Roger had a strange look on his face. “Don't you remember?”
“Last night in the Gullumgall'ad’s cave. You got your bathrobe in the water.”
Mavis felt the world tipping sharply and wondered if her head was going as sideways as she felt. But this time she didn’t focus on it. This time she was busy trying to muster enough energy to be shocked. In the end, all she could manage was a “What does that mean?”
“If you didn’t tell me about your dream,” said Roger, “and there is no other place you could have gotten your hem wet, then it means that you and I really did go to the Gullumgall'ad’s last night.”
“But that’s crazy,” said Mavis. “There can’t possibly be another world in the garden shed.”
“That’s what Susan said about the wardrobe.”
“Which was in a book. By a middle aged college professor.”
Roger wasn’t listening. “Oh my goodness! What if C S Lewis was the basis for Professor Kirk? What is Narnia was based on a true story?!”
“Reality paging Roger,” said Mavis. “If I was in possession of the ability to transport to a world as awesome as Narnia, I wouldn’t want anyone else to know about it. Because they would go there and spoil it.”
“Great insight,” said Roger. “I agree. We shouldn’t tell anyone else about the Gullumgall'ad. Lucky that Grandma and Linda didn’t believe it was real.”
“I don’t believe it was real!”
Roger’s entire face crumpled. “You don’t? You really, really don’t?”
Mavis opened her mouth. She formed the words. And then she couldn’t say them. “Com’on, let’s go see.”
“It won’t be there,” said Roger, helping her into her bathrobe. “If it’s anything like Narnia, you can’t find it when you’re looking. It has to call you.”
It wasn’t there. There was just the rusty old reel mower, a stack of terracotta pots, and a few rakes leaning against the wall. No special door, nothing that looked even remotely magical.
Mavis felt like an idiot for dragging herself all of the way out there when she had known all along that Roger was right. And that it wouldn’t prove anything.
“Do you think that the Gullumgall'ad will grant my wish?” asked Roger.
“I dunno,” said Mavis, leaning against the wall. “He said he wouldn’t.”
“But he might, just to spite us. I hope he does. Hey!” he looked at her more closely. “What’s up? You look green!”
For an answer, Mavis fell suddenly to the floor.
“Hey!” shouted Roger out the door. “Somebody help!”
“Don’t panic,” said Mavis softly. “I’m always dizzy.”
But Roger was too busy panicking to hear. “Help! Help!”
There was the sound of tennis shoes on the gravel driveway and then a teenage guy came sprinting around the corner of the house. Mavis had never seen Brent before, and in that moment she was seeing two of him, so she didn’t feel like introducing herself.
“What’s wrong?” asked Brent.
“Mavis is awful dizzy,” said Roger, trying to sound calm. “Could you--maybe, I mean?”
Brent scooped Mavis up and set off for the house. “Mrs Westbury!” he called.
Grandma came to the kitchen door and her face went white as a sheet. “Oh dear, oh my!”
Mavis tried to tell her that she was ok, but even though Brent was being gentle it was hard not to bump her, and when she was being bumped she was too dizzy to speak.
“Where should I put her, Mrs Westbury?” asked Brent.
“On the couch. Oh dear, Roger, whatever happened?”
“We just walked out to the shed,” said Roger. “And she went down.”
“If it isn’t Saruman the White,” said Linda, coming in from the porch.
“Walk off of a pier, Linda!” shouted Roger. His face was all splotchy.
“Roger!” cried Grandma.
Mavis wanted to tell him that she didn’t mind, that Linda didn’t bother her. It wasn’t the truth, exactly, but it was what he needed to hear, and what she would have said, if only she could have spoken.
As soon as Brent laid Mavis on the couch, Grandma smothered her with blankets and kisses. Poor Mavis just lay there and wished they would all go away and let her sleep. Sleeping was better than being awake. She wasn’t dizzy in her dreams. At least, not most of the time.
“What?” asked Grandpa through the screen door, his eyes panicky. “What?!”
“Mavis had one of her daily fainting fits,” said Linda. “So, nothing important.”
Grandpa gave her a quietly reproachful look and came in to lean over Mavis. “Dizzy?” he asked in his gentle way. Mavis nodded ever so slightly.
“What, whatever should we do?” asked Grandma, fluttering her apron excitedly. “I should call your parents!”
“There’s no reason to do that,” said Mavis. “I just need to even out. If I can get to sleep I’ll be fine.”
“Oh, oh dear, ok, if you say so, dear. Come along, everyone. Let’s give her some space. George?”
Grandpa followed her meekly.
Linda went back out onto the porch, flipping her hair.
Brent just looked at Roger, and Roger nodded. In less than a minute they were over on Brent’s hardtop, doing drills. “It’s in the wrist,” said Brent, watching Roger’s form.
“Yeah.” Brent sank a few shots before he asked “That was your sister?”
“She going to be ok?”
Roger missed a shot, but he was glad for the time it took him to run after the ball. By the time he had to face Brent again, he was calm. “Sure,” he lied. “She just gets dizzy spells.”
“Got inner ear problems?”
“Doctors haven’t said yet.”
“The doctors have said plenty,” said Linda from the edge of the porch. “Every test comes back negative. She’s just a drama queen.”
Roger felt the red go right up his face and into his hair. “Just because everything they test isn’t the right thing doesn’t mean that she’s making it up!”
“Come on, Roger,” scoffed Linda. “If it was anything serious, would Aunt Ruby really have left her here all summer. Really?”
Roger felt trapped, like when someone suddenly says “checkmate” in chess and you hadn’t seen their strategy at all.
“Admit it,” continued Linda. “It’s all in her head.”
Roger slammed the basketball down so hard it bounced nearly as high as the hoop.
“Whoa!” said Brent. “That’s some power! Ready for one on one?”
Roger nodded and turned his back on the porch.
Linda just laughed and curled back up on the swing. “It’s all in her head,” she repeated to herself.
She didn’t know that Mavis was listening on the other side of the window, crying silently and with her eyes closed, like she always did.
“I wish you were right,” Mavis whispered. “I wish it was all in my head.”
Just like Linda hadn’t known that Mavis was listening, Mavis didn’t know that there was someone in the living room with her. But there was a stirring in the curtains, and Old Sebastian, the blind tom cat, raised his head. He didn’t try to give chase though. He knew who it was, and he liked her. So he just rolled over on his back and let his belly have it’s share of the sun.