Welcome to your Monday Sidetrack! Start by reading this post 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!
(This story begins with Monday Sidetrack: 6. Start there to get caught up one post at a time or go to https://www.lavendersidetrack.com/story-catchup to read all the previous posts as one long post. Then subscribe to find out what happens next!)
I had to step into the lighthouse to watch for Ruby. My eyes readjusted and I found a spot right next to the door where I could hear Viola if she said anything and see Ruby's path without the interference of the sunlight. Ruby's parachute was white, red, green, purple, and orange - hard to miss against the dark background of the lighthouse's walls.
"Let me know when you can see her," Viola called from outside.
"Will do," I looked out toward her.
Viola was lying in the grass next to the path. Her arms cradled her head as she looked skyward.
"I can't remember the last time I did this."
"When I was little, my grandma and I would lie in the grass and look for animals in the clouds. I always found a cat somewhere."
"I do that too. There's an elephant coming this way." She pointed to a cloud off to the right.
I stepped out and looked up too, shielding my eyes with both hands.
"Too bad I don't have my phone."
"Why is that?"
"Then I could take a picture."
"With a phone?" Viola sat up.
"Oh, uh, a phone is something different where I come from. It can make calls and take pictures."
"I'd like to see that sometime," Viola lay down.
"I'll show you when we get inside, which is where I'm going to go now so I don't miss Ruby's parachute," I slipped into my spot next to the door and waited.
First, I looked around the ground floor for signs of a landing. There was nothing, so I looked up. Ruby was going to be coming from a spot she had rigged up next to the stairs. She hung a pulley from the underside of Viola's floor and felt certain she would be able to navigate away from the staircase. I didn't see her parachute caught anywhere. I flashed the lights again in case she hadn't seen my signal the first time.
I stood and waited for a few more minutes before I was too anxious to stand there doing nothing anymore.
"I'm going to walk up a bit to get a better view. I'll be right back," I leaned out the front door.
"O.k., I'll be right here waiting, or so it seems."
I started by walking up the stairs, but soon picked up the pace. Every couple of flights, I'd stop to get a clearer view. At about the halfway point, I saw Ruby's parachute floating toward me just as she had described. I waited for her to get close and then I started walking down. She caught up to me and waved. I waved back and sped up to beat her to the bottom and tell Viola.
"Viola, I can see her!" I ran out and to the grass and back into the lighthouse.
"Good, I'm coming!"
Viola met me inside when Ruby was a couple stories away. I ran over to catch her so she wouldn't have to land on the floor. As she fell into my hands, I felt the weight of a real person, not just a miniature version of myself. I held onto that thought and Ruby long enough to find a good spot to set her down so she could take off the parachute.
I set her on the end of the banister, because she fit there and would have a good view of things.
"Well done, little lady!" Viola came over to us.
"Thanks, Viola." Ruby unhooked her parachute and began pulling it into a small bundle in her arms. "Let's see how far we can make it outside. If we can leave the grass on the far side of lawn, we'll stop there. That would be far enough. The real test is whether you, Viola, can leave the lighthouse property. If you can, you should be able to go anywhere with us."
"That makes sense and I'm ready. The worst thing that could happen would be me ending up in my own living room singing my favorite song."
We walked down the path in silence until we reached the end of it, with Ruby on my shoulder. I looked out into the darkness I had wandered through. I had hoped it would look different to me, more like a real place.
"Do you see what I see? A dark nothing?"
"Yes," Viola said. "Where will we go?"
"That's part of what I see, but not all of it. Look at the edge of the grass, then the sand, then where it kind of drops off into the darkness."
"O.k.," I said.
"Do you see the light grey line between the sand and the darkness?"
We bent down.
"I do!" Viola pointed toward the edge of the sand. "See, Lana? If you squint your eyes a little bit, you'll see it."
I took a step closer.
"Stop here," Ruby said into my ear. "We'll go through it tomorrow. Do you see it?"
"I think so," I didn't.
"That's all we need to do today."
We spent the rest of the day exploring the property around the lighthouse and relaxing. Ruby repacked her parachute, I repacked my backpack, and Viola gathered things she thought she could use for our adventure. All the while, I worried about why I hadn't seen the portal. I had seen others, why not this one?
By the time we were all ready for bed, I was so worried that I had decided to go back out after Viola and Ruby were in bed to see if I could find the line.