The next day I wake to the sound of a knock on my window. I rise from bed and slinger towards the window. Who the hell could it be at this hour? I drag the curtains away, only to drag them back as soon as I see who’s outside. I go back to bed and ignore the knocking. What does she want? Seriously, just go away! I think and pull my pillow over my head.
“Hey! I know you’re there! Please open the window!” I hear her through the glass. I ignore it and try to go back to sleep. Suddenly the knocking stops, and I smile while thinking she probably went back home.
I sigh of relief and yawn while stretching. Back to sleep…
But I have never been lucky. I suddenly feel a heavy pressure on my back. The something poking my neck.
“Hey! Wake up!” a whisper sounds near my ear.
“Wha-“ I turn around and look directly at her face. She is smiling widely.
“What in the heavens are you doing? Get out of my room!” I whisper.
“Why should I?” she whispers back.
“Just, get off me first!”
She jumps down on the floor, not making a sound. She is still wearing the huge t-shirt from yesterday.
“How did you get in?”
“You know, your parents sleep with an open window. It’s good for your health, maybe you should too”
“What? Did you go through their room? Are you insane? Anyway, why are you here?”
She starts walking around in my room.
“No special reason, I just always wondered what it would look like”
“What what would look like?”
“Your room of course!”
“Why? Why would you come here? I mean, this is criminal! Your breaking into a house and complete overlooking the rules of privacy!”
I sit up in my bed and follow her every movement with my eyes.
“I don’t really have an answer to all that, I just felt like coming, alright? Oh, what’s this?” she grabs one of my games from the tiny shelves.
“Hey, leave that! Don’t touch anything!” I jump out of bed and grab my game.
“What’s this?” she opens my closet and goes inside.
“Hey what did I just tell you? Get out of there now!”
She is ignoring me completely. She goes further inside and begins moving around stuff.
I almost run inside and take her arm, pulling her out and closing the door afterwards.
“What are you doing? Seriously, you are getting on my nerve. What is wrong with you?”
“I just, I…” she is stammering. The she hugs me out of nowhere.
I am surprised.
“I just never really had any friends, and I hoped you would be my friend, but if you don’t want to I’ll just leave. Sorry for bothering you and all”
“You got it all wrong, we’re already friends, but going through all my stuff is not right no matter who you are, ok?”
“I understand, sorry again… but I guess it was partly because I just really wanted to” she smiles in a weird way. A bit creepy, but I can live with it.
“Erm, you can let go of me now” I say because she is suffocating me with her tight grip.
“Oh, yeah, sorry” we both smile.
“Now if you would please leave before my family wakes up” I say quietly. She nods and opens my window. She looks back and smiles before she jumps. Two words formed on her lips. ‘see you’…
Later I go to school. The weather is grey and it looks like it could rain any minute. It will probably take some time for the finals to begin, so I do not have anything to look forward to.
When class begins, the teacher has an announcement to make. The other kids in class keep talking about yesterday’s event. They are all really upset by the thought of Phoenix never being able to participate in the games again. I sigh.
“Everyone, please quiet down!” the teacher says loudly. The class quiets down and the teacher continues:
“We have a new student starting today, so why don’t you all give her a warm welcome”
Then she steps into the classroom. I slowly turn my head to see her. I barely manage to hold back a gasp. The others don’t notice a thing. Thank god, I am in such a stupid class.
While the teacher is introducing her, she spots me and starts waving at me. I hold a hand over my eyes and act as if I haven’t noticed her. The others start noticing. Could she just stop? This is embarrassing!
When I don’t react she starts shouting.
“Hey Meril! I transferred just this morning, isn’t it great?!” I can’t really ignore her anymore, everyone is looking at me with wondering eyes.
“Dude, you know her?” Mark asks.
“Sort of” I answer. Even the teacher is looking now. Everyone is quiet.
“If you would please take a seat Callia, we will start today’s lessons”
Callia storms through the class and jumps onto my table.
“Can I sit here?” she asks the teacher.
“It is fine by me; just find a chair to sit on, if you please”
She puts her newfound chair down right next to me. She is practically sitting side by side with me. Mark looks questioning the whole double lesson, but he manages to keep it under control until recess. The he just can’t hold back.
“What is up with the chick? I mean, how do you two know each other?” he uses exaggerated movements to rule out what he means.
“It is a bit complicated, we actually just met yesterday”
“Yeah, you remember I came here to get to know Phoe-“ I put my hand over her mouth.
“Please excuse us a minute” I drag her out of the classroom.
“What on earth are you thinking?!? He doesn’t know I am Phoenix, no one does!”
“I just thought he did since he is your friend and all…”
“That is not the point. Stop saying stuff like that in public. No, anywhere, not even at home, ok?”
“Sorry, guess I messed up again. Usually I am not this airheaded”
“I sure hope not” I sigh as we go back into the class.
“What was that all about?” Mark asks.
“Nothing at all, just a misunderstanding is all” I say while laughing awkwardly. She is not really helping me out here.
He still looks questioning, but he leaves it be. I take to my head. This is going to be a long day…
Finally school’s over! Took long enough, I think while packing up my stuff. When I turn around I see directly into her face. Way too close.
“Can I go home with you?” she asks and leans – if possible – even closer. Other students are staring.
“Ok fine, just cut the physical contact and don’t lean that close”
Then we walk home. To my house, of course.
“where do you live?” I ask when it hits me. I don’t really know that much about her.
“I don’t really live somewhere. I ran away you see. My parents found out about the game and wanted to take it away from me, so I ran”
What an impulsive thing to do. I don’t really know what I would have done, but I would have tried to negotiate something with them or just keep playing in secret. Even though they would find out on the news every time I had been out.
“Why did you just run away?”
“I don’t know, I guess I panicked when they wanted to confiscate my character, and now… now I just don’t feel like I can go back again. But they did say…”
She looks uncomfortable with the topic.
“Where do you live right now then?”
“Just outside in your garden” she smiles. I stop.
“What did you say?”
“In your garden. You know, you got this treehouse and I stayed there for the night last night, after following you home from school” she gives me a creepy smile. She’s acting like a stalker or something. I shiver.
“Well you have to find somewhere else to stay”
“Because you can’t live in my treehouse! That is not a place to live, it is a playhouse! And by the way, it is my sisters... Never mind that, you should go back to your parents”
She does not hear a word I am saying. She is distracted looking at something behind a fence or a hedge. Inside one of the villa-gardens.
“Do you know you got a stalker?”
“Yes” I answer, thinking she is referring to herself.
“Well ok, the I’ll just let her be”
“What? Is there someone else?” I look into the garden Callia was staring into a second ago. There is nothing. She is probably just paranoia on top of the whole parents and home crisis.
The rest of the walk goes by in silence. I don’t know if what Callia said is making me paranoia too, but I keep hearing footsteps and rustling leafs. She doesn’t seem to notice anything though.
Soon we’re standing at my door. I open and take a step inside. I am about to close the door when I see her face. She is making those damned puppy eyes or what you call them.
“Fine, get inside. But you can’t stay”
She smiles as she jumps inside. She kicks off her shoes and walks inside. I take off my shoes as well and follow her into the living room. Nobody is home except us.
“Well how about you make up with your parents and move home again?” I ask and try to make eye contact with her.
“Well, they agreed to let me play if I brought Phoenix back to our living room”
“Well, it is one of those situations where they think it is impossible to do, and therefore they say it”
“Well, if that is all that is needed let’s go!”
“They wanted to see me in their living room, right? Then they will see me in their living room”
She lights up with a smile.
“Would you do that? Even though they’ll probably just deny they ever made that promise…”
“It is worth a go”
I am standing outside of her house, waiting for the signal. I have already transformed, wouldn’t want anyone seeing me change out of the blue. I can hear her from out here, but only faint. I decide to teleport into the hallway.
“Mom, Dad, you remember your promise, right?”
“What promise dear?” it sounds like a woman. Her mother.
They seem calm, but that’s because all the fuzz went about when I was outside.
“That about me being able to continue playing if I brought a special person here”
“Oh that. Don’t be silly, your little friends can’t fool us, now hand over the thing”
“Well, if you won’t believe me I’ll show you!”
That’s my cue. I make a portal in the wall next to the door, since I can’t fit through it. The living room is quite big. I don’t hit anything on my way through. The television is right next to me and across the room is the couch, where her parents are sitting.
I land on the floor. Even though I just said the room is big, it feels small with me inside. I take up a lot of space with all those feathers.
Callia’s parents are just sitting there and staring with their jaws dropped to the floor. Slowly her mother lifts a shaky hand and point at me.
“What the - I-is that…” Callia nods.
“You do know it’s not nice to point at people, right?” I ask with a smiling undertone.
The father is not saying anything at all. I investigate his face a bit. He fell unconscious apparently. Weird.
“Then you truly are… but how? Why would you come here? And how did you get to know my daughter?”
“Better ask her,” I say while shrugging. She turns her head to Callia.
“I will not tell you unless you keep your promise”
“You heard her. A promise is a promise after all” I break in.
“Prove that you are the real deal then!” the mother exclaims.
“I just flew through a wall, shouldn’t that be prove enough?” I say stating the obvious.
“Well, for all I know it could be tricks all of it!”
“Mom, really…” Callia breaks in.
“I want proof before I agree to anything”
“Fine by me” I say. “What should I do?”
“I don’t know, something a normal person can’t”
“Can a normal person do this?” I start reverting to my second form.
“Oh my!” she says loudly when I am done.
“Do you believe me now mom?”
“Yes, I do. This is beyond any of your classmates reach”
“I sorta changed school. I didn’t have any friends anyway, and now I am in school with -Mph!” I quickly cover her mouth with a feathery hand.
“I thought we talked about this,” I whisper into her ear. She nods discretely and twists out of my grip like if it was a dance.
“In school with who?”
“A new girl I met just yesterday. She is really nice to me”
“Ah, ok” the mother haven’t noticed a thing about our little weird dance.
“Anyway, can I play now?”
“Well, I did make a promise, didn’t I?”
“Wahooo! YES!” Callia yells and starts jumping around causing the glasses on the shelves to bump into each other. The father seems to wake now. He sits up, takes one look at me and falls back down.
“I am sorry about my husband, he is just a very big fan. He has seen every single one of your matches from the beginning” the mother says.
“I understand, I’ll be going soon” I turn around to take my leave, but the mother stops me.
“Oh, I am so sorry about having to ask you this, but would you stay until my husband wakes? It would be so sad for him if he didn’t get the chance to finally meet you”
“Fine by me” I say and sit on the floor. Nothing better to do.
Finally, after about half an hour Callia is beginning to calm down. She sits next to me on the floor, and her dad seems to be waking up. I duck my head so he doesn’t see me first thing after passing out twice. His wife gets his attention:
“Hey dear, do you know who is here with us? That’s right, Phoenix, as amazing as it sounds it is true, and please don’t pass out again”
“Really?!? Oh, and sorry about before. Where is he then?” I stand up.
He stares at me. I feel a little uncomfortable, but I feel like I can’t move away now.
“Wow, it’s true then” he says wonderingly. He stands up and begins walking around me.
“You won’t believe how much of a fan I am, I---”
“Your wife told me everything, so don’t worry”
“Ah, ok” he says and looks weirdly at my face.
“How come you are here in my living room?”
“Well, it is kind of a long story” I say and look away awkwardly.
“I will listen” he says and sits down.
“Come on, tell me” he says and crosses his legs.
“Erm, well, you see… I met your daughter yesterday and heard she had this problem”
“What do you mean you met her yesterday? I thought you ---“
“We don’t talk about that!” Callia breaks in. Her father looks at her in a weird way, but decides to not say what he was saying anyway.
“But why would you help her?”
“I thought it was important to help a fan and a fellow player with personal problems if I could”
“Well, alright, but how did you meet?” this one is tough.
“Well, erm, we…”
“I sorta stole his character and made him meet me at school by tracking him” Callia says smiling. The father and I both turn our heads towards her.
“WHAT?” the father yells.
“HOW COULD YOU DARE DO SOMETHING THAT DISRESPECTFULL TO SOMEONE THAT IMPORTANT?” he yells on while jumping to his feet, he is really fired up. Callia shrinks a few inches and backs up against the wall.
“It doesn’t matter all that much now, I mean, I got it back and everything. No harm done” I say quietly, but everyone hears it. A few seconds everything stands still. Then the father sits down again.
“Well, if you say so then I suppose it is fine” he looks like a lot is going on in his head.
“Wait a minute, how did you get it back without her seeing you? Or did she…”
“Don’t worry! I have other characters too, you know” I say while shaking my feathery hands.
“But I saw him anyway!” Callia says. I slap myself on the forehead. Why? WHY CAN’T SHE JUST GET A FREAKING SENSE OF SITUATION?!?
Her father’s eyes opens wide, but instead of shouting again he turns to his daughter and starts whispering: “-What do he look like?-”
“Oh Charlie, show some respect at least!” his wife breaks in.
“Alright, alright!” he snaps and starts staring at me intensely.
“Erm, something I can do for you?” I ask.
“I wonder what he actually do look like…,” he says to himself while looking down at his hands.
“Hello?” I say and look at him.
“Wha-what? No, nothing in particular… but I would like to see your character…”
“Not happening Charlie, just drop it already” his wife says. He looks irritated but leaves it be. Phew. One person knows my true identity, and that is one too many. If her whole family were to know… well, let’s just say I wouldn’t feel so safe anymore, especially if her parents are as bad at keeping secrets as her.
“Then I’ll be going” I say and turn around to walk out the door in my much smaller form.
“WAIT!” Charlie shouts. I turn around.
“Can I get your autograph please?” he is holding out a pen and a paper.
“Sure, why not?” I say and sign the paper. I haven’t really practiced autographs because of the whole secret identity thing. I check if anything weird is on the paper first though, so he don’t trick me into anything.
I am actually quite proud of my handwriting. I have been told it is the prettiest in class by the teachers, but I haven’t told anyone of course. Usually I write a little uglier at will, so no one will make fun of me.
“Wow, thanks a bunch” he says and goes inside to put it in a frame or something. His wife quickly thanks me for coming, after promising to let Callia keep on playing, and hurries inside after him.
“Thanks a lot for helping me out” Callia says when we’re at the door.
“No problem, should it be another time, just say”
We part ways and I suddenly realize something. I can’t just walk around like Phoenix in broad daylight, but neither can I transform back here.