Sameela O’Klurn was my best friend. We didn’t see each other much, but that didn’t matter. We were buddies. And that wouldn’t change. She was wearing a favorite blue outfit of hers: tye-dye shirt, sea-blue pants. She wanted to study ocean life. If we’d ever get to the ocean. She had her brother with her. He adored me.
“Hi, Raven. How ya doin’, buddy?”
“Good.” He bugged his eyes up at me. His name wasn’t Raven, it was Yadravn. Raven was just a nickname we’d made for him. Raven was eleven; Sameela was fourteen. He pulled a mutated contraption from his pocket composed of several seeds, twigs, and rocks, and tried to explain to me his marvelous invention. “See, Em-ma-line, this is where the, the rocks, uh, go, and uh, this, this is where the, uh, you pull back the, um, holder things, and this is where you, um, release it to make them fly.” He was showing me his latest design for an improved trebuchet or catapult or whatever. I couldn’t follow his meaning half the time, but he loved telling me anyway. Heh.
“Heard how you did on the Flying Test,” Sameela broke in when Raven was persuaded that I thought his idea was awesome. I grimaced. “Yeah…” I trailed off. We watched Raven load his catapult-thing with some pebbles from the ground.
“I don’t get why nobody else tried. It couldn’t have been that impossible if you pulled it off,” she said, trying to get me to say what I thought. I didn’t know how much to tell her, so I just told her about my encounter with Shadela earlier that day. She still wouldn’t accept my suggestion that Shadela
caused me to cheat. “But Emma,” she said, “it’s not like you knew that was the test route. You just went that way by accident!”
A chaotic sound of thumps diverted our attention. Raven had used my target as his own. Six little stones winked at us with dampness from the same marshmallow-like substance that my arrows were stuck in. He pumped his tiny fist victoriously as he ran over to pull them out. Five arrows. Six stones.
Eleven years of haunting dreams.
“Yeah,” I protested, “but why me? Why am I the only one who tried, and it just so happened that I had done that route once before in the same day?” I attempted with desperation to hold back the pulsing tears that wanted to spill out of my eyes. “Why?” I sat down on the ground, emotionally drained. All I could do was stare at my feet, my bow heavy and useless in my limp hands.
Sam, Raven, and I just sat for a while, listening to the peaceful quiet of the water in the stream nearby. To the breeze coming in from the windows. To the—
A storm was coming.
I remembered the dreams.
I was so, so sick and tired of those dreams. So tired of getting agitated at every thought of destruction, injury, mayhem. So tired of waiting helplessly for them to come.
Because I knew, whether in a year or a hundred, they would come. They always did.
Sam knew a little. I couldn’t tell Raven; he was too young to understand the importance of secrecy. Ash had me figured out, but then, we were very much alike in our abilities. It was like watching a chess match. She saw a single, distinct move on the chessboard. I saw the game from start to finish. And I hated every moment of it. And I liked chess. So that’s saying something.
I told Sam what I could say safely in Raven’s company then parted ways, heading home, waiting for fate to have its
way with me. I knew God was there. But sometimes I just couldn’t quite feel His presence. This was one of those times.
I lay on my bed. And waited. Praying for time. Any time. Time for me to be ready, to stop it. But you can’t stop an avalanche, nor a flood, nor a storm, nor the dreadful doom of being chased every night by Hell’s minions and nobody to talk to about it. So I just prayed.
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