This is how the Dryad novel originally began, but my writerly instincts told me to cut this part. I removed it from the novel, but I still think it’s a good intro. So I’ll add it here as a sort of optional prologue….
Reading on the balcony was one of Natalie’s favourite things to do despite some mysterious pranksters — she supposed it was the neighbourhood kids — stealing her books and magazines if she left them out for any amount of time. Little did she know that a dryad had been stalking her house.
Rosewood trees sprawled in a long canopy all down the quiet street. From where Natalie sat, she could see their greenish tops, slightly grey with city dust, rippling in the breeze. Being the wife of an English diplomat in Colombia, she spent many hours alone on her wide balcony, lounging in a deck chair and reading Narcissism Carnival, to which she subscribed every year religiously.
Then something disquieting happened: she realized that her tall cocktail glass was nearly empty, so she got up with a sigh and went into the apartment to make a new mojito, leaving the magazine to be leafed through by the wind.
The dryad saw her opportunity. It was only about a ten foot drop, and she leaped straight down from the roof, landing almost soundlessly on the rug-covered balcony. She snatched up the magazine, stuck it into a messenger back that was slung across her shoulder and took a few ripe mango fruits out of the bag. The skin of the fruit was dark yellow tinged with red on one side. She put them down on the table where the magazine had been — for dryads never steal. If they take something, they must replace it with something of equal value.
The dryad did not know how much the mango was worth in human currency, but she thought the woman would find it very appropriate. She had been watching that woman for the last year, and thought that she could use much more fresh fruit and exercise. Also, the dryad thought, realizing that she was being a touch hypocritical, what’s the use of sitting around reading junk magazines all day?
With a quick look around, she began climbing down via the mock columns of the facade. Fortunately, the columns were filigreed with images of plants and leaves, which provided plenty of hand and foot holds. The street was deserted at this siesta hour, and nobody saw her descend. She leaped the last few feet and walked down the shady street with complete nonchalance, just a young, fit Argentinian woman wearing shorts and a tank top, taking a leisurely walk. The streets were lined with tipuana tipu, a rosewood tree whose winged seeds spun like helicopter blades in the breeze, and she walked through a rain of twirling wings.
She soon picked up the pace to a run, and when she reached the outskirts of the city, which blended into dense jungle, she changed into her dryad form: the green eyes expanded until they were round and luminous like a cat’s. But that was not the only point in which they differed from human eyes: her eyes seemed to have a life of their own, as if one could see green leaves stirring gently in the breeze within them. Her skin took on a pale green hue, and her hair changed from dark brown to bright orange. She ran on through the thick jungle.
Three more days, and she would be back in her forest.