“A what?” Kai asked. He sounded scared.
“A Wish!” May turned to her mother. “ Am I a Wish?”
Her mother looked to her husband again and frowned with confusion. “Sweetheart, I don’t know what that means.”
May shook her head in frustration. “A Wish. You know, people who were born when their parents wished for it on the missing wishing star?”
“May, we told you – they didn’t give us much to go on.” Her father kept his tone soothing. “And we believed them when they said not knowing would keep us safe. We don’t even know who was after them or what happened after they took them. All we know was that the Stars followed suit and, when they did, we told them to leave and never return. They promised to never let anything like that happen here again.”
Out of the corner of her eye, May saw her mother press a hand to her mouth and turn her face away. She saw the way her eyes glistened.
May exhaled and sat back. Her mind was reaching in so many different directions at the same time and, through it all, the ache in her heart still refused to be ignored. All she wanted was Em – to tell her what she had learned and know what she thought of it all.
“Em was just trying to stay safe too.” May gazed up at the ceiling and imagined the tapestry of stars laid out just beyond it. “You just told her leave without even giving her a chance. And…” her heart clenched. “She did. She left.”
She was supposed to stay. We can’t be an ‘us’ when she’s not here.
Her mother draped a careful arm over her daughter’s shoulder.
“I know it must be hard to understand right now, May,” she tried to reason. “But it’s for the best that’s she’s gone.”
“What?” May cried, pulling herself out from in between her parents to stand before them; furious. “No, it’s not. I don’t care what you think you know about her or the Stars but you are wrong. Em is wonderful and she was so good to me. I…” Tears burned her eyes, falling freely. “I love her. I love her so much.”
The only sound in the room was May’s weeping. She sobbed and shook, indifferent to what her family must have thought of her in that moment; that heartbeat in the night.
A pair of arms – her father’s – encircled her.
“I’m sorry, Maybe,” he told her. “I’m sorry this has happened to you again.”
May pulled back and looked at her father through tear-reddened eyes. “Again?”
He shifted uneasily.
“I’m sorry that someone you… care about has disappointed you.”
It felt like someone punched her right in the stomach. He didn’t have to say it, her name haunted the room like a spectre; Mila.
“No,” Kai stepped up. He had been so quiet May had almost forgotten he was there. “This is nothing like Mila.” There was almost something forbidden about saying that name out loud, and by defying it Kai seemed to break the spell. “This is completely different.”
May let out a sad, pathetic laugh. She was already starting to have her doubts.
“How?” She asked.
Kai frowned. “Because unlike Mila, Em loves you back.”
She whirled to face him. “What?”
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” her brother groaned, incredulous. “She didn’t tell you?”
May didn’t respond., Her brain wasn’t doing what it was supposed to and she wasn’t sure how to fix it. Kai shook her head.
“That brat,” he muttered and turned toward the door. “Okay, come on. We’ve got to go.”
“Go where?” His mother cried, shooting up from the couch.
Kai paused and looked back at them with a blank look.
“I haven’t gotten that far yet,” he admitted and pointed at his sister. “But you love her and she loves you and I refuse to sit here and watch you spend another how many years being broken-hearted and miserable when you could have just been happy instead.”
Heart swelling, May looked at her brother in disbelief. Without realizing it, a smile began to creep across her face.
“Kai, it is too dangerous for her out there!” their mother protested.
“Ma, it’s her life,” he replied. “You did what you promised and you kept her safe all this time. Let her figure out the rest.” He looked May straight in the eye, holding her gaze with such intensity she forgot to breath. “What do you want to do, Maybe?”
Like a shot of electricity to her heart, May felt shocked back to life. Her body was alight with complete and undeniable purpose. She turned to her parents and clutched their hands tightly.
“You need to know that I love you both. But he’s right.”
May was both excited and breathless.
“I have to go find Em.”
Banner art by @flowerveil