Note: To read The Wishing Map from the beginning, click here.
The Wishing Map
Chapter Three: Aviar (continued)
Previously: Saved from what had seemed certain death, Zack fell asleep on a mountaintop.
⇔ ⇔ ⇔
Once Gina got over her initial shock, anger set in. What kind of elaborate hokey-pokey did he rig up to terrorize me? She rose slowly from behind her bed and tip-toed over to the Map. She reached down to touch it. A sssszzzzttttt of residual energy ran up her fingers. Her hand blurred blue as if it had entered a pool of water, then started to disappear! She shrieked and pulled it back. The energy seemed to go out, like the last little foop of light on an old style TV. She gingerly touched the spot where the ring of light had been. Nothing. Whatever it was was gone. Good.
No, bad! Because whatever it was had taken Zack with it! She let out a tiny scream and began to think-dance, the nervous hopping-bouncing thing she did when she had a problem to solve. She also began to talk to herself: “O.k., he’s gone, but that doesn’t mean he’s really, really gone. It could just mean that—” Wait. What if he just fell through the floor into—what’s straight below? The kitchen! Aha!
She ran out of her bedroom shouting, “Zack? Z-man? Zeester?” She flew down the stairs, shot around the corner and rocketed toward the kitchen, half expecting to find him sitting on the kitchen counter, eating peanut butter out of the jar. Then everything would be normal again, and Zack would say something endearing like:
“Wanna see if I can get my whole butt in the microwave?”
And Gina would affectionately respond with, “You are unbelievably disgusting!”
And he would lovingly retort, “And you are ‘unbelievably’ being a butt girl!”
“Butt girl” (or butt boy) was ZackandGina-ese for jerk. And it was true, she had been a butt girl lately. Lately, heck, for like a year. But she couldn’t help it. It was just that…why had she been a butt girl? She didn’t know, but clearly she was being punished for it. If only she’d treated Zack differently! If only…
She ran through the mudroom—she could see Zack’s bike outside—and banged through the Dutch-doors that she and Zack had swung on and broken off their hinges a million times back when they were young and carefree and not invisible!
Zack wasn’t in the kitchen.
“I mean it, Zack. This isn’t funny!”
She hurried back upstairs, talking to herself. “OK, so he went into the Map, or whatever, and—”
Wait, that’s it! He went into the Map! Aunt Aloysia had said that it was “time.” Time for what? She and Zack had both felt they were supposed to go to Ismara, but Ismara wasn’t anywhere in the world. Not in this world!
“Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!” Zack’s gone into another world, the world of the Map! She was sure of it, not just because it made sense, weird sense, but because she knew it from somewhere within her. Zack had gone there, and she had to go after him!
Wait. What if it was winter there? She replaced her shorts with jeans and pulled on the thick oversized terrycloth robe Momandad had gotten her two Christmases back (a coat would have made more sense, but Christmas trumps logic every time).
Feeling the need to have something special from home—what if she never came back?—she put on her furry pink monster slippers. She was about to stand on the Map the way Zack had, when she heard Mom come in downstairs.
“Um, me and Zack are up here in my room, making a, um, cool surprise, so you can’t come in. Huh, Zack?” “Definitely!” she added in “Zack’s voice.”
Incredibly, the response came back: “OK. I picked up a video. Maybe we can make popcorn when Dad gets home!”
“Cool!” Gina yelled, trying to sound like both Zack and herself at the same time.
She heard Mom muttering, “Hanging out together again. Glad to hear that.”
She think-danced over to the Map and stood in the middle of it. Now what? “Take me there!”
Wait! What if Zack somehow managed to come back on his own? Gina jumped off the Map and ran over to her dresser. She glanced at the clock on her nightstand, then pulled out some paper and scribbled a quick note: “Zack: Went to find you in Map, 5:27, Gina-bear.” (It seemed important to mention the time.)
She put the note on the floor by the Map, and then stood on it again, this time near a village called Rennou in the Kingdom of Frenga; she felt strangely drawn to the place. A deep breath, then:
She stood, wondering if she was crazy, if Zack was playing some kind of trick on her after all, if she should just give up and go eat popcorn. Wonder what movie they got?
No! She couldn’t give up. Besides, Momandad will definitely notice Zack is missing. She sat down cross-legged on the Map. Now what? Images began to flash across the screen in her mind, images of white-barked trees and coppery moonlight filtered through trembling coral leaves.
“I wish I could just go there,” she sighed.
And she was gone.
⇔ ⇔ ⇔
Thoughts: Have you ever permanently lost someone you loved? What would you say if you had just one more chance to speak with them?
To read The Wishing Map 14, click here!