Note: To read The Wishing Map from the beginning, click here.
The Wishing Map
Chapter Fifteen: Destiny (Continued)
Previously: Zack and Gina were depressed and plagued by nightmares, when suddenly the mercurial Aunt Aloysia showed up again.
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Momandad and Gina were seated on the couch opposite Aunt Aloysia, who was squeezed into a loveseat made for two regulation-size adults. They’d already opened their presents: Mayan earrings for Mom, made of centipedes paralyzed in amber; a brass hookah for Dad, dedicated to the “Grand Vizier of the Ottoman Empire;” a scarf for Gina, made by a lost branch of the Romany. It was woven from crystal threads, causing whatever was viewed through it to break into a Picasso-esque array of rainbow-colored cubes.
“I’m going to live in this!” said Gina, draping it over her head. She had sixteen eyes, each a different color.
“Gina’s Face Descending a Staircase!” Dad quipped.
“Und now the mozt special ting of all,” said Aloysia, waxing Germanic, “for mine own little Zeck on his tirteent birsday!” She reached down beside the love seat, pulled out a tattered burlap sack, and handed it to him: “Here, liebchen…so dat you vill alvays be vith us!”
Zack started to open the sack…only it wasn’t a sack. Holding it up, he saw that it wasn’t made of burlap, either, but of loosely woven metallic cloth. It was similar to chain-mail, only lighter and finer in construction; and it wasn’t dirty, it was tarnished.
Mom said, “I’ll bet I can make that sparkle!”
“No!” Aloysia shrieked. She leapt to her feet, snatched the shirt from Zack’s hand, and clutched it to her chest, mumbling in a language none of them had ever heard. It was very scary and very un-Aloysia. “I’ve put a Teutonic death curse on anyone who tries to wash this,” she said.
Mom froze like a hare in a hedgerow.
“Hah! Gotcha! Just kiddin’, Suze! It really is best not to wash it, though. I don’t think it could handle your modern detergents: it’s an antique Austro-Hungarian hauberk. If Zack ever gets into a jousting match, the other dude’s lance’ll go right around him!“ Aloysia pantomimed a Looney-Toons lance bending around Zack’s middle.
Zack was the first to laugh, then the rest of the family. When the laughter died down, Dad offered to make a run to Crullers for ice cream, and Mom went into the kitchen to clean up.
Aunt Aloysia insisted on going upstairs with Zack and Gina. When they got to the top, she grabbed them by the fronts of their shirts and said, “Why is it back?” It took a moment for them to realize she meant the double moon. Before either could respond, she’d marched into Gina’s room.
Gina blurted out, “Zack fell into the Map, so I went looking for him!”
“I went looking for you!” Zack retorted.
“Well, we both went looking for each other, and then—“
“Ye both were there at once?” Aloysia asked in a lyrical brogue. She shook her head, but then smiled and said, “Well, what’s done ‘tis done, and mayhap ‘tis good it were, seein’ as how ye survived and all. And what o’ the Objects? Safely t’home?”
“Well…” Gina began, “they’re in Ismara…”
“Fine, fine, then your work is done.”
“Only not all in the same place,” Zack admitted.
Gina glared at him.
“Ah,” said Aloysia, “well, then you’ve your full hands, haven’t ye?”
Gina swung her head sarcastically toward Zack. Aloysia thumped her on the side of the head. “Ow!”
“Don’t be doin’ that, lass. Your brother admitted it true manly like. Now, where did ye send ‘em?”
“Well…kinda everywhere,” Zack confessed.
Thoughts: Is there someone who regularly disables your ego defense system, who prefers the “unimproved” version of you? Hold onto them!
To read The Wishing Map 63, click here!