Photo by Mason Kimbarovsky
One moment, Gina Dore was in her bedroom yelling at her brother Zack, and the next moment there was a…what? A tornado, or a prank or… A prank, yes, that had to be it! Once Gina got over her initial shock, her anger set in. What kind of elaborate hokey-pokey had her brother rigged up to terrorize her?
She rose slowly from behind her bed and tiptoed over to the mysterious Map Aunt Aloysia had given them. 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, and then it 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-fashioned 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: “OK, he’s gone, but that doesn’t mean he’s gone gone. It could just mean—” Wait. What if he just fell through the bedroom floor into what’s straight below? The kitchen! Aha!
She ran out of her bedroom, shouting, “Zacky? 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 endearingly stupid 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 now. If only she’d treated her little brother differently! If only…
She ran into the mudroom next to the kitchen. She could see Zack’s bike outside. She 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…and not invisible!
Zack wasn’t in the kitchen.
“I mean it, Zack. This isn’t funny!”
Gina hurried back upstairs, talking to herself. “OK, so he went into the Map, or whatever, and—”
Wait, that was it! He’d gone into the Map! Aunt Aloysia had said it was “time.” But time for what? Both she and Zack had felt they were somehow supposed to go to Ismara. But how? It wasn’t anywhere in the world, it wasn’t anywhere…in this world! That was it! Zack had fallen through the Map…
To read the next episode, click here.
Thoughts: Have you ever permanently lost someone you loved? What would you say if you had just one more chance to speak with them?