Welcome to your Monday Sidetrack! Start by reading the story all the way through. Then, if you need a bit more of a sidetrack from your day, go back and explore the hyperlinks I've found for this bit. That way, you'll get the most out of the whole post. Enjoy!
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Ruby was right. I could see the outlines of the land and the water. It helped that this land was just like the real New Zealand. I had studied both islands before I left the U.S. To be fair and more accurate, I had studied this country on and off since I first heard about New Zealand in second grade. Right then and there I decided that it was the most beautiful place in the world and that I’d go there someday.
To be more honest, I’ve often dreamed of moving to New Zealand and finding the garden I had seen on the television show.
Ruby stood up and straightened out the map so that it was easier to read. By the time she was done, there was nowhere for her to sit or stand on the canister and she moved to stand on the book’s binding instead.
I stood up to get a more even aerial view.
“If you look at this section here, you’ll see where we are,” she pointed to a peninsula. “See? Here’s our point. It juts out into the Tasman Sea and continues close to the surface for little while before it drops off into the sea.” She followed the coast with her tiny, tiny index finger and smoothed the map as she went.
“I see what you mean, I think. Viola, do you have a magnifying glass?”
“I do actually. Just a minute,” Viola went to her room and came back a few seconds later. “I keep it on my nightstand. Some of my books have the smallest print and this is the only way to read them.”
Viola handed me the magnifying glass.
This is the magnifying glass she had when I was a kid.
The metal handle was a round cylinder that attached the two ends of the metal frame around the glass. I used to unscrew the handle just enough to see the seam between the ends. Then I’d put it back together before anyone could notice for fear that I might break it and ruin a family treasure.
“How long have you had this?” I looked through to the map.
“I got that for a birthday or something when I was a kid,” Viola walked toward the sink, “or so I think. It’s hard to know what’s real right now.”
Ruby looked up at me through the glass for a little second. She was worried about Viola.
I was stunned. It was like I was looking into a mirror, a very strange mirror.
“I’m sure that will pass. It’ll help to find another edge of your loop,” Ruby moved along the book and found another spot to examine. It was across the South Island off the coast of Christchurch. She rested both elbows in the Lyttelton Harbor, a little inlet south of Christchurch.
“Where have you been in New Zealand, Ruby?” Viola came over and leaned in to examine the map.
“I’ve been everywhere. Your grandpa was quite the traveler and he would stop at nothing to learn about this world.”
“Was he looking for anything in particular?”
“Most of the time, he was following his curiosity. We’d walk any path, jump through any portal. Those were the fun times and by following the wind, so to speak, we saw most of what New Zealand had to offer. That all changed when he decided he needed to get to Cape Reinga by July 31st that year. Once he had the idea, there was no changing his mind and we began learning the rules of this world so we could control where we ended up.”
“Cape Reinga?” Viola sat down at the table.
“Yeah, there was a hidden cavern there. He believed that there was a trunk in the cavern and the trunk had the chemical formula for the cure to a major illness. He wouldn’t tell me which one.”
“Did you make it there?” I asked.
“I didn’t and I don’t know if he did. Before the last leap, he put me in the elephant case and shipped me off to Viola. Well, I think it was the last leap. That’s what he called it, but I really don’t know.”
Tears filled Viola’s eyes and she got up to do something in the kitchen.
“Ruby, before we get too far along, let’s answer one question. What exactly will we be trying to do out there?” I sat down.