TITLE: Dryad Down Under
GENRE: Contemporary ("Urban") Fantasy
“Listen to me!”
Mabel paused her ministrations, startled by Gran’s tone. Had she let her attention slip so much that she hadn’t noticed Gran’s fever ease? The sense of the previous words wormed its way through her exhaustion and she sighed. More trees, spirits, and danger; the same gibberish Gran had spouted since her collapse.
“No, listen, Ace!” No one but Gran ever called her “Ace.” She’d called Mabel a multitude of names that weren’t hers in the last few hours; maybe Gran’s mind was clear after all. “I don’t have much time, and who knows if I’ll be this lucid again later.”
Mabel stared at her, stunned at the cold certainty in Gran’s voice. The wet cloth she’d been using to cool Gran’s forehead hung suspended inches above said sweaty brow, forgotten. Gran saw that she had Mabel’s attention and drew a papery breath.
“I thought I’d have time to explain it all to you, but I’ve been a fool. I’ve put both you and my Essence in danger. You’ll have to go to your Tree. When I’m gone, you must go to the grove and—”
Gran’s eyes glazed over as the fever took control again. All Mabel could make out was something about Pops, and she knew Gran was lost in the past again. Mabel resumed her nursing duties, more dejected than ever.
One of the old kitchen chairs lined up along the far wall as a makeshift waiting area groaned its familiar complaint at taking on a human burden.