members of the Black Panthers engaged in criminal behavior. Some may have used strong-arm intimidation to sell newspapers to raise money for their cause. But none of that happened to us.

I wonder if the newly emboldened right-wing white supremacist groups on the rise today would act in such a manner. Perhaps the problem was our then definition of a terrorist group. Those Panthers may not have known it, nor may they have intended it, yet they taught a lesson about ignorance and stereotypes to a bunch of naïve kids from Cumberland that lives on.

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JEBWizard Publishing (www.jebwizardpublishing.com) is a hybrid publishing company focusing on new and emerging authors. We offer a full range of customized publishing services.

Everyone has a story to tell, let us help you share it with the world. We turn publishing dreams into a reality. For more information and manuscript submission guidelines contact us at info@jebwizardpublishing.com or 401-533-3988.

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Watson and the Terrific Ten

Watson and the Terrific Ten by [Johnson, John  Eric,, Isabel Arribas]
by John Eric Johnson

JEBWizard Publishing is excited to announce the upcoming release of a wonderful new book by Cumberland (RI) native, John Eric Johnson.

For those of us who love the wonders and magic of Christmas, this is a story you’ll want to share with your kids, grandkids, and everyone who loves a good Christmas tale.

Order your ebook copy today on Amazon https://www.amazon.com/Watson-Terrific-John-Eric-Johnson-ebook/dp/B08NGYW7MQ

or send an email to info@jebwizardpublishing.com to reserve a signed print copy for $14.99. Book will be released on December 1, 2020, in plenty of time for Christmas. Be sure to let us know how you’d like the book signed and where to send it.

Excerpt from Watson:

A Leap of Faith

The first thing in the flight manual was for the reindeer to flump ten yards and land—maintain balance and flump again. A flump is half flying and half jumping and is also the sound that reindeer hooves make on rooftop landings. Since an estimated 73% of all takeoffs and landings on Christmas Eve would be in the 10 to 100-yard range—flump training was critical to the success of Santa’s sleigh.

However, the most important part of flying and flumping has always been the landing. And everyone knew that the key to a good landing was the two-step stop. This refined method of stopping was developed by an elf named Rusty countless years ago during a particularly harsh winter. Rusty was a student of all things flying and knew that easing into a stop on ice was better than just trying to dig in the hooves and slide. Simply put—it was touch the ground, take two steps, and stop.

“It’s all about control,” Rusty said often to his young apprentice, Troy.

“Feel the landing,” Troy yelled. “Do not fear it. Take two steps and stop.”

All the reindeer lined up along a field of snow that was 100 yards long and 50 yards wide. Troy walked the line and draped a silver bell attached to a gold chain around each reindeer’s neck.

The bell would continue to ring on flumps and flights for as long as the reindeer remained in the training program. Once the reindeer resigned or was dismissed—the bell would NEVER ring again.

“The best of luck to all of you,” said Troy. “And remember the gold is not at the end of the rainbow. The rainbow is the gold.”

The first hooves on lesson was that every time Troy blew his whistle the reindeer would flump ten yards and stop. Ten flumps down and ten flumps back.

Tweet!

And all 20 reindeer flumped.

It was like a dance. They all went up in the air and came down ten yards later—just the way Troy designed it.

That is all, except Watson.

Watson was so happy to be given a chance to fly that he put just a tad too much effort into his flump and soared all 100 yards. When he tried to land, he forgot to take two steps and slid into a snowbank and then over the edge of the field and down a steep hill. Watson rolled hooves and antlers end-over-end to the bottom— before crashing to a stop in a different snowbank.

By the time Georgia and Sasha arrived at the end of the field all they could see were four skinny legs and two smiling teeth sticking out of the snow. Then they heard what can only be described as sounds a seal and then a duck would make.

“Aaaagh, quack quack!”

Over and over again.

“Aaaagh, quack quack!”

Georgia and Sasha thought Watson must be hurt until they realized he was laughing.

“Aaaagh, quack quack!”

As they dug him out of the snow—Watson laughed and laughed—and soon Georgia and Sasha were laughing right along with him. And the more they laughed, the harder it became to stop—until all three were rolling on the ground.

“Aaaagh, quack quack! Aaaagh, quack quack!”

Troy, however, was not amused. He glared down from the top of the hill. His face the color of Santa’s red suit. His black licorice turned red in his lips. And Georgia swore she saw steam—like you would see over a cup of hot chocolate—coming out of his ears.

“What did I just say?” seethed Troy as he banged his cane in the snow. “Follow the rules. The exercise was to flump ten yards, not 100! Do you want to be one of Santa’s reindeer or not?  I won’t tolerate this! I simply won’t tolerate this!”

As hard as they tried, Georgia and Sasha could not stop laughing. They would try to think of something very sad like not having sugar cookies every day, but then they would hear, “Aaaagh, quack quack!” and the laughing would start again.

The rest of the day’s training was more of the same. Most of the reindeer struggled to make a 10-yard flump—while Watson struggled to keep from flumping further than ten yards.

Despite a less than stellar first day, Watson, Georgia, and Sasha all headed back to the stables with huge smiles on their faces. Flight training was going to be fun! Not easy, but definitely fun.

“Aaaagh, quack quack!”

After the day’s session, Troy met with Santa.

“I’ve never seen a reindeer make that long of a flump on the first day of training. Twenty yards maybe, but 100 yards is simply amazing. We may have a superstar in our midst. Undisciplined no doubt, but a star nonetheless.”

Santa simply ran his hand down his beard and said, “Hmmmmm.”

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JEBWizard Publishing (www.jebwizardpublishing.com) is a hybrid publishing company focusing on new and emerging authors. We offer a full range of customized publishing services.

Everyone has a story to tell, let us help you share it with the world. We turn publishing dreams into a reality. For more information and manuscript submission guidelines contact us at info@jebwizardpublishing.com or 401-533-3988.

Signup here for our mailing list for information on all upcoming releases, book signings, and media appearances.

A Summer Vacation’s Worth of Stories

This time of year—scorching humid days, once verdant green Spring grass turned brown and coarse, evening fireflies sparking the imagination—always makes me think of summer vacations long ago. Not those taken for a week or two, but the real summer vacation that punctuated our progress in life.

The opening days of Summer—those first glorious days of not having to get up for school, the freedom of having an entire day to do whatever we wanted, the seemingly endless days ahead—made such a powerful impression in our memories.

See you in September

See you when the summer’s through

Here we are (bye, baby, goodbye)

Saying goodbye at the station (bye, baby, goodbye)

Summer vacation (bye, baby bye, baby)

Is taking you away (bye, baby, goodbye)

The Happenings, See you in september

Then, as June slipped into July and July to August, the first thoughts of returning to school bubbled to the surface. A new grade, new challenges, new teachers, new things to learn, and experience. I may not have looked forward to the end of the summer, but I looked forward to returning to school.

For me it was Ashton School, then Highland Middle, and finally Cumberland High School, CHS ’74.

We had something with us when we ventured back that’s denied today’s generations. Something that made our return both comforting and exciting.

We had stories.

Summer stories to tell our friends in the long tradition of human storytelling. In the telling of the stories, we reinforced (and often enhanced) the memories, ensuring they would last a lifetime.

Today, every moment of every day—tweeted, texted, Instagrammed, Facebooked, or Instant messaged—becomes the same as all the others.

In telling our stories, we had to recall from memory those moments that mattered to us. The things that made enough of an impression on an eight-year-old or a fourteen-year-old to warrant a story.

They would lose their magic in a mere text message.

The stories we told came from the heart—enhanced by our imagination—and created a bond between the storyteller and the listener. It was a way of saying, “you’re important to me, I want you to hear my stories, and I want to hear yours.”

We cannot share such a bond in an email or text. The immediacy of such technology robs the story of all emotion and value.  It is just another bit of noise in a noisy world, lost among the cacophony, becoming only more background static.

August is when these thoughts and memories rise to the surface. Back then, it seemed the dog days of summer grew shorter, even if we knew that the days had grown shorter almost from the moment summer vacation began.

The sun, making its way back south, posed new challenges to baseball games. Early summer sunlit ball fields now became danger zones as fly balls disappeared into the blinding August afternoon sun and caromed off a player’s head. (Something which we might turn into a great story.)

Now, we were not without our means of instant communication. We had telephones, and the sound of a ringing phone brought anticipation, hope, and surprises. We often planned calls—I’ll call you at 6—and battles would ensue if the phone was in use.

We faced the frustrations of a busy signal or an unanswered call. Answering machines—those first links in the chain bonding us to communication technology—came later. But when a call went through, we had those glorious moments of speaking with someone we likely hadn’t seen since the last day of school. In these calls, we laid the groundwork for future stories—I’ll tell you more later, I have to hang up now.

Until we hit that magic age of driver’s licenses and the freedom it brought, all we had on returning to school was our summer stories.

If I could give anything of value to today’s world, it would be moments like those I shared with my friends telling those stories.

______________________________________________________________________________

JEBWizard Publishing (www.jebwizardpublishing.com) is a hybrid publishing company focusing on new and emerging authors. We offer a full range of customized publishing services.

Everyone has a story to tell, let us help you share it with the world. We turn publishing dreams into a reality. For more information and manuscript submission guidelines contact us at info@jebwizardpublishing.com or 401-533-3988.

Signup here for our mailing list for information on all upcoming releases, book signings, and media appearances.

Memory Containers

I have always enjoyed walking. I once spent six months walking from Georgia to Maine. When you walk, life slows down. You notice things you may never see in a car.

Even the most familiar roads contain surprises hidden in plain view. That is one problem of living at vehicle speed, we often miss the opportunities of life.

Although I have lived in many places, some longer than I ever lived in Cumberland, it is the first place I ever knew as home. Thus, it is etched onto my soul and the most memory-rich of the places I walk.

When I lived in Lincoln, my walks would often take me by many such familiar places. I lived just over the line from Cumberland and sometimes walked a loop up Albion Road to Mendon Road and down Manville Hill Road.

Passing by Cumberland High School released a floodgate of memories of the Class of 1974. It seemed at once like such a long time ago and the briefest of moments, despite the abundance of memories. Many of the houses I’d pass once were the homes of friends. Some may still be there; most are scattered by the winds of fate. But the memories still live.

Memories of many firsts, many experiences, many moments.

Passing every house, even those I now walk by since moving away from Lincoln, I think of the memories within a home. Cumberland memories are more intimate, more familiar, more embedded in my DNA. In my new neighborhood, or wherever I find myself walking, all the memories are hidden away in other lives.

But I know the memories are there. I know they exist. It is the way my mind works. I picture the moments. I hear the voices, the laughter, the tears. I am a spectator to a kaleidoscope of lives, anonymous yet familiar.

It is a universal bond all humans share, the magic of memory.

Christmas celebrations, births, birthdays, deaths, new puppies, old dogs, hot dogs, charcoal smoke, snowstorms (No school!), baseball games, marriages, divorces, learning to ride a bike, watching a child take those first steps or a loved one taking the last ones, even if you don’t know it at the moment.

Moments of every life remembered.

I wonder if the spirit of all the memories, the quantum energies of life, still echo within the walls. Inside every house—sometimes a home, sometimes the scene of heartbreak—do the memories still remain?

Our memories are a quantum entanglement, always with you no matter how far away from them you’ve wandered. That’s the most precious thing about memories, they persist even if we cannot recall them. Once made, always bonded, even if they are shadowed and hidden by the mists of passing time.

Our own thin place, where we see with the utmost clarity or vague familiarity that which reminds us of our common humanity.

By taking the time to notice things we often fly by in the cocoon of everyday living, we experience the most common of shared human qualities. The community of memories.

“This is a gift that I have, simple, simple; a foolish extravagant spirit full of forms, figures, shapes, objects, ideas, apprehensions, motions, revolutions; these are begot in the ventricle of memory, nourished in the womb of pia mater, and delivered upon the mellowing of occasion.”

William Shakespeare

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The Last Christmas Part VII: Defeating the Piney Army

“So, let me get this straight. You hate visiting the hospital but now you want to go right after school?” Joe’s mother said as they sat eating dinner. “Why the sudden change?”

“I just want to go see him.  I can’t wait until he comes home, I need to talk to him privately.”

Joe caught the look between his parents. Something wasn’t right and they weren’t telling him everything.

“Joe,” his father said, “there’s a good chance your grandfather may come home in a few days. He will be under hospice care. Do you know what that is?”

Joe shook his head.

“How about we go see grandpa tomorrow after school and we can all talk about it together.”

“Great, I can’t wait to tell him what happened—.” As the words came out, he knew he’d said too much.

“What do you mean happened?” Joe’s mother studied him. “Is there something we need to know?”

Joe glanced between his parents and knew what to say. “Well, Grandpa gave me some secret instructions to follow.  Chrissy and I brought the small box to the abandoned barn. When I read the words, the box turned into a disassembled sleigh that we have to put together before Christmas.

“Meanwhile, we used the deer feed to gather all eight reindeer into the barn so the elves could take care of them and get them ready for Christmas Eve.  Oh yeah, the barn looks abandoned on the outside, but inside it’s a magical place full of elves.

“When we left there the other day, after the engine test fire went crazy, an army of pine trees attacked us. Chrissy was able to save me from one of them. I need to see Grandpa so he can tell us how to defeat them and get back to the barn.”

Joe waited a moment to let it sink in. “Other than that, not much.”

Joe’s father sipped his water and his mother just stared at him.

“Where in the world does that imagination of yours come up with this stuff?” she said after a moment of silence. “You should write a book, Joe.”

“I will, Ma. After this adventure is over, I will.” Joe brought his dish to the sink then ran upstairs. He had lots of questions for his grandfather. Even if his parents thought he’d made it all up, the piney army was still out there and the voice, whatever was behind that, was another problem.

*****

Standing at the edge of his grandfather’s bed, he waited for his mother to leave.

“Are you sure about this, Dad?” his mother said.

“Go, Peggy. Let me explain things to Joe and it will be fine.” He waved his hand towards the door. “Now go get those nurses some coffee and pastry. They deserve it for putting up with me.”

“I am sure about that,” Joe’s Mom said, and headed out the door.

As the door closed, Joe’s grandfather motioned for him to come closer. “Sit on the edge of the bed, Joe. We have a few things to take care of.”

There was always one thing about his grandfather that Joe loved most. He always talked to Joe as if he were just like him.  He told him the truth—good, bad, or indifferent—no matter what.

This truth hurt the most, but he knew in his heart his grandfather wanted him to be ready and he was glad he thought him old enough to handle it.

“There are a few things I want you to remember, Joe. First, never be afraid to do the right thing no matter how others might try to talk you out of it. Second, the pine trees can only stop you if you’re afraid. Trees can’t think. They are controlled by Doubt. Doubt is a specter. Do you know what that is?”

Joe shook his head.

“A specter is a ghost. While it lives as a being, it can enter any creature. Doubt is the one thing that can cause you to fail. Never let doubt tell you what you cannot do.”

His grandfather pointed to the drawer next to the bed. “Open it up and hand me the small back case in there.”

Joe pulled the drawer open and pulled out the case, handing it to his Grandfather.

Opening the case, Joe’s Grandfather pulled out a medal on a gold chain. A Good Conduct medal he’d gotten when he was in the Marines.

“Take this, Joe. Keep it with you to remind you about the things I said. Everything you need to know, and do, is in your heart.”

Joe took the medal, turning it over in his hand, then placed it around his neck. “You’ll be coming home soon, won’t you grandpa? Then we can talk more.”

His grandfather smiled. “Like I explained, Joe. I’ll be coming home, but I won’t be with you long. This is the end of my time here, but it’s not the end of you and I being partners in this.

“Go back and build the sleigh. Don’t let a pine tree army or Doubt get in your way. There is a great adventure ahead. One that has lasted a thousand years. Soon, you’ll understand.”

The door opened and Joe’s mother returned. “Ready Joe?”

“Yup,” Joe said, jumping from the bed. He tucked the medal into his shirt.

One nurse came in. “Are you comfortable there, NM?”

“NM?” Joe’s mom said. “Who’s NM?”

“He is,” the nurse said, pointing at Joe’s grandfather. “Nicholas’s Magic. It’s what we all call him because he makes us smile all the time, no matter what. We’re gonna miss him when he leaves.” She went to his side, checking the various machines.

Joe’s mom kissed his grandfather. “By, Dad. We’ll be ready for you tomorrow.”

As they walked out, the light went on in Joe’s head. NM. NM like on the blanket. I wonder…

“Mom, can I use your phone for a minute?”

“Of course.”

Joe called Chrissy. Whispering into the phone, he said. “I just talked to my grandfather. I know how to get past the piney army. Meet me at the same place after school.” Joe turned his head so his mother couldn’t hear what he said next.

“Remember the initials NM on the blanket the elf put over me? I think NM is my grandpa.”

Part VIII Doubt Comes to Visit

P.S. If you’re interested in the previous one from Christmas Past here’s a link. Please share this and this new story with all your family and friends.

https://joebroadmeadowblog.com/2018/12/14/the-christmas-dragon-the-complete-untold-unchanged-and-absolutely-true-story-from-beginning-to-end/

Excerpt from Saving the Last Dragon

This Christmas give the gift of reading and imagination…

There’s magic along the Blackstone River and among the hidden caves of Diamond Hill in the quiet town of Cumberland, Rhode Island where magic has long lain hidden awaiting the Dragon Seeker. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B018ECUNKW or for signed copy go here www.jebwizardpublishing.com

Here’s a short except and coming next year, there will be more magic.

“The choice is made.” Ealdor’s voice once again surrounded them. Duncan looked at the egg.                                             

“What happens now? Is it over?”

Balinor came forward, bending to put his face next to Duncan. “It is only beginning, Donnchadh Ealdgneat.”

Duncan gave him a questioning look. Kathy and Jamie came over. Keladry revived Myrddin who joined them standing around Duncan and the egg.

“Jamie, what happened to you?” Myrddin asked. “Last I remember you tried to fly.”

Jamie chuckled. “I grabbed Harper, and then something happened. We fell over the edge but didn’t fall all the way. Something held us in the air. She tried to push me away. One of my hands slipped and I felt myself starting to fall. I realized whatever was holding us there, was just holding her. I was along for the ride. I decided to get away from her. I saw the branch and leapt for it.”

“What happened to Harper?”

“I’m not sure. A bunch of ravens flew in and she vanished among them. I wasn’t sure what was happening up here, so I waited. After a few minutes, I felt the branch starting to give way. I started yelling for help.”

Myrddin glanced at Keladry. “She’s still out there, isn’t she?”

Myrddin nodded. “What matters is the egg is safe in the hands of the Dragon Seeker.”

“What do we do with him?’ Kathy said, pointing at Core.

Keladry spoke up. “That spell won’t hold him for long. He is too powerful for that. We must get away from here.”

“And just leave him?’ Kathy walked to face Core. “Isn’t there something a little more unpleasant we can do?” She eyed the sword, watching the unmistakable sign of fear in his eyes. She reached for the blade.

“No!” Duncan said, drawing their attention. “We’re not like him. There is nothing he can do to us now. We need to focus on this,” pointing at the egg. “This is the Last Dragon. We need to protect it, not become like those that would misuse its power.”

Ealdor’s voice once again rose from the pulsating egg. “Donnchadh Ealdgneat shows wisdom beyond his years. Heed his message.”

Myrddin nodded his head. “We would do well to listen to her. This is the future we have all fought for long and hard. Much remains for the Dragon Seeker to do; there are many trials ahead.”

Duncan once again took his place on Balinor’s back. The egg secured in his pack. As the others moved off down the hill, the sun crossed over the mid-point in the sky.

A gleaming beam of sunlight illuminated the Blackstone River, the water a shimmering, twisting band of gold. Pointing to the future.

 Balinor leapt into the air, riding the light. Duncan felt the rush of the wind in his face. The smell of the woods enveloped him. The sun warmed his back.

“An uncertain future awaits you, Donnchadh Ealdgneat.” Ealdor’s voice sang in his ears. “You’ve taken the first steps of a long, difficult journey. For now, protect this egg and this dragon within. The next challenge will soon be upon you.”

Duncan took comfort in the voice yet trembled at portent of the words. These once uncomplicated and familiar places of his life, the Blackstone River, the rocky face of Diamond Hill, this small town of Cumberland, would never be the same.

His imagination opened to the possibilities. He knew what he needed to. He would face his fear and overcome it. It would not be easy, but it would be a destiny of his own choosing.

The End of the Beginning…