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The Wishing Map
Chapter Two: Aunt Aloysia (continued)
Previously: Gina and Zack’s mysterious Aunt Aloysia arrived, announcing that they had serious “business to attend to.”
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It had taken Aloysia two full minutes to shimmy down the basement stairs. Although it added to the difficulty, she refused to set the carpet down or to let Gina and Zack carry it for her; she wouldn’t even let them touch it. Once they made it to the bottom, she dropped the carpet and took both of them in her arms, her dark eyes moistening.
“My dear, dear children…it may be that I will not see you again for a very long time.”
“Because,” she said with a Scottish burr, “where I ha’ been, ye now must follow. Where now ye go, I can go na more.” This must have meant something dismal because she said it with a tone of deep remorse.
Gina and Zack observed a respectful if bewildered silence.
Mom opened the door to Gina’s room. “Hello?” No one. She hurried down the hall, stepping over The Hobbit on the way. She peered into Zack’s room: “Zacky?” Nothing. Just the sound of Ginger jogging on the hamster wheel. She pulled down the attic ladder and shouted, “Hey, you guys. C’mon. You’ll melt up there!”
Meanwhile, in the basement, Aloysia had managed to shake off her sorrow. She grabbed Zack and Gina by the arms and pulled them to their knees in front of the rolled up carpet. Zack instinctively reached out to touch it, but Aloysia’s hand shot out and swatted his away.
“You no touch ‘til Aloysia say you touch,” she admonished in stern Pidgin. “Question is, who may touch. Yes, yes, who may touch? Hmmmmm. Aloysia not know, yet Aloysia must choose. Is most difficult question for big woman with crazy hair. Ahhhhhhh!” she proclaimed, “If Aloysia not have answer, then Aloysia must not choose. You must choose. Yes, you choose.” She looked back and forth at Gina and Zack as if they were supposed to know what she was talking about.
“Well…” Gina began.
“No! No talk! Choose!”
There was silence for nearly a minute, and then, as if drawn by an unseen force—for indeed they were—Zack and Gina reached out and touched the ragged edges of the carpet at the exact same moment. It was as if they had grabbed an electric fence. Their fingers locked down and they couldn’t let go.
“Ahhhhhh!” they cried as one.
“Ahhhhhh,” Aloysia responded, reverting to Oxford English, “both of you, then. Dare say I’d not anticipated that, but then of course it would have to be, wouldn’t it? Hah. Both of you it is, then.”
Gina and Zack hadn’t heard a word she’d said, for the moment their hands had touched the carpet everything had changed. The air around them had begun to shimmer, and not just around them, but inside them as well. It was as if they were being transformed into a different substance, the same substance as the carpet—no, not carpet—
It was a map. They knew this because the moment the transformation began their minds were deluged with images and words. Countries, cities, deserts, oceans, even languages were poured into them—almost as if they were memories. How could they remember places they’d never been? Unless they were remembering places they would go, but that made even less sense.
Mom came down the attic steps flushed from the heat. “Kids? Where on earth could they be?” She headed back to the bottom floor. “Gina? Zacky? Aloysia? Hello?” Perhaps they were in the back yard.
“It’s time!” Aloysia’s voice jerked Gina and Zack back out of the Map. They could hear Mom in the distance. Aloysia stared at the Map, a look of longing in her sad beautiful eyes. She started to touch it, but then pulled away.
“Hello? Anyone down there?”
Zack and Gina froze. Why? How silly. It was Mom. Gina started to answer, but Aloysia suddenly grabbed her hand, and Zack’s as well.
“It’s time,” she whispered. Odd. Regarding all of the other Objects she’d always said they would know when it was time. Now she simply said, “It’s time.”
“Hello?” Mom called.
Zack and Gina were about to answer when Aloysia put one finger to each of their mouths and said, “No one else must know.” Then she turned and hailed up the stairs, “Dear child, hello. Yes, ‘tis we,
here in the nether regions!”
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Thoughts: Have you ever felt a sense of incompleteness, a longing for something beyond your earthly reach?
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