Zach went overboard to save a woman he didn’t know. He never thought he’d need saving himself. Jisinia went to Hob’s Island to investigate a dangerous discovery. She never expected to rescue a stranger. While Jin tries to sort out what to do with her man overboard, Zach’s friends, old and new, face their own problems. The fall-out from his rescue leaves everyone shaken and quite a few of them stirred.
Patterdale: 2007 - 2018
Once in a blue moon, extraordinary things happened to Zach Rowan. They sprang from things he did in good faith, and they had the potential to be wonderful or excruciating, or sometimes both at once.
The first blue moon affair happened when he was seventeen, and he screwed up his courage to invite the most beautiful girl in his year to their college dance. He was prepared for a refusal, because he knew he was punching above his weight with Honeycomb Bakewell. She had long, crinkly honey-gold hair and amber eyes, a tart personality, and she carried herself like a queen.
Zach knew she was a fairy, but he didn’t tell her that. He’d stopped mentioning fairies in public after his great-grandmother Shoshanna Rowan died. She’d explained about fairies, not the flitty wand-wielding sprites the girls at school pretended about, but a different kind of people who lived somewhere close by but invisible to Zach. Shoshanna said that place was called over there and that you went there through the gateways. She promised to find someone to take him through when he was older, but then she’d died.
He asked his gran about the gateways, but she raised her brows and said it was just Great-Granny’s way.
He mentioned it to his mum, and she said old people often talked nonsense.
After that, he took the hint.
As he grew into his teens, he wondered about Shoshanna. She was ninety when he was born, so when was she planning to get someone to take him through the gate? Who would she have asked? Why not take him herself? And why, oh why, had he not asked these questions when he still could?
Did she think she’d live forever?
Was she talking nonsense?
He never forgot her stories, and whenever he met someone beautiful, imperious, or too lucky to be true, he knew in the back of his mind that person might be a fairy.
It didn’t happen often.
When he invited Honey Bakewell to the dance, she gave it to him straight. No. Really, no. Just…no. She was going with Asha Levy. Since Asha was gay, Zach supposed Honey was too.
Just his luck. Two of the three most gorgeous girls in Patterdale were hard-wired to resist his charms. He didn’t blame Honeycomb for wanting to go with Asha. Asha looked like an Eastern princess with soft dark eyes like pansies. She’d been number two on his list of girls to ask to the dance. He didn’t care that she was gay. She was quick and clever and lovely to look at. Zach loved beautiful things.
She wasn’t a fairy, unless she was a Persian djinn.
Honeycomb steered him to invite the third girl of the Triumvirate of Gorgeousness instead.
Ash-blonde Mab O’Mara, who had just broken up with a boyfriend, accepted with a grin that gave him an instant hard-on and a sisterly kiss on the cheek.
“You’re sweet Zachie-Row. I’d love to come.”
Oh, God. Sweet! Zach’s southern promontory deflated, which was just as well. Patterdale College frowned on PDAs by the lockers, so how much worse would it consider PD horniness?
Strike three, but he took what the blue moon offered and was grateful.
Fairy? Not a chance. Pity. He’d love to kiss a fairy and Mab was marginally more accessible than the others.
At the prom, Zach danced with all three girls who also danced with one another but with no other boys. It was the romantic high point of his school career and sometimes, in his melancholy moments, he feared it might be the romantic high point of his life.
He had only to close his eyes to see the three bright-faced young women glowing in amber, green and sapphire dresses that never came from the discount rail at Ella’s-Umbrella. They’d chosen him to make up their fourth. Honeycomb even produced a dark red shirt for him to wear. Her mother had whipped it up when she made the dresses, she told him. He could wear it or not, and he could keep it or give it away.
Give it up? Never. He still had it. It was his magic fairy shirt, and he wore it for luck.
He and Mab went about for the next few weeks and indulged in some practice kissing, but they enrolled in separate universities and their ties worked loose. Anyway, Zach knew from the start that Mab O’Mara wasn’t his. He needed more years and more confidence, and then he might find himself a fairy.
When he had those years, Zach still thought of the three as my blue moon girls. Honeycomb was his fairy queen, Asha was his Persian princess, and Mab was his gorgeous girl next door. He knew he overused the term gorgeous in his daydreams, but he had never come up with anything that had an equivalent ring.
The trouble with the Blue Moon Girls was that he couldn’t settle for anyone less. He trained as a teacher, and he ended up in Early Childhood Services, which meant he met his share of yummy mummies. Some were single, but none of them measured up to his Blue Moon Girls. How could they? They were in their twenties and thirties, with kids in tow. He was Mr Rowan to them. To some of the children, he was Zachie, which reminded him of Mab. He concluded these kids saw him as a kind of tolerant big brother who wiped their noses, listened to their often TMI News and cared for them until they put on their backpacks at the end of the day and their real families came to take them home. He liked kids. They were open, honest and affectionate, wilful, and naughty. They still hadn’t learned there was no such thing as fairies. Neither had Zach.