22 5 1

Hours pass, and I think I see an infinitesimal change in the length of my big toe. I stay sitting on the library floor, legs stretched out, toes sprawling and curling.

And I read, and stay sitting, feeling fascinated with my body;

Keep reading, staying fascinated, reading more— 

Until Rob slaps his book shut, startling me back to reality.

"Wowee," he says. "Didasylphcastaspellonyou?"

I close my book and lower my eyes to my spidery legs. "How'd you know?"

"Becauseyougrewthat'showIknew," he says. When he laughs, little billows of smoke rise out from his mouth and armpits. "Begratefulshehealedyou."

I have to do a double-take on what he said before I stammer, "Be grateful? Healed me?" I shake my head, my jaw falling slack. "I'm in pain. Constantly. I am a walking growing pain."

"Youwereworse," he says. He takes in a long, long breath. "I'll-try-to-slow-down." But the slower he speaks, the more he moves his hands, so he's shaking his fists like a screaming infant as he explains, "Sylphs-take-some-of-your-life-force-away-to-heal-your-body-when-its-injured, and-this-makes-you-age-faster-until-the-price-is-paid." I start to respond, but he holds up one of his rattling fists, then lifts a still finger. "Sylphs-won't-do-this-to-you, because-it-is-such-a-big-deal, unless-you-will-die-without-their-help."

Is that how I survived Leviathan swallowing me whole? Is that the reason I didn't die from the whirlpool pulling me down, deep down—

My whole body shoots with a vibrant pain, like a bolt of anger surging from my heels to my head. I bite my lip to prevent screaming. Mom said to never scream in places with people reading.

Rob tries to pat my shoulder with his tiny fists, but he ends up pummeling me until I hiss, "Stop it, stop it," then his miniature arms fall slack, and he says, "Sorrysorrysorryyoulookedsad."

So this spell Trancy placed on me—it saved my life?

"I have to go to the Cave of Sylphs," I say. "I have to and find out what happened to me."

"By yourself?" Rob gasps, and his eyes bugger out in a stream of embers. 

I wave the wisps of char away, hoping he won't torch a book. Then again, these books are probably built to withstand Bombs; there are too many Bombs in this city to not fire-proof, or at least fire-retard, anything flammable. That's probably why he was able to find me this fire-resistant dress, too.

"I'm going with Ifrit and Shiva," I tell him.

He raises a smoky eyebrow.

"It's the truth," I say.

Glittering heat waves sparkle around him. "Really...?"


He's acting like it's a big deal.

In a delayed burst of excitement, he whispers excitedly, "Ifritismyhero," zipping from my left to right side, then to my left again. 

Yep. Apparently it's a big deal. 

"CanIcomemeethim?" Rob asks.

"Sure," I drawl, nervous how Ifrit will take it. 

They're already going to know I wandered the Land of Summoned Monsters though, rather than sleeping; how else would I have found this dress? I hope Shiva and Ifrit aren't too upset. I'd like to avoid being scolded like a child, especially when I'm warping and elongating into an adult.


First draft: June 18

Second draft: August 18

Word count: 510

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