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The Wishing Map
Chapter Twenty: Tea for One (Continued)
Previously: Zack was offered a strange tea by the mysterious Rhema.
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Gina watched in astonishment as a tea cup suddenly appeared in Zack’s hand. Where had it come from? He lifted it to his lips. She screamed, “No! Zack, don’t!” but he was still oblivious to her. And she still could not enter the cottage.
Zack downed the contents without hesitation. He half expected it to kill him, and half wanted it to. It didn’t. It warmed him in a way nothing else ever had, not just his stomach, but his whole being. It felt like it had entered his bloodstream, his bones, his heart. He looked up and saw Rhema beaming; it reminded him of the expression on parents’ faces when their children accomplish something really difficult. And something else: the kharis tea tasted like—no, somehow actually was—the exact opposite of that bottomless hole, that void he’d felt in his last vision of the Dark Tinkurs.
“So, how come I didn’t die when they speared me?” he asked.
Rhema pulled a huge sword out of the air and said, “Stand.”
He slid out from the little nook.
She rose, and then in one swift surgical movement sheared off his sewn-together Root Naim-Leaf Naim tunic. It fell to the ground in wisps as if it were made of tissue. He was grateful to be free from it. He noticed that his Green Lantern hoodie had two prominent holes. The lances really had pierced him!
“Lift the garment,” Rhema commanded. He pulled his hoodie up, revealing the tarnished metallic shirt. Rhema pointed the sword at him. It was almost comical the way the little grey-haired woman wielded the massive weapon. If anyone has the right to kill me, she does. He braced himself.
She shoved the sword into his belly! He winced, letting out a grunt as it went in all the way to the hilt, but as before he felt no pain. He opened his eyes and looked down. Right at the point it touched his metal shirt, the sword began to bend; it continued to curve around him until it reached his back where it, presumably, stuck out straight again. Like one of those arrow-through-the-head things. But of course it wasn’t two halves of a sword held together by a piece of bent wire, it was solid iron. It was as if the shirt’s metallic threads were made of trillions of tiny mirrors that could bend not just images, but actual objects.
Zack shook his head in amazement. “My Aunt Aloysia gave it to me. She said it was an Australian…no, wait…‘Austro-Hungarian hauberk.’”
“Aloysia,” Rhema said with an inscrutable smile.
There was a long silence. Zack glanced over his shoulder and saw Gina standing in the doorway. When he looked back, Rhema was gone. Their conversation was over. For now. He turned and began to walk toward the door, and as he did he heard Rhema’s voice: “Tuber was right. You showed them the stories inside them, and that will heal them in time.
In Uol’s time, Zack, not yours.”
Thoughts: Has anyone ever restored your faith in you, when you were unable to do so yourself?
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