March 12th, 2009

legend of hero

Crissy: Act IV

The Sunlit World

Crissy stared. Was this Kevin's idea of a joke? It wasn't remotely funny. She crumpled the card in her fist.

"I'll kill him," she muttered.

Then she forced herself to take a deep breath. A lot of work had clearly gone into this, even as far as involving his mother. All to give her a fake phone number? It didn't make sense. Kevin wasn't that conniving.

She smoothed out the card and looked at the number again. It wasn't even his handwriting. Kevin's handwriting was sprawling, jotty and just on the near side of legible.

She sat down at the nurse's desk and refocused. The 555 prefix was for numbers that didn't exist. That's why they used it for movies and TV shows. But she'd never actually tried dialing one. Maybe there was some sort of weird trick at the phone company where they could route that somewhere. Or -- well, this was supposedly about learning magic, right? Why did it have to make sense? Magic meant doing the impossible.

Crissy bit her lip, picked up the phone, and dialed.

The line fell dead -- no recorded message, no ring, nothing.

"... Hello?" Crissy said.

"Good afternoon, Crissy," a familiar, cheerful voice said from behind her.

Crissy scrambled out of the chair, slamming the phone down. "Aaah! Mrs. Weaver! I didn't hear you come in."

Leaning against the closed door was the heavyset, bespectacled older woman with curly faded blond hair that had served as the school nurse since before Crissy's oldest brother had entered Dog River High. Mrs. Weaver was wearing her usual modest, crisp blouse; soft-edged white coat; and knee-length white dress; and had her arms crossed over her ample bosom. She smiled at Crissy. "I was wondering if you'd ever call."

Crissy's mouth fell open. "Wait. You're ...?" She looked back at the card. "Wait. I thought your first name was Jennifer. What does the W stand for?"

"Well-dressed," Mrs. Weaver quipped, walking over and sitting down in her chair.

Crissy didn't laugh. "What's going on?" she asked, bewildered.

"You have questions," Mrs. Weaver said. "It sounds like you're ready to hear the answers. So I gave you my card."

"You gave ...?" Crissy said, sinking into the white plastic-and-metal chair against the wall. She did a double-take. "You gave it to me? Not Kevin's mom? ... Who are you?"

"Not the school nurse." Mrs. Weaver pointed her thumb over her shoulder at the windowed door. "But privacy will be a little easier this way."

Crissy considered, then nodded. "Okay. That, at least, I guess makes sense."

"It's a start," Mrs. Weaver said with a smile. "So, Crissy, what's on your mind?"

Crissy took a deep, shaky breath, trying to tamp her adrenaline back down. "What happened to David?"

Mrs. Weaver leaned back and crossed her legs. "Is that really what's most important to you?"

"Huh?" Crissy stammered. "N-no! I mean, I like him, but ... um. I mean --" she forced herself to shut up until she regained some coherency -- "it just seemed like a much better question to ask than repeating 'What's going on?' until my brain falls out."

The nurse chuckled. "Well, that's a relief, because I can't actually tell you what's happening to David right now."

"You can't?" Crissy said, even more lost.

"I'm not omniscient, Crissy. I'm not even really the one running the show, even though that seems to be what everyone assumes. Which I guess is only logical."

Crissy's eyes widened. "You're --"

"No," Mrs. Weaver cut her off. "I'm not your creator. Let's get that straight, right off the bat. I'm a servant." She leaned forward. "My job is to keep this world from being destroyed."

Crissy shrank back into her chair, feeling very small. "That's what this is about?"

"No," Mrs. Weaver said. "If it makes you feel any better -- no. The world's in no immediate danger. I would know if it was."

"Then what --"

"Loose ends. Unwoven threads." Mrs. Weaver shrugged. "What the particular reason is that your friends are being dragged into this, I couldn't say. But there is a game being played, and they are pieces in it."

Mrs. Weaver looked expectantly at Crissy -- who felt obligated to say something. "What about me?"

"What about you?" Mrs. Weaver shot back. "I've answered some questions. Now you answer one of mine. Crissy Ellenberg, where do you fit into this?"

"I don't know!" Crissy said. "Isn't that what you're supposed to tell me?"

Mrs. Weaver chuckled. "Sorry, dear. Destiny doesn't work like that. How far you tug the Weave depends on how hard you pull. And now that's the decision you have to make. How much do you want the uncertainty, the fear, the eternal quiet self-doubt, the raw danger of shaping the world? Do you want to take that chance that when you pull, you'll get yanked in return, ripping your life apart around you?"

"That's ... an awful lot to worry about."

"It is." The nurse nodded soberly.

"Then why would anyone say yes?"

"Kei," Mrs. Weaver said, her smile returning, "what is magic?"

Crissy looked around the room, feeling incredibly self-conscious, some inner voice insisting she make sure there weren't half a dozen other celestial visitors around to listen and laugh.

"Being able to be who you really are," she said faintly.

"Some people find that worth the sacrifice."

"Did David make that choice?" Crissy asked, and then revelation hit. "Did Kevin? Is that what the whole Rosalind thing is about?"

"In ... a manner of speaking," Mrs. Weaver said. "They probably didn't get asked that question, in so many words. But everyone who faces up to magic faces it, by the very nature of the force."

"Magic ..." Crissy said, staring down at her hands. Mrs. Weaver sat quietly as Crissy thought.

At length, Crissy asked: "So, what did happen to David? Where did he go?"

"He's beyond my sight," Mrs. Weaver said. "He didn't leave town in any manner you or I could name, but you won't find him in Pitt Creek."

"Is he in trouble? Kevin sure seemed scared."

Mrs. Weaver spread her hands. "Probably. There are dark and powerful forces involved in this. But the truth is, nobody in this world could tell you."

"Oh," Crissy said.

"However," Mrs. Weaver said slowly, "you could find out for yourself."

The room froze, save for the ticking of the wall clock. Finally, Crissy said: "Tell me more."