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Adventure Fantasy

“Hurry, Airleas!” I cry, heart pounding in my chest. My palms are sweating like there is no tomorrow, but Airleas is panting really hard, and it doesn’t look like she’s going to calm down soon. Her chest is heaving, and clear, porcelain drops of liquid are clinging to her forehead shamelessly. We can’t stop now – we have to hurry!

I grab her hand and drag her forward, my body aching. Just a little bit more…

“Brighid, just go without me,” Airleas whispers, her voice as soft as silk.

But how can I leave her? Leave her with… those people? The very thought of them makes me flinch. A chill runs down my spine as I remember their faces – smirking down at us and sneering with those faces that make my skin crawl.

Is there no hope for us?

Wait – that place…

My eyes scan the corridor for the only natural source of light – yes, there it is! The opening in the wall covered with pristine glass – the ones that people call a window. My heart is thumping like crazy, as if horses were stampeding across it. My stomach is twisting into knots, but that’s okay. I just need to get Airleas out of here, and even if she hates me after this – I won’t regret it.

By this time, Airleas has stopped panting. She stands up shakily and grabs my hand. Her hands are cold, and mine are wet. I think I know how she feels. I hear footsteps coming from below – loud, heavy steps that seem to echo everywhere.

“Follow me, Airleas!” I whisper.

The two of us creep across the corridor, wincing as the floorboards creak and tweak. That person doesn’t know which floor we’re in, and it would be best if he doesn’t know. We both reach the end of the corridor, standing face to face with the one thing that can help us. Airleas looks around, her hands fidgeting and her small face flushed.

“What to do?” She groaned, “We’re trapped…” Her voice lowered slightly at the end. I know what she’s going to say next – and I suppress the urge to cry.

“I’m sorry, Brighid. It’s all my fault,” she begins rambling, her pearl-like teeth biting her lower lip. “I shouldn’t have eaten that cookie… I was just so hungry, so…”

I stop tuning in to her words, feeling a fire burn in my chest.

Why did it turn out this way? It’s not her fault – I know it isn’t.

When you haven’t had a scrap of food for a day, your tummy starts to ache and growl in protest. When you haven’t eaten for five days, you feel weak and impulsive – the very sight of food, even rotten veggies, look heavenly. And when you haven’t had a bite for a week… the pain is worse than being beaten up.

I have to stop my mind from wandering. I touch the window, feeling the warmth of sunlight and the thick layer of dust. Airleas sneezes, her nose twitching like a rabbit. I whisper the spell as quickly as I can. “Aperi, domine fenestra! Et aperire in nobis!” I can feel my left eye burning, and I’m sure Airleas can see it.

Will she stop talking to me and shy away from me? Will I be left alone again? I don’t want to know.

The window gleams and the glass panes dissolve into nothing, leaving a hole just big enough for me and Airleas to squeeze ourselves inside. Airleas’ mouth is hanging wide open, inviting flies.

“B-brighid, are we going to jump down from this window?” She whispers, her eyes shaking.

“No – well, we are going to jump, but not down… We’ll just jump in together and everything will be fine. I promise,” I pat her back and smile.

“O-okay, Brighid… but we have to hold hands.” Her voice is very soft, but I don’t mind.

Airleas doesn’t mind holding hands with me! Even after she saw that…

I grasp Airleas’ hand tightly, and we turn around to glance at our house one last time. Our house – it was never a home for us. He is getting closer; we both know it. My heart is beating wildly and I pull my eyes away from the house. We need to go through this window. Only then, we’ll be safe.

“One, two, three… JUMP!” I yell. Airleas and I jump through the large window; Airleas has shut her eyes and her face looks pale. I don’t want to close my eyes, though – not like last time. I want to relish this moment. I turn around and see the glass panes reappear, closing the doorway between that terrible place and this safe haven.

Hm, why is everything around me getting darker? I think I want to… sleep…

***

 “Brighid!”

Who’s that?

“Brighid! You have to wake up!” It’s Airleas. I’m sure it is.

“B-Brighid, I’m not sure what happened, but… you have to look at me!”

I struggle to lift my heavy eyes, and when sunlight pours in, I shut my eyes again. Slowly, I blink and adjust to the brightness and sit up. I scan my surroundings. All I can see are trees, trees, plants, bushes, trees, and… more trees.

I think I know where I am. We’re in Mr. Jacob’s Forest! The last time I passed through that window, I ended up here too! Great! This magical world is only filled with nice creatures!

Now all I need to do is bring Airleas to Mr. Jacob – he has such a nice smile, and his gentle eyes always give me warmth. Staying with him will make Airleas and I forget those terrible things that happened before.

Wait – I definitely heard Airleas’ voice before. Where is she? I turn around but fail to spot my best friend. My heart drops to my stomach as my thoughts fly into a whirling mess.

“B-brighid, I’m here!”  It’s Airleas’ trembling voice.

I whip my head to the direction of her voice, but all I can see is grass.

“Airleas?! Airleas, where are you?” My voice came out shakier than I thought.

“If this is a joke, it’s not funny, I’m telling you,” I warn – half hoping that Airleas is just playing a prank. What would her face look like if she was naughtily sneaking up to me from behind? I don’t know, really. We never got the chance to do that…

“Brighid, I’m here. Turn your head to the right, yes, over here! Move forward, I can’t see you clearly.”

I obey Airleas’ voice and walk forwards. My head is a mess.

“Stop!! Stop, Brighid, or else you’ll step on me!” Airleas is shrieking – her voice filled with anxiousness.

I freeze. What? I withdraw my foot and squint at the ground, only to find a single flower on the ground.

I squat down and touch the pink petals tenderly, careful not to crush the tiny thing.

“Airleas?” Is this you?

“Brighid, it’s me.”

My friend turned into a flower.

Yeah, my friend turned into a flower.

So normal.

Wait… A FLOWER?!

My eyes widen and I gape at the flower – no, at Airleas. I feel a rush of emotions. Surprise, relief, happiness, and yet I am confused, too.

“Are you okay?”

“Yeah, I don’t remember what happened but when I woke up, I was like this. I couldn’t feel my arms or legs, I thought I died…” Airleas whimpered.

“I should go get Mr. Jacob. He’ll know what to do. You should wait for me here, okay?”

Airleas the Flower attempts to nod, but all I can see are her petals bobbing up and down a little. Unconsciously, the corner of my mouth lifts upwards and a small chuckle escapes my throat.

“B-brighid?” Airleas tone is questioning. “This… this is the first time I’ve seen you laugh after that day,” she whispers.

Oh yeah. I almost forgot ‘that’.

Does it matter anymore? Nah…

“Don’t worry, Airleas. Nothing bad will happen to you here, I promise. I’ll find a way to turn you back into a human and we can stay here forever,” I’m grinning from ear to ear now.

“Okay, be careful, Brighid,” Airleas reminds me.

“I will.”

I stand up and head in the direction of Mr. Jacob’s house. The last time I arrived here, I left marks on the trees so I knew where to go.

“Oh and Brighid?” Airleas calls out to me.

I turn around. “Yes?”

“Thank you.”

It was a simple phrase, but I had never felt my chest bloom or my lips curl into such a gentle smile before. I knew what she meant without asking.

‘Thank you for saving me, for taking me here, and most of all, for being my friend.’ I knew what Airleas was thinking – and I hope she knows that I feel the same.

And that day, as I walked away from her, I had a feeling that she, too, was smiling.

We’re going to have a new beginning. I’m sure of it. Thanks, magic window.

June 10, 2021 12:12

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