Chapter 10

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It is impossible to not feel happy when you're at Susan's home, for the power of joy runs prominent in this family with each family member possessing this power. It's like you can feel the joy radiating off of the house, and even walking up to the door is enough to put anybody in a good mood. So the moment when Cassia and I do not feel the joy as we approach the home, we know Susan must really be sick. Knock, knock, knock. The door slowly slides open, revealing Susan's mother and aunt in the doorway. Their normally cheerful expressions are replaced with exhaustion and tiredness. "We've tried every possible cure, and nothing has worked. Cassia, we're willing to try anything as long as you can make Susan well again," her mother says. "I can try," Cassia responds.

We are led upstairs to where Susan's room is, and when we open her door, the smell almost knocks me out. The air is heavy with the stench of sweat, body odor, and...vomit. Shivering under a mountain of covers lays our best friend, and she is almost unrecognizable. Susan, normally healthy and pretty, now lays there with her hair a tangled mess, sunken eyes, and her skin is so unnaturally pale. It's almost as if the life has been sucked out of her. "Hey guys," Susan manages to get out between coughs. "What happened to you?" I ask. "I don't know. I felt fine when I got home yesterday, but I was feeling miserable by nighttime. I've never felt worse before in my life," she chokes out. "Well, that's what we came here for. Fair warning, I don't know how this is gonna go, but it's worth a try," Cassia tells her.

Cassia takes in a deep breath, closes her eyes, and places the back of her hand on Susan's forehead like a person checking for fever. Cassia starts breaking out in a sweat; her power drains her energy since she hasn't mastered it yet. Then, a shimmering blue light comes from where Cassia touched Susan's forehead, and it slowly spreads all around Susan. The blue light then illuminates the entire room, and even I begin to feel the effect of Cassia's healing. Color starts to return to Susan's face, her breathing becomes more normal, and her brown eyes begin to sparkle again. Her shivering is nonexistent, and when the blue light goes away, Susan actually sits up. To say I am impressed is an understatement. There are no words to describe Cassia's ability to heal.

Susan looks at Cassia in awe, and the gracefulness is so noticeable that no thanks was necessary. But Susan says a very happily said thank you anyway. Cassia, however, still looks troubled. "Is everything ok?" Susan asks the two of us. "Susan, what did you have for dinner last night?" Cassia asks suspiciously. "Hot pockets," she answers. "Did they taste...unusual?" Cassia asks, once again suspicious. "No, they tasted fine. I guess I caught something that just hit me," Susan responds. Cassia shakes her head and says, "No Susan, I promise you didn't catch anything, and that was no flu. Somebody deliberately used a fast-acting poison against you."

Disbelief is played across Susan's face, and I can feel it on mine too. Who would be so heartless as to poison Susan? She's one of the sweetest and funniest people I know! "How can you tell?" I ask Cassia. "Someone who has the power of healing can heal someone, but you are also given the direct cause of what caused the injury or illness. Susan was poisoned," She tells me. "And it wasn't a mystery to who poisoned her. I can also sense who inflicted the illness," Cassia says. The room seems to get darker, and you can almost feel the tension. Cassia lowers her voice as she reveals the culprit. "The Council did this."

Heat rises in my cheeks as I turn red with anger. "W-what?" Susan stammers. "Why would they do that? I've never done anything to cross them before!" Susan adds, panicked. Suddenly, my stomach feels like a pit as the sensation of guilt overcomes me. What have I done?! I never meant for anybody to get hurt!

I fall to the ground, shaking with sobs. "What is it?!" Susan exclaims. "This is my fault. They're...they're hurting the people closest to me because I..." I trail off. "Because of what?" Susan asks. Cassia looks at me expectantly. "Because I went to the woods, and I met someone from the other side!" I yell. Susan's jaw drops down, and Cassia just looks sad. "You were right Cassia. I never should have gone in there. Susan, this is all my fault, and I'm not going to ask your forgiveness because I know I don't deserve it," I spit out.

"Julia, I don't blame you for anything. You're one of my best friends, and I could never hold a grudge against you. Besides, you don't know for a fact that it was you who caused all of this to happen," Susan says. "What else could it be?! You've never done anything to deserve this!" I yell. "ENOUGH ALREADY!" Cassia screams. "I can't take anymore of this "it's my fault" and "no it's not your fault". What happened happened! Susan is healed, and you can't change the past, Julia! You went to the woods! You fell in love, and that is something you can't control. Listen to me: these events happened for a reason, and you can't change it."

I don't know what to do. I've never heard Cassia yell like that, much less yell at all. Susan doesn't know what to do either. "I can't put my finger on it, but I think something big is going to happen. Julia, I think this is part of a plan made by God, and you're meant to change everything. The woods and Peter are just the beginning of it. Whether something good or something terrible is going to happen, I don't know. However, it's for sure that things are about to change," Cassia states. "How can you be certain?" I question. "Just think about the events over the past few days. Your power, the woods, Peter, the poison, I just know it's connected somehow!" She exclaims.

"You two are starting to scare me. Who's Peter? What did your power end up being? Why did you go in the woods?" Susan asks. I feel like the walls are closing in around me, and my breathing becomes heavy. I have messed up so much in such little time, and I can't fix it. I need to get out of this house and breath in fresh air. I need to be alone. Cassia puts her hand on my shoulder and says, "Go. I'll tell her everything. But you need to go and collect your thoughts." I nod, and practically sprint out of the house. As I run, all I can do is let these thoughts run through my mind: they've already hurt someone close to me. What'll stop them from doing it again? What have I done?!

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