Harold flutters behind me and I bear my teeth, feeling my claws slip out. I’m ready to fight, no matter what it is that pops out at me.
The eyes come closer, the dark silhouette moving slowly.
“Hey, easy, it’s just me,” the shadow says.
Adam steps out into view and I relax a bit. Guilt courses through me once again, as it often does when I look at him.
A half smile tugs at the corner of his mouth and he looks at the ground.
“Hi,” I stammer.
Silence dawns upon us and we stand there awkwardly, the only sound in the air comes from trees swaying and the fluttering of Harold’s blue butterfly wings. All the light has disappeared from the sky and my eyes have adjusted to the darkness, every detail of the shadows clear. I can even see every strand of Adam’s beautiful dark hair and every fold in his dark clothes. His red eyes glow through the darkness, strangely bright compared to everything else I see.
I wonder what his eye color was before the change.
Harold clears his throat, snapping me from my thoughts.
“I’m—sorry I left you back there.”
“Don’t worry about it,” he cuts me off.
I nod and watch as he walks closer to me.
I open my mouth to say something else, but my brain stops working and it’s left hanging open. What was I going to say?
He looks down at the grass, a crease forming between his eyebrows.
The silence stretches out between us again.
“Adam,” I begin, my voice cracking. “I really am sorry about...”
My brain knows what my mouth wants to say, but still it doesn’t let it speak. Adam looks at me and closes his eyes. He shakes his head and takes a breath.
“Don’t worry about it,” he whispers, the sound barely audible, even with my super hearing.
“Adam,” I say again, and he finally looks me in the eyes. My heart breaks and I can feel tears welling up inside of me as I’m struck by the guilt again. “I promise you’ll get your wish. I will pay the price for what I did that night.”
Adam shakes his head and I hear Harold clear his throat again.
“He already did,” Harold giggles awkwardly.
I look up at the shimmering blue fairy in confusion. “What do you mean?”
“Well,” Harold says, standing up straight, as if he knows everything. “He didn’t wish for you to pay, or for him to kill you.”
“What?” I ask.
“He wished he would find you, not necessarily make you pay for what you did.”
“But that was his intention once he found you, though he didn’t wish it.”
I look at Adam, who is watching me closely. His eyes are swimming in thought and his mouth is taut, as if he’s holding himself back from saying something.
“Out of all the ways you could have said that wish, you said it like that?” I smirk a little bit.
He seems troubled by this statement.
“I guess I’m just too nice of a person to wish for you to be dead,” Adam shrugs and looks at me. “The Ring Leader’s right. I’m not a killer. I couldn’t even kill the people I would prey on…”
I feel a theoretical knife stab me in the stomach and a ball wells up in my throat. He may not be a killer, but I’ve come to realize I am. I am, though I hate it with a passion. He can’t bring himself to kill the girl that murdered his brother, and I… I was that girl. But I love being a vampire, and that’s the burden it carries.
But I also love being human...
I jump as I hear something scamper above me.
It’s only a squirrel.
I look back at Adam, the shining of the moon falling on his perfect face. For a moment, I enjoy the sight.
Then I catch myself enjoying it.
I clear my throat. “Why’d you come back?”
He shrugs. “I felt like I needed to.”
“How’d you get away? From the ogre?” I ask after a quick hesitation.
He chuckles quietly and scratches his head.
“I—turned invisible?” He smiles a little half smile, and I want to smile with him, except the knot in my stomach and the frog in my throat keep me from doing so.
So instead, I nod.
After a long pause, Adam speaks again.
“So what’s your plan now?”
I take in a deep breath to clear the passageway for sound to travel through my throat and shrug. “That’s a good question, I guess.”
I roll the thought over in my head. There’s really nothing I can do but run. I can make a wish, but... but I don’t know what to wish for. I can wish to go home. I can wish to never make that wish, if that’s even possible, which it probably isn’t. I can wish for Adam’s brother to be... you know... breathing… and then I can wish that the people in the carnival...
The people in the carnival.
Hilda and Harper and Bernard and the short guy and—
I have to go back to see if they’re okay. If the Ring Leader did anything to them... Oh, gosh... if he did anything to them!
“I have to go back to the carnival grounds.”
“Why?” Harold asks, and I jump, momentarily forgetting he was there.
“I have to make sure my friends are okay.”
“Ah,” he nods, smiling.
“Way to look like the Mona Lisa,” I say as a mysterious smile spreads across his tiny blue face. “You know something.”
“I know everything, Vanessa,” he smiles even bigger. “You’re not going to like it.”
“What do you mean, Harold?” I ask, stepping closer to his tiny floating body. “Why won’t I like it? And why are you smiling like that? I thought you were supposed to be on my side.”
“Oh, Vanessa, I don’t have a side,” he chuckles. “That’s what happens when you know everything. You can’t pick a side because you know what happens from all angles.”
“And why do you know everything?” I press forward, making him fly backwards a bit.
“All wishing fairies do,” he says. “Mostly, wishing fairies know everything about someone once they make a wish. We see their time-lines from their birth to their death and we see how every little thing impacts their life and how it changes the course of their futures, should it happen.”
“Will this change it? Is that why you’re smiling so big?”
“No,” he says, his smile falling a bit. “It will be the biggest factor to contribute to the future you saw happen to you earlier.”
My brain shuts down and I stare back at him blankly.
“So if I go...”
“It will happen.”
“And if I don’t...?” I offer, as Adam walks closer. I feel my body shrink away from him slightly. “If I don’t go?”
“Then it won’t happen. But I know it will kill you not to go. Especially now that you know something has happened to them.”
I stagger back and run my hands through my hair. I can feel my brain and my heart jump into a war. My head says to survive, but my heart tells me to save them, to help them...
I shake my head and look up into the canopy of trees. The moon shines through each leaf like stars.
I walk to the edge of the trees and look up at them.
I can’t do it.
“I’m not going,” I say quietly, and hear Harold chuckle slightly behind me.