I remember when I was young, when everyone wouldn't think I was crazy when I talked to my imaginary friend. I could leave a spot for her at the table, I could tell everyone to keep quiet when she was sleeping, and I could get her food without getting weird looks. She could live as my Protector, as she calls it, in peace.
Now, I must keep her a secret. If anyone knew that I kept my imaginary friend through my teenage years, I would be sent to a doctor. No one ever saw her, even when I could. I still see her though. She always leans against the bookshelf in my room, sharpening her knifes. Except for right now.
Right now, she's dying.
Her left leg has a large, deep wound near her ankle, and it's turning purple. It sizzles like someone's frying chicken, dark purple bubbles popping in the wound. The smell of rotten meat that has sat in the sun all day fills the room, but it comes from her leg. She groans occasionally, but it is hard to make out any words.
"Mmm...hm." She groans. She tries to reach for her leg, but she just falls back on to my bed, grunting.
My hands are trembling as I dig through her sack, trying to find something that could save her. There is nothing in here that could help, nothing at all. I grasp a little to hard on a little bottle, and it cracks. I read the label, and it says "Food Replacement". That couldn't help me now, not to keep her from dying. A tear hangs on to the edge of my nose, threatening to drip in her sack.
I can save her, I tell myself. No need to cry. I will find something.
I wipe the tear away and reach deeper into the sack, pushing aside books and little metal rods. No, not metal rods. Knitting needles. She's an elf queen, and she carries knitting needles with her. Of all the things I could be thinking about, I'm wondering why she keeps knitting needles with her.
"Child..." She groans, barely above a whisper. "It is no... use."
I keep digging in the sack, and I pull out a necklace. I shove it into my pocket, and keep digging. There has to be something in here, something to kill the pain, something that will cure the infection. She can afford disinfectant, why doesn't she have any? I take a deep breath and try to calm myself.
I can hear my heart beating, it feels like it's going to explode. Everything is blurry, everything but my thoughts. There has to be something in here. There has to be. I reach the bottom of the sack, and there's nothing that can help me. Her pockets. I think to myself.
I stand up and rush over to my bed. She looks in my direction, but her eyes seem to see through my face, like I'm invisible. Her eyes are normally an ice blue, but now irises are now white as her skin. Her blond hair, normally neat and straight, has braids that are coming loose. I reach into her pockets, tears blurring my vision.
"Child... I have nothing that can save me." She mutters, her voice scratchy like it's coming out of an intercom. "Bring out the necklace."
I shove my hand into my pocket where I put the necklace. I look at it closer. It has a white stone, surrounded by vines of black metal. The pendant is half as long as my thumb, and just as wide, protected by vines made of black metal. I look back up to her. Why a necklace? Will this save her?
She raises her left hand, and the necklace flies on to my neck, latching itself on to me. I tug at the chain, but it doesn't break.
"It is to protect you." She says. "Bring me the small pink bottle."
I turn and does as she says, my hands shaking. I reach into the bag and pulled out the small, pink bottle. The label on it is worn, but I can tell it says "Memory Eraser". Why does she want to forget? She's going to die anyway, why take this now?
My steps falter. She's going to die. She's going to die, and there's nothing I can do about it. I am going to have to live without my only friend, my Protector, the only person who cares for me. She's dying. And I don't know why.
I bring it to her. Her pupils are losing color now, they are a dull gray color. Her lips are powder pink, and the only color on her face is the blood that drips from her nose. The corners of her mouth turn up, like she's trying to smile, but doesn't have the energy to.
She points to my mouth. "Drink it."
I look at the glass bottle. It's small and pink, and has a dark, think liquid inside. She wants me to drink it. Can I do this? Can I really get rid of my memories, just like that? Just because a dying elf told me to? What's the point?
"If someone reads your memories, they will know I died." She says, as if she could read my mind herself. I forgot, she's a Reader, she can read the minds of those who don't guard it. Just like me. "News will spread fast, and a war will be waged."
She never wanted war, and the Caldainians are already split in two. If someone found out she died, one side will blame the other, and a war would be fueled by anger on both sides. But is forgetting her worth the possibility of war?
"I will be with you, always." She says, reaching to the necklace. The touches the gem inside the pendant, and closes her eyes. She begins to glow, like the sun in the middle of the sky. Then her glowing body starts to dissolve into the necklace. She continues to travel into the pendant until there is nothing left of her, nothing but the poisoned blood on the sheets of my bed.
I look at the glass bottle again. The ink on the label is dripping from the sweat on my hands. When I turn it upside down, it moves slowly, like molasses. Should I really drink this? Forget about what just happened? Is that all that I'll forget?
"You will forget any memories. It will be easier to follow the prophecy, the same prophecy that decided your fate before you were born." A voice echoes in my head. Her voice. "I will guide you, but you will have to trust me."
I pull the cork out, and bring the bottle over my mouth, the thick liquid dripping into my mouth. It tastes... warm. Like homemade pie after church. I can feel the memories slip away, but I see them before I leave. Daddy giving me a kiss after I fell off of my bike. My twin brother Sandy fishing with me at a small creek just outside the house. My imaginary friend, telling me she's my mother. My mother, dying...
My mother giving the last of her being into the necklace.
And I fall down on the floor, no memory left to hold on to, and close my eyes as a female voice tells me "I will take you where you are needed."
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