The cascade of a small, metal chain being placed on my dresser jolted me back to Ashlee’s presence. Something shiny was on the end, like a jewel of some sort. Ashlee turned to leave without a comment.
“What is it?”
She turned and stared at me with an expression I couldn’t quite read. The way her eyes were shaped made me think of a teacher’s expression right before a huge test that nobody studied for.
“It will answer your questions.”
I rolled my eyes. Typical of her to answer a question I never asked.
“That doesn’t tell me what it is, you know.” I sighed when she didn’t reply, apparently being preoccupied with staring out my window, the shadows dancing like ribbons across her face. “Fine. Where did you get it?”
“It fell out of the book I told you about—when we were at the library. It didn’t fit either of us, but it might you,” she replied dreamily without looking at me. She seemed to be studying something outside, or maybe something inside her mind, where truth is not obscured by distance or matter.
I stuck my elbows out and sat up on my bed. “What do you mean, it didn’t fit? You can adjust them, you know.”
Ashlee shook her head slowly. “Not this one.”
She turned away and left me staring at the shiny thing on my dresser. I sat there a long time. I couldn’t tell if it was supposed to be a prank or if she had really gotten it from the book. I wondered if she’d stolen it, but that wasn’t her kind of character, besides taking books constantly from the Sunray Elementary school’s library. I guess that’s not really stealing, but all the same, she could take to hoarding certain things, like rocks, leaves, and sticks. Especially rocks and leaves. Ashlee had done a full-blown arrangement to decorate her room, and to be truthful, it was quite beautiful. Like the glinting piece on my dresser. The sunlight struck it just so, making it scatter light rays about the room. I felt like it was calling me, even though, of course, such an idea seemed unreasonable. But then, so did predicting the future and flying without wings.
Finally, I couldn’t resist any longer. In a mesmerized sort of motion, I stepped forward a few feet, then back one, then forward again, and then back. Somehow this moment seemed unbelievably important, but I wouldn’t be able to understand it until much later.
It was a necklace with a golden chain and a heptagon-shaped pendant at the end. The gemstone set in it was a marvelous ruby, sparkling like a tiny flame in my hands. My excitement was overflowing. Such a precious gift, a priceless treasure, had found its way to me. It was mine now.
Tearing my eyes away from the glistening red star, I turned it over to the metal setting piece on the back, looking for a name.
All I could see was a series of fancy spirals and squiggles along the edges, and lines directing me from each point to the fancy seven in the middle.
“Try it on,” Ashlee thought from the doorway as she and Mom walked past to check on Umala.
Enthralled, I gazed down at the treasure in my hands. Fearful of breaking such a flawless thing, I carefully undid the clasp and slid my hands behind my neck. After a few shaky seconds, I’d gotten it on.
It fit perfectly. Actually, “fit” isn’t the right word for it. It was more like…it matched not so much my neck as it did me—my personality, my soul. I believed that the notion was completely unreasonable at the time, but it felt as if some fragment of me had finally come home, like I was finally a whole being. The sensation was indescribable, but to get somewhere in the ballpark of it, I’ll simply say that a piece of Heaven made me overflow with joy, like the Spirit inside of me reached every fiber of my being and made me fearless of everything evil. My soul laughed for the first time I could remember.
I stopped spinning and realized that I’d been Drifting. I dropped quickly, hoping nobody had noticed. As I peeked around the door, I noticed Ashlee sitting on a chair down the hall with Umala in her lap. They both turned expectantly.
Ashlee whispered to Umala as I walked towards them. She frowned slightly as Umala replied softly in baby garble. “So, what does it mean?” I bounced up and down on my toes as I waited impatiently for an answer.
Ashlee looked up into my eyes.
“We can’t tell you yet. It’s too early.”
“Whaddaya mean too early?!”
Ashlee rose to my height as she Drifted up and back to stand on the chair. “If we tell you now, the chances of you rejecting it are 98 percent, and that would have most devastating repercussions,” she explained with scrutiny. Her face scrunched up in thought. It felt like I was being examined by some odd healer.
“Are you sure it’s too early, Umala? I think she could handle it.”
Umala screamed in protest. “Whoa, whoa, whoa, okay,” Ashlee started, but then Mom came flying down the hall, shouting out “What-are-you-doing-to-her” and “You’re-going-to-scare-her-away-from-flying-if-you-keep-teasing-her-like-that” and the like, and stormed away several minutes later with a whimpering baby. We remained, quite stumped.
“So, sometimes even you two disagree?” I wondered aloud.
“Yes.” It was unusually straightforward of Ashlee.
I scratched my head. Then I remembered what had caused the disturbance in the House.
“If I don’t get to know now, then when will you tell me?” I looked to Ashlee.
She wasn’t there. I didn’t see where she’d gone, but I did hear her final thought on the matter.
“When you’re ready.”
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