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Authors: Nadia Scrieva

Wish (2 page)

BOOK: Wish
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“Kayla, I don’t think you’ve been well-informed…”

“I can do this,” I assure him.

He hesitates. “You don’t understand. Tonight, you were going to be retired. You’re not doing any more jobs.”

“What?” I ask in disbelief. “Who told you this?”

“Everyone knows. Your success rate has fallen.”

Shaking my head in refusal, I glare at him. “This one’s mine, Nathan. Please let me do this—don’t interfere!” I turn and begin running. Sidestepping many of the dancers, I don’t care about how ridiculous I look sprinting in my evening dress. I just care about getting where I need to be, even though I’m not quite sure where that is yet. Retired? I can’t be retired. This job is all I have. It’s not just what I do; it’s who I am. As I exit the ballroom into the cold night air, I see a car pulling away from the curb and driving away.

“Wait!” I shout, waving my arms wildly and running after the vehicle. My high heels are starting to hurt, and it occurs to me that they aren’t the appropriate footwear for chasing cars. But I have no other choice, and I continue running.
“Wait!”
I scream as the car stops for a red light. I am greatly relieved by this, knowing that I can use the few extra seconds to catch up. I run with all of the strength in my body, but to my dismay, just as I’m approaching the intersection, the car makes a right turn. My legs are too weak to continue and I jog to a stop in the middle of the road. I watch the car drive off, wondering if this is going to be my final failure. Did I just blow my last chance to prove myself? To do something good?

I reach down to take off my heels, rubbing my sore feet. I might as well return to the party and tell Nathan that I failed. On the bright side, at least I know someone there now. Maybe Nathan will humor me with a last dance before it’s lights-out forever. Limping, I turn around to head back in the direction that I came. But before I can move, a car comes flying around the intersection. I don’t have time to blink before the headlights are blinding me and the car is slamming into my legs. I hear a sickening crack along with the sound of furiously screeching brakes, and I feel my head slam into something solid. Cool pavement is resting against my cheek as the world spins.

I hear a car door open and a boy is rushing to my side. He is speaking to me and touching my shoulder, and there is concern on his face. I can’t process exactly what he’s saying, but it looks like he’s crying. Why is he crying? I must be covered in blood and look really grotesque and awful if it’s enough to make a boy cry. I could be in several pieces; I’m not sure. The reckless driver has a pleasant face and I feel guilty for making him cry. I wish he didn’t have to see me this way.

Maybe death will be similar to the dreamless sleep; just a little earlier than anticipated. Maybe I deserve this. It’s not so terrible, going off to sleep for a really long time. It’s warm and peaceful—but I will definitely miss people. I will miss holiday parties with dessert.

Chapter 2: Under These Circumstances
 

 

“Oh, god. I think I killed her. She’s not moving.”

I open my eyes to see a pair of polished dress shoes pacing back and forth on the asphalt. I blink twice as the rapid swiveling of leather soles on concrete begins to make me dizzy.

“Please send someone fast. We’re at University Avenue and… uh, Stewart.”

Groaning, I shift slightly, trying to call out to the frantic young man. He seems not to notice as he continues stammering into his cell phone.

“Can you hear me? It’s breaking up. Please hurry. How long until someone gets here? Hello? Hello!” His voice is only growing more panicked and desperate. “This is a
great
time to run out of battery. Greatest day of my life.” He flings his phone to the ground and it splinters into bits near my face. I flinch slightly, closing my eyes to avoid any flying debris.

“Hey,” I mumble from the ground, trying to lift myself from the pavement. “I’m okay.”

“Oh, thank god!” the boy says, rushing to my side. “I’m
so
sorry. You probably shouldn’t try to move. Wait until the paramedics arrive—er, actually I’m not sure if they are coming. Maybe I could drive you to the hospital?”

“No, really. I’m perfectly fine,” I tell him as I manage to move into a seated position. My evening dress was ruined, but other than that, I knew my injuries would heal before too many minutes had passed. I noticed a giant gash running along my calf through the slit of my dress and I could already see a warm glow of light surrounding the injuries. I adjusted my dress to hide the unearthly glow so the boy would not suspect there was anything unusual about me. “My name is Kayla,” I manage to say as calmly as possible.

“I’m Kieran,” he answers, crouching down beside me. “Oh, god, please forgive me. I’m so sorry—so, so sorry. I was going a bit too fast and my vision was blurry…”

“You were drinking?” I ask, but it’s partly an accusation.

“No, I’m not even old enough to drink! There’s no excuse for this—I was just… really upset about some family stuff.” He moves closer and I jump when I feel his hand against my back. “Here, Kayla: if you put your arm around my neck, I will lift you into the passenger seat and take you to the hospital.”

I nod out of sheer surprise at his closeness. Kieran carefully slips a hand under my thighs to lift me off the ground, and I obediently wrap my arms around his neck. I had not imagined that he would be able to lift me so easily; he is surprisingly strong. When we arrive at the car, he slightly lowers me to open the passenger door and kicks it fully open. Only when he finishes placing me in the seat do I realize that I was blushing at the contact. Humans do not touch me often, and I find the intimacy unnerving.

Realizing that I do not need to go to the hospital, I try to weigh my options. I do not need medical attention, but neither am I capable of walking to my destination. Also, sitting in the vehicle is kind of comfortable and I do not want to move right away. I allow my body to sag into the cushions as Kieran walks around the car, back into the driver’s seat.

Once he is sitting, I turned to glance at his profile. “Please don’t take me to the hospital,” I quietly demand.

“You’re badly injured. I have to.”

“No, you don’t. I heal really quickly. I’m feeling better already. Besides, there’s somewhere I really need to be…”

“Where?” he asks. “Just let me know and I’ll drive you.”

“I don’t know exactly,” I say in a low voice, realizing that I have no clue how to reach the girl who had driven away. She was long gone, as was my job, and my life.

“If you want to go to the police station and press charges against me, I understand. I was wrong to hit a pedestrian and I should face the consequences…”

“Relax,” I tell him lightly. “It was my fault too. I was standing in the middle of the road. These bodies are so weak that they fold and crumple like paper if you play too rough with them. Don’t worry about it.”

“Are you sure you’re okay, Kayla?” he asks me earnestly. “I’m not kidding. If you want to call the cops or punish me in some way, I really think you should. I probably deserve the worst.”

“Just drive in circles around the campus while I think,” I order him.

He complies, and we begin driving.

I exhale in relief, gripping my leg which is probably broken. I know it won’t be broken for long, but I find myself wishing to take my mind off the pain. “Do you go to school here?” I ask, gesturing out of the window. ‘Here’ referred to the Cornell University campus.

“Yeah, I do,” he answers instantly. Then he hesitates and corrects himself. “Well, I did. It’s my first year—my first semester. And my last, I guess.”

“Why?” I prod. “Did you flunk out?”

He makes a sound like a scoff. “My grades were outstanding. I worked really hard. Too hard.”

“Then why? Did you decide it wasn’t for you?”

“No, I loved it,” Kieran says. “It’s my dad. He refuses to help and I can’t afford the tuition and the rent to live out here. I can’t get loans either.”

“I’m sorry,” I tell him softly. I realize that it must be far worse for him. I have always been an outsider, but he knew what it was like to briefly be a part of it all before being forced out.

“Enough about me,” he says quickly. “What do you study? Let me guess: philosophy major.”

I give a crooked smile at that assumption. “No. Unfortunately, I’m not a student—but I wish I could be one more than anything. I'm kind of stuck in the family business.”

“Like the mafia?” he asks with interest.

I can’t help laughing at that, and I immediately grab my stomach at the searing pain. “Ouch.”

“Oh god, do you have internal bleeding? That’s it; I’m turning around and heading to the hospital...”

“No, no. Please don’t,” I beg him. “I was just laughing because my family
is
kind of like the mafia. Except in reverse.”

“I’m still taking you to the hospital.”

“No! Look, you hit me with your car, so I figure you owe me a favor, right? I need you to do something very important for me.”

He looks over suspiciously as though he thinks it might be mafia-related. “Sure, anything.”

We are sitting at a red light, so I take a moment to look at him very intently in the eyes. “I need you to get me some sort of dessert. I’ve been craving some all night. I’ve never tried ice cream or cake.”

He stares at me quizzically for a full minute. The light has turned green, but he continues staring. “I think there’s a 24-hour Burger King somewhere around here. They should have something.”

“Thank you,” I say gladly, releasing the breath I had been holding.

“You know,” he says softly, “you’re extremely pretty. I feel even worse now. Why did I have to hit a
beautiful
girl with my car?”

“Would you have felt better if you’d hit an ugly girl instead?” I ask him in confusion.

He chuckles at this. “No. I guess I just meant that it might have been nice to meet under different circumstances.”

“These circumstances are fine,” I tell him. I stare out of the window at the night sky and wonder if this is my last night here. My last night alive, as a human being. It really puts things in perspective. I don’t want to be retired, but the truth is that I haven’t been very successful at my job recently. I’m not sure if I’ve just been unlucky, or if I was given impossible cases. Maybe my intuition is deteriorating.

“A penny for your thoughts?” Kieran asks.

I suppose I remained quiet for too long. I turn my gaze away from the sky and focus on the comforting lights of his dashboard. “I understand how you feel about school. I learned earlier that I’m being forced into retirement. I’ve been fired.”

“Wow!” he remarks, glancing at me out of the corner of his eye. “How did that happen?”

Sighing in frustration, I squeeze my broken leg. “I really messed up. I did everything wrong this year. Tonight was my last chance to prove myself and I failed.”

“What did you fail at?” he asks.

“Lots of things. I went to a party when I wasn’t supposed to. I interfered in someone’s personal life without authorization. I got hit by a car.”

“Those don’t sound like huge failings to me. Can’t you get a different job?”

“No,” I answer. “My supervisors—my bosses, they control everything. I owe them my life, and they decide whether I am allowed to work or permanently retired. Kieran, I really love my job.”

“I can see that,” he says quietly. “I still don’t know what your job is…”

I stare through the windshield wretchedly. “I help people. I was supposed to help someone tonight, but I didn’t realize until it was too late. Now I have no idea where she is.”

BOOK: Wish
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