Artwork by Bekim M
It seemed to fill the forest and yet to be inside her at the same time. She opened her eyes and looked around. She heard wind rustle through the leaves and saw them shimmer, but she didn’t see anyone.
“Hello?” More silence. Her eyes began to close.
The voice was indescribable. Soft, yet forceful. Old, yet ageless. Kind, yet demanding. “Hello? Where are you? I can’t see you.”
Few ever do. I am Rhema. The pixies call me Fae te Lurá, “the Faerie Queen.”
“So, the pixies are real?”
As real as you are. Beware. They were pagans until quite recently and are still quite barbaric.
“Is that who you are, then, the Faerie Queen?”
If you are a pixie.
“So, did you want to talk to me?” Gina felt like she was at the principal’s office.
You have taken a step you cannot untake.
It didn’t sound like a good thing. “Um…OK.” It occurred to Gina that the Rhema might mean she could never go back home again. She panicked: “Oh, crap! I’m sorry! Oh, God! I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to come here. I mean, well I did mean to, but only to find my brother—he fell through the Map first—but then I was gonna go right back to my world after I got him, and…” (This wasn’t exactly true.) “I mean, I’m not from this world, you know—”
Yes, I know, and I know what you ‘mean’, the voice said with amusement, but not the slightest hint of mockery. And, no, that’s not what I ‘meant.’ You will be able to return to your other home when it is time.
When it’s time. Where had Gina heard that before? Oh! Aunt Aloysia. And what did the Rhema mean by ‘your other home?’”
It’s not ‘the’ Rhema, it’s just Rhema.
“What? Oh, OK. Wait—how did you know what I was thinking?”
You have a lot of questions, Gina. But what you must know right now is that you have taken a step—”
“That I can’t untake, right, but what do you—”
‘Mean?’ There was a hint of mockery this time, but not unkindness. I mean the little dragon you have adopted.
You sang to him, and he sang back to you. Your life is now tied to his.
After a very long pause, Gina asked, “So, what if I don’t want that honor?”
It’s not an honor, it’s a choice. One you have already made.
“But I didn’t know I was making a choice.”
You are always making choices, even when you don’t know you are. In fact, those are the ones that count the most.
“What do you mean, ‘adopted?’ I mean, I can’t take him home to my world, and even if I could, I don’t think Momandad would let me keep—”
I mean that what he is and what he becomes is now a part of who you are.
“OK, that’s pretty cryptic, you know? Because—”
Your journey is only beginning, Gina. Good-bye.
“What? Wait! Hello? Hello? Where’s Zack?”
The voice that called itself Rhema was gone. Gina stared into the forest, watching, waiting. Nothing. A few leaves rustled. Even the pixies were nowhere to be seen. Had she dreamed it? Was she awake now, or was she only dreaming that she was awake? OK, this was getting complicated. She’d just sleep a little more, and when she woke up it would all make sense. Just before she drifted off, the little dragon shifted on her lap and burped…
A tiny blue sulfur cloud.
Thoughts: Is it true that we’re “always making choices,” even when we don’t know we are, and that those are the ones that count the most?
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