By Crossroads, PID 11004
“I know, Mama, I know! I just don’t have the time for a real relationship right now,” soothed Allyson. “The bartender thing is just a gig until I get a job in a museum or gallery, although I am thinking about going back to school. I don’t think the art history degree I have is gonna pan out for me.”
“Back to school? What for this time?” he mother sighed in frustration.
“I was thinking about a degree in International Studies and Foreign Languages,” Ally replied excitedly.
“Really...?” her mother replied said skeptically.
“Really, Mama! I have been talking to several people with various experience and backgrounds in dealing with other countries, and they said they can get me a job with a company that will help pay for my degree...,” Allyson trailed off, seeing the skeptical expression on her mother’s face. “Really, Mama, I’ve already talked to the company and they have me scheduled for an interview after Thanksgiving.”
“Well, if that’s what you want....we’ll see. I do wish you luck though, Sweetie. Speaking of Thanksgiving,“ said her mother, changing the subject. “I’m going to need you to be here bright and early Thanksgiving morning to help with ham and turkey. Alice and Michael will be here around one with their brood and you know how they love to play with their Aunt Ally. She’ll help with the sweet potatoes and vegetables, and Adrienne and her fiancé will be here by three with the pies and pudding. If you could bring the sodas and wine, that would be great!”
“I’ll be here, Mama. I wouldn’t miss this for the world! I haven’t seen the kids in months!” Ally replied, looking at her phone to check the time. “But I have to be going, Mama, I do have to work tonight.”
“Okay, Sweetie! Thanks for stopping by and I’ll see you Thanksgiving morning!” Allyson’s mother sent her off with a kiss and another admonition not to be late on Thanksgiving. She watched her daughter as she drove off in her little car until she turned the corner down the block. With a shake of her head, she went back into the house, worried about her daughter.
As soon as Ally’s car turned the corner, it drove through a shimmering circle in the road and disappeared. Reappearing 45 miles away, Allyson smoothly parked her car in her assigned stall at her apartment complex.
“Man, I sure do save on gas these days!” Allyson giggled as she exited her car and made her way up to her apartment.
The job she told her mom about wasn’t exactly a lie, but explaining that she was hoping to be working full-time for BADGE wouldn’t have helped. She did want to get that degree. Helping the people of Japan, Turkey, and Onnotangu in the recent crises with Jinn and Skelanimal made Allyson realize how wonderful and amazing the people and places of other countries can be. She felt a calling to be available to help all peoples of the world. But she had to learn about them and understand them first.
However, she had something she could do to help a lot closer to home. Through BADGE’s Community Outreach program, she was contacted by a school teacher at Belle Chasse High School in Belle Chasse, Louisiana, a suburb of New Orleans. The students she taught were mostly the problem students – underachievers and lackadaisical. Not thugs or delinquents, just students who seemed disaffected by their lives – mostly broken homes or otherwise dysfunctional families. The teacher wanted to do something to “wake” them up, to show them what the world had to offer and that they had so much to be thankful for in this world.
BADGE’s Community Outreach office selects several heroes that are in close proximity to the requested area and offers the opportunity for some good works and good press to those heroes. Crossroads just happened to be the first hero to volunteer. BADGE sent her the contact info for the teacher. The teacher’s name was Alice Lancaster, nee Robicheaux, Allyson’s oldest sister.
She seriously thought about not doing it. Her family did not know about her Crossroads persona and she wanted to keep it that so they wouldn’t worry. She was hoping her sister didn’t figure it out, but she had an idea that she hoped would draw out the kids and make them see what this country and this world had to offer them. She sent an email back to Alice, through her BADGE email account, introducing herself and laying out her plan to her sister. Alice was excited about the plan and promised to get everything arranged on her end. They organized a field trip for the students to take place between Veteran’s Day and Thanksgiving.
Allyson got to work contacting several people she had met over the past year as an active hero. Each person was happy to help her, but more importantly, help the kids. Alice, on her end, arranged the field trip approval through the school board and principal. They were happy to approve, since it wouldn’t cost them any money. The permission slips all went out and while the kids and their parents had no idea what was going to happen (they only knew that they were going on a “cultural enrichment” field trip), all the permission slips came back approved.
And so, the day of field trip arrived.....
“Alright, alright, quiet down! Before we get started on this field trip, I want to introduce you to our tour guide for the day,” Alice Lancaster was telling her students. “I want you all on your best behavior, so please respect our guide and listen to them. They have a lot to show and teach us.”
Alice pulled out her phone and sent a text to the number Crossroads had given her. Suddenly, the students gasped as a shimmering disc appeared in the front of the classroom next to Alice. Crossroads strode through the shimmering disc into the classroom and greeted the students nonchalantly.
“Good morning, class!” her voice slightly higher pitched than normal with more of a Southern drawl than her normal Louisiana twang. “My name is Crossroads and I am your tour guide for this field trip today. Mrs. Lancaster and I have worked together to hopefully give you a clear idea of what we all have to be thankful for this year.”
“Are there any questions before we start?” Crossroads asked.
Immediately, the whole class had their hands in there air, bursting with questions. After almost half an hour of Q and A, and one request for a date to the Senior Prom. Crossroads and Alice decided it was time to go.
“Alright, everyone,” announced Alice. “Please line up by the door single file behind Mrs. Shelton. Bring your jackets, because it is going to be brisk where we’re going.”
The class obediently, and more eagerly than they ever have, lined up behind one of the other two chaperones for this trip. Crossroads spoke quietly to Alice while the students got themselves situated and then smiled brightly at the class.
“Okay, everyone, follow me!” Crossroads opened the classroom door and stepped through.
Aa the students and adults followed, they were amazed to find that they were stepping onto the sidewalk in front of the reflecting pool of the Washington Monument in Washington D.C. The students and the adults were all amazed and made the appropriate “oohs” and “ahhs” and we all very impressed.
“Ladies and gentlemen, we stand here in our nation’s capital. Many would say the center of democracy, but that would be wrong. The center of democracy in our country is actually every single village, township, city, parish, county, and state in our great country. It is centered in our right to elect the people we want to lead AND work for us, from the city dog catcher to the President of the United States. Do you realize how few countries in this world allow their people that much freedom in choosing their government leaders?”
As she spoke, Crossroads began walking around the reflecting pool, her followers close behind. She led them down the National Mall, past the Smithsonian buildings and on to Capitol Hill, their walk shortened by her judicious use of invisible portals.
“It is incumbent upon all of us to exercise that right to choose or we forfeit our right to complain about what we get. Democracy only works if the people participate in it. We have this democracy, not because over 200 years ago some people wrote a document and decided to use it to create a country. “
Suddenly they were at the National Archives building, filing past the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence
“We have a democracy because of all the people who have worked and sacrificed to make it work. In this city, we can see the monuments erected to honor some of these people – the Washington Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Jefferson Memorial. These are men who have shaped the course of the history of this country.”
As Crossroads named each memorial, the group found themselves in front of each memorial, staring up at Lincoln or the statue of Thomas Jefferson.
“However, they aren’t, in my opinion, the most important ones that have given us democracy.”
They followed Crossroads through another portal and they all stopped and stared, knowing immediately where they were. Fields of green spread before them populated by tiny monuments of white marble and granite set in orderly rows as far as they could see. The students and adults quieted down and assumed a more reverent attitude as they gaze about them.
“The men and women interred here at Arlington National Cemetery are why we have democracy. Each of them has sacrificed themselves in order to keep us free. From presidents to privates, they all served us, served this country, to give us the rights many of us take for granted. But we can never take it for granted.”
Crossroads led them through another portal to the viewing area above the grandstands at the Tomb of the Unknowns, where they watched the soldiers solemnly change the guards and go about their duties.
Silently, Crossroads led the group through another portal and back to their classroom for lunch.
“Now, this morning’s excursion was to impress upon you the importance of our system of government,” said Crossroads. ”But more importantly to show you who you have to thank for it – those men and women buried at Arlington and all the other military cemeteries across this country of ours. This afternoon, I’m going to show you something different, but just as important. Go eat your lunches and be back here at 12:30 sharp!”
The students noisily exited the room jabbering away about the mornings activities. Alice and the other chaperones retired to the teacher’s lounge for their lunch, inviting Crossroads to go with them. She declined gracefully, saying she had some things she needed to set up for the afternoon. Crossroads disappeared as the other left the room.
At 12:30pm sharp everyone was in their places waiting patiently and excitedly for the afternoon’s trip. There was also a crown outside the classroom door, trying to catch a glimpse of the reportedly gorgeous superhero in her tight costume. Not all of them were students, either.
“Okay, class, you are going to want to get your coats on now because it is definitely going to be cold where we are going! Also brace yourselves. It may be windy!” Crossroads warned. “Everyone stand up, please!”
Even though she could have opened an invisible portal they all could walk through, Crossroads decided to show off for the spectators in the hallway. She raised her hands and created portals with colorful edges by letting a little of the dimensional energies she accessed bleed over. A portal, glowing brightly, appeared over the head of each of the students and adults. A cold wind gusted out of the portals and loose papers swirled in the classroom. Through the portals, a bright blue sky and fluffy white clouds could be seen.
Each portal slowly descended and each person disappeared from head to toe in a display that had the watchers chattering wildly. She then looked at her audience and smiled. Opening a vertical portal through which a blue sky and mountain vista could be seen by those in the hall, Crossroads waved to the stunned onlookers and stepped through. The portal closed abruptly behind her.
Crossroads and her group stood in a parking lot at the summit of a mountain. A few other people wandered around and there seemed to be a gift shop at the edge of the parking area they stood in
“You are now standing 14,115 feet above sea level at the summit of Pikes Peak in Colorado,“ said Crossroads. “This is only one of the many summits that you can visit in the Rocky Mountains. Each is incredibly beautiful, just like this. Breathe it in kids, the mountain air is wonderful!”
“This afternoon, for the most part, we will be seeing many of the beautiful sights our world has to offer. We’ll be moving fast because there is a lot to see! So no dawdling!” she chided.
There followed a rapid world tour. They visited the Great Lakes, the Appalachians in Vermont, Chesapeake Bay, the Cascade Mountains in Washington, Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada, Hoover Dam, The Space Needle, Denali National Park, The Everglades, Punaluʻu Black Sand Beach in Hawaii, Hornindalsvatnet’s green sand beach in Norway, the Pyramids at Chichen Itza in Mexico, and many other places. Finally, they ended up in a little city in what appeared to be the dead of night.
“Okay everyone quiet down,“ Crossroads said quietly. “It’s about 2 am here. I know you have had an exciting time. But I want you all to think about what you have seen. All the wonders the world has to show you. All the places and people there are to be seen or met. This world is full of so much to be thankful for, but immediate world around us demands our attention. Sometimes we give it too much attention and forget the rest of the world.”
“Crossroads, where are we now? I don’t recognize this place,” one young lady asked.
“”Most people do not know about this place. To us in America, it isn’t a resort or a sightseeing destination. It’s just a little city in a small country named North Onnotangu. A few months ago, a battle was fought here, but it’s hard to tell anything happened here now. Except for this...”
Crossroads lead the group around the corner into a large square in the middle of the city. In the center of the square stood a statue. Carved into the base of the statue were the words: “This boy lived in hiding. He came out to defend a friend he barely knew. He died protecting people he loved. Let his example light your way. Don’t live in darkness any longer!”
Above the words, lights highlighted a statue of a young boy, happy and smiling. Suddenly the face of the boy turned into a skeletal death’s head and a few moments later the statue disappeared. A few minutes later, the smiling statue reappeared. A morbid transformation that was at once beautiful and frightening.
The students and adults seemed a little uncomfortable at the display, but Crossroads looked up at the statue with tears in her eyes.
“I know that this may disturb many of you, but I am thankful for this boy and what he reminds me to remember,” she said. “This young man saved the life of my friend. By his actions and bravery, he saved an uncounted number of people, both heroes and civilians alike. I have asked my friend Starmaster to tell you his story.”
Out of the darkness approached a hero in a black and blue caped costume.
“Greetings everyone, I am Starmaster. I met this boy a few months ago here in North Onnotangu, he and his friends took me in when we were being chased,” Starmaster related. “When I was in trouble and was slated to be executed, he and his friends saved me. They were all children and no one would have blamed them for staying hidden and not getting involved. But they took it upon themselves to do what they considered right and by doing so, saved me and so many others.”
“I am thankful for this child, not only because he saved me, but because he reminds me every day that I don’t have to be big and strong to make a difference in this world. I don’t have to only be an adult. All of us can make a difference. All of us need to make a difference.”
Crossroads spoke up, “I am thankful for this child because he saved my friends and because he showed me that there are other people out there whom we never meet, but they are doing what they can to make a difference in this world. At this time of year, I am most thankful for my family, my friends, for the world I live in, and for what this boy showed everyone. He showed us that there are people who will always embrace the light and show us how to beat the darkness. And they are everywhere.”
“Let’s go home.”
With a hug for Starmaster, Crossroads lead her group through a portal and back into their classroom. Many of the students wore thoughtful expressions as they their belongings and picked up the papers that had blown around the room.
Crossroads addressed the class, “I hope you have gained an appreciation for the blessings this world has giving you. Be thankful, not only for your families and friends and what you own. Be thankful for where you love, what the world offers you, and what the people of this world can offer you. Thank you for spending the day with me.”
Alice thanked the students for their good behavior and their attention. She also thanked the chaperons and Crossroads. The students thanked Crossroads individually as they left the classroom for their busses or walk home.
After everyone had left, Crossroads thanked Alice for the opportunity to do something for her class.
“It is I who need to thank you, Crossroads,” Alice said shaking her hand. “I know the life of a hero can be busy and I appreciate the time you took to arrange everything for us. It was very well organized! I was surprised.”
“What do you mean? you were surprised about what?” Crossroads asked
“Well,“ Alice replied with a twinkle in her eye. “You were never that organized when we were kids!”
Crossroads looked at Alice in shock.
“Oh, come on, Ally!” Alice exclaimed. “Like I wouldn’t recognize my own little sister, no matter what color your hair was or how you disguise your voice! Besides, I’ve known since those interviews over the incident in Japan with that giant monster.”
“Oh, god...” Crossroads groaned. “Please tell me that mom doesn’t know.”
“I don’t know if she does. I haven’t said anything and neither has she. Guess you’ll find out at Thanksgiving!”
"Just think what I could accomplish if I didn't have all these 80's song lyrics in my head!"
Wow. Thanks for the wonderful story and the play into some of mine. I am both honored and impressed by the inclusion of Starmaster and his memorial to the boy.
Bravo. You have earned all my snaps!!!
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