Julia Arrives in Ireland
"You don't want their help," the teenage driver says, as the car careens down the street. I sit behind the driver and get doused as he shakes water out of his tousled, blonde hair. I brush the water off and notice his strong shoulders and slim body as he drives the car. The only direct glimpse I see of his face is through the rear view mirror. He looks in the mirror past me to the pub where the last of the teenagers has finally entered. His face relaxes, but his foot hits the accelerator.
“Thank you, I think,” I say, still bewildered. “I haven’t told you where I’m going yet.”
"Don't mind the landy gobdaws," he says.
"Landy gobdaws?" I ask. “Do you even know where I’m going?”
"Aye, you know the snooty chatterboxes." Why won’t he answer my questions? Why are we heading out of town? And where is he taking me?
“Where are we going?” I ask, starting to get concerned.
“Where are we going, she asks,” he says to himself, laughing.
"Excuse me, this could be kidnapping."
"Kidnapping? Funny, we call it saving your arse."
“Are you serious?
“Of course, I’m serious.”
“My ‘arse’ isn’t going anywhere with you. I don’t even know you.”
"I'm Flynn. Grand to meet you," he says, turning his face to give me a winning grin. Now I can see his face: a mischievous teen with curious eyes, a pointy chin, lips that curl into a permanent laugh line and blonde hair as shocked to be on his head as I am in his car.
“You have to let me out, for real. No one will pay my ransom.”
“Not worthy of a ransom,” he says shaking his head in pity. “In that case, you’d better take this.” He hands me my paper with “Fae Cottage” written on it. Relief that he’s not a psycho rushes over me. I smile. I realize it’s the first time that I’ve smiled since I lost my dad or became an orphan.
He has a bad habit of looking at me too long and not watching the road. His driving is treacherous even under normal, slow driving conditions.
"Hair pin," I say loudly, pointing at an upcoming turn.
“I was born on these roads,” he says, barely giving the road a glance. Slowly, he turns toward me with a smile on his face. "What are you afraid of?"
"You go any faster and we’ll have clearance for takeoff." He takes the hair pin turn as if the devil were at his heels.
"Is someone after you?" I ask, seeing him look in the rear view mirror.
"Not today. But you never know when one will be. Is someone after you?" he asks.
“Why would anyone be after me? I’m a teenager.”
“…From Los Angeles.”
“Are you now?”
“I really, really am….”
Instead of looking back at the road, his eyes catch mine in the rear view mirror several seconds too long, causing me to blush. A white image in the distance up ahead distracts me, causing my eyes to go wide. The white image is motionless, and we quickly approach it. “Sheep!” I yell, pointing up the road.
With precision timing, he misses the sheep by inches and narrowly avoids driving off the cliff. The force causes my body to slam into the door. My face plasters the window, allowing me to fully take in the crashing sea water on the rocky coast 100 feet below.
The sheep remains unresponsive, not even giving the obligatory “bah” as we careen past it.
"Let me out here," I say.
"All the same, there are no other cabs in town. I'm the only one."
"I’ll take my own chances. Just point me in the direction, and I'll walk the rest of the way."
"Nonsense. We're almost there. 20 minutes for this drive on a usual day, but I'll get you there in under 10, I will," he says, taking another turn as if the wheels are on fire.
Out of another wild turn, the road becomes narrow enough for only one car. During the drive, the stormy ocean remains west, on my left, while damp, green hills lull in the wind to the east, on my right.
We ramble along at neck breaking speed until I can spot a stack of rocks in the distance. The closer we get, the more I realize that the large pile of rocks is actually a structure. Flynn sees the end in sight, and we accelerate over bumpy mud, causing the car to catch a couple feet of air. The car slams on the ground and once my head settles from bouncing, I see that he's pulling into a grassy patch next to the dilapidated structure.
Moss, mud and a multitude of living organisms have solidified in between the stone rocks, making up the walls of the shelter. A thatch roof and smoke puffing out the chimney tell me that we're here. “She’s a pre-famine cottage, you’re looking at. Those stones and chimney smoke could tell a secret or two,” he says thrusting the car to a stop.
"Eight minutes. A new record," he says, proud of his accomplishment. I check my vital organs and exhale, relieved that each one survived.
“No one could get you here faster,” he says, full of himself. “No payment necessary, beat my record, I did,” he says, smiling at me with a mischievous smirk.
"You may have been bottle fed beer as a baby, but that doesn't mean you have to drive like it," I say, hitting him with my purse.
"I’ll take that as a cheeky ‘thanks.’”
Begrudgingly, I hand him payment for the ride. I only have U.S. currency, but that will have to do. He pushes my money back to me. “Beating my record is payment enough. I got you here all right, didn't I? Home Sweet Home," he says, smiling as if he brought me to the Four Seasons Hotel.
I mumble something about “home” under my breath. Is he for real? How could anyone call a “pre-famine cottage” home?
"Grand Fae Cottage. Gorgeous, isn’t she," he says, as more of a statement of pride than a question.
"Oh, it's special," I say, willing to take Dorothy's Depression Era farmhouse over this shack.
"You know, I didn't get your name," he says, politely, now that he's through with his suicidal stock car racing.
"That's because I didn't give it," I say.
"Well, I'll need it if I'm to use it next time I see you," he says, getting out my luggage and taking it to the front door.
"What makes you think there'll be a next time?" I ask, sure that he's the last person I'd want to see or risk my life with again.
“You think not?” he asks.
“Without a doubt.”