I sighed and adjusted my bag’s strap on my shoulder, letting my attention wander from the open book in front of me. The letters on the page blurred.
I wish they hadn’t killed off Lily. If only–
My eyes snapped back into focus when the pages started fluttering wildly. Impossible – I was inside and my hair hung limply down the sides of my face.
I pressed my fingers to my eyes and counted to three before looking again. The book lay open to the page where Lily had been captured by the bandit.
Suddenly the words began swirling out of their sentences and merging together. I froze, torn between scooting away and leaning closer. The black mass of ink formed a slanted line, then another, until two large words covered the page:
I stared for a moment, then reached a tremulous hand towards them and touched the dot of the ‘i’ with the tip of my finger.
The ink burst up off the page and engulfed me.
Weightlessness and darkness. Falling. My heart jumped up to beat in my throat, choking off a wordless scream.
Then, as suddenly as it started, I fell out of the blackness and landed hard.
What on earth…
I stood with a wince and brushed away the dust that clung to my pants from the road I’d landed on, scanning my surroundings. Forest, distant mountains, a castle, an open book – book?! I jumped back.
Nothing happened. I crept forward and picked it up, holding it at arms’ length with my eyes fixed on the ink laying innocently on the page.
I nearly dropped it when the ink moved again, then steadied it, careful not to touch the new words as they formed:
Wish again if you will, but know this:
Changes made cannot be undone.
I closed it with trembling fingers and tucked it into my bag, mind racing.
Changes made… My eyes scanned the horizon again, then widened in recognition. The forest where Lily was captured! I can save her!
I dashed towards it with my bag banging against my side, and grinned as I easily skipped around the traps the bandit had laid.
“Hey! Wait!” I called out at a flash of green ahead.
Lily glanced back at me for a split second, then turned and ran down the path. My heart sank; of course it wouldn’t be that easy. I took off after her, my thoughts churning. There had to be a shortcut, or–
I tripped and went flying forward, then crashed to the ground with my face pressed against the ropes of a net.
“And what have we got here?” a taunting voice said behind me. “Little girl in the woods alone?”
The bandit’s lines to Lily! I must’ve caught up with him before he caught up with her! She’s safe!
Despite my stinging face and palms, I turned to him with a smirk; in a moment he’d leave and I’d wish myself home.
He tossed a rope over a thick branch and hoisted the net into the air, mirroring my smirk. “Got a little business to take care of, then I’ll be back for you. Don’t go anywhere now.”
He strode noiselessly into the forest; after a moment I heard the sound of metal against metal. The knives he’d used to kill Lily.
I wiggled around in the net to free one of my arms from underneath me and fished the book out of my bag. It fell open with its ink back in orderly sentences.
“I wish I was back in the library,” I said, enunciating each word.
The letters began to swirl again, spelling out new words on the page. I grinned and sucked in a deep breath to prepare for the unnerving fall through blackness.
Lily’s life has been spared,
Words continued to form; my grin faded.
and you have taken her place.
Ice ran through my veins.
Changes made cannot be undone.
Storytime Blog Hop
This story is an unusual one for us – we almost never write ‘unhappy’ endings; our characters suffer plenty along the way, but in the end they figure out how to win. But this was one of our first few attempts at a flash fiction story using Holly’s flash fiction class, and we wanted to take at least one shot at the ‘dramatic irony’ ending. It may be a little too obvious, but we had some fun with it! :) We hope you did too.
Other Storytime Blog Hop Participants
- Till Death Us, by Fanni Sütő
- The Cloud, by Karen Lynn
- Data Corruption, by Barbara Lund
- Wish Granted, by Kami Bataya You are here
- The Witch of Wall Street, by J. Q. Rose
- Grim Reapers on a Field Trip, by J Lenni Dorner
- Unwelcome Vistors, by Bill Bush
- A Writer’s Morning, by Katharina Gerlach
- Unverified, by Erica Damon
- Tito’s to the Max, by Chris Makowski
- The Boon, by Juneta Key
- Recommended Reading, @ Raven O’Fiernan
- Sanctuary, by Elizabeth McCleary
Kami Atera and Kathryn Bataya
– the team behind Kami Bataya
(What’s with this ‘we’? – in short, there are two of us here sharing this body.)