It was late in the afternoon when the plane began to descend toward the Shannon Airport. Clouds fluttered past the windows, wind rocking the hull as they circled down slowly. People had tucked away their belongings and begun to stare out of the windows at the approaching land. The pilot’s voice crackled on the plane’s speakers. “Ladies and Gentlemen, this is your captain speaking.” A little boy pointed at the window excitedly, “Mommy, look how high up we are.” Rowan cringed as her stomach turned over. She had her eyes firmly fixed on the seat in front of her. She stretched her legs as best she could under the seat, her muscles protesting the eight hour long flight. It would be over in a matter of minutes, but that meant… Don’t think about how high up we are. Don’t think about how high up we are. “You can see forever. Even all the way across the ocean.” The boy leaned over his mother, nose pressed up to the glass. Her hands tightened around the arms of her seat. The stale air began to stink with the fumes from her fellow passengers. A cold sweat broke out on her arms. It was getting harder to breath. Don’t think about how high up we are. “What if the plane falls, Mommy?” his sister whimpered, hugging a tiny stuffed cat to her chest. Rowan leaned back and took a deep breath. Don’t think- The brother turned with an evil grin, wiggling his fingers in the air. “Then we go splat!” Rowan tore open the plastic bag provided by the airline, heaving as the plane dipped again. Thankfully the seat next to her was empty. She snapped the bag closed, pulling a napkin from her bag. With a miserable groan, she leaned back in the seat. Damn you Wright brothers. -------- After a smooth landing and shaky departure, Rowan made her way through customs to the luggage carousal. By the time she’d retrieved her black duffle bag her legs had stopped quaking. She headed for the airport lobby, stopping to buy a water bottle that she gulped down greedily. Her heartrate began to return to normal, the fog clearing from her mind. She stopped near the main entry, checking her watch to note the time. 4:34 pm. They had arrived early, though not early enough in her opinion. Boats may be slower, she grumbled, selecting an open bench nearby the door, but at least you’re not 50,000 feet above the ground in a metal deathtrap. She pulled out her iPod and selected a song, standing again to stretch her aching limbs. She wanted to go jogging and sleep for a day. Even safely on the ground, her nerves refused to settle. This day had come so suddenly; the beginning of the rest of her life. Only yesterday she’d begun her goodbyes, enjoying a farewell luncheon with friends and family. Most of them believed she was going to Ireland to live with her uncle and study at the local university. She smiled dimly, dropping back into her chair. A half truth was better than none. She settled back into her chair and watched the people passing. A solid half hour passed before a familiar face appeared in the crowd. Her uncle Conner came jogging into the terminal, surveying the area with his bright green eyes. When they came to her, a relieved smile broke out onto his face. “Rowan!” She got to her feet as he came to meet her, his lean frame still muscular, an impressive feat for a man nearing his fifties. Though Rowan knew her uncle had more than his strict health regiment to thank for that. He shared the same chestnut brown hair that Rowan had received from her mother. It was trimmed close to his scape with a nine o’clock shadow present on his face. He picked up her bag, “Sorry, I’m late. I left the house later than I’d intended. How was the flight?” “Pretty calm,” Rowan replied, grateful that she’d had time to bring the color back to her cheeks. Nothing instilled more confidence than seeing someone exit a plane looking like death warmed over. And she needed to look confident. She straightened the white tank top she wore beneath her light green button-up. The look had been completed with a pair of dark jeans and off-brand converse. A workable travel outfit. Her uncle started back for the doors, “Cars parked a ways out, but the walk will do you good.” They worked their way through the parking lot, finding to her uncle’s little olive car parked near the back in the sun. Rowan climbed into the passenger’s seat, dropping her backpack onto the floor while her uncle dropped her duffle bag into the truck. Her other belongings were being shipped to his home. My home. The first ten minutes were spent catching up, relating family information and tidbits about the past summer. She talked mostly about her mother’s new baking obsession and Meav’s accomplishments on her school’s soccer team. Football, she corrected her mentally. The conversation petered out, leaving Rowan time to nap while Conner drove them to his home out in the countryside. It had belonged to the Callaghan family for generations, passed down from usually to a single member of the family. No one in the family would dare to sell it or contest their claim to it. The land was mostly surrounded by woods and fields, half an hour from the nearest major town. The pastures were rented to neighbors for livestock grazing. The woods remained untouched. A rumble signaled Rowan to straighten up as they began to make their way down the dirt road leading to the house; a tiny pastel blue two bedroom house with most of the modern conveniences. A small shed stood off to the side with a one car-garage attached. Rowan stepped out of the car, shutting the door as she took in the image of her second home. Permanent home now. She’d spent every summer here from the time she turned eight. With all the times they’d moved for her father’s career, this place almost felt more like her childhood home than any of their houses in the States had. “Go ahead and head into the house if you want to rest,” Conner called to her, slamming her door shut, “You should have some time before the meeting tonight. Sure you’re feeling some jet lag right about now.” Rowan retrieved her bag from the trunk, shouldering her backpack, “I’ll do that, thanks.” She headed into the house, going straight to the spare room near the back of the house that had slowly become her own. She dropped her bags onto the floor by the small dresser pressed into the corner, glancing out the window. She could see the path into the woods from here. Her eyes grew distant as she followed the trail in her mind. Just at the end stood a hawthorn tree, older than nearly everything in the woods. In Ireland, people commonly referred to them as fairy trees. No one would dare to cut one down, though few believed in fairies any longer. Superstitions managed to survive even this age of science. She smiled again, jumping onto the bed with a grateful sigh. No one would ever know the truth behind the legend.