The eight year old boy stared at the television as he watched the SyFy channel. He crammed caramel popcorn into his mouth as he watched grownups enter a haunted dwelling with their paranormal equipment, ready to record any sightings or bursts of energy from a would be ghost.
“You know, Dad I bet you could easily show these guys up if you were there. You would make them look like amateurs.”
“Thanks for the vote of confidence, Aiden.” Frank O’Neill squinted at his laptop screen as he checked his email as he did several times a day. “So are you looking forward to spring break?”
“Not really. I think Mom and I are supposed to spend most of it with Grandma and Grandpa. I hate the way they ruffle my hair and pull on my ears. I’m not a baby anymore,” declared Aiden.
“Well, I have a surprise for you. We are going to Ireland so that I can do some research there at some haunted sites. What do you think of that?”
“Wow! Cool, Dad! How did you get Mom to agree to that?” He was clearly concerned since his dad had visiting rights twice a week.
“I told her that I’d bring her back a gift that involved jewelry. She asked for something green that sparkles. Maybe they sell something cheap at the airport gift shop. Don’t tell her.”
Aiden covered his mouth to stifle a laugh as he said, “I won’t tell if you won’t.” He was so cute with his curly auburn hair and freckled face.
Before they knew it, they were on a plane to Killarney, Ireland. A cab dropped them off at Cronin Restaurant. Aiden wrinkled his nose as he heard the locals speak with their lilting accents. A pretty waitress came to take their order.
“I’ll have the burger, fries, and a Coke,” said Frank.
“Really, Dad? We come all the way to Ireland and you just get a hamburger?” Frank’s look told Aiden not to embarrass him. “Okay, same thing please.”
After dinner, they checked into their hotel. The night was uneventful. The sheets were not pulled off the bed by ghosts. The photos of people that hung in the lobby did not stare at them nor did the eyes follow them.
The next morning, the duo rambled over meandering country roads in a rental car until they arrived at Killarney National Park. The beauty took one’s breath away. Deer stood against the mist as they stared at the American visitors. There were numerous waterfalls. Sometimes the lakes and sky looked as one with the same dreamy blue and puffy clouds. They crossed an old stone bridge and happened to discover an ancient stone house that was built into a hill. It looked like it was full of earth with no openings. Frank only looked on it briefly as he continued walking. Aiden however saw an ancient knocker with the head of a man with a multi-pointed beard. He lifted the knocker; it fell away against the stone. The earth surrounding the door gave way as a small fairy appeared in the doorway. It turned to retreat inside without saying a word. Aiden followed it inside. There was nothing but darkness and a musty smell. Aiden felt a sharp pain, lost consciousness and fell on the mud floor. The fairy, a changling, took the form of the eight year old. Once he was outside of the structure, the door sealed up with earth.
“Aiden! Don’t fall behind, Son.”
“Coming, Dad,” answered the fairy.
The two of them walked through a thick forest where moss seemed to cover everything, even the trunks of trees. It was a very old forest with downed trees that gave birth to young saplings and ferns. The birds called to one another lending to a state of serenity. All of that changed when there came the unmistakable sound of a neighing horse. Frank darted one way while the fairy ran in the opposite direction.
“Over here, Dad,” the changeling pointed.
The pair came out of the forest where it opened up to a lake. In the distance stood the ruins of an old castle. A young, beautiful woman who was in fact a “sweet fairy” stood beside a kelpie at the water’s edge. Kelpies are aquatic spirits that can take several different forms; this one was in the form of a horse. Frank came near to the woman and horse.
“Good day, Ma’am. What a magnificent animal! Is he yours?”
“No, he belongs to no one. But he will let you ride him if you wish. Just grab a handful of his mane and swing yourself up there.”
Frank approached the kelpie and ran his hand over the strong muscles of the neck and down the face close to the nostrils. It stomped its hoof impatiently. Without hesitation, Frank grabbed some mane and swung himself on the back of the kelpie. The creature took off at a frightening speed over the hill. Try as he may, Frank couldn’t dismount from the horse. It was as if he were glued to its hide. Upon coming about and returning, the kelpie plunged both beast and rider into the lake where they both vanished from sight. Frank was able to grasp the bridle of the kelpie and gain control. They came to the lake’s surface. He realized that he had been tricked by the changling.
“Take me to my son!” he ordered the kelpie.
The horse galloped through the woods and came to the stone house in the hillside. Frank dismounted, lifted the ancient knocker, and gained entrance. He felt Aiden’s body in the darkness. He lifted the boy and brought him out of the house and into the light. He was still alive. Soon the two were on a flight back to the states.
Aiden looked at his father during the flight as he repeated his promise, “I won’t tell if you won’t.”
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