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Authors: Nadia Scrieva

Wish (11 page)

BOOK: Wish
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“You want to be a girl?” Nathan laughs. “Trust me. You’ll change your mind before long.”

With that, the heartless spirit disappears. I look around in distress to find myself alone in the mirrored room. I reach down for my purse which usually hangs at my hip, but it isn’t there. I have no stardust, and no method of escape. All I have is this frail human body and a piece of fabric called an evening gown. I lower myself abruptly to the ground and sit there in defeat.

*                *                *

 

I am not sure if I have been sitting alone in the mirrored room for mere hours or days, but it is beginning to make me feel slightly insane. I have never had somewhere that I’d rather be, and it is painful to think about what I’ve lost. Kieran and I barely even got a chance to know each other before I was ripped away from him. The torches in the corners are flickering endlessly, glinting off the mirrors and dancing on my skin. I begin to hallucinate and imagine that my body is on fire, and I close my eyes to stop these unchained thoughts.

Will I be locked in this room forever? Would Nathan really do that to me?

Wrapping my arms around myself, I realize that this could be some kind of punishment. Perhaps, elsewhere, my superiors are deciding my fate. Or this could be my fate. This could be the celestial prison that Nathan mentioned. Truly, I can think of no greater sentence than to be able to remember Kieran and sit here worrying about his well-being for eternity. I think death would be better than this; suddenly, I understand the reason people desire to end their lives. Even after spending so much time around such individuals, I could never truly understand until I felt the same way. It is a strangely horrible mix of logic and pain.

What can I do except wait? But what am I waiting for? No miracle will save me from this.

The more time that passes, the more hopeless I feel. The emptiness and darkness seems to be spreading within me as I repeatedly acknowledge that it is my fault that I am here. Hanging my head in shame, I know that I have made rash and forbidden choices. I deserve this punishment, but I cannot bear it. I wonder if there is a way I can end my own life in this room. It is not the life I wanted, and I see no point in existing as the ghost of the girl I want to be. There is absolutely no charm in remaining here as a motionless, inanimate statue—it is the opposite from what I truly wanted. I wanted to be a person.

Surviving somewhere in between excited, energetic life and empty, cold death is unsatisfying. It’s an unbearable limbo, and I am becoming more and more willing with each passing second to take the fastest way out.

A deep voice suddenly echoes in the room, startling me out of my reverie.

“What can you gain from going to school, Kayla?”

My eyes snap open and I see Father standing before me. I am so overjoyed to see another person that I lift myself from my seated position only to throw myself to the ground at his feet. “Please, Father. Please do not leave me in here.”

“Answer the question, Kayla. Your human client has already sought me out and begged me to hear your case. I am listening, and that is all I can offer you.”

I lift my chin to gaze up tearfully at the man standing before me. My eyes widen as I try to process his words. “Kieran?” I ask in astonishment, lifting myself shakily from the ground. “He found you? He—he was looking for me?”

“Yes,” Father says quietly. “I believe you have made quite the impression on him. Do not test my patience, child.”

Nodding fiercely, I try to gather my wits about me to appear professional and rational. I do not feel capable of making a convincing argument for anyone, but it is my life on the line. I must try. “Father, it has been very difficult for me to do your bidding for these past few months. Very often, I would get to know a client and try to help them, but they would shun my efforts and take their own lives anyway. I began to question our methods—and question everything really. That is why I began to follow the rules a little less. Please forgive me for my disobedience.”

Taking a deep, shuddering breath, I try to compose myself and continue. “I would love to have the opportunity to study psychology. I would like to study the
source
of depression and mental health issues in order to prevent them. If I became a social worker, I could try to help people long before the problems even arise. Our jobs are important and we help many, but the truth is that we perform last-minute damage control. Sometimes I think we cannot cure a broken soul—there is no surefire antidote. But we can protect people, and vaccinate those souls against being broken in the first place. Don’t you think it’s worth the effort?” I know that I am trying a little too hard and putting too much passion into my words, but I can’t help it. These words mean the world to me; they are everything I have learned, and everything I yearn for. Seeing Father’s face soften in what might be understanding, I take a deep breath and muster the courage to carry on.

“I can imagine a humanity that is never in need of guardian angels or celestial spirits. I believe people can learn to depend on each other, have trust in their neighbors, and look up to community leaders for strength instead of wishing on distant stars.” As I finish speaking, I feel all of my bravery and enthusiasm trickle out of my spine, and I am left with terror and vulnerability. I look to Father’s face seeking approval or compassion, hoping and praying he will have mercy on me.

“Interesting, Kayla. Very interesting,” he says sternly. “You propose that we completely revolutionize our entire method—a method which is centuries old with proven results.”

“I mean no disrespect father,” I say hastily, horrified at how presumptuous I must seem.

He lifts a hand to silence me, and fixes me with a penetrating stare. I cannot tell if he is lost in thought, or speechless in rage. Finally, my thirsty ears are gratified with the sound of his deep, powerful voice. “It is true that our methods have been less successful in recent years. We are unequipped with the knowledge and techniques necessary to address many of the pressures people face in the modern world.”

I hold my breath, unable to believe these words. Is he agreeing with me?

“Perhaps we are in need of precisely such a reform,” he concedes. “Perhaps the concept of a ‘guardian angel’ is no longer relevant to contemporary life. Perhaps our efforts could be better employed.”

“Oh, Father,” I say softly, weeping in thankfulness for his support. Not only did he indulge my little speech which could have been easily taken as impertinent, but he responded with sympathy and thoughtfulness. I realize how lucky I am. If everyone had such a man in their life, my job would surely be nonexistent.

“There, there, child. Do not cry—it pains me to see you so.”

He moves forward and envelops me in a comforting embrace, and I feel like the worst of my ordeal is over. There is only one uncertainty in my mind, and that is Kieran’s fate. I am too afraid to ask—I am too terrified to hear the answer. I cannot bear hearing whether I am forbidden from ever seeing him again. I do know want to know whether I have crossed too many lines, and must be disciplined in some strict and unforgiving manner. Father releases me from the hug abruptly, holding me at an arm’s length.

“You know that you have crossed certain lines of conduct, Kayla.”

Unable to speak, I only nod.

“You must realize that I cannot allow this to go unpunished.”

“Please,” I whisper. “Please, don’t say that you won’t let me see him again. Please, just let me talk to him one last time before…”

“Kayla!” he says with a deep, throaty laugh. “Relax, child. It is the boy’s fault that I am here, listening to you. If not for Kieran, then Nathan would have gotten away with locking you in this room indefinitely. I want you to know that I did not sanction these actions, and Nathan will also be punished for taking liberties.”

A huge gust of relief escapes my lips. “Thank you.”

“It seems that Nathan was acting out of petty jealousy and possessiveness,” Father says. “He envied the depth of your connection you had with your client.”

“Did he harm him?” I ask fearfully. “Is Kieran safe?”

“He is fine,” Father says with a twinkle in his eye. “In fact, your friend has been standing in this very room for several minutes now. He has just been invisible to you.”

I look around nervously, my heart-rate instantly doubling. “Kieran?” I murmur feebly. Father waves his hand and Kieran’s body slowly becomes solid—like a ghost turning into flesh. I look at him with gratitude. “You fought for me,” I whisper.

“I told you I would,” he says with a smile. Heroism suits him well, like a pair of stylish leather gloves.

“How did you find my father?” I ask.

“Well, you left a bit of stardust behind—also, you dropped your purse, and it had a golden compass in it. I figured it wasn’t an ordinary compass since it certainly wasn’t pointing north.”

“Thank you,” I tell him earnestly. “I was so worried about you.”

“I can take care of myself,” Kieran assures me, “especially if I have a reason to do so. Something worth fighting for.”

I smile and lower my eyes, feeling a blush darkening my cheeks.

“Hmm,” murmurs Father in thought as he observes our communication. “This is interesting. I’m not sure what to make of you two. I will have to set some ground rules here. Kieran, would you take care of my daughter if she were to live in your world?”

“Absolutely, sir,” Kieran says at once. “She was my tour guide through your realm. If you allow me, I can guide her through my world as well and keep her safe.”

“Excellent.” Father sends him a grave and knowing look. “I hope I can trust you not to take advantage of Kayla. She will be depending on you; she has never lived as a human before, and it will be your job to protect her. Do not take this task lightly, son.”

Kieran nods under the intense scrutiny. “I will, sir.”

“I hope so. There are certain lines you may never cross with her; if I believe that you have been too intimate with her, or that you have harmed her in any way, she will be ripped away from your life and you will never see her again.” He turns to me sternly. “Now, Kayla. For a greater sense of normalcy, and as a punishment for your abuse of power, I will have to take away your rapid healing abilities. If you are injured, you will have to experience pain as any human being would. Also, you won’t have any access to the stardust.”

“Whatever you wish, Father,” I say softly, fearing that I will still be retired.

“You will have to work very hard at your psychology and social-work idea, for you will have more responsibilities coordinating some of our people as volunteers for your new methods. This was your idea, so you will be in charge of all the efforts.”

I can hardly believe my ears. It sounds like I am being given an opportunity to pursue my dream career in my own way. Freedom of direction, and resources at my disposal? It is too good to be true.

“You will be an undercover agent, so to speak. As you said: tackle the problem at its roots instead of focusing on ineffective damage control. No more treating symptoms that are too far progressed to heal. If Kieran is interested in joining your efforts, I am willing to support his education as well. Would you like that, boy?”

“Y—yes, sir!” he stutters with excitement. It seems like all of our problems have been solved at once. Is this one of those moments that must be too good to be true?

“Then it’s settled,” Father declares. “Off with you two! There is still some of Christmas day left to enjoy. Oh, and Kayla? Good work.”

Chapter 11: The Scarlet Sun
 

 

I am standing on Kieran’s balcony, which is on the third floor of an apartment complex. It’s a modest little dwelling in an unimpressive part of town, but as I rest my hands on the cold metal railing, I can’t recall ever being happier to see the sun rise. I study the clouds on the horizon which are tinted a deep rosy fuchsia; the color is almost too vibrant and fantastic to be real. I suppose that after a close brush with losing all of this, one gains a renewed appreciation for the simple wonders of the world. I think I like sunrises almost as much as I like pie.

BOOK: Wish
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