Note: To read The Wishing Map from the beginning, click here.
The Wishing Map
Chapter One: The Double Moon (continued)
Previously: Zack’s life, like his sister’s, had unexpectedly unraveled at the Middleton Middle School Promotion Ceremony…laying the groundwork for what was to come.
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It was a hot, aimless June. Three weeks had passed since the Mid-Mid melt-down, and although they didn’t discuss it, or even know it, both Zack and Gina Dore wanted the same thing: to escape from the world they lived in—the ugly, shifting, unpredictable world—into a place they could control.
There’d only been two kids at Minzer Reservoir. They called Zack “Mister,” which was weird, and asked him to fix their sailboat, which he did. And then he left, gliding down Helms-Mirken Road, dragging his feet through the fallen dogwood petals, “summer snow,” wishing he still believed in magic the way he did when he was a kid—last month.
He barely even noticed the shimmering air as he pedaled past Miss Francis’s Dance Studio. Or the fact that the mail box out front had begun to dance. He wasn’t the only one who missed it. People in Middleton didn’t like the impossible. So they refused to notice when it happened.
The morning ballet class was over, and all but one of the children had gone home. The little girl in the pink tutu hopped, pliéd, and tour jetéd about, keeping one eye out for her mother. Miss Francis, who was older than all the people who’d ever attended her school put together, was sleeping in a chair in the corner, her feet still in first position.
Then the little girl spotted the dancing mail box. Delighted, she ran to the open doorway. The box stretched up tall like a man trying to look his best by sucking in his stomach and straightening his shoulders. The little girl let out a spontaneous “Eeeeeeeeeeeee!” and ran out the door.
The mail box wasn’t actually reaching for her. (What was it reaching for?) Still, when its lid stretched forward, she considered it a clear invitation. Without a moment’s hesitation she hurled herself toward its open “arm.”
The air around the letter slot began rushing inward and a sort of whirlpool appeared. It pulsed and vibrated, sucking in all the colors around it—gray sidewalk, blue handicapped sign, orange car fender—like mixed paints down a drain.
Just as the little girl was about to disappear into the vortex, a voice cried, “No!” The startlingly large, alarmingly red-headed woman stepped into view, holding what appeared to be a rolled up carpet.
The vortex shifted vehemently toward the carpet. The woman hurled it aside and seized the little girl out of the air. There was a loud crackling noise, as if in protest, and then the vortex reversed itself, giving back everything it had swallowed. The mailbox shivered, rose into the air, did a complex pretzel turn, and then clanged back down in its original position, as solid as the metal it was made from.
The red-headed woman plopped the little girl onto the sidewalk. “Go back inside!”
The little girl complied, but when she turned to ask, “Why can’t I play with the big box anymore?” the woman was gone.
When the little girl’s mother arrived a few minutes later, she was regaled with the tale of a “dancing mailbox”…
and a “giant lady whose hair was on fire.”
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Thoughts: Do you remember when you stopped believing in magic? Life Part One is magical, but can’t last. Life Part Two is OK. But Life Part Three–that’s when the deep magic happens.
To read The Wishing Map 6, click here!