Email 23

From: Daniel
Subject: Henry’s Mountain

Dear Mr. Macpherson,

Sometimes I go hiking on Henry’s Mountain with Natalya and Donovan.  Like I told you, Natalya is my friend.  She lives in Candlelight Estates Mobile Home Park, just like me, except she and her dad live over on Loop D.

Donovan’s my dog.  Mom says he’s never going to win any dog beauty contests.  It’s true–he’s not much to look at.  He’s the kind of medium-sized, dark brown, floppy-haired mutt you see whenever you go to the pound.  But, Donovan’s a good friend to me.

Henry’s Mountain is a great place to go exploring.  One day after school, I called up Natalya and asked if she wanted to go up to the cliffs to look for hawks.  Fall is the time of year when they migrate south.  Natalya said yes, of course.  I packed peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for Natalya and me and some doggie biscuits for Donovan.  Natalya brought a couple of apples, and we head up to the cliffs.

When we got to the cliffs, Donovan plopped onto a warm rock for a nap.  Natalya and I unpacked the lunches and got out the binoculars.  There was a warm wind blowing up the valley, and it was a good day for birds.  We saw Red Tails, Cooper’s Hawks, some Sharp-Shins, and a couple of kestrels.  I guess we kind of forgot about the time.  Before we knew it, the sun was getting low.

We woke up Donovan, put the rest of the food into the backpack, and started back down the hillside.  Donovan trotted ahead, stopping to sniff the bushes.  Half an hour later, we were hurrying along the overgrown trail through the forest.  The light  was fading, but we weren’t too worried about getting lost.  We’d been up and down that trail too many times.

Then, suddenly, Donovan stopped.  He looked around and began to whine.  It was a weird sound–different than any noise I’d ever heard him make.

Natalya and I watched Donovan.  He sniffed the air, looking from side to side.  Then,  he dropped to his belly, right in the middle of the trail.

I was about to give Donovan a little kick and tell him to get going when Natalya touched my arm.  She pointed ahead.

Off to the side, along a low ridge, four lights were passing through the trees.  They were headed up the mountain–only they were passing through an area where I knew there was no trail.

The lights were swinging back and forth.  They could have been flashlights or lanterns.  I thought about calling out.

But then I looked down at Donovan.  He was hugging the ground so tight it looked like he was trying to disappear.  Maybe Natalya guessed what I was thinking.  She squeezed my arm and put her finger to her lips.

Those lights just weren’t the color you’d see from a lantern or flashlight.  They were the same color as the glow from your shell.

The lights stopped once.  When they did, I think we all quit breathing.  Then, they started up the mountain again.  As they disappeared, we heard whispery footsteps.

Donovan waited at least a minute after the lights passed before he raised his head.  He looked around and whined quietly.  Then he sat down right on my foot!

Natalya and I looked at each other.  Neither of us knew what to think.

“Let’s go,” Natalya whispered, pointing down the trail.  So, we headed for home.

Donovan was plenty happy to follow along.  He stayed so close to us he kept on getting tangled up in my legs.

You’d think Natalya and I might have been a little scared after seeing those lights, but we weren’t.  Sometimes we talk about that night.  Our memories are clear about what happened, but we still have no idea what we saw.  Whenever we go up on Henry’s Mountain in the evening, we wonder if we might see them again.  But, so far we haven’t.

What did you do after Abubakar dropped you off in Marsa Alam?


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