It was the end February. Geri and I sat out on the short concrete pier and we watched the fog. It was deep like snow in the air, and you couldn’t see across the bay– no lights across the water, only a dark thickness.
“It’s like the gates of Faery opened up, and we’re looking into it,” I said.
“It’s like another world. There’s no city on the other side…” she trailed off.
“Are you thinking…?” we said, both of us at the same time, and we knew the answer.
“We need a third.” I said.
“A third? Are you sure? Who?”
“We’ll know when we stumble upon them.”
And so we faded from the bay front like after images, and walked back along the promenade, back to the library looming lonely in the dark. It was nearly deserted. Seeing no one, we circled, wheeled, and swooped upon the dormitories instead.
The court yard by the dorms lived. There were students abuzz, shrieking, laughing at the weekend party. And there, amid the chaos and mad giggling, we found Jake. Jake was not shy, this I assure you. Rather, it was an air of… being more grown-up than the average college student, so when I said to Geri, “I think we found our third,” she replied, “Are you sure?”
I was sure. And so, we asked. Asking is a magic of its own, a magic of limbos and in-betweens. I cast my question like a spell. And in Jake’s reply began the night’s other magic: “Yes.”
And so and so, the three of us trotted off into the fog, a disappearing act, to find ourselves beside the boats, back behind buildings, out by the bay. Two paddles and one canoe later, we set off into the mist.
The shore quickly vanished behind us, embraced in damp tendrils. We forged ahead, to the school’s old sailboat anchored in the bay, the one that had sat two years waiting to have its hull scraped of barnacles, waiting for someone to do something with it. We did something with it– we boarded, three fog-damped mice in the night. We acquainted ourselves with the resident cockroaches and told tales appropriate to the moment (I told a tale of cockroaches and my near demise at the overwhelming power of their six-legged selves).
And then something truly fae struck us. February on the bay, and it was brought up that I had never been skinny dipping. I had tried once and failed, due to unforeseen capture. So three fog-damped mice stripped off their damp clothes and plunged one by one into the water to soak.
As close to ice as Florida comes! I shrieked as I plunged in, Jake was stoic, and then Geri noticed something… her arms as she tread water were trailed by sparkling gold-green. Every movement we made lit our tiny wakes with light– February on the bay, and there was the bioluminesence. Firefly sparks in the cold water, the three of us splashing giddily about, and there in the dead of Florida winter, the dry season, we played with portents of springs, with the harbingers of a healthy bay.
Three damp mice went in, and three soaked mice came out. Our clothes seemed dry by comparison, even if they were a bit tickly… I think the cockroaches thought they were a gift, were miffed that we wanted our wearables back.
Wet, the cool night bit at us. We reboarded our canoe, acknowledged but did not thank the Good Neighbors (never thank the Good Neighbors), and paddled back through the white veil into our world again, trailing water-sparks in our paddle strokes.