Today we have a short story by Skipper that introduces us to a world much like our own, but with a dash of magic. It highlights the theme “be careful what you wish for” through a pair of relatable teenage characters.
Emma Rosalind Bayberry stood at the head of the picnic table. On a plate in front of her sat a modest birthday cake decorated with homemade vanilla frosting, purple hand-piped lettering, and a single birthday candle. Stars twinkled and danced in the nighttime sky above her. The three people she cared about most in her life- her adoptive parents Ida and Ethan, and her best friend since childhood, Dillon Bog- were gathered around her, finishing singing to her. It was Emma’s birthday, and she was turning 17.
After they finished singing, they encouraged her to make a wish and blow out the candle. Emma rolled her mismatched blue and green eyes at them, smiling. When she could clearly see her wish in her mind’s eye, she blew out the candle on the cake. The candle’s flame vanished with a wisp of smoke.
Her parents and best friend cheered and whooped. Emma laughed with them.
As they celebrated, they didn’t notice a little shiny, silvery wisp curl around the blown-out candle and swirl away into the night.
Later on that night, Dillon plopped down next to Emma on the blanket spread on the hillock. “What did you wish for?” he asked her.
She smiled wistfully, looking up at the stars. “I can’t tell you! It won’t come true if I do.”
Dillon groaned and flopped onto his back. “You realize that’s just a myth, right?”
She cast a sidelong glance at him. Mystery shone in her eyes. “Maybe it is, maybe it’s not.”
They turned their attention to the stars winking above them. Emma heard her adoptive parents shuffling around as they cleaned up the mess from the small party. As they did so, Emma and Dillon exchanged stories about constellations long into the night. One of the things that united them was their mutual love of mythology and other old stories.
During a lull in their conversation, Dillon shifted his body toward Emma. After a moment, he sighed, then turned his attention to the stars again. He loved Emma so much, ever since they met when they were 10. Emma’s parents had died mysteriously when she was 5, and when Ida and Ethan adopted her, they brought her to live with them in Becketts Ville, where Dillon’s distant aunt and uncle lived. After Dillon’s parents died in a car crash when he was 10, he came to live with them here. Dillon was already an introverted, quiet child before the accident, but after it, he retreated further into his shell and became brooding and melancholy. Then, at the beginning of the school year, he met Emma. She literally bumped into him as she was carrying a huge stack of mythology books to the school library, something Dillon also just so happened to love. When he helped her pick them up, their heads knocked together. It was love at first sight. Well, for Dillon, anyway.
He blinked hard. Emma was amazing, one of the most special, unique beings he’d ever had the privilege of knowing. Just looking into her beautiful blue and green eyes made him feel as if he were taking a peek at a whole other world. The way she held herself, with such poise, such grace, was enough to make his heart flutter (too much?). She’d brought so much life and light to him when his world was so gray. For years, he’d wanted to let her know how much she meant to him, but he’d been too nervous to tell her. Besides, what if she didn’t feel the same way? After all, she’d made it very clear that she viewed him as a friend.
Dillon sighed again. Maybe he would get up the courage to tell her he loved her sometime this year. Or maybe not. Probably not, as he was such a chicken! At any rate, he needed to do it soon. Otherwise, he might lose the nerve and never do it at all…
The next morning, Emma slept peacefully. Until she rolled off her bed with a loud thump and rubbed the sore spot where she landed.
Then she remembered that she was going to volunteer at the library that morning. If she wanted to stop by Café Pleasant to get tea before volunteering, she had to hurry. She threw on some clothes and tossed things into her messenger bag. Briefly, she paused by her mirror to check if she looked presentable enough. For a split second, she frowned at her reflection, but then scrambled out her room. Downstairs, she scarfed down a breakfast of leftover Pop Tarts from her birthday, an apple, and a glass of orange juice. She shouted a quick goodbye to Ida over her shoulder as she rushed out the door.
Quickly, Emma hopped onto her cruiser bike, lovingly dubbed “Enfield”, after the mythical hawk-fox. Trees and shrubs flew past her as she cruised down the bike lane. In 15 minutes, she screeched to a stop in front of the café. Then, she popped out Enfield’s kickstand and locked it on the bike rack outside the building.
The moment she stepped inside the café, Emma felt herself relax. Café Pleasant always made her feel at home, what with the warm, sugary scent of pastries and the deep, robust smell of coffee drifting in the air. Emma stepped into the line of people anxious to get their morning tea or coffee. The line moved quickly, and soon Emma was ready to order.
“One matcha green tea, please.”
The barista smiled at her. “It will be ready for you shortly.”
Emma payed and stepped aside to let others order. Her phone buzzed, and she looked down to check it. Dillon’s name flashed on the screen.
You going to volunteer at the library today?
Of course! Just stopping by the café to get some tea. 😊
😀 Hurry, ‘cuz I have something I want to tell you.
Okay, see u there! 😉
She mused about what Dillon wanted to say for a moment as she put her phone away.
Soon, the barista called out her order, and she thought nothing more of it. Emma thanked the barista, picked up her tea, and trotted outside. After she took a quick sip of it, she put it in Enfield’s cup holder. She fumbled with the bike lock a bit, struggling to get it open. Finally, the lock clicked open, and Emma went on her way.
Soon, Emma arrived at the library. She still struggled with the stupid bike lock, but she got it to work soon enough. Remembering to grab her bag and drink, Emma sprinted into the library.
Dillon met her at the door to the back room, where they would sort the inbound library books. “Hi, Emma,” his pale skin blushed.
She gave him an inquisitive look. It seemed as if he had put special effort into taming his thick, dark hair that morning. He almost never puts that much effort into his appearance! “Hi, Dillon. You had something you wanted to tell me?”
He gulped, Adam’s apple bobbing. “Yes, I-”
Just then, Ms. Hardclap, the librarian supervising them, strolled up to them, a smile on her care-worn face. “Ah, Dillon and Emma! My two favorite teens. I’m so glad you’re volunteering today! Follow me.”
They followed the older lady’s tall form through the back door. Emma, with a look of contentment on her face, Dillon with a look of annoyance on his. Emma noticed his expression, and her thin brows furrowed with concern. ‘Something is clearly off about Dillon today’, she mused. She’d have to ask him about that later.
Soon, though, she and Dillon were so busy sorting books, she completely forgot about her friend’s strange behavior. As she worked, Emma wondered about the wish she made last night. How long did it take for wishes to come true? Would it actually come true, or was that just a myth?
Time flew by, and lunch break for the two teens struck.
Emma collected her things and turned to Dillon, who had the strangest look on his face.
“Dillon, what’s wrong?” She took a hesitant step forward.
His face turned red. When he opened his mouth, it was as if a Pandora’s box of raw emotion barfed all over the floor. “Emma, you’re so beautiful, and I love you so much, it hurts! I’ve loved you since we met when we were kids! I hope you love me too, but if you don’t, I’ll try to be okay-”
The poor guy didn’t even finish. Emma blanched and darted out the door. Her wish just came true, but not how she wanted it to happen.
“Emma, wait!” Dillon called after her, voice cracking.
But she didn’t answer him. She was long gone.
For a short while, Dillon simply stood there in shock, a dazed look on his face. His love confession did not go at all like planned!
Last night, as he drifted off to sleep, he vowed to find time to tell Emma about his feelings. He envisioned that Emma would be overjoyed after she heard his true feelings. She would cry happy tears, and embrace him while imaginary confetti cannons went off.
Instead, she’d given him a horrified look and run away.
“I’m not that horrible, am I?” he mumbled, replaying what just happened in his head.
“Well, are you going to go after her?” Ms. Hardclap’s voice startled Dillon from his gloomy thoughts.
“Pardon?” he frowned at her.
The middle-aged librarian sighed. “I’ve seen how you look at Emma and treat her. It’s obvious that you love her!” She shook her head in amusement at the teenagers’ drama. “If you truly love her, which I’m sure you do, then you’ll go and find her. Make things right!”
“What if she pushes me away?” Dillon chuckled nervously, rubbing his neck. “She has a habit of pushing people away when she gets too worked up about something…”
“That should be a risk you’re willing to take. At least then she’ll know that you truly care for her,” Ms. Hardclap put a steadying hand on his lean shoulder.
The love-sick boy nodded his head in agreement, then cleared his throat. He despised leaving a job partially finished. “What about-“
“Don’t worry about that!” She cut him off. “People are more important. I have it under control here.”
“Thank you, Ms. Hardclap! I appreciate it!” Dillon called over his shoulder as he ran after Emma.
Ms. Hardclap watched him for a little bit, then shook her graying head. “Ah, to be young and in love!” Then she turned and went back to sorting books.
Meanwhile, Emma raced on her bike to her favorite place to think- the Fountain of the Man and Beast, a fountain with a statue of what Emma took to be a handsome demigod and a majestic rearing pegasus in it.
She threw her bike down and sprinted to the fountain. Making sure no one was watching, she collapsed on the lip of the fountain in a sobbing heap.
“When I wished for someone to love me and call me beautiful last night, I didn’t mean Dillon!” she wailed. “Why’d it have to be Dillon?”
Time breeds familiarity. The many years of friendship between them blinded Emma to all of special, unique things that made up who Dillon was. They’d been there for each other through the hard spots in both of their lives. And while Emma would always be grateful for the support and friendship he gave her, she could never see Dillon as anything more than that. If anything, she’d call him a brother.
To think that Dillon had loved her that way for so long!
Suddenly, a deep, masculine voice similar to dark chocolate broke through her thoughts. “It isn’t right that someone so beautiful should be so sad.”
Emma spun around, and her heart about fell out of her chest. The guy who spoke to her was a demigod. Golden blond hair that sparkled in the sunlight. Eyes as clear and blue as an ocean on a still day. A dimple on his right cheek. A finely sculpted jaw that could’ve been carved from marble. Tall stature. Impeccable muscles bulging out from under his shirt. Confident air about him.
For a brief moment, Emma couldn’t help but notice that the guy in front of her and the guy depicted in the fountain bore an uncanny resemblance to each other. But, the demigod’s words stuck in her mind more than that little coincidence, and those thoughts were shoved from her mind. Those same words also diverted Emma’s attention from a little silvery whisp drifting lazily about the man.
Embarrassment spurred Emma into action. She jumped to her feet, her brain turned to mush.
The demigod held his hand out for her to shake, and Emma took it obligingly. “Aristides (a-ris-TIE-dees) Redbud, at your service. And your name must be just as beautiful as you are!”
Bashfully, Emma tucked a strand of curly brown hair behind her ear. “I-I-’m Emma Rosalind Bayberry…” It was highly unusual for her to be called beautiful two times in one day. Most people got hung up on her unusual eyes when they first met her… A secret thrill of excitement flickered in her mind.
At the mention of Emma’s name, an imperceptible change came over Aristides’s countenance, as if clouds swept in to cover the sun. He smoothly recovered and dipped his head to kiss her hand. “Pleasure to meet you, Miss Bayberry!”
Emma giggled in response, her cheeks a flaming red.
Aristides straightened and took Emma’s hand. Somehow, the blue in his eyes deepened, and Emma swayed woozily in their intense gaze. The silvery whisp whipped around the air in a frenzy. “Will you come with me, Miss Bayberry?”
“Sure,” she sighed, collapsing into his waiting arms. Emma was out cold.
The whisp jerked away from them and collided with the base of the fountain with a shower of sparks, creating a silvery, shimmering portal in the basin. Aristides smirked and carried Emma into the fountain bridal style.
Just as Aristides stepped into the water, Dillon ran to the fountain, panting, and did a double take. He couldn’t believe his eyes! He’d never seen that man before. Why did he have Emma, and where was he taking her? What was with the silvery, shimmering light coming from the base of the fountain?
He watched the demigod-like man carry Emma into what seemed to him to be a portal.
“Emma, no!” Dillon cried, eyes wide with the realization that the man was taking Emma away from him.
The demigod and the love of his life disappeared into the light. The next moment, people and portal were gone. In the portal’s place was a normal fountain base.
Dillon darted forward and jumped into the basin, frantically splashing around, trying to see where Emma and the strange man could have gone. Thankfully the little park with the fountain in it was empty!
“Emma…” he muttered under his breath, tears pricking his vision. How could he lose her so easily?
Just when he was about to give up, something occurred to Dillon. Fragments from all the different mythology and fairytale books he’d read over the years pieced together in his mind. Obviously, some kind of magic was a foot, and it had taken Emma with it into its world. Magical problems call for magical solutions.
The logical part of his brain protested at the absurdity of this idea, but his desperation to save Emma and, if he was being honest with himself, to win her over, shoved it away.
Dillon pulled out a penny from his pocket, scrutinized it, and made a wish on it. Then, without a moment’s hesitation, he cast it into the water.
For a few moments, nothing happened. But, then an irate-looking copper and teal colored portal sparked to life in the fountain’s base!
Dillon stared at it for a second, shocked that wishing on the penny actually worked. Within the next heartbeat, he pounded into the portal after Emma and the strange man.
While Dillon entered the portal, Emma woke up to a beautiful man’s voice calling to her. When she opened her eyes, there was Aristides, holding her in his arms.
Emma gasped and scrambled out of his grasp. Horror tingled down her spine. “I’m so sorry! I don’t know what came over me…”
“No worries!” he smirked, a little glint of something other than mischief in his eye.
Emma looked around her for the first time. She was in some kind of opal and gold elevator, which she could sense lifting them up. “Where am I and why are we here?”
“We’re in Ad’Elibitum (AD-el-lih-bit-um),” he replied. “The place where wishes come true.” Emma didn’t notice his careful and deliberate avoidance of her second question.
Instead, she gazed at him in wonder. “That’s amazing, because you are pretty much what I wished for!”
Aristides appeared shocked, and his overall glow seemed to dim. He didn’t say anything to her, but kept facing forward. This girl… Her innocence and childish fantasies fluttered about her like a swarm of dainty butterflies. A little inkling of guilt pricked his mind.
Their ride in the elevator dragged on, and Emma spent it staring at the man who brought her to this wonderful place.
Aristides was what she wished for, she reasoned. Hadn’t she dreamt of someone like him to swoop her off her feet on numerous occasions? Hadn’t she wished for someone amazing to look past her unusual appearance, see the beauty in her, and love her for it?
Recklessly, she threw herself at him and planted the most fervent kiss on his cheek.
Promptly, he shoved her off and growled at her. “Don’t do that ever again!”
“But I love you,” she breathed, tears filling her eyes.
“No,” he repeated angrily. “You don’t know me.”
The elevator dinged. When the doors opened, Aristides grabbed her hand and yanked her into the sun-filled room. Sunlight blinded her eyes so much, she didn’t see the formation of god-like people pointing spears at her, nor the husk of a man on a throne glaring at her.
Suddenly, Aristides shoved her into the room, and her eyes adjusted to the bright light enough for her to finally see the others gathered.
“Supreme Leader! Here is Emma Bayberry, the last of the great Bayberry elves!” Aristides shouted.
She turned to him, mouth agape. He looked away, and the others swarmed her.
Then, the room fell to chaos. But over the horrible din, she could hear it. She heard Dillon’s voice calling for her.
About the Author:
Skipper is a teen-aged girl with a passion for words and God. Ever since she was little, Skipper has been fascinated by both of them, and she’s always glad to share the words God’s given her with others. She has written many poems, essays, reports and short stories, in which she tries to incorporate what she believes, but she has yet to finish a novel. (Although, she intends to do so really soon!) You can read more of what she’s written on her blog, https://skipperspiritpassion.wordpress.com.