Love In Fall

Note: This is a fantasy story and 100% fiction including the characters and the place. Although Lost Maples SNA inspired the story, it is not the origin story. There is a true life origin story for Lost Maples, but this is NOT it! 
I am in the process of developing this story, so expect to be edited and change as I develop it. 

"Do you mind if I sit down?"

"Please. Here let me scooch over and give you some more room."

"Thanks. I was happy to find a bench in the park. I love the trails here, but my old legs and feet are yelling at me. I didn't want to sit on the ground or a wet rock."

"I hear you. It's a bit foggy and misty this morning. That can make it a little tough on the trails too. My name is Bob, by the way."

"James, again thanks. It's a bit peculiar that there is a bench here in the middle of a nature park. I mean, it's the only one."

"Well, it's a memorial to the person who donated the land for the park."

"Must be a story about that."

"Yes, there is. Would you like to hear it?"

"Sure. Did you look this up somewhere?"

"Not, really. I knew the person who donated the land. He and I were college roommates. I became his lawyer and executor for his estate."

"Well then. This has to be the inside story, so I want to hear it. Go on."

"Alright. Well, the land that the park is on used to be part of a much larger ranch. JD, the person who donated the land was given this parcel by his grandfather. When his mom died, the rest of the land was sold. JD could not part with this parcel, because it was a gift from his grandfather. But that was not the only reason. "

" Go on. This is getting interesting. "

It started many years ago when JD had gotten his PhD in Physics. This was his second degree. His first was in linguistics and ancient languages.

JD decided he did not want to teach and that was about all you could do with a PhD in Physics. He had worked as a mechanic during high school and college, so he moved back here and got a job in the city. His real love in life was this land. He would spend weekends here. He bought a camera and started photographing everything he could find on the property. I think it was his excuse to just spend time here.[RO1] 

Every Friday, JD and I would get together for dinner at my house, and discuss the week’s event. When we were in college, we would get together every Friday and discuss our weekend schedule – who was going to be wingman etc. JD was responsible for me meeting my wife, Mary. One Friday after dinner we sat on the front porch. JD seemed to be very disturbed.

"Bob, I am not joking. There is something out there and it’s been tracking me." JD said.

"It was probably just the wind. You know how it is in the canyon." Bob said.

"It was a foggy morning. No wind at all." JD said.

"Then what do you think it was? Sasquatch? A mountain lion? "

"Sasquatch in Texas? Too funny. And I don’t think it is a mountain lion. I know that property very well. I have never seen tracks of a mountain lion. As far as I know they are as scared of us as we are of them. No, I don't know, but I am going to find out."

JD was up early and at the property that Saturday morning. It was another foggy misty morning in early November. JD was kneeling down taking a photo of some leaves on a rock. After getting his camera several years ago, he carried it everywhere. He had it in his backpack and in his car all the time. He probably had already photographed every tree and every rock on the property by now, but somehow, he always found something new to capture on film.

 JD had just taken the photo and put his camera back in his backpack. He sat down under that tree to have some coffee and a muffin. Out of the corner of his eye, he thought he saw a blur. Then there was a breeze, and he thought he heard a whisper.

“Hello? Is anyone there?” JD said without turning around or getting up.

“Please, I know you are there. I know you have been following me.” JD said, “Don’t be afraid, I won’t hurt you. I promise.”

Suddenly, JD heard a rustling sound in the leaves. The wind picked up and he could feel it swirling around. He slowly stood up as he turned around. What he saw is very difficult to describe. There before him was what looked like a life size photo of a person and stretched to be ten feet tall. The wind was rushing in towards the apparition. The apparition was bending outward and shimmering, JD’s first instinct was to reach for his camera, but the backpack shut and slid several feet away. JD thought he heard, “It is not permitted.”, but there was no voice. There were no words, but the thought appeared in his head. He would never admit it, but for the first time ever, JD felt fear on his own property.

JD stood there by that tree steadying himself with one hand. It seemed like minutes had passed, but it was less than one minute when the phenomenon suddenly collapsed like a rubber band snapping back to its original size. There in the midst of this thing he had been fixated on, stood a tall slender creature. At first it looked like a creature, but as JD’s brain and eyesight returned to normal from the shock, he could see it was just a person. A woman with long flowing red hair, golden highlights and steel blue eyes was slowly walking to JD. She was wearing a shimmering gown-like garment. But then she was dressed in jeans and a short-sleeved shirt. JD’s heart was still pounding rapidly. His flight/fight response was frozen in a cloud of indecision mixed with fear and curiosity. In the end, he just stood there glaring.

“Sit down,” the woman said. It was not a command but a request that could not be ignored. Again, there were no actual words spoken. JD slowly slid down the side of the tree and sat there with his knees up. The woman sat down in front of JD.

“Don’t be afraid. I won’t hurt you.” The woman said in a whisper-like voice that sounded exactly like JD’s voice.

JD thought he would try to communicate and establish a friendly contact. It was like an alien first contact scenario. At least for him it was.

“Hello, my name is…”  JD started to say.

“John David, but everyone calls you JD,” the woman said finishing JD’s sentence.

 “My name is…” the woman started to say

“Kira,” JD said finishing the woman’s sentence.

“Do you remember?” Kira said.

“Yes, well no, I don’t know.” JD said, “It is like a dream fading away. I thought I remembered, but now I don’t. But I do know your name. Have we met?”

“Many times,” Kira said, “But this is the first time here.”

JD sat there, staring with a mash-up of bewilderment, awe, and confusion flooding his brain.

“I don’t understand.” JD said.

“No, you would not.” Kira said, “I must go now. Meet me in the meadow tomorrow just after sunset.”

Then she was gone. She did not walk away or go back through the same strange phenomenon; she was just gone in a blink of an eye. JD sat there under that tree for nearly an hour trying to understand what had happened. JD was very intelligent; he had a PhD in Physics and a Master’s Degree in Linguistics and Ancient Languages. He chose to be a mechanic, because he was good at it and, and it helped keep his brain quiet for a while. That is also probably why he loved to come out and photograph anything and everything on the property. What happened today had his brain working overtime. He just could not wrap his head around what he had just experienced. Did he imagine what he saw, was it a hallucination? He was ready to shrug it all off, but his scientific curiosity was going to ensure he would show up in the meadow that next evening.

The next evening it was warm and humid which is not unusual in early November in Texas. There was still a light mist in the air. JD walked up the hill to the meadow that ran along the river. Several spring-fed creeks from the canyon fed into the river that cut the property in half. The meadow was mostly river bottom deposited as the river overflowed its banks during flash floods. Short native grass covered the meadow from the edge of a deer trail to the river’s edge. The early morning fog and mist often seemed to hover just above the tops of the grass. Now just after sunset, it was beginning to be difficult to see much, but it wasn’t difficult for JD to see what he couldn’t believe he was seeing.

Coming from the river was a cloud of blinking lights. It looked like a shimmering cloud of fireflies gliding along the tops the grass. Fireflies normally are seen in the summer wet months. A few could sometimes be seen on warm humid days in November, but this was a cloud of fireflies not a few. Emerging from the cloud was Kira. The fireflies were hovering around the silhouette of her body as she walked.

JD stood there, not in fear, but in complete amazement. He could not turn away, and after yesterday he dared not attempt to take a photo.  Kira walked right up to JD.

“Stretch out your arms.” Kira requested without the sound of any words spoken.

As JD stretched out his arms, the fireflies began to swarm around them. His arms now looked like two outstretched lanterns.

“What? How?” JD said, “How is this happening?”

“I asked them.” Kira said, “They were not busy, and they thought it would be fun.”

“You asked them?” JD said, “So you speak firefly?”

“No, silly, fireflies don’t have a language like we do. It’s too complicated to explain, but simple to do.” Kira said.

“I know you have questions, but I have to go right now.” Kira said.

“Questions? Where do I begin?” JD said.

“Sorry, but your questions will have to wait.” Kira said, “I must return home now. I have already pushed the boundaries too much. They will not be happy.”

“Home? They? What is going on?” JD said, “You stalk me and then appear in some sci-fi phantasm, and now you leave without an explanation?”

“Oh, yes, well my appearance was dramatic.” Kira said, “But that was just for show. I thought it would be fun.”

“Look, I am very sorry, but I cannot stay.” Kira said, “I will come back. Meet me by the waterfall, early on the first day of spring. I will hopefully be able to explain more after I talk with them. Will you do that, please?”

“Ok, I don’t seem to have a choice, but I am not happy about it.” JD said.

“Oh JD, chin up and cheer up, you will be just fine.” Kira said.

Then she was gone.

JD now had even more questions than he had before. Waiting for the first day of spring to come was nearly as difficult as waiting for Christmas to come when he was a kid. But he was at the waterfall before dawn that day. The waterfall was actually one large waterfall, and a series of smaller ones that were created by the overflow from the spring-fed pond on top of the ridge. The large waterfall created a smaller pond at its base. The water fell over 60 feet from the top of the ridge.

JD sat on a rock by the edge of the smaller pond. When he camped at the property, this was his favorite spot. There was a sandy edge to the pond created by the water pounding the granite rocks over the years. JD would pitch his tent near the pond and cook breakfast over a fire pit he had made. Then he would sit down slowly drinking a cup of coffee listening to the water falling on the rocks. In rainy seasons, the water flow would increase, and the sound of the water crashing down would be too loud for anyone to sleep. Most of the year, it would be more like a gentle shower softly falling on the rocks below.

Behind the waterfall was a small cave which was more like an alcove. The pond below the waterfall was the size of a large swimming pool with clear water. Kira appeared from behind the waterfall. The water flowed down and around her, but she was not getting wet.

“Do you have any coffee? “ Kira said.

“Ha, no I didn’t fix any, but I could put on a pot.” JD said.

“No worries, I have some.” Kira said, “Here, have a cup. “

One moment JD was sitting on the beach watching Kira walking toward him, and the next moment she was sitting next to him handing JD a cup of coffee.

“Uh, thanks. Strong with a touch of milk.” JD said.

“Just the way you like it. I know.” Kira said.

“Okay, look, can we cut the mysterious voodoo stuff?” JD said, “Who the hell or what the hell are you?“

“Same old JD. Still stuck in the black and white scientific world. If you can’t measure it, it does not exist. Right, JD? “ Kira said.

“Well, how do I know it exists; if I can’t experience it? I don’t have to measure the wind to know it exists, but I can experience it. “ JD said.

“The tree in the forest, right? Or the quantum state does not collapse on its own.” Kira said.

“Something like that.” JD said, “But you make it sound like it’s a bad thing to be skeptical. And none of that answers my question. Who or what are you? “

“Hmm, yes you’re right, of course.” Kira said, “But it would be easier to show you.“

“OK, and how is that going to happen?” JD said.

“I’m going to share a memory vision with you.” Kira said, “Come kneel on the beach facing me.”

Without getting up or making a move, JD was kneeling on the beach, facing Kira. Their knees were touching.

“What? How?” JD muttered.

“I’ve been given the permission to share a memory vision with you.” Kira said, “It should answer some of your questions.”

JD bent over lowering his head to touch Kira’s head. It seemed right, like something he had done before.

“Kia Ora, Kira.” JD said without thinking. JD wasn’t even certain he had said the words. There was JD kneeling on the beach, bent over with his head touching Kira’s head. He wondered if it was going to get weird.

“You remembered.” Kira said, “You should hold onto my hands, this can be unsettling. Close your eyes and clear your mind.”

JD blinked. There was a momentary flash of light. As he opened his eyes, he felt uneasy. He wasn’t kneeling on the beach anymore. He was standing on the edge of a cliff overlooking a large horseshoe shaped bay. He could barely see the other side of the bay. JD’s knees and legs started to shake.

“Steady on there, sport.” Kira said, “I said it could be unsettling.”

“I think I’m going to be sick.” JD said.

And he was. Whatever he had had for breakfast was now headed down the side of the cliff.

“You always did have a sensitive stomach.” Kira said, “Look, what you are experiencing right is not real. You are in a memory vision. It’s the closest thing to being here without actually being here. You can see, hear, smell and feel just as if you were here. But you and I are still kneeling on the beach. Except that I’m probably now covered with your breakfast. You and I are able to interact, but you cannot alter anything here. Hold my hand and let’s back away from the edge of the cliff. We can sit down over here and talk.”

“Thanks, sorry about the breakfast.” JD said, “I was just disoriented a bit. I’m fine now. Really, I want to look. I’m okay.”

“Alright, if, you’re sure.” Kira said.

“Yeah, yeah. I’m fine, just fine.” JD said, “Memory what? Oh, yeah. Memory vision. So, did you hypnotize me?”

“No, not at all.” Kira said, “What you are experiencing is a shared vision compiled from the memories of several people. It’s like a VR program, only you don’t need a headset and you have full sensory experience. When we touched heads, I sort of implanted or uploaded the vision into your brain. The actual details are much more complicated, and I am not sure I even know how it is done.”

“VR huh?” JD said, “Wow! Just Wow! So, what is this place?”

As JD looked beyond the cliff, he could see a very large series of waterfalls that must have been over 400 meters tall were dumping tons of water into the apex of the bay. There was a large lake at the bottom of the waterfalls that overflowed into a river that eventually emptied into the bay. All around the lake and the borders of the bay were jungle like forests. The sides of the cliffs surrounding the bay were honeycombed and stair stepped. JD could not see any buildings, but he could make out a few vessels that looked like fishing boats. The entire bay area looked like a paradise.

“This is my home and the home of my people.” Kira said, “To be more accurate, it’s the current home of my people. My people originated from a different place long ago, but that place is now hidden from us. We are shomer of this place, but that is not what the people of the region call us.”

“Shomer, that’s Hebrew, right?” JD said, “If I remember correctly, it loosely means watcher or guardian.”

“That’s correct.” Kira said, “You remember your Hebrew. The actual name cannot be pronounced in any current language. Our name originated in a language that pre-dates even the Sumerian language. We were instructed to care for our original home and watch over it. But we failed at that task and we were banished from that land. We wandered the earth and finally found this place that we now call home.”

“Ok, okay, wait just a minute.” JD said, “That sounds very much like Genesis chapter 2.”

“Yes, I guess it does.” Kira said.

“So, you are telling me that you and your people are human.” JD said.

“Yes, we were originally, but we are now more.” Kira said, “I cannot tell you more than that. At least not now.”

“So, what can you tell me?” JD said.

“I can tell you a bit more, and I can show you where I live. But from this point on in the memory vision, you will not be able to share what I show you or tell you with anyone, not even Bob.”

“Alright, I agree.” JD said, “But what’s going to keep me from doing that? And how do you know about Bob?”

“Hmmm, well, you literally will not be able to form the words.” Kira said, “And every attempt to share the information will bring pain. Oh, and I know much more about you than you realize.”

“Sounds like a good safeguard to me.” JD said, “And how are we going to get down from this cliff. That looks like over 400 meters down.”

“We are going to glide down.” Kira said, “Put on this glide suit and I will demonstrate for you.”

“What if I screw up and fall like a rock?” JD said.

“You can’t die here.” Kira said, “We are in a memory vision. Although, it might seem real, it is not. You also cannot alter anything here. Well at least you can’t alter anything permanently.”

JD slipped into the glide suit. Actually, it was more like the glide suit slipped onto JD.

“OK, I am ready.” JD said, “Let’s go!”

Kira stood there looking and smiling at JD.

“What? Did I put it on wrong?” JD said.

“Nothing, just remembering something.” Kira said, “You can’t put it on wrong. Okay, so this is not difficult. The important thing is to focus on where you want to go. The suit will do the rest. I think it would be best if you focus on me. I will lead the way.”

Now JD was smiling. JD did not remember anything after that moment until he opened his eyes and saw Kira still kneeling in front of him by the pond. Kira was indeed covered with JD’s breakfast, but she was smiling. JD looked at her. He was frustrated, confused and perplexed.

“What, how?” JD said, “What the hell just happened? And what are you grinning about?”

“We were in a shared memory vision.” Kira said, “I showed you my home and the land of my people. I am smiling because you are always so cute when you are confused and can’t nail down what you experienced into neat little well-defined datasets. You know you weren’t always a ‘cold hard facts’ only person.”

JD sat there for a moment trying to focus on where he actually was. It was just like having a persistent dream that lingers on after you wake up. It was very disorienting.

“Wow, that was a trip! “ JD said. “No, you’re right. I haven’t always been a hard ass. Yeah, I know that’s what you meant. But you know I have learned that life is hard and full of disappointments.”

“You miss her don’t you?” Kira said, “Everyone who ever loved you and you loved is gone. Now you are alone. Come on, let’s take a walk. ”

Tears began to well up in JD’s eyes, but he fought them back. It had been several years now since his mom and uncle had passed away and even longer since his granddad had passed. He had never really faced the loss of his mom.

“Okay, where to?” JD said.

“Let’s go to the meadow.” Kira said, “I want to show you something.”

Again, instead of actually walking there, they were there.

“Will you please stop that!” JD said.

“Stop what?” Kira said.

“Whatever this teleportation trick you do.” JD said. “It’s making my head swim. If you can do that here, why did we have to use the glide suits in the memory vision?”

“Yeah right, ‘Mr. I want to experience everything’ didn’t want to jump off a cliff and glide down into valley like a bird? I wanted you to give you that experience. Look, you have walked these trails a hundred times. Did you really want to walk this one again? Besides I was excited to show you this.”

JD turned and looked out across the meadow covered now with a carpet of bluebonnets. Bluebonnets were his mom’s favorite wildflower. The tears that JD had successfully suppressed were back and now dripping down his cheeks. JD fought to stay strong like his granddad had taught him, but his knees buckled and he was down on the ground sobbing.  Kira knelt down in front of JD.

“Oh, JD, I’m so sorry.” Kira said, “I know you miss her so much.”

“How, what, but” JD said, “Bluebonnets don’t grow here. They never have. How is this possible.”

“It’s a gift.” Kira said.

“Lady, this is more than a gift, this is some kind of magic trick or hypnotic illusion.” JD said.

“I don’t mean it’s gift in the sense that it is an ability.” Kira said, “It’s a gift from the council of elders. And there is more. I have been given permission to stay here for a while. That is, if you want me to.”

“Whoa, wait a minute, I apologize if I gave you the wrong impression.” JD said, “I am not looking for a relationship right now. I have too many issues to work through with just me, myself and I. You know what I mean.”

“Please, may I.” Kira said as she reached out to touch JD’s head. Then she whispered, “Remember.”

JD raised his head and looked into Kira’s eyes and said, “Kira? It’s you, isn’t it?”

Now the tears were flowing down Kira’s cheeks. JD reached out and gently touched Kira’s face.

“It’s really you.” JD uttered through the sobbing. “I have missed you so much. You promised to never leave me. When mom died, I was so alone.”

“I never left you.” Kira said, “I was here, but you never reached out. In your machismo attempt to soldier through the pain, you shut me out and forgot. But I am here now and can stay as long as you want me to stay. We can go on adventures like before.”

JD smiled, “I would love that. But please can we do it the old fashion way without the teleportation and the voodoo magic tricks?”

“You got it.” Kira said, “Old fashion, all the way. But can I show one thing first?”

JD was smiling ear to ear and inside out. His world had gone from a lingering shadow of darkness to bright sunlight. He had never felt sad, but he had never felt really happy. But now he realized how much was not there in his life. He now knew that there was a missing piece and that was Kira.

“Sure, one last thing.” JD said grinning.

Kira held out her hand, and a bee appeared on her finger tip. She whispered something and the bee flew down to one of the bluebonnet blooms.

“You know bees are the first pollinators to appear in early spring.” Kira and JD said at the same time.

“Jinx” Kira and JD said at the same time.

“Double Jinx” again Kira and JD said at the same time.

Kira and JD were now laughing.

“Now stop, let me finish.” Kira said.

“Okay, I’m sorry, please continue.” JD said, still chuckling.

“The bluebonnet plant is one of the first to bloom in the spring when the temperature is usually still too cold for butterflies to fly.” Kira said, “And the design of the bluebonnet bloom makes it uniquely suited to the bee. You might say the bluebonnet plant and the bee were made for each other.”

“So, kind of like us then?” JD said.

“Well, I personally do not believe in soul mates, but yeah sort of like us.” Kira said, “We are connected in many ways, and not by accident nor mere coincidence.”

“What do you mean we are connected in many ways?” JD said, “Are you suggesting the existence of alternate realities?”

“Uh, look this is getting well beyond me.” Kira said, “What do you say we plan what we want to do next and not get all nerdy about the ways things are or might be?”

“Ok, but not being nerdy is going to be tough for me.” JD said, “You know, I have always wanted to travel the world and do some photography. I have money from the sale of the ranch. What do you think? Wanna go on a major adventure with this nerdy guy?”

“More than you will ever realize!” Kira said.

“Alright, we got some planning to do!” JD said.

For the first time in many years, JD felt truly alive again.

“So that is the story.” Bob said, “What did you think?”

“Seems a bit unfinished.” James said, “And it doesn’t explain how this land ended up being a park.”

“Yes, well there is more.” Bob said, “For three years the two of them roamed throughout the world. I would get a postcard every month telling me where they had visited and what they had seen. Then suddenly, the postcards stopped coming. I could not find out anything about where they were. One Friday, I decided to come to the property to see if maybe JD was there.”

“Go on.” James said.

“My suspicions were sadly true.” Bob said, “I found JD slumped down in front of that tree. He was dead. There was a note in his hand that read, ‘Bob, I am going home. Execute the option. Your friend, JD.’ The option in the will was to donate this land to the state parks system as a nature park.”

“Oh, wow! I’m so sorry.” James said, “Did you find out how he died?”

“Yes, as the executor of the estate, I requested an autopsy.” Bob said, “The County Coroner given the unusual circumstances of the death agreed with me.”

“Well, what did they find out?” James said.

“JD died from a tumor on his pineal gland.” Bob said, “He probably had it for a little more than three years.”

“Is it possible that everything he experienced was just an elaborate hallucination caused by the brain tumor?” James said.

“Well, I am not doctor, but I suppose so. But that doesn’t explain the postcards” Bob said.

“Did you ever meet Kira?” James said.

“No, I never did.” Bob said, “Listen, how about you come to dinner at my place tonight. I will show you the postcards and tell you a bit more about JD. My wife and I always try to honor JD’s memory by inviting a guest to dinner on the day that I found him here.”

“Are you sure?” James said, “I would be honored. And yes, I would very much like to hear more about JD and his adventures.”

“Okay, here is my address.” Bob said, “See you around 7 pm?”

“Okay, I will see you then.” James said.

Bob walked off back down the trail. James sat on the bench for a few more minutes. Out of the corner of his eye, James thought he saw a blur. Then he felt a breeze and heard a whisper, “Don’t be afraid. I won’t hurt you.”