Note: To read The Wishing Map from the beginning, click here.
The Wishing Map
Chapter Eight: Liulah (Continued)
Previously: Guilt-stricken, Liulah decided to restore Zack’s humanness.
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Zack gave no real resistance, because nothing mattered. He smiled blithely as Liulah dragged him back to the place from whence she’d first yanked him into her world.
“Hey! This is where you drive your cloud! Oooo! Can I do it? I don’t have a license yet, but—”
“Shut up! I have to think. Let me look at you.” She grabbed his ears and pulled his face within inches of hers.
Zack sprouted a louppish grin.
“Your eyes are not completely skyfull.” She looked down at his arms. There were patches of red jacket still showing through his cloud garment. “Good. Maybe you can go back. I don’t know. I hope—”
“Back to Mother and Father Cloud?”
“No! They’re not your mother and father! You have a sister. Try to remember. You have to remember!”
“Huh? Oh, yeah, you’re my sister, right? But that’s kinda weird because when I look at you I feel sort of—“
“No!” Liulah slapped him hard across the face. “I’m not your sister!”
“Crud, Gina! That totally hurt!”
“’Gina!’ Her name was Gina!” Liulah put her face in front of his again: “I’m not Gina, I’m Liulah, remember?”
“No. Maybe. Sorta. It doesn’t matter, nothing matters.”
“Yes it does! You have to save her! You have to go back down, or up or wherever it is you came from!”
“What? No! I’m staying here! This is my home and you can’t make me leave!”
“But, you…ohhhhhhh…” Liulah changed tactics and started shoving him toward the nearest hole.
“Stop it, Gi—I mean Liulah!” Zack’s body floated forward like a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade blimp. “What are you…I told you to stop it!”
He succeeded in turning around and grabbing her shoulders, then flipped himself up over her head and glided down onto his bottom behind her.
She whirled around, grabbed him by the hair, and began dragging him toward the hole. “I don’t want you to go, but you have to!” Mist was forming in her eyes.
“No I don’t!” He grabbed her wrists and yanked as hard as he could. She rolled head first over his chest and landed on the ground at his feet. He jumped up in front of her. “Gina!” he began. “I mean, no, not Gina, Liulah—why do I keep forget—”
And then she kissed him.
On the mouth.
It only lasted four seconds…but they were the hugest four seconds of Zack’s life to date. His eyes doubled in size. He slowly nodded, then stepped back and looked at Liulah, all business, and in a voice half an octave lower, said, “I have to find my sister, and you are definitely not my sister.”
“No, I’m not,” she replied, her cheeks flushing like a creamsickle sunrise.
Liulah sailed her cloud back to the place she’d kidnapped Zack from two days before, during which time his memory slowly began to return: he remembered his old clapboard house, his real mother and father…and his recurring vision of the cruel dark-cowled Tinkurs.
He remembered what had happened to Gina, and how he had determined to save her no matter what it took—possibly his life, almost certainly his leg. Did he love his sister that much? Yes. Did he resent her for putting him in such a position? Yes.
When the cloud stopped, they stood staring at one another for a solid minute. Zack finally broke the silence: “Well, I gotta go.”
“Will I ever see you again?”
“I don’t…” he began, but seeing the rain in her eyes, stopped and hugged her instead. She melted into him as if she were trying to become a part of him. It was the strangest sensation he’d ever felt. He slowly pulled away, then stepped into a hole and dropped…
…about two and a half feet.
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Thoughts: They say love makes us crazy. But sometimes it has the opposite effect. Sometimes it reminds us who we really are.
To read The Wishing Map 34, click here!