Regan Wilson, Class of 2023
What’s your favorite memory?
It’s a simple question, really, that most people don’t sit and ponder for longer than a minute. Everyone I’ve ever met immediately answers with something like “when I got my cat,” or “My 13th birthday party!” or even “the time my boyfriend told me I was pretty,” and so forth. Personally, I avoid anyone who replies with the last one, because all their attention goes to that boy, but that’s off topic, isn’t it?
I know my favorite memory without question. I was seven, and in the front row at my favorite singer’s concert. Her name was Persephone, and I adored her. Her voice was exceptional in the domed room, but what she did strike me by surprise.
Did she have a voice crack? Did she die? Did she fall off the stage? Oblivious people ask stupid questions.
No, no, and no. I’m still getting off topic, aren’t I?
No, she did not embarrass herself. She handed me a box.
That’s boring. Said the same stupid and oblivious people. And yes, I know, a box is a
little boring. All your excitement builds up, as this is my favorite memory, but it’s just a box. She folded my tiny hands, all pink and sparkly, over a small wooden box.
“Take good care,” she whispered quickly, before reaching back up. Her wisteria colored hair shone, as she tossed it over her neck, ever so gracefully.
Oh how I adored her. I adored her to the point where I refused to open the box. She said take good care, which implies that it’s important. From the day she gave it to me I vowed that I would return it to her. It’s not my place to open it. The only time I open something that isn’t mine is with my sisters- and as much as I would love it, she’s not my sister. I am going to get it back to her… I just don’t know how.
But don’t expect this to be the kind of story where I go on an adventure, because I can’t even get out of bed in the morning. It’s as simple as emailing her. Hey Persephone, you gave me a box when I was seven, what do I do with that?
I sighed. I probably sound crazy, she gets thousands of emails day and day out. As if she’d read mine.
As if she’d remember the moment that changed my life seven years ago. That’s the way life is. You remember the things that people do, because that moment made your day, and began a memory. To others, though, it’s just another day in the grand scheme of things, and rarely is the grand scheme of things changed.
That box changed my day. It made it a great memory.
“Get! Up! May!” My five year old sister kicked my back. I let out a loud groan, before rolling over. “Whatever,” she said “We’ll eat pancakes without you then, dummy.”
I rolled onto the floor, my blanket enclosing me like a burrito. Pancakes were my one weakness. “Get out, Ape.”
“My names April!” She yelled, slamming my door shut with all of her five year old might.
I found myself trudging in the kitchen, my hair all over the place and a blanket draped over my shoulders. I perked up when I saw that Auggie had saved me not one, but two pancakes. I ruffled her hair. “You’re a good sister, Augs.” She snorted, making me laugh.
We all looked similar, every one of us had a soft jawline and a rounded chin, with hazel green eyes. Our hair was dirty blonde and wavy, except for Auggie, who’s hair was straight and brown, but I loved her anyways. She was a bit of a pain sometimes, although compared to Ape, she’s an angel. She at least saves pancakes before April can snatch them up for herself.
“You need to wear something nice, we’re going to the market, May.” My dad dad noted, his nose buried in the newspaper.
“But its the market. Its outside! Why wear something nice if you’re gonna be outside?” I argued.
“Be as it may-”
August snorted again. “As it May! That’s funny,” she giggled, but dad stared her down, until she stopped. A small, unapologetic “Sorry,” came out of her mouth.
Dad looked back to me and said, “I understand, May, but it’s the nicest market in town. We don’t even go that often. Dress to Impress, don’t you know.” My dad, the businessman. I’m never going into a business company.
Nevertheless, I did as he said. I tied my hair in a high ponytail, and I wore a long sleeve, blue, knee length dress. I grabbed the small wooden box and stuffed it into my dress pocket. I took it everywhere I went. We all piled in and out of the car like a traveling circus. Auggie was excited, and jumping around. April was in tears, my mom having to carry her out of the car because she spilled her drink. August had somehow gotten away without brushing her hair, and mom wore jeans and an ugly orange coat, but don’t tell her I said so.
“Dress to Impress.” He had said. Sure, we dressed nice. Although no one was impressed by this mess of a family. No one ever was. We walked around, when April had finally settled down. Nothing caught my eye though, the tents were all white and dull. Everything being sold was just boring.
Then I saw it.
Bright red with a rainbow of tassels outlining it. Chalkboard signs out front read “free fortune readings! Find out about your future spouse, life, career, and family life. Will they be gone? Will you suffer for life? Who knows but Madame Havien!”
I nudged August. “Distract mom,” I whispered. She nodded without question, and did her job.
“What’s that?” She pointed away from the tent, allowing me to duck in. Auggie may have been a pain, but she was a help sometimes. I turned my head towards the inside of the tent, beholding a dim-lit room. There was a table and glowing orb in the middle. A seat for me, and a seat where a woman sat on the other side. There were dark plants in the corner, and lanterns around the top.
“Welcome dear. Have a seat.” The woman said, without looking up from her position across the table. She stared into a multicolored glass ball, that reflected into her dark blue eyes. “May, isn’t it?”
I hesitated, before answering. “But I didn’t-erm..yes.” I said. She looked up and tucked her long graying curls behind her face, so that she could see me.
“Ah, just as I imagined. Young and beautiful, like I was once.” She studied my face. “Something troubling you, dear?”
I thought about my family, and the mess that they were. “Just.. nothing at all.” I flashed a fake smile as best I could.
“Hm. Well, your life is about to get better. She waved her hands around the glass ball. I believe you have something small of value. Value is not always seen in the big things, but when it needs to be. Friends will help you return this value, Enemies will try to take it. The rightful owner will have it returned, in the land of your future-”
Something crashed from the back room. “Excuse me..” The woman got up and walked through a tent flap behind her. “Arlo! What on earth have you done this time?” She yelled. I sat in silence for a moment, before a gust of wind emerged behind me. I looked back, to see nothing but a closing tent flap. I looked back forwards, where a man was pulling out a chair.
“What?!-” I shifted backwards in my seat. “Who…where did you-”
“I’ll save you the trouble, May, allow me to explain.” He paused, as if expecting an answer.
“You better explain..” I said, unsure of what to say. I studied the face in front of me. He had a large nose, a stubbly beard and a firm mouth and jawline. His eyes were brown with a hint of electric blue.
“You know me don’t you?” he asked.
Confused, I shook my head, fiddling with my hands. “No..” I answered.
“Gosh, I’m hurt.” He extended a hand. “Call me Byrd. I know you, May Gardner, but you obviously don’t know me. It’s nice to formally meet you after all these years.” I grabbed his hand, and shook it as quickly as I could, before releasing it.
“Your nails aren’t pink anymore! What a shame, I thought that was quite… stylish. Although you’ve grown beautifully, much like Persy would have wanted.”
“And I can only imagine you’ve taken very good- and delicate- care of her belongings, Miss Gardner?”
I didn’t answer, but stood up. “You…Um you know, I’ve really got to go now..” I turned around, and headed for the door, but it was sealed shut. I pulled and pulled at the tent flap, harder than I ever have, but it stayed. A hot breath trailed down the back of my neck, causing the hairs to stand up.
“Stay..and give me… Persy’s box.”
That’s when it clicked. I reached into the pocket of my dress, feeling the wooden box.
“Oh, yes.” Byrd chuckled. “Yes, that’s it. Now hand it over, May, and it’ll all be over with.”
“Persephone told me to take care of it.” I stuttered, but managed to force the sentence out. “You- you..” He breathed down my neck. He shoved me against the wall. My hands were held tight behind my back. I couldn’t move them.
I cursed, trying to hold back as much as I could. A fearful minute went by, then he let go. I kept my eyes closed, but heard someone running around, and what sounded like kicking, like a fight going on. A new voice yelled “Go!”
Byrd pulled me forward and grabbed my wrists, pulling out a knife. He held it up to my throat and glared at the man in front of me. “Watch your next move.” He said.
The guy in front of me was likely twenty or so. His hair laid past his shoulders, dirty blonde and wavy. His eyes were green, and his cheekbones were very refined. I widened my eyes at him, pleading for help.
“Genn.” He said. “Get him.”
Byrd’s head lurched forward on mine, he fell to the ground, seemingly lifeless. A girl stood tall behind me. She was very dark skinned with very short and coily hair, almost shaved on each side. Her eyes were black, and her lips were pink. She wore a black, see-through tank top, with a floral sports bra underneath. She was gorgeous.
“Hey, you need to get to safety. Through the back, take a right, left, right, and go until you see Jayvex, got it? Great, gotta go.” She started running to the door.
“Hey!” I called after them. “What-”
“I’m Genn, this is my adopted brother, Clai.” She smiled, pushing Clai through the door. He turned around and winked at me. My heart started racing, though I had no idea why.
“You trust me?” Genn said. She had an accent, but I couldn’t pinpoint it.
I hesitated, but nodded.
I ran. I didn’t know why, but I ran away from Byrd and I trusted them. Anything to get me away from that man. My chest was pounding, my breathing heavy. I ran past different hallways, confused. I ran past a man, unable to depict any of his features.
“Hey!” He called, but did nothing to stop me. Where was I supposed to go? There’s so many hallways, I don’t know how you could find your way around here. How can a tent this small be this large inside?
I threw myself past the different signs and tent flaps. They all read different names. Garlen, Thiaro, Barren, but none of them was what Genn had said. I slowed to a walk, going past each and every hallway. One of the flaps was open, with a sign that read “Kasi,” so I peeked inside the tent flap. There was a world with purple grass, and orange substances floating around. I coughed, accidentally breathing in the substance. I forced my head out of the tent, and kept walking. I coughed over and over again.
I walked to the end of the hallway I was on, where a sign labelled “Jayvex,” was. That was it! But there wasn’t a tent flap anywhere, just the sign. I sat down for a moment, wondering what I was doing. I took a step back, what if I ran away and never came back? I wouldn’t have to deal with this again would I?
My thigh started burning. I put my hand around it, a heat emitting from my pocket. The box.. I realized, shoving my hand down. The box was burning hot, I threw it upwards, but caught it in my hands. I dropped it on the floor, lucky that it didn’t shatter. It was glowing light purple. I stared at it for a while, unsure of what to do. I looked back at the Jayvex sign. There was a square messily cut out of it. I put my hand inside, then looked back at the box. I studied both the hole and the box, before shoving the box inside. A piece of the tent opened, revealing a bright green grass. I grabbed the box with the very edge of my fingertips, pulling it out. It wasn’t hot anymore. It was just a few seconds ago though; it had no time to cool down.
I tucked it away into my dress pocket, then stepped inside the opened piece of the tent.
“Hello?” I asked, looking around.
“Mrs. Havien?” A little boy called after me, looking around, his eyes wide when he saw me. “Hey! You’re not Mrs. Havien! Ardyn! Axden!” He yelled.
“No, no, you don’t need to get anyone… I come in peace,” I said awkwardly, waving my hands around. The boy looked confused.
I looked around, I was on the very edge of a cliff, my feet in the brightest green grass I had ever seen. A train of coughs flew out of my mouth.
“Hey! Who’re you!” A girl emerged. She had a shoulder length, light purple, bob, and she had a wing of eyeliner and purple stars along her face. She grabbed my arms. “You better have a real good explanation, we don’t allow your kind here.” She snarled.
“Ardyn!” A man who looked exactly like her came from behind a tree. “Ardyn, let go.” He said, taking her hands off of my arms.
“What are you doing?” She yelled at him. “We don’t even know her! She could be here to kill us all.” She lowered her tone. “She could be working with Byrd.”
I perked up at that name. “He tried to kill me!” I argued.
“Look at her,” The boy ignored me. “You think she’s gonna kill me?”
“You’ve met Byrd?” The girl asked sternly.
I nodded, staying silent at the intimidating girl. “Who are you? Where am I, what’s going on?” I coughed into my arm.
“Are you okay?” The boy asked.
“I’m fine, I just breathed in some stuff… in the tent, somewhere else-”
“That could be dangerous, we should take you to the infirmary.” He said. “Come on.”
“How do I know I can trust you?” I didn’t move.
The girl smirked. “Smart girl.” She said. “We’ve got the same duty as you do, Byrd’s against us too. Come on, we’ll fix you up. Grey will know what to do.”
The two led me to a small building, engraved with a light purple gold-like metal.
“What is that?” I said, touching the metal.
“It’s called Wisteria. It comes from the Wisteria plant, which has healing powers. Using the metal keeps anyone inside safe and healthy.” Axden informed me. We stepped inside, and I was overcome with an emotion I had never felt before. Like I was floating, and I couldn’t take a step. I didn’t start walking until Axden grabbed my arm and pulled me forwards. “You alright?” I nodded, but Axden persisted. “We’ve never had an Earthean here, it’s probably the Wisteria kicking in.” I nodded again, feeling unconscious. “You’ll be fine.” He added.
“Master Grey,” Ardyn bowed, motioning for me to do so. “This is.. Actually.. What is your name?”
“May.” I smiled. “May Gardner.” I coughed into my arm, which left a patch of blood. I quickly hid it behind my back.
“You okay?” Axden whispered next to me.
“Um… Yeah. I’m okay.” I stuttered.
“Where are you from, Madame Garder?” A loud, gravely voice called from a purple throne in front of me.
“Earth.” I answered.
“I see. What brings you to our part of the world?” He stated firmly.
“..Well… Byrd came for me and I had no choice… Genn and Clai came to help me and told me to come here.”
“Genn and Clai of course!” He laughed. “Those two are always looking for trouble. They’re from Kasi, another world.”
“Kasi?” I wondered aloud. I had heard the name before.
“Yes, have you heard of it?”
The orange substance! I realized, suddenly. I coughed again, blood splattering all over the room.
“Oh my Wisteria!” Axden yelled. “Are you okay?”
“I..uh…” My vision went fuzzy and black. I imagine that Axden’s idiotic expression held until long after I had fainted.