“Evelina? Eve, open your eyes,” I heard Uri’s voice. I blinked once and then again, his large blue irises slowly coming into focus. “Glad to have you back,” he smiled.
I was in my room. The sun was still out, but its light was pale. “How long have I been out?” I asked, my hands reaching for my head. My body felt heavy and sore.
“You slept for a week. Everyone’s been worried. Well, everyone but me.”
“That long? Then it must have been the longest dream I’ve ever had. And the most amazing one yet.”
“I can only imagine.”
“Uri, it was most incredible. It felt so real. I saw so much,” I said, propping myself on my elbows. I felt dizzy and collapsed down again. I wanted to share with him what I had seen. But the memories were fading so fast it was hard to hold on to them.
“I know what happened,” he said. “You talk when you sleep, remember?” He smiled at me and pointed at a sheet in Daniel’s notebook. It was covered in his scribbles. “I tried to write it all down. Sorry about my handwriting. I know it’s terrible.”
“You are a gem.”
“That’s a first,” he said and winked at me.
“Where is Mom?” I asked, wrinkling my forehead. My head was pounding like an old bell.
“I believe in the kitchen with Rena, Daniel, and Adam.”
“The doctor who treated Daniel. He is practically living here now.”
“If it wasn’t for him being here, your mother would probably have gone crazy with concern. He’s a doctor after all. But even he was worried and wanted to take you to some clinic. But I wouldn’t let him.”
Someone opened the door. Upon seeing me awake, Mom was overjoyed. She kept hugging me and apologizing.
“I’m sorry I wouldn’t hear you out,” Mom said. “I kept pushing you away. But you knew. You knew all along.”
“It’s okay, Mom. Sometimes the most obvious things are the hardest to see.”
“I got so afraid I would lose you.”
“You can never lose me. We are bonded beyond this lifetime,” I said and looked at Uri who seemed to understand.
Soon after, Adam walked into the room. He kept looking at me with keen eyes, but didn’t interfere in our small reunion. I could tell he was relieved that I had finally awakened and quite puzzled by my mysterious affliction.
“We have news to share with you,” Mom said casting her eyes at Adam. She settled on the edge of my mattress and gripped my hand. “All of Daniel’s tests came back from the laboratory. They found no trace of disease.”
From the day I met Daniel, I had no doubt in my mind that he had a long life ahead of him. But to have it confirmed by a doctor filled me with even more peace. I saw joy dance on Mom’s face. I’d never seen her this happy before. My eyes filled with tears and one fell straight onto Mom’s hand.
“Thank you for saving his life,” she said.
“It was a team effort,” I looked towards Uri who stood by the door. Daniel walked in next and held the door open for my sister.
“I heard today was someone’s birthday,” Rena walked in holding a cake with sixteen lit candles. “You’d better like it,” she said, kneeling next to me. “It took me all day and two trials to make this crooked masterpiece. I almost burned down the kitchen.”
She brought the cake closer to my face and I felt the warmth of the candles on my skin. My family and friends sang Happy Birthday, though it seemed everyone knew a slightly different version. When the voices faded, Rena helped me blow out the candles.
“How did you know I’d wake up today?”
“He told me,” Rena said, casting a sideways look at Uri.
I turned towards Adam. “How is Grandpa?” I asked, not without trepidation.
“Well on his way to recovery,” he said. “He’s been making steady progress since last week.”
“He was here this morning,” Mom said. “He sat by your bed for over an hour, holding your hand.”
The cake Rena made was delicious but it made me sleepy. Curled in my bed, I insisted on having Uri and Daniel stay with me for as long as I was awake. They were my closest friends, and we shared experiences no one else would believe.
“It is time for me to go,” Uri finally spoke the words I didn’t want to hear. Daniel and I exchanged glances.
“Why so soon?” I asked.
“Life beckons,” he reached forward to hug me. “You are indeed a stubborn girl, Evelina. Thank you for bringing us together,” Uri said.
“I will miss you,” I said, digging my chin into his shoulder. “You will always have a home with us.”
“Thank you. I will remember that,” Uri said, loosening our embrace. “Before I go, I have something to give you.”
He reached his hand into the pocket of his jacket. “This must be yours,” he said, handing me a white feather. I looked at him and then at my brother in surprise.
“Everything else burned down,” Daniel said. “One by one, all of the magic items turned to ash—first the veil, then the stone, and finally the wand. Even the box. This is the only thing that survived.”
I was speechless. I inhaled the smoky air around the plume and ran its tip against the skin of my face.
“It will help you remember,” Uri said. In a daze, I watched him get up and walk through the door.
“Bye, Punk,” I called after him, hoping his old moniker would cheer me up, but my voice got stuck in my throat.
“Goodbye, Eve,” he turned. “Until we meet again,” and quietly closed the door.
I wiped away a tear and laughed. “I will never get used to saying goodbye to him,” I said to Daniel. “Just in a short while I’ve felt so many opposing emotions. First I am happy and now I am sad again. It’s endless.”
“Life is like that,” Daniel said, tucking me in. “And you’ve been through a lot. Now is a good time for you to let yourself rest and be taken care of.”
“How are you planning to take care of me?” I asked.
“I heard that you liked stories.”
“That I do. Do you have a good one?”
“That I do,” Daniel smiled.
“What is it about?”
“A girl who wanted to fly.”