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When I first woke up I knew nothing… Yawning, I began to open my eyes. With my eyelids half shut I could just make out a bright hue of green. There was a rotting, dirty fume wafting silently through the air. Underneath me I could feel sharp thorns and bristly leaves scratching my back and I felt like I was sinking in powdery, wet dirt. Where was I? Searching for the answer, I felt an ominous emptiness and darkness crashing over my mind. Its sharp gnarly hands tore at the seams of my brain as past memories sank away, evaporating until I was sitting there startled and confused, racking my head for the consoling light of one memory, one hint of who I was, what I was doing here. I searched deep through the darkness, through hollow emptiness and despair. Nothing. The realization poured over me that any memory of my past life was gone. The images of darkness faded to a thin hazy mist. It flew off me as I fell to the real world. I lay on my back, startled. I pulled myself up and tripped over a tree root shooting from the soil. Then I pushed myself up again, this time more aware of any annoying obstacles like tree roots. I stared wide-eyed at my surroundings. Long rubbery vines twisted and tangled around thick tree trunks. Tall trees loomed above me, forming a thick, leafy canopy. Rays of bright sunlight filtered through the barrier of age forming a beautiful, treetop quilt of glowing white and bright green. It was beautiful but I felt a sense of danger and evil lurking in the pretty scenery. I stared up in shock and amazement. I had been pretty sure I was in someplace odd but this had confirmed my guess. I was in a jungle or… a wood or… some place... I erupted with rage. Why me? Why am I brainwashed in the middle of a dense jungle place? Am I brainwashed or do I have amnesia? Suddenly a cry of homesickness washed over me. I don’t even know my parents or friends or family… but I want them still, I realized. Who would dare do this to me? Why? I don’t think I deserve it. It hit me that I might, in my past life before my memory was stolen, be a bad kid who threatened peoples’ lives and did deserve this. It also hit me that I could have lived here and then gotten memory washed and forgot that I lived here all along. But I let these ideas all pass through to the back of my mind and let anger take over. I furiously kicked at a strong, rough tree trunk again and again. Bark cascaded off, leaving the tree smoother with smaller grooves. I punched it with a quick blow of my fist, grimacing in pain as my fist landed hard in the heart of the lower tree. But all of a sudden, I felt a tiny prick of life darting through my mind. Newfound hope washed over me. I jumped at it, chased it down. It was like tumbling through a maze of darkness, trying to grasp a little spark of searing light in that infinite field of night. The prickle of memory darted in front of me like it was teasing me. It swooped back into the never ending haze of black and shot back to tease me again. I pounced on it only as the glowing ember danced away into the foggy darkness, once again. I pursued it through the thick dark mist, swirling in and out. From behind I swatted at it, clenched it to my heart, and brought it to me, the little knowledge I had, my name: Soren Dragondune. I heard a high-pitched energetic “Woof!” A dog, its head slicked back into a warm, fluffy body, came racing, its bright golden fur blowing like leaves in the wind. Wagging its amber fluff of a tail, excitedly pushing it high in the air. I stroked its silky ears; it’s fur sliding gently on my hand. “Hi boy.” I cooed, happy to have a companion in this jungle, happy I wasn’t alone because loneliness magnifies hardships. Seeing I was lost of memory and knew almost nothing in a place- a jungle- I didn’t know definitely would qualify as a hardship. As long as you aren’t alone, at least you have someone to count on, someone maybe you can trust, someone to be with- a companion, a friend. The dog rolled over, showing its leathery, pinkish tummy. As I scratched it, I saw a tag on the dog. Engraved into the golden metal was the name Warrior.
I walked away and sat down on a clump of rough papery leaves to think. I sat up suddenly after hearing a sharp “r-o-o-o-o-of!” I tumbled over on my back, startled, landing in a puddle of mud. My clothes were soaked. I shook myself, spraying water all over like a dog. Like Warrior. Oh, how was I going to get out of this *&^%$#)& place? Should I learn to just live here?
I turned away shakily. I trudged along a crooked path overgrown with thick bramble and vegetation. Warrior followed me obediently. Where had he come from? I thought. Could he have come from the humans that live here? Oh, my stomach rumbled-it felt like a hollow sack falling in thin and frayed from lack of food. When had I last eaten? I didn’t know but not since I was memory wiped or whatever had happened.
That is when I saw something. Something that would definitely qualify as something odd and something I’d always remember. The tree had something written on it. A message was scrawled in messy handwriting across the tree, burned deep into the wood, uncovering the tree’s charcoaled flesh. I imagined gnarly, black fingers spreading words across the tree, thin like a silky spider web. I took a deep breath to calm myself down and strained my neck to read the message. I squinted into the bright light of the sun, where the words ran their way through the tree bark: Save us. I glimpsed a swirl of vivid colors. Straining even harder to see, I saw three beautiful birds with exquisite plumage shifting uncontrollably on a branch above the message. One’s shining eye caught mine for just a second. The feeling of sorrow and cold fear plunged into me and then was whisked from my soul as the bird turned and hopped away. Now I understood how Alice must have felt in Wonderland.
That’s when I saw it. A darkened brown triangular hat slowly emerged from behind a tree. Beware him, said a deep, booming voice.
What the heck! Who said that? In a flash of muddy-brown the hat dashed across the path. As far as I know, (and it seems I don’t know much) animals in the forest don’t wear hats and hats don’t run by themselves. Maybe a family or even a full tribe of humans lived here in the forest and I was going to find them... and that voice had to be someone, right? But who had such a celestial booming voice? Something more had to be going on here. Duhh!! Warrior started growling a deep growl that rumbled out his throat, showing his yellowed teeth.
Then I heard a tiny voice shouting shrilly, “Get him! Get him now if you want him you idiot!” It was that Man, the Man with the creepy triangular hat- the Haman hat.
Suddenly a dark shadow stretched over the jungle. I just froze in my tracks. A cold terror surged through my body. A beast, a terrifying beast, was coming straight for me. I had to get away somehow. So I did the classic get away: I ran. My feet were cold, numb and heavy. They sunk into the ground like quicksand but pumped with adrenaline I streaked through the jungle like a bullet. I zigzagged around puddles of mud, vines, and old stumps. I could feel the dark, tall man with a brown triangular hat popped out behind a stump. His eyes were narrowed into tiny slits of black and his mouth was tucked into an evil grin. His skin was thick and scaly and was falling off at his joints to reveal dried up green flesh. He laughed loudly like a hyena, his scratchy giggle coming from deep down in his throat. As if in response, I tripped over my own clumsy feet and landed on my back. I was on a roll, what happened?
The Man cackled again then he croaked in a high –pitched voice, “Little ‘youngling’ you will never begin to understand the things that go on with me. I made you trip!”
Beware him, repeated the voice.
Shut up!! Whoever you are…
I am your Sense. I…Quick, my boy, there is danger. Look up!!
I looked up to see the razor-sharp claws protruding from one scaly purple hand of the Beast who seemed to be following the Man. The beast was coming for me. Pierced by fear, I shot up like a bullet and ducked behind a thick tangle of vines where I thought the Beast couldn’t find me. My breath caught in my throat. I didn’t know if it was good or bad but it sure was something.
It was a giant wooden table lined with assorted bottles and tubes containing shimmering colored liquids. They gleamed, sparkled, frothed and bubbled. Forgetting the danger I was in, curiosity overcame me. I leaned closer to see one of the tubes. It was a bubbling blue turquoise. Gradually the color melted into purple and began to froth with white foam.
Oh, my boy, don’t forget about the Man!
Then I heard the stupid Man snicker. “You forgot about me, didn’t you?” I totally had. Warrior raced up, baring his teeth. He released his teeth, letting them sink into the Man’s stump of a hand. Dark red gore poured from his hand, flooding down his arm into a puddle of blood browned with dirt from the ground. Warrior bit him hard! The Man writhed and groaned under the pain, sinking onto the ground and clenching his teeth in anguish.
“Good dog, Warrior!” I prided. Then the Man did something I’d never forget (unless someone brainwashed me again). His eyes blazed with fire as glowing embers sank behind his eyelids. The huge, scaly monster appeared behind him. He shook with anger at my escaping him. He roared a mighty, booming roar that echoed off the trees like thunder. Then he just sank back into the vegetation and prepared to watch. What a stinking coward!
I thought I was prepared for anything. Well, I wasn’t. No one could be prepared for this. No one I knew.
“Be ready for your doom, Soren!! This is for what my dad did to me and for how much I hate Miriam!!”
Obviously I didn’t do anything! Or did I?
The Man cackled again. He unleashed a burning inferno of flames shot straight at me like a bullet. When I saw it, I opened my mouth in surprise. Fire burned its way into my skin. I tucked into a ball but it didn’t help. I saw the flames red with hatred, ripping into my flesh, eating at me like predators’ claws devouring prey. Everything was blurred. All I could sense was burning pain. But somehow I saw the Man’s eyes melting into a bright yellow. Then his hands formed a sizzling bolt of electricity. The bolt streaked towards me then slowed down. Pain was pulsing through me. But somehow I managed to dodge the bolt. It struck the tube behind me. The liquid in the tube sizzled and exploded. Glass erupted everywhere. Then I began to remember…
I knew who I was. Oh my gosh! I knew who I was. The memories collapsed back into me.
The dusty, rough coating clinging to my memory shriveled and pulled away. I knew the meaning of Soren Dragondune. I was more than I would ever think he would be. I was more than a child.
I could see my mother’s smooth, gentle face. I could feel her warm hug tucking me in close to her.
An image flashed into my mind. I saw my mother at my thirteenth birthday. After dinner and a few presents she told me that she had something to show me. Her cold hands rested on my shoulder. “Follow me and remember this is a secret.”
Odd thing, I thought, for a mother to say on your birthday. I walked curiously into her room. I waited patiently for whatever she was about to do. What would you give your son on his birthday and say it was a secret? I had no idea. Then I heard a rustle of noise creeping slowly from behind a curtain of eerie silence. My mother’s lips slowly formed words but the sound seemed to be coming not from her mouth but from all sides of the room. The sounds washed over my ears and swirled around my head. The whisper’s low voice sang through my skin as it began to tingle. Dust billowed from the floor and cold air sliced through my body. Frigid wisps of fog leapt through the room. My eyes were blinded by the smoke and dust, my ears deafened by the chanting voices. The tingling sharpened, but I didn’t scream or cry, I just waited.
I lost consciousness. I disappeared into blackness. I was gone.
I felt myself opening my eyes. I saw flickering light glowing from a wax candle in a tiny room. I leaned forward and saw the faint outline of my mother cloaked in pale light. She put her hands up to the candle and gracefully brought them over her head. I watched as the light followed her hands, lighting up the whole room. I could see everything in the little, cramped room. They were all elements; thrashing, surging fire; mellow, silent water; muddy, gooey grass and dirt; sizzling bright lightning; swirling wind - all packed into jars as if they were all containable. ”Uhh,” I stuttered, “What is this?” But I already knew. I already knew I was a supernatural creature. My Sense told me. Most likely the kind from Harry Potter or The Lightning Thief. It was real, true and unbelievably unimaginable.
I learned I was a Bringer. A supernatural who can control the elements, and is less harmed by the elements themselves. Along with the Sense, that voice I kept hearing in my head, the sense that sensed danger, sensed what was around me.
All my life being a regular person, going to a regular Preschool called Tiny School and then joining Woodside Elementary, made it seem so unbelievable. Nothing special ever happened to me. Except for that time.
That time this four-year-old girl Miriam tried to light a candle. Miriam was telling me she had seen her parents do it all the time before and was sure she could do it. We were at her house, in her room, sitting next to a tiny table we called “Little Table.” “I’m sure you can do it. You can do it!” I sang, as a little, three-year-old would, bringing my chubby hands out in the air and watching them blur the air with the color of beige. She struck the match. It sounded like a saw, I thought, so scratchy and wild it hurts your ear, just not as loud. A blazing ember rose around the tiny stick, a crimson color with the middle searing white light, tossing and turning around the stick. I saw the scared look in her eyes when the shining flame ran close to her tiny finger. She dropped it! Little doodles we had drawn in our beloved Toy Story coloring books were eaten away by chartreuse flames that rose from the holes in the paper. Scraps of paper on the table were covered with an inferno of crashing, roaring fire. I screamed. Then the fire disappeared in a second. Gone. I could never ever forget that moment and I don’t think Miriam would either.
Over the course of a month, I learned how to control my powers from my mom who was also a Bringer. My mom was teaching me about myself-about being a Bringer one day after school, her eyes shining in that luminescent way that shined with the salt of the sparkling sea when something happened. Something very important. Something terrible. But I couldn’t remember.
My memory dissolved and the image began to transform into another. A sickening memory washed through my mind. It wandered into shivering darkness and fear. I saw a blurred image of a skinny girl, about five, prancing around in just a pair of oversized blue shorts. I couldn’t see her face. It was tucked behind a window of foggy haze. Something about it was creepy and horribly terrible. My skin wrapped around my body sealing the icy-cold fear in. I knew her. I knew her name. Shadowed behind a wall of dense haze I searched for her name. I pulled it through, reaching for it. I bit down my tongue and sucked it in: Miriam Windoel (wind-o-el.) Miriam, she was the toddler who lit the match once and set the “The Little Table” on fire; the time I screamed and the fire was just gone all of a sudden. But then a sickening dread filled me as I realized she was also gone. It hit me like icy-cold death. She was the girl who had disappeared when I was only five. She was only a preschooler. Forgotten. Gone. Like a petal floating away.
Wait a second. Hadn’t the Man said there was a Miriam that he hated, that he was killing me because of? Was it connected? Could it be the same Miriam? I shuttered and turned away, vowing to never forget Miriam. She was important. I felt it in my blood. She’s important, whispered my Sense, very important.
I glanced at the Man. He looked exhausted. His eyes were surrounded by a circle of dull gray and his body drooped to the ground like a wilted flower. Warrior sniffed around him suspiciously. I could hear him yawning. Hopefully he wouldn’t wake up for a while. Why was he so tired? Maybe it was because of the heavy use of magic on me. Maybe he didn’t get a lot of sleep last night. I laughed at that wimpy attempt at humor. I was no good at humor.
I had been thinking: why had I regained my memory so suddenly? Even so, I hadn’t regained all of it. I could still feel there was something missing. I tried to think about what happened before I regained my memory. What could possibly be the reason my memory came back? Hmm… The tube exploded that contained that liquid stuff. Maybe that’s what made my memory come back. I was grasping at straws there but it could work. Maybe that liquid stuff was my memory. When it was encased in that jar I couldn’t remember anything much about myself. Now that it was free I had my memory back. Maybe, just maybe.
I glanced at the tube that had exploded. I was about to feel for the gummy wad of goop in the jar to see if my memory could be fully regained, when I saw the Man’s eyes glowing a neon green. But I was a Bringer and I had a few things up my sleeve myself…
I planted my feet into the muddy ground in a stance ready to use my powers. I knew that if I shot the element lightning at him he would be paralyzed for a while. I gazed into the eyes of the Man and Beast. The Man looked startled like he had just been given his first spanking. His mouth was opened in a wide “o” shape that fell under his eyes. I let my eyes crackle into a snapping shot of yellow electricity. A quick bolt of lashing, bright lighting descended on the Man and Beast like a surge of tormenting anger. The sky flashed white. The Man and Beast fell over. They’d awake soon though. Who knows how soon? I would have to be fast in doing what I needed to do.
The flames the Man had thrown at me were still pounding my head and tearing at my body but I did what I needed to do. I reached for the currently pink blob of jellyfish goop I thought could have been my memory and lifted it out of the tube.
None of my memory was contained any longer. The sheet of clouded blur over my memory was torn away. In my head I began to hear my mother’s urgent voice calling and I began to spin away into the jungle and my memory began to fade. It was all just a memory. It was all what had happened before I ended up in the jungle. It was all just my imagination. But it was so vivid, so real.
The Man was pulling me away. I saw him beckoning me forward although he was so far away. I saw his hands gesturing me forward and I saw my mother almost in tears. She was disappearing, zooming out like a wind was carrying her away. As if she was just a fallen lightly colored leaf, zooming out until she was just a little speck of nothing. Her voice rang in my ears, “I will be there find me!” I was gone in a flash. “Find me. Find me… It echoed over and over in my mind. But in the back of my mind I was also asking, where had my dad gone? Who was my dad? Thinking about it burned my eyes with tears. How could a kid live his life without one? How can G-d do this to me?
The burning crimson flames licked at my wounds as I was brought back to reality. A sharp burst of pain purged through my hip. For some reason I wasn’t dead yet. I was alive and well alive. Is it because I’m a Bringer?
I know where your mom is, said a voice whispering inside my head. It was my Sense. It knew where Moggie was as I called Mom when I was little. I remembered how I could use my Sense to locate her. Moggie. My mom. Ignoring the blazing hands burning at my flesh I closed my eyes and relaxed. A calm, gentle wave of cool fell over me. I was searching, relaxing, looking for my Moggie. I began to think of my Mom: her sparkling blue-green eyes with the tingle of silver and gold, her gentle hands, her long, black, silky, hair, her face dark as night that seemed so far way. I almost cried but I held back the stinging in my eyes. I pulled back layers of cold darkness, swirling black fog, searching through my endless mind to my mom. You’re almost there, it said. My one and only Moggie. I tore through layers of dark wet haze and began to see a sharp glowing pulse through the darkness.
My mother! I twisted around the curtains of jet black smoke searching and searching. No! screamed the voice. A sharp flash of pain flew through my wrist. The image of swirling mist dropped away.
My Sense could tell me no more. I had been interrupted. But at least I knew my mom was around here somewhere. Somewhere… somewhere… somewhere is such a large place to look. Somewhere feels almost like anywhere. It stung at my heart. It stung the emptiness in my soul. The place my Moggie should be. It stung the loss of my mom and the fact that she could be almost be anywhere in this big jungle. Somewhere… anywhere…
My mom is north of that tree, I thought. That’s what my Sense had told me so far. I can hopefully find her before the Man wakes up. Hopefully… hopefully… I sprinted past blurs of long green vines and odd colorful birds I’d never seen before, as Warrior raced along beside me his tongue lolling up and down, the sound of heavy panting filling the air. I flew through the jungle faster then I’d ever run before. The desire for my mom egged me on. It pumped me up. It kept me going. My breath caught, burning in my throat. Droplets of sweat poured down from my forehead. I raced past a haze of screeching monkeys and snakes twisting through the soil. Gasping hard as rough hands ripped along my lungs. A searing pain surged through my chest. My heart beat as loudly as a train pounding around my left nipple. How long had I run? The strong fingers of exhaustion twisted around my throat and I collapsed on the ground, breathing hard, deep breaths blasting through the jungle.
I lay there for a while panting alongside the fluff of Warrior. As I regained my strength quickly I shot off the ground searching for a sign of my mother. A barrier of long, smooth vines turned and weaved into a thick mass of green. My tender boy, this is where you mother is, said my Sense.
I stepped into the tangle of vines and screamed as they started pushing me forward, sealing me into a prison. Warrior growled angrily as I was brought forward into madness. I was surrounded by a circle of monstrous vines. A ceiling of those crazily huge vines stretched over my head in a dome shape. I was trapped. Then all of a sudden I saw her…
As I realized where my mom was, I cried tears of salty joy and put my hands around her… her cold, stony body. I screamed and pulled back. Her hair collapsed behind her unmoving head. Her face was pale and white. Her eyes sunk back, mesmerized.
Now my tears that stung at my eyes and dampened the stony unblinking statue of my mom were tears of sadness. “No!!!!!” I wailed. This couldn’t be happening, not when I thought I had just found her. It was like she had been pulled away from me once again. In my heart the emptiness vibrated with such an intense sadness, then pulled a cloud of darkness throughout my head. I had her. I had her. Or a least I thought I did. Now she was gone. I could never get her.
As a tear rolled down to her mouth it was sucked in. It disappeared. Life flooded back into her face like the sun lighting up the dark morning sky with magnificent rays of sunlight. Her eyes blinked slowly.
“Soren!” she called weakly, gasping for a breath.
“Moggie!” I called. We embraced for a second. “What happened, Moggie?” I inquired.
“I wa- try…save you. Then Man called Darkess turn m- stone.” She coughed and sputtered and began again. Pu- me here so turn oby-dia-nt bird. Need potion turn me bird so… ” I leaned closer to hear her. I was a little furmished. What was she saying? “I explain re-es-t … later.”
“Can you help me defeat that Man you call Darkess, Moggie?”
I heard a tiny rustle in the vines and stopped in my tracks. Darkess stepped out of the vines, a clear confidence rising over his face. He was holding on to Warrior’s throat in a death grip as the rest of Warrior’s body dangled from under Darkess’s arms. The Beast loped from side to side, following him obediently.” So my darling vines have done me well. Wouldn’t you say? Caught you and your mother like they catch me birds to eat for dinner. Such fools you are, Soren. Such fools. By the way, I have a hostage.”
He pointed to Warrior, who was trying desperately to twist away from him. He let go of him from the neck and pinned him down by his fluffy body. “Remember, if you try to disobey me,” he warned, “I will begin giving your darling dog this poison that will kill him quick as a wink.” He swung back his face in cackling laughter. ”You and your mom ‘Moggie!’” he jeered, “Moggie.” My eyes darted between my mom and Darkess. Darkess was grinning wildly, sure of his victory. Moggie wasn’t at all happy.
“What do you want us to do, Darkess?” I asked.
“Oh, there’s a good boy. I’d like to turn you into birds. Would you like that Soren? You’d be able to fly. Fly, actually fly. Bringers can’t fly. Gravity affects them the same way it does simple Normals. You could soar through the air, the wind rushing against your feathers. You’d see the tops of the trees and the beauty of the endless skies.”
“But really, why do you want us to be birds?”
“So you can be happy Soren. Why else?”
I don’t believe you at all, I thought. I just can’t trust you. I can’t. I just can’t.
As Darkess’s attention was drawn to me my mom pointed her finger at Darkess. Her powers seemed to have been regained. Light shined and shimmered and flew like a beam, like a purple laser from the tip of Moggie’s finger into Darkess.
“Oh, so you wish to disobey me?” he asked furiously. “Well, I’ll give your little lovely dog that poison then.” But the purple laser was already eating away at his skin, devouring it like a hungry monster. His body was shadowed with a purple glow that radiated around him like a swarm of dragonflies. Hungry, famished dragon flies, ripping through his flesh. As Darkess reached out his hand to feed Warrior the black ooze he called poison, his glowing, purple hand disintegrated, falling to the ground like powdery sand. Darkess yelped in pain. Blackened flesh rained in chunks from his faces. His other hand fell to the floor in a heap of fluffy charcoaled sand. He kicked Warrior and dropped to the floor as the rest of his body wiggled like worms as it turned to ash and fell to the dirty ground.
Darkess was gone. Poor Darkess. I actually felt sorry for him after all he had done to me. He was still a Bringer, just like me, and he still had a heart deep down within himself. I wanted to save him. I wanted to save him from his boiling, angry self. But now he was dead and although we had saved ourselves we didn’t have the courage to save Darkess. I wanted to be happy knowing the danger we had just escaped, but I couldn’t. The Beast whimpered, his scaly body shining in the sun and walked up to me and licked me on the lips. “You aren’t such a bad boy are you? Huh?” I cooed.
The vines wilted to the ground. Was it Darkess who had kept them alive in the first place? My mom and I hurried over to the vines and looked up at our surroundings as the Beast and Warrior trudged after us slowly. Something was changing in the atmosphere. I looked up at the trees and saw that the birds were rapidly pecking out their feathers and darting from tree to tree. As they pecked at their feathers, they gently floated to the ground in a rainbow of dazzling colors. The birds began to twist like silly putty, their features molding. Their beaks melted into their faces like wax, their wings smoothed into arms, their bodies grew, stretched, and changed until they were all human.
As did the Beast. His scales began to smooth into skin, muddy skin like play-dough, his body split in two. Then the two chunks of clay twisted until they were also humans: two, confused humans.
“We’re saved!” screamed a little chubby boy with an excited grin.
A pale girl with rosy cheeks, sparkling brown eyes, and long golden hair rhythmically scurried down a tall tree with rough bark, landed on a thin branch, and swung down, landing softly on the dirt. Most of the other people just stared at Moggie, Warrior, the Beast and me, peeking out from the thick foliage of the many trees.
Who was that girl? I thought. I knew her but I couldn’t place it. Mira? Maria? I searched through deep pockets in my brain. Up and down through faraway crevasses and practically unknown areas.
“Miriam?” I stuttered.
“I love you.”
“What?????” Suddenly my old family friend is getting all romantic like she wants kiss me. Kiss me, I said, kiss me. Kiss my lips until I fall over dead. Miriam are you feeling okay?
“All these days - nine years actually-being a bird practically owned by Darkess, as his little pet, I’ve been thinking of you. Of you, Soren. No one else. Not Mom or Dad or my best friend Bella or my cousin Luna. Just you. There’s something special in you. Remember the time when we were having a play date when the paper on the ‘Little Table’ caught on fire? Don’t try to hide it, Soren, I know it was you who made the fire disappear. You did it. Somehow you did it. Being a bird in a place I didn’t know, with nothing to do I had a lot of time to think, and I thought about you. I realized then how much I missed you, having you far away from me. I realized how much I love you.”
“Are you a Bringer? What’s going on? What do you mean you were a bird owned by Darkess? ” I asked.
“She’s a Normal,” my mother interrupted, “but her brother is a Bringer and he did this to her, to all these people.” She pointed to the crowd of curious faces. “Let me talk to you privately.”
We hurried past the crowd of confused faces, past the wilted, dead vines and into a secluded patch of burnt trees next to a sparkling, blue lake.
“Miriam’s brother, Timothy, was Darkess. He was for ten years. Like you, when Timothy was thirteen, I informed him he was a Bringer. I was the only adult Bringer in the neighborhood and so I told him. But he wasn’t just a Bringer. He was more than that. He could do practically anything. He had no limit to his capabilities. He could fly. Turn dogs into cats. He was like the wizards we hear about in books. Surreal. He was amazingly good. I was impressed. His parents were so proud of him.
Then Miriam was born. Everything changed. Timothy had lived for eighteen years as the only child. He had been loved so much. Now when Miriam came it seemed all his parents did was pay attention to Miriam. Not him. He was mad with his parents and jealous of Miriam. He was a nice boy but blinded with anger.
He used his magic on his parents and turned them into Gorath the Beast. Timothy used them as a weapon to force his will and tried to trap you with them and then turn you into what he wanted you to be: a bird. Like Buddha has said, ‘Holding onto anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.’ This is exactly what happened to Tim. Timothy was able to throw the coal at his parents so they were burned, and became a beast, but it burned him too. The blazing, hot coal sunk into his heart. It burned his mind. It burned his soul. It turned him into a hungry beast who was never satisfied. He was so jealous of Miriam, so green with envy. He turned Miriam into a bird to be his pet and took her memory and placed it in glass jars so she could start a new life with him.
He was never satisfied so he longed for more revenge. Tim found children he was jealous of being loved and transformed them into more birds. Timothy loved birds. By that time he was overcome with greed and wanted a more suitable name for his powerful self. He called himself Darkess. Poor boy.
One night, I drove to his apartment, to a door that was left ajar. Timothy was staring out the window angrily. He turned, sneering, “So you’ve come to stop me? It’s what Miriam deserved, what everyone else deserved, what my parents deserved and this is what you deserved!” His face was scrunched into a knot of rage. His mouth ablaze with quivering madness. Anger boiled up inside me. I couldn’t stop my rage and all of a sudden I was tearing at his skin with a laser shooting from my hand, searing hot. It was eating away at his skin, transforming him into a scaly-skinned, rotting creature.
But then in a flash he disappeared. I didn’t know where he went. I knew he was mad at everything. Mad with his life. Mad no one cared about him. But mad mostly with me. So he did the worst thing he could do. He took you.”
Moggie broke down into sadness, tears gushing down her dark face like a waterfall in the night. “That’s when I knew he was in the jungle, this jungle. I knew it because I saw you falling, falling away from me into this jungle. So I found him and he found me. We found each other. Angrily he strode up to me, his eyes glaring with flaring fire, with rage and hate. Before I could even think, his eyes began to smoke with the smell of death.
I began to mold, began to harden into a solid gray stone statue. But I knew you’d cry onto my salty body. I knew you’d rescue me. I knew with me at stake you would be able to use your Sense that seemed like such a faraway screeching whisper in your head before. I knew I could trust you to succeed, Soren. You did.”
“Now everything that he changed with Miriam and the others is back to normal, right?” I asked. My question hung loose in the air.
Out of the corner of my eye I saw a pumpkin-haired boy hugging Warrior’s warm body, embracing him like a long lost friend. Warrior stuck out his wet, pink tongue and licked the boy’s lips. He laughed, a laugh of pure joy, “You’re back, Warrior, I missed you.”
“Is this your dog?” I asked.
“Yeah, I’m Logan. I was a kid Darkess turned into a bird. I was walking in the woods with Warrior and we got lost-and... then I became a bird.” He said loosely, as if he was used to being turned into birds. “Before I kind of had a faint belief that there was such thing as magic but now it’s obvious to me that there is magic out there. I can believe I am a Bringer and I know you must be too.”
“If you’re wondering, I know why Warrior wasn’t turned into a bird. Darkess, or rather Tim, loved animals especially birds. That was ultimately his doom. The moment Darkess was about to turn you into a bird, Warrior bit him-remember? I knew he was going to turn you into a bird. But when he was bitten he dropped the potion he makes to turn human kids into birds. That was the pool of bloody-red goop. The potion, not blood. Warrior helped saved us all.” He patted Warrior gently.
Suddenly I remembered this boy. I remembered his sadness as a bird.
“Was it you? The one bird I looked in the eye and I-I-I felt so depressed?”
“That was me. That was me who wrote the word Save us when I was lost in the jungle with Warrior before I saw Darkess and was turned into a bird. Save us you did.”
“Sabeen???” called a loving voice.
“Luke!!” Moggie cried.
A gaunt face shrouded with shadows stepped out from behind the mass of twirling vines, twisting like tentacles of an octopus despite the mask of feathers glued to his face he looked quite handsome.
“Is this Soren??” he asked excitedly.
“Soren, I know what happened. Although I’m not a Bringer I know the whole story of Timothy and you. I know how I was turned into a bird and I know you know most of it but there’s something you’re missing.” Luke paused and inhaled a deep breath. “Soren, um… I’m your father.”
“Is he my father?” I asked. “Is he really?” I asked Moggie excitedly.
Yes he is, whispered my Sense. That means I thought my own father looked attractive! I laughed. “ Soren when you were three your father disappeared and now I know this is where he went,” answered Moggie.
My father, I thought. I have a father. I was willing to accept that this man Luke was my father. Well, I wanted a father. I’m not alone. I have two people there for me. Not alone in the jungle anymore. No.
“Father,” I said patting his shoulder.
“Soren???” said a voice from behind me.
I turned to see Miriam. No, I have three, I thought. She was standing there staring at me with those deep brown eyes that sucked me into them like black holes, swirling, twirling, with the shine and endless song of a shooting star. I missed you, I realized. I actually did. You are like a lost sister.
You are the only one who understands me. Who understands I am something more. I am a Bringer without truly knowing so.
She put her arms out and I pulled her warm body in. She doesn’t love me like a boyfriend, she loves me like family, I concluded. I love her too. I felt the breeze like it was a cuddly blanket tucking me in at night. I felt the rustle of the leaves and the soft beating of her heart against mine. The air stirred with togetherness and happiness, shedding peace on the night, with the stars shimmering off the nearby lake like droplets of gold.
“I missed you,” she said.
“I missed you too.