By Jackson McCormick
art by Julianna Blacey
want to show you something.”
Those were the words that would change the
life of John Baxter forever. They were spoken by John’s present lady of
interest—a young woman with the far less biblical name of Zara—on their third
but first official date. But I’ll get back to that when I’m done giving
extraneous details about our protagonists.
John Baxter was a twenty-two-year-old (soon
to be twenty-three-year-old) suburban shitstain with a boring job and an
ever-increasing, poorly compiled collection of fantasy novels that took up far
too much of his room for him to feel like a proper adult. He and I are actually
quite similar in that regard, though I like to think my tastes are a bit more
refined, given that John likes to read dull authors who I won’t call out by
name because they aren’t dead yet while I prefer the masterful works of
Tolkien, Gaiman and that guy who wrote The Name of the Wind.
Anyway. John, like most male protagonists,
was quite the romantic but with just the perfect amount of social awkwardness
to make his love life the kind of thing worth writing about. Zara, on the other
hand, was not awkward at all, if you take ‘not awkward at all’ to mean ‘even
more awkward than John but with an outgoing personality that made up for her
Zara enjoyed many things including music,
theater, art and the like. She wore flowers in her hair when she felt like it
and went bird-watching on the weekends. She rode her bike daily, argued with
strangers about the validity of ethics and spent most of her Friday nights
crying alone over empty bottles of bourbon. But there was something about her
that neither John, nor anyone really, knew about her.
Zara was secretly a badass fairy queen.
That’s right, you heard me. A badass fairy
queen. Why? Because why not. This is my story. Go away.
You see, Zara’s full name was Zaraphilla
and she ruled the otherworldly Queendom of Faraan, where she had had nearly all
her heart desired. The one thing she hadn’t had, however, was true love. Thus,
she used her sorcery to phase into our world in order to find her soulmate. I
know, right? I’m a sap. Sorry about that.
This is the part where I probably lose a
few readers because this is the part where I reveal that John Baxter, in all of
his boring awkward shitstain-y glory, was in fact Zaraphilla’s one true love.
That’s the kind of story this is going to be. It’s only fair to tell you now.
If you’re not into this kind of thing, please stop reading and go cry about it
on your blog or something. Goodbye.
For the rest of you, I must warn you that
this story does not have a happy ending. I’m making this up as I go, so I don’t
know what that ending will be exactly, but I know that it isn’t going to be
happy because I’m currently feeling like a vindictive little shit. It’s nothing
personal, it’s just how I do things.
“I want to show you something,” Zara said
as she nestled deeper into John’s embrace.
John could hardly believe how perfectly the
night had progressed. Literally. It had gone so well that he was having trouble
conceiving that such a thing was actually possible—especially considering the
fact that absolutely none of it had gone according to plan thus far.
The night had begun at a local coffee house
(as they so often do) where John had originally intended to be charming and
witty but had ultimately fallen over all of his attempts at meaningful
conversation, becoming content to stare sadly into the black abyss of his
beverage. Much to his surprise, however, Zara had taken his hand in hers in the
midst of this thirty-second existential crisis and John had looked up from his
coffee to see Zara’s playful shimmering eyes gazing at him with what seemed to
be something resembling affection.
From that point on, conversation was easy.
They bantered back and forth in such a way that my conscience forbids me from
sharing it with you, as it would likely make you vomit.
After leaving the coffee house, they
wandered arm in arm to various romantic locations, one of which was a photo
booth where they shared their first perfectly imperfect kiss and another of
which was a lighthouse on a hill where the pair looked dreamily into the night
sky. Now, they stood together on a pier overlooking the loveliness of the
still, moonlit ocean, Zara’s head buried into John’s chest, arms wrapped snugly
around one another.
John found himself unable to say anything,
for fear that he would ruin this perfect moment.
Zara pulled her head back to look into his
eyes. “I want to show you something,” she said again. “Something very
beautiful. Something very…special to me.”
“What is it?” John asked as he kissed her
forehead and began stroking her hair.
“Home. But I’ll have to steal you in order
to take you there.”
“I don’t follow.” He continued kissing her,
swimming in bliss for the first time in years.
“Actually, that’s all you’ll need to do,”
she said, stopping his lips with her fingers. “Follow.” She stood on her toes
and kissed him on the cheek. “Will you come with me?”
“I’ll go anywhere with you,” he said, lost
in her eyes.
She smiled at him, deviously, but sweetly.
“Are you sure? It might be dangerous.”
“Steal me,” he said.
Zara took two steps backward, taking his
hands in hers. She stared at him awhile, her head tilted slightly, her eyes
full of mischief. Then, she took off running toward the end of the pier,
pulling John along with her. Before he knew what was happening, she leapt off
the edge into the black water with John close behind her.
I haven’t been able to stop thinking about
you since the other night and, to be honest, it’s really irritating. Before I
met you I had finally gotten to the point where I could have lived the rest of
my life completely independently. Now, regardless of whatever ends up happening
with us, I don’t think I can. I’ve never met anyone like you. I’ve never met
anyone who simply accepts me for who I am. I’ve never met anyone who is so
thoroughly my equal. And that scares me. I’ve never been so scared of anything
in my life. But I suppose I’ve also never been so excited either.
I’m afraid I’m going to push you away. I’m
afraid you’re going to push me away. I’m afraid that you’ll wake up one
morning and decide that you no longer have any interest in me. I’m afraid that
you’ll meet someone handsomer and wealthier and more charming than I am. I’m
afraid that you’re not as afraid as I am. I’m afraid that I’m falling for you
I’m afraid of the fact that you’re probably
in the perfect position to ruin me if you wanted to and that all I can do at
this point is ride it out, hoping for the best.
I’m an idiot for writing all of this down.
You’re probably going to think that I’m really clingy and weird, if not
completely psychotic or worse, stereotypical. I shouldn’t be telling you these
things. I shouldn’t be telling anyone these things. Then again it’s currently
really late and I’m tired as hell so maybe that’s making me more emotional than
normal. I guess I can use that as an excuse.
This is the most pathetic goddamn thing
I’ve ever written.
When John opened his eyes, he found himself
on warm white sand. A cool breeze tousled his hair as he stood and the gentle
sound of crashing waves brought a peace over him that he hadn’t known in three
years, twenty-six days and thirty-three minutes. He felt so peaceful, in fact,
that he didn’t even cry out with terror as he realized he had been magically
transported into an entirely new world.
The shoreline stretched on endlessly, a
calm sapphire ocean on one side and an everlasting field of golden-brown grass
on the other. There were mountains in the distance, shrouded by clouds, and a
forest nestled just below them. Unfortunately, John didn’t have much time to
enjoy the view before shit started hitting the fan.
Approaching swiftly was a pack of burly
axe-wielding creatures with green skin, black beady eyes, protruding ivory
tusks and snouts reminiscent of a pig’s. To make matters worse, they all wore
black top hats and incredibly tacky old-fashioned suits with ascots snugly
hanging from their throats.
And as if all of that weren’t horrible
enough, each and every one of them had a neck-beard.
Had John not been too terrified to speak he
might have exclaimed something along the lines of, “Sacred knickers of Mother
Teresa! What the hell are those things?!”
The beasts raised their axes and charged, howling
guttural war cries. Luckily for John, however, I haven’t decided to kill him
Just before they delivered John to a
grizzly fate, a blue flash swathed its way across the line of advancing
pig-men. Each of them collapsed, blood oozing from wounds freshly cut below
their neck-beards. John stood gawking in disbelief, then let out a solitary
scream as a bit of black blood got onto his peacoat. After a brief moment of
mourning for the $200 he’d spent on the coat, he looked up to see Zara standing
before him, smiling almost innocently.
“Sorry about that,” she said. “Should have
gotten here sooner.”
She wiped pig-man blood from an intricately
designed blade with a silver handle depicting a dragon spreading its wings.
Instead of the very normal hipster outfit she’d been wearing before she was now
adorned in an elegant dark blue dress with silver embroidery. A tiara decorated
with sapphires rested atop her head and coming out of her back, spread wide on
either side of her, was a pair of sparkling butterfly-like wings.
“Holy shit,” John said.
He instantly regretted that he hadn’t
thought of something more clever to say.
I’m making a narrative choice. I’ve decided
that the unhappy ending to this story will be related to the fact that John
Baxter is, in fact, not Zaraphilla’s true love after all. Originally I was
going to kill one of them off or something but I like this direction better.
I’m sorry to go back on my word. This is currently a fear of mine that I feel I
need to confront.
Zara led John by the hand carefully through
open fields toward the forest. So far she had explained her true identity and
that the two of them were currently in Faraan, Zara’s domain. John was having a
bit of trouble grasping what was going on.
“Wait, hold on,” John said. “You’ve been a
fairy queen this whole time?”
“Well don’t act so surprised, dear,”
Zara said. “It’s not like I didn’t imply it from the get go.”
“I’m pretty sure you actually didn’t.”
“Maybe you just weren’t paying attention.”
“I’m pretty sure that’s not the case.”
“I’m pretty sure you’ve been staring at my
tits at least twenty-five percent of the time we’ve been hanging out so I’m
going to go ahead and call bullshit on that one.”
She swung around, then stopped, pulling him
into an unexpected, passionate kiss. John slowly moved his hands across her
back, though he couldn’t manage to fully embrace her before she pulled away.
“It’s really very simple, my dear,” Zara
said. “This is Faraan. Faraan is my Queendom. I’ve ruled it for thousands of
years but I left because after dating literally everyone in the realm I
realized that my one true love was not here so I went to your world to try and
find him. I found you. I liked you. So I stole you. With your consent, in case
“I didn’t expect any of this,”
John said, scarcely able to contain his joy at being chosen by her.
She smiled knowingly. “Don’t be so
dramatic, darling. Come. My house isn’t far from here.”
“You have a house?” John asked. “As in, a
normal house? No grandiose palace or marzipan castle?”
She stopped and turned on him again, this
time with ferocity. “Don’t you dare ever bring up marzipan in my presence ever
again,” she said, wagging her finger in front of his face.
John stiffened. “Sorry.”
Another smile, another kiss, and they were
off toward the trees once again.
After a long trek that really isn’t worth
describing to you, they arrived at Zara’s home in the woods. It rested in the
center of a clearing covered in sunlight, built into a massive twisting tree
that rose majestically toward the sky, with a round red door waiting to be
opened at its base.
“This is my house, obviously,” Zara said.
“I conduct all of my business from here. Or at least I did before I left.”
“Who has been in charge while you’ve been
away? And by the way, what the hell were those weird-ass pig things that
attacked me earlier?”
“To answer your first question, my Uncle
Hallek. I’ll answer your second question at a more appropriate time.” Her voice
sounded worried at this, though not enough to be alarming. As they approached,
a booming masculine voice came out of nowhere.
“Queen Zaraphilla!” the voice said. “You’ve
“Hello, Home!” Zara said. “How are you?”
“I’m well, I’m well. It’s been so long!
Nearly two decades! Where have you been all this time?”
“I told you, Home, I went to the land of
the mortal people to find my one true love.”
“Ah, yes! Yes, I remember that now! Who is
John shuffled uncomfortably. “I…uh…”
“This is John,” Zara said, clutching his
arm. “He’s my one true love, I think.”
“John? What a peculiar name he has! Aha!
Splendid! Come inside and have a cup of tea, then.”
Reluctantly, John followed an exuberant
Zara into the talking treehouse. Once inside, he realized how magical her world
truly was. Instead of the Bag End-esque interior he’d been expecting, John was
greeted by an endless, secret grove of trees with glowing, neon white leaves
and black trunks. The sky above was dark but bright specks of stars so fully
filled it that it might as well not have been night at all. Bluebirds fluttered
from branch to branch and white flowers blossomed at the bases of the trees.
Zara turned to face him and held out her
arms, a warm smile coloring her face. “Just the way I left it, though I’ve been
considering remodeling while I’ve been away. Nothing major, of course. Perhaps
a rushing river for the sake of dynamism. What do you think?”
“That would be perfect,” John said,
awe-struck and falling even deeper in love. It was in that moment, in fact, that
he realized he was falling in love in the first place.
With a carefree wave of Zara’s hand, a
river appeared out of nowhere, directly under John’s feet. He didn’t have
enough time to say “Oh shit!” before he fell into it. Surprisingly, however,
the water was perfectly warm and ran gently past him, soothingly so. Zara
laughed and leapt into the water with him. She swam over, then guided him by
the hand to a small rise where they could sit together in the river.
“Don’t worry about your clothes,” she said.
“They’ll dry off the instant we get out of here.”
“And here I was thinking we were going to
take them off.”
She patted him firmly on the shoulder.
“We’re not there yet, buddy.” After a swift kiss on his cheek, she grabbed his
hands and pulled his arms around her. John held on for dear life, irrationally
afraid that if he didn’t she might float away.
Little did he know that his fears,
ultimately, would prove to not be so irrational as he hoped.
They sat there awhile—sometimes talking,
mostly in silence—enjoying the warmth of one another, looking at the manifested
beauty of Zara’s imagination. On a whim, he leaned in to bite her ear, then
once again looked up to see her playful shimmering eyes gazing at him with what
seemed to be something resembling affection.
“This is crazy,” she said, “but I think I’m
already in love with you.”
John was helpless to stop the stupid,
annoying, entirely unfounded grin that spread across his face as he said, “I
love you too.”
I’m sorry but I have to stop again. I don’t
know why but I just have to. I can’t take this anymore. I hate everything about
this story so far. I hate sitting here alone in my room wasting my time writing
it. This was supposed to distract me—to make me forget about you until you came
home. Now I’m pretty sure it’s doing the complete opposite of that.
I want to go hang out with my friends but
I’m too afraid to text them. I didn’t even say goodbye to any of them when I
left the party. Well, that’s not entirely true. I said goodbye to Jessica.
That’s beside the point, though. Actually, I don’t really know what the point
I’m trying to make is.
If you could go ahead and stop being so
wonderful that would be really great. Thanks. Bye.
Zara had left John to his own devices for a
bit, as she needed to catch up with her Uncle—who apparently lived in her
basement and never came out—regarding the events that had transpired in her
absence. John was now lying on his back, still in Zara’s magical treehouse,
looking up at the stars while his three most prominent personality traits
argued amongst one another.
Romantic John: “I’ve never felt so
wonderful in my whole life…”
Pragmatic John: “You’re being a fucking
idiot, Romantic John.”
Romantic John: “Screw you, man! I’m in
Pragmatic John: “Jesus Christ. You know how
ridiculous you sound, right?”
Apathetic John: “Who cares. It doesn’t
Pragmatic John: “Has it even occurred to
you that you knew this woman for literally one week before all of this
Romantic John: “So? True love is a thing,
Pragmatic John! Haven’t you ever read The Princess Bride?”
Pragmatic John: “No. And neither have you.”
Romantic John: “That’s not the point!”
Apathetic John: “There is no point.”
Just as things were really heating up, Zara
returned. John sat up, thankful for the interruption, though his internal
argument was far from finished. He smiled at her but she didn’t smile back.
Instead, she threw a sheathed broadsword toward him, which John failed to catch
but quickly picked up.
“What’s this?” John asked.
“It’s a sword. You know, the kind that cuts
“I worded that question wrong. Why are you
giving me a sword?”
Zara grinned. “Because you’re going to need
it. You and I are going on an adventure.”
Moments later, Zara and John were, quite
literally, flying into the west. Upon leaving her house, Zara had grabbed John
by the hand and taken off, leaving John flailing with the wind behind her,
barely able to keep hold of his new broadsword.
“WHERE EXACTLY ARE WE GOING?” John shouted,
desperate to be heard over the rushing winds.
“YES, YOU SAID THAT. WHAT’S IN THE
“FARAAN CITY! IT’S UNDER ATTACK!”
“UNDER ATTACK? WAIT…WHAT?!”
“REMEMBER THOSE PIG DUDES THAT ATTACKED YOU
“NO. I’D COMPLELETY FORGOTTEN.”
“DON’T BE AN ASS! ANYWAY, WHILE I WAS AWAY
THEY DECLARED WAR ON US APPARENTLY. THEY’RE CALLED THE NAVAAK. THEIR KING HAS
KIND OF A THING FOR ME SO HE INVADES EVERY COUPLE OF CENTURIES TO TRY AND
KIDNAP ME. DON’T WORRY, THEY’VE NEVER EVEN BREACHED THE GATES. IT’S REALLY NOT
THAT BIG OF A DEAL!”
“NOT THAT BIG OF A DEAL?!”
Before John could continue, Zara shot
directly downward. As they broke through the clouds Faraan City came into view.
It was massive and circular, spiraling gradually upward from the base of a
hill. In the center was a towering palace with white walls and blue rooftops.
It was the kind of thing you’d see in a Disney movie, probably.
“Damn,” John said.
“WHAT’D YOU SAY?!”
Outside of the city was a huge black spot
which John quickly figured out was an army of top hat-wearing navaak. Cannon
fire erupted from beyond their ranks as well as from the city’s walls.
“HOLD ON!” Zara shouted. She banked left
then downward, plummeting toward a large courtyard behind the city’s main gate.
When they hit the ground, John failed to land on his feet. Thankfully for him,
and the narrative, he hadn’t broken any bones.
He stood, shaking off the dizziness, then
looked to Zara just in time to see her flick her wrist and instantly replace
the dress she’d been wearing with a dark blue double-breasted military frock
coat with gold trim coupled with blue trousers and a pair of long, black boots.
“Oh my God,” John said quietly to himself.
“She is the one…”
Zara’s eyes found him shortly thereafter.
“Ah, John! You’re alive! How wonderful!” She waved her wrist toward him,
clothing him in an outfit almost identical to hers, if a bit less extravagant.
John could scarcely contain his totally irrational joy.
“Queen Zaraphilla!” A man-fairy in an even
less extravagant military frock coat soared down from the walls to meet them.
“Thank God you’re here.”
“What’s the situation, General?” Zara said
with a voice more powerful than John had ever heard before.
“The navaak have been shelling us for
hours,” the General said. “No casualties so far but with these new guns of
theirs I’m not sure we can actually hold out this time.”
“Not to worry, General. I have a plan. Oh,
also, this is John,” she said, grabbing him by the arm again with a sudden
smile. “We’re dating.”
“I see,” the General said uncertainly.
“Well, whatever you’re going to do you’d best do it quickly, Your Majesty.”
With that, he returned to his post on the wall and continued barking orders.
Zara turned to John with a grave
expression. “I need you to promise me something.”
“What is it?”
“I’m about to do something incredibly
dangerous. I need you to promise me, no matter what, even if I’m about to get
brutally hacked to bits, that you won’t intervene.”
“What the hell are you going to do?!”
“John,” she said, her eyes furious,
After a moment of grim hesitation John
finally said, “I promise.”
“Good.” She stood on her toes and kissed
him passionately, then pulled away and soared over the walls.
John ran up the ramparts to get a view of
what was happening. He made it there just in time to see Zara landing right in
front of the gates. The cannon fire stopped, the navaak backed away and a
solitary figure came forth from within their ranks.
“That’s their King,” the General said to
Mendock looked nothing like the navaak. In
fact, he looked entirely human, apart from the wings that came out from his
“He’s a fairy person,” John said.
“Indeed he is,” the General said.
Mendock wore a black crown and a foppish
three piece suit—a black coat, black pants and a crimson vest. His hair was a
shaggy mess of blonde and his eyes, as far as John could tell, were amber. He
was tall, but not that tall. He was well-built, but not muscular. All in all,
he didn’t seem that impressive but somehow carried a majestic air about him
that John couldn’t help but slightly admire.
“Zaraphilla,” he said. His voice was deep
and, surprisingly, not creepy at all. “How are you, my dear?”
This choice of words infuriated John,
though he couldn’t figure out whether it was because Mendock had just referred
to his one true love as ‘my dear’ or because the bastard somehow managed to be
the most charming motherfucker John had ever encountered.
Zara was not charmed in the slightest. At
least, she didn’t show it if she was. I’m not going to tell you whether she
really was or not because ambiguity is fun.
“You fucking asshole,” Zara said. “How dare
you attack Faraan when you knew that I was away!”
Mendock grinned. “It’s good to see you too,
“Yes, I’m sure it is. Now will you please
do us all a favor and fuck off? I’ve had enough of your bullshit and I’m dating
someone else now anyway.”
At this, Mendock’s eyes narrowed. “Who?”
Somehow knowing exactly where John was
standing, Zara pointed directly at him. Mendock’s gaze shot sharply up at him.
John waved awkwardly.
Mendock drew his sword. “I challenge you,
“Oh for fuck’s sake,” Zara said, her right
hand massaging her temples in frustration. “You don’t get to challenge my
Romantic John: “She called us her
Pragmatic John: “Ug…”
Apathetic John: “Where are we?”
“And why not?” Mendock demanded.
“Because you’re in my domain,
cockass! And I say you can’t!”
“What say you, knave?” Mendock said,
ignoring Zara and addressing John. “Will you fight me to the death in order to
win the affections of this dear lady?”
“THERE ARE NO AFFECTIONS FOR YOU TO
POSSIBLY WIN, MENDOCK!”
“WILL YOU FIGHT ME? OR NO?”
Just before John was about to accept
Mendock’s challenge, Zara drew her sword. “I’ve had just about enough of you,
Mendock. We’re ending this now.”
Mendock eyed her with what looked to be a
combination of fervent hatred and undying admiration as he said, “So be it.”
With that, Zara lunged forward. Steel met
steel and bitter remarks met sarcastic comebacks as the two fought for
“I can’t believe you’d settle for someone
without wings,” Mendock said.
“He might not have wings but at least he’s
not a TOTAL DOUCHEBAG WITH A CROWN ON HIS HEAD INSTEAD OF A FEDORA!”
“What in God’s name is a fedora?”
Counter-counter-riposte. For what seemed like hours the two nemeses battled one
another until both the physical and emotional strain began to wear them down.
John picked at his nails anxiously, biting his lip, praying internally that
Zara would be okay. She made one last desperate charge, her blade pointed
squarely at Mendock’s heart.
For a moment it looked like she would make
her mark. But at the last second he blocked the blow, then knocked her to the
ground. Her sword flew from her hands, landing too far away for her to reach it
in time. Mendock snickered as he rose his blade to deal the killing blow.
Romantic John: “What do we do?! He’s going
to kill her!”
Pragmatic John: “You promised her you
Romantic John: “Piss on that! I’m not going
to let her die!”
Pragmatic John: “Don’t do it. She’ll never
Romantic John: “I’m pretty sure she will,
Pragmatic John. Haven’t you ever read—”
Pragmatic John: “Romantic John, please.
Please don’t. I’m serious. I’ve figured out why she made you make that promise.
If you break it…”
But John had no more time to argue with
himself. In a craze, he made a running jump off of the wall, his sword raised
high, plunging down toward Mendock. Before anyone knew what was happening, John
landed directly on the bastard’s back, shoved the blade through his chest and
then passed out as the pair hit the ground.
As real world sensation began to return to
him, John felt soft, warm sheets and a cool breeze blowing across his face. He
opened his eyes to find himself in a small but royally decorated room. Mostly
blue, of course. Zara was there, looking at an open window, still wearing her
military uniform. Her arms were folded.
“You broke a few bones but I healed them,”
she said coldly.
“You also broke your promise.”
“Good day to you too,” John said brightly,
hoping to shrug off whatever foul mood she was in. It didn’t work. She looked
down at her feet.
“Faraan is safe from Mendock and the navaak
forever because of you,” she said. “I suppose I should thank you for that.” She
faced him then. “But I can’t bring myself to.”
“I…um…what? Wait…God dammit…”
“I should have known,” Zara said, her eyes
now sympathetic. “I should have seen it in you sooner.”
“Seen what? What the hell is the problem
“You’re a hero.” Her eyes lingered
longingly on him awhile longer, then she looked down again. “You can’t possibly
be my true love. I was too hasty in bringing you here. And I’m so sorry for
“Zara, no,” John said, leaping out of bed
and heading toward her. She backed away, holding out a hand to stop him.
“Please don’t say that. I love you. I love you more than I’ve ever loved
anyone. I don’t know how or why but I just do! That has to mean something. That
can’t just happen to someone for no reason.”
“Please stop…,” she said, tears now
falling from her eyes.
“You’re amazing! You’re the most
incredible, wonderful, kickass person I’ve ever met in my life! So what if I
ended up killing that asshole for you? I couldn’t stand by and let him—”
“I’m sending you back to the coast,” she
said. “If you walk into the ocean you’ll wash back up in your homeworld. I’m
sorry. This is how it has to be.”
“NO!” John roared with a fury that shocked
both of them. “After everything…all the fun we’ve had…all the joy we’ve
already shared…you can’t just send me away…please don’t send me away…”
To both Zara and John’s credit, neither of
them averted their eyes. They stared at one another in complete heartbroken,
loving, confused and wonderful silence until the Queen delivered her final
“You don’t understand.” Her voice quivered,
almost timidly…but not quite. “You can’t rescue me, John Baxter. Not you, not
anyone. No one can ever rescue me. That’s how things work around here.
You broke your promise and now I have to pick up the pieces…”
“What’s the big fucking deal?” John said,
still in disbelief. Zara gently put a hand to his cheek. If he had known that
this would be the last time he’d ever feel her touch he would have savored it
far more than he did.
“I love you,” she said, tears running down
her face ceaselessly. “Goodbye.”
With that, she flicked her wrist and John
was suddenly transported several miles east back to the coast, landing on his
ass. Slowly, he stood, then rose his head to the sky and shouted the only thing
that stupid boys ever shout in situations like this.
“WHAT THE FUCK?!?!”
Please don’t screw me up.
Please don’t screw me up.
I’m finally better.
Please don’t screw me up.
John sat alone on the beach, where he’d
first arrived in Faraan. The sun hung high and lonesome in the sky as he stared
emptily out at the still, sapphire blue ocean—stretching on in endless,
melancholy silence. “I love you. Goodbye,” she’d said, daring him to leave her
behind him and go back home to his own world. “I love you. Goodbye.”
“I love you. Goodbye.”
“Well if it’s all the same to you,” John
said aloud to no one, “I’ve grown to quite like it here. I think I’ll stay.
With or without you.”
A part of him thought she might somehow
hear him and, subsequently, answer him. But she didn’t. The only reply was the
gentle crashing of waves and the distant singing of seagulls.
A tear fell from his eye. Then another.
Then another. Then another until he was weeping with his head in his hands. Not
because this was how it always ended, even though it was. Not because she’d
hurt him more than anyone that came before, even though she had. Not even
because he knew he’d never love again, even though he wouldn’t.
He wept because, for the first time in his
life, he realized how beautiful the ocean was and how magical, how comforting,
such loveliness could be.
Suddenly, something landed at his feet. As
he slowly rose his head, he heard the distinct, sweet melodies of chirping. His
eyes refocused to see a little bird with blue feathers and a light brown chest
staring back at him, singing. He wiped his tears away, though more continued to
fall against his will.
“Hello, little bird,” he said, holding out
The bluebird then leapt joyfully into his
palm, its playful shimmering eyes gazing at him with what seemed to be
something resembling affection.
Our romance went about as well as I should
have expected. It was wonderful for a few months, awful for a few weeks, and
now it’s over. I wish I could say that I was hurt, or that I missed you, or
that it was a good experience, but none of those things are true. The truth is,
I never want to see you again. Not out of heartache or spite, but just because.
Really, it feels like the only good thing
that came out of our relationship was this story that I wrote for you. I don’t
know if it’s actually any good, but I’m proud of it for some reason. I guess
the sex we had was pretty great too. Yeah. Sure. Let’s go with that.
I hope that you’re doing well. I hope that
one day you find whatever it is that you need to feel happy and full and free.
I hope you still read this story from time to time. I hope you still smile when
you think about all the fun we had. I hope that you remember me fondly.
I love you, goodbye.
I love you, goodbye.
I love you. Goodbye.