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The Dangers of Buying Birthday Presents

By Hannah Anderson

Humor / Romance

Chapter 1

All Kayla Abbots wanted was to find a birthday present for her sister.

The only reason she had wandered into the old antique and jewellery shop in the first place was to get her hands on some kind of gift. When she saw the beautiful ruby rose hung on a delightfully old-fashioned gold chain, her only thought was that she had seriously lucked out.

Sunlight crawled through the dusty window as Kayla strode happily to the till. As he rang up her purchase, the elderly proprietor of the shop gazed at the necklace amusedly. "Did you know that this necklace was intended for film?" he revealed conversationally.

Kayla looked up from the depths of her purse, where her wallet was trying to play hide-and-seek. "Not a modern movie, I have no doubt," she laughed. "It's too classy for that… which movie was it?"

The old man smiled. "The Phantom of the Opera," he confided. "Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical, of course." He spoke the composer's name with undisguised reverence.

"From 2004?" Kayla clarified, and grinned. "Was it intended for Emmy Rossum?" she guessed as she handed over the required bills.

The gentleman nodded proudly. "Yes, for the beautiful Christine Daäe. A pity that this piece never made it into the film itself," he sighed.

"This is perfect!" Kayla remarked excitedly, not bothering to inquire as to how a Hollywood set piece had made its way to an antique store in Calgary of all places, though she did not doubt the man's honesty. "It's my sister's birthday get-together tonight, and I've been looking for a good present for ages. Samantha adores Phantom of the Opera; she'll love this more than words can describe."

The old man's face relaxed into a patchwork of delighted crinkles. "I've always fancied this artifact," he mused. "I will be able to rest easy now, knowing that it will be going to a good home. Your sister is quite a fan, I take it?"

"Obsessive, more like," Kayla answered airily. "She knows almost everything; the book, the movie, the musical… she's seen it all. She can literally recite the movie off from memory, and she's got this crazy knack for knowing all of the characters and how they all interact and why. Plus she plays clarinet, piano, and guitar, so she can play all the songs as well."

"Your sister sounds like quite a fascinating person," the man chuckled.

"She'd live in that world if she could," Kayla shook her head ruefully.

"Powerful wishes like that have a way of coming true in different ways," the man suggested softly. "Be sure to wish your sister a happy birthday from me."

"Will do! Thank you very much!" Kayla waved cheerfully, tucking the simple paper bag into her purse as she pushed open the glass door. As she walked over to her car, she made a mental note to visit that shop again; it could be quite the treasure trove of props and accessories, and also housed a chance for some decent, interesting conversation. Kayla went into a reverie as she considered all the history and stories that were hidden on the shelves.

Fat, thick flakes of snow floated gently down out of a grey sky as Kayla slid into her car and placed her bag and the precious present onto the passenger seat. If I can get home fast enough, I can wrap this and still make it to Mom and Dad's for Samantha's party by seven, she mentally calculated as she pulled away from the curb.

Kayla was so focused on making it back to her downtown apartment in time to wrap the stupid present and still be on time for the party that she almost ran a red light. She just barely avoided entering the intersection as the light changed, but as there was barely anyone on that particular road at the time, she thankfully did not cause an accident. What she did cause, however, was for the necklace to slide out of its bag, out of her purse, and fly in a graceful arc towards her car floor. Kayla did the stupid thing and lunged for it, catching the delicate chain by the tips of her fingers. "Oh no, you don't," she warned the inanimate object, trying to keep her eyes on the road as she put the present back into the bag. While attempting this, her fingers brushed, for the first time, against the jeweled petals of the pendant.

There was a bright flash of light, immediately followed by complete darkness. She felt her stomach trying to make an escape through her throat as she fell, but the only thing she could truly comprehend at the moment was how late she was going to be for her fourteen year old sister's party.

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