Willy fell from the bridge pathway of the cyber forest into a neon maelstrom. Bright flashes, bolts of instant lightning, excited into existence an illuminated outline where his body had fallen through the surface screen. Abby held tight to a thick loom of coiled wires, leaned over the bridge, and cried after him in her sweet little-girl voice. Willy, dont swim in there; the currents will carry you away! She fluffed and fluttered her tiny wings, lifted from the path. She was a pixy, a feather and beautiful Childlike thing. Willy... Wiiiiillly...

Abby darted in hummingbird-fashion to a Motherboard platform. Her wings, invisible while in flight, hugged her shoulders and proudly displayed their opalescent hues at rest. She rubbed her bare feet, bottom to bottom, and closed her eyes.

I hate yer dumb wings. Willy hunched down next to her, dewdrops of light streaming down his cyber-wet ornery-boy face.

Abby reached out, eyes still closed, and caught a drop as it launched itself from the end of his nose. Youre all wet, Willy.

A stiff marching spider of bad light made its way stealthily across the platform toward the children. It raised its forelegs and used them to stroke a wormlike erectile phosphorescent tube just above its single Cyclops eye. Twin chromed silver fangs glistened at the sides of its menacing face with no mouth. The worm, cyberblood-full and throbbing, stood at erection face- front on top of the creatures head. A faint buzzing sound emanated from its body as it rose from the platform, positioning itself face-level to Willy and Abby. Its rubbing legs lowered slowly, then performed as antennae, measuring its angle of assault. It became a wicked liquid metal bullet, glowing and coiled to launch itself, an instrument of certain mayhem. Abbys eyes opened in alarm. Willy, watch out!

Willys tongue leapt from his face, caught the spider mid-launch, and pulled it into his mouth, sluurrp! Yum yum, he grinned contentedly. He performed an exaggerated gulp, a loud belch, and rubbed his tummy.

Abby covered her mouth. Yucky. She folded her arms and pooched out her bottom lip. I dont like your ugly tongue.

Willy offered her his best gape-toothed smile, eyes round and white in his dark face. I hate yer dumb wings and you hate my tongue. That makes us even.

You better quit sayin you hate stuff, Abby scolded. Were too little to know about hate. You shouldnt say such things!

Dont be mean t me, Abby, Willy interrupted. It hurts when you do that.

An you better stop teasin those bugs, Abby warned. One o these days...

I probably saved yer life, Willy muttered, An all you wanna do is gripe at me!

Abbys face softened. Anger never stood much more than half a chance in her sweet bosom. I know you keep em off me, she said softly, a tear threatening to fall from the corner of her eye. I dont want you to get hurt, Willy. Youre all I got here; youre all I ever got.

Willy looked down, over the edge of the platform, and wiggled his toes. Youre all I got too, Abby. Dont cry; it makes my ears all hot.

You silly! Abby giggled. You never told me that before. My ears never get hot all by their lonesome, only when Im hot everywhere else. Do yours really? Do they get hot all by themselves, Willy?

Only aroun you, Willy replied. I dont wanna talk about it.

Abby scrunched herself closer to him. Can we whisper-talk like we used to? she said in a low voice. Can I kiss your ear, Willy?

Abby spoke softly, butterfly wings soft-waving with each breath. Willys ears burned and the anger on his face dissolved. In its place, a melancholy peace settled over his countenance. Below them the dark surface screen warped, morphed into a spectrum of lilac hues, a soft luminous cloud threatening to tickle their dangling feet. Fans whirred on all sides, creating a pleasing cross/zephyr embrace on the close edge of their skins. Strange, the Children agreed, that year-after-year in this forever-dry place, the winds always sounded like running water. They were surrounded by star-shine, lights twinkling and winking. There was no pattern or symmetry to this environment. Flat wires and chips, USB ports, floppy drives and CD burners, wireless connections, its web tied together a universe of talking heads. Chaos reigned except for the electronic clock. Stop.

Then the violent storm begins, mother voices and father voices, angry and accusing teachers, adults attacking from the other world, the real world: Abigail, you come here! William, you go to the principals office this instant!

Willy put his hands over his ears. Make em stop, Abby! he begged, Please make em stop!

Abby pulled Willys hand from his ear, held it tight in her own. She whisper-talked, mouth close and voice sweet. Know why I dont like your tongue?

Willys lips didnt move. Ya already tol me ya think its ugly, he replied through his closed mouth.

Sorta, Abby agreed. But, hey Willy, the really real reason is that it isnt you. My Willy has a tongue just like mine.

Willys mouth opened a bit. Your Willy?

Abby blushed, pixy cheeks and cherry lips. Ah Willy, you know that. Youll always be my Willy.

I hadda do the tongue, Willy stated plaintively. Member when we firs got here. We were so scared o the bugs. Then I got my tongue so I could fight em an protect us.

Abby stared off into the twinkling cyber sky. What if their bytes didnt hurt us? she asked Willy and the billionth light she saw. Maybe we should've let one byte us first to see what would happen. Well never know until we do.

Gooseflesh crawled across Willys body, head to toe. No! he declared flatly. You n me, we gotta take care o each other. Ain no ol spider never gonna get a chance t hurt my Abby. Anyways, we gotta keep em outa peoples systems. Like that nice lady on ninety-nine who keeps openin stuff bad people send er. You like t look at er face, Abby. What if er system got spidered an we couldn see er no more?

Abby smiled, soft and small. You said your Abby... Have you said that before? We cant ever be ourselves, can we Willy?

Yeah. I said it before, to myself. Willy slipped an arm around her waist. Ya know why I dont like yer wings?

A hurt look crept onto Abbys face. Do you think theyre ugly, Willy? Do you?

Nah, Willy sighed, Its jus...

Abby squeezed his hand. Oh Willy, my fairy wings must look just terrible to you. But theyre like your tongue, Willy. I grew them so I could lead the bugs away when there were too many. I couldnt ever eat a bug so I

Willy took his arm from around Abbys waist and she stopped speaking. Im tryin to tell ya why I don like yer wings, Abby. Jus shut up an lemme tell ya.

Chirp, went Abbys voice, Chirp. The tiniest of smiles and red, red face.

Yer wingsre almos as pretty as yer face, Willy blustered, An I, well I almos cried when I firs saw em cause...

Dont cry, Willy, Abby sobbed.

Cause I couldn hug ya no more, Willy wept. Them wingsre in the way. I jus wanna hug ya like we use to.

Abbys wings dissolved and Willys Earth tongue returned to his mouth. A cyber star twinkled and, followed by a thousand others, established a protective circle around these dear children of the cyber forest. Willy hugged her tight; they rocked back and forth. Abbys lips found his mouth and they enjoyed that first childs kiss. Later, fairy wings and lizard tongue intact, they led a new army of the good light on a mission to protect their thousands of friends on the other side of the cyber screen. This only worked for those who believed and kept the faith as only Willy and Abby could teach them. There was no pattern or symmetry to their child/ghost crusade. Chaos reigned except for the electronic clock. Stop.

Abigail Marie, Abigaaiil!!! William Lincoln, you are a disgrace, Williaam!!!


William and Abigail met in 1962 when they began first grade at Garfield Elementary School in Colorado Springs, Colorado. They shared a finger-painting project and became fast and inseparable friends. Hands touched and eyes smiled. This raised a few eyebrows, as Willy was the only black child in the class. Abigail had a bouncing blonde ponytail and blue eyes. Adults 'cluck-clucked' a bit but figured no harm done, so long as they kept a sharp eye on the subjects. Willy and Abby felt what children feel, that deeper voice of warning. Nobody said anything in particular. Something was wrong. What?

Art class was conducted in downstairs rooms at Garfield. Art was Abby and Willys favorite subject. They laughed and pointed sticky fingers at each other. In first grade the teacher appointed a group of children to help with cleaning and straightening the art room before they went home each weekend. Willy and Abby were ready and willing to be selected and, by second grade, when a signup list was initiated, their names were never missing. They were helpful children and spent whatever time they could in each others company. Most times they were allowed to be together as part of the group.

In third grade the two youngsters realized they were much more than just classmates. They were best friends, creative and friendly, already leaders amongst their peers. Still stalwart members of the Friday afternoon cleaning committee, and experienced ones at that, they found themselves alone in the room every once in awhile. Abby had a golden necklace. She would toss it to Willy and he would toss it back. One day they began to swing the tiny chain between them, back and forth, round and round. They even made it past their shyness a few times and chanced a look into each others eyes. They still felt what children feel, and would never interact in such a brazen manner when other children or, heaven forbid, adults were in the vicinity.

One Friday afternoon, alone for a moment, Willy screwed up his courage and hugged Abby. It was a great relief when she hugged him back. This became a Friday afternoon ritual for them. There was no evident pattern or symmetry to their childhood friendship. Chaos reigned except for the electronic clock. Stop.

On what would be Abby and Willys last Friday afternoon, a teacher walked into the room. They were caught in the foul act of embracing. The teacher said, Abigail, you come here! William, you go to the principals office this instant! Well call your parents right away. Boys and girls are not to touch each other! The administration of this school will not put up with such behavior!

The children were put in separate classes. They were punished by their respective parents, teased and ostracized by their eight-year-old classmates. Willys uncle had committed suicide a couple of years ago by drinking automobile antifreeze. Willy had witnessed Daddys tears many times when he told the story to Momma. He took Daddys thermos to school the Tuesday following his last Friday. Momma and Daddy smiled. Their Willy would (or maybe) be alright. He and Abby ditched lunch, met in their beloved art room and hugged for a long, long time. They gagged down the lethal grape Kool-aid Willy had mixed in Daddys thermos and fell asleep in each others arms.

Their spirits crawled into the phone lines of the old school and waited for someone to plug them in and wake them up. Each year they go back and each year they move forward. As people, most of the time, we do only the former. I see these beautiful Children on my cyber screen. Do you? . . .


Go to: http://theshadowlands.net/places/colorado.htm (33rd listing on the page - Colorado Springs - Community Prep High School was Garfield Elementary)