He showed me the scroll. I saw only blank paper. I sighed. "I can't see it. Only you can."
"But this is crazy. It's me, and..." He looked at me really funny. "What is this?"
"It's your future. I know it sounds insane but this person named Fei Zho-Ma made one hundred thousand of these scrolls in his lifetime, all destined for people in the future up to the year 2317. One of them had your name on it so I came to deliver. You can only have one hundred seconds. I'm not sure what happens if you go over the time limit but I don't want to find out."
Kevin handed it to me. "I'm finished, then."
"Really? You still have some time."
"I have good memory. Take it."
I took the scroll from his hands and set it on fire with my lighter. The flames licked up the corner of the paper slowly, and I continued to burn it, finally dropping it on the ground. The two of us watched as it crumbled into ash, a thin, twisting column of smoke wafting up to our nostrils.
Finally. Now I could go home. Hopefully Mr. Xing would pay me a lot for this one. I could watch a movie and gorge on pizza.
"Well, nice meeting you, Kevin," I said. I turned to go.
"Wait!" Kevin said. "I have questions."
I rolled my eyes, whispering, "Of course you do," under my breath. I turned and said, "Sorry, Kevin, but it's a secret." It totally wasn't. I just wanted to get back home. I was hot, drenched in sweat, and my feet hurt.
"You already told me everything, just not the details. Besides, you got me fired. It's the least you can do."
"I got you fired. What kind of crazy boss fires their employee for giving a famished, smoking hot woman a cup of water to quench her thirst? It's human cruelty not to. You should be thanking me for getting you out of there. Now sorry Kev, I really need to get home. Lots more magic scrolls to hand out."
I walked out of the alley, covering my eyes from the sun. Kevin ran after me, matching my pace easily. "Okay, maybe it wasn't your fault. I mean, I've given people free food before. At least let me walk you home," he said.
"No thanks. I live in Vancouver."
"Vancouver? You came all the way here just to give me that scroll?"
"I took a magic portal, so no biggie."
"A magic portal." Kevin looked around as if he might find it. Yeah, I wished it was that easy. "So are you, like, wizards or something?"
Well, Mr. Xing definitely had some tricks up his polo sleeves, like being able to make a magic wormhole through space, and making healing teas that could knock any sickness out cold, but it wasn't like he had a wand and a cauldron. He'd just picked up what he needed to know from his last teacher, back when he was a messenger. One day Xing would teach me, and when I was an old crazy coot, I would teach a student of my own.
"Wizards? Not really. That's really all I know, dude." I said. I sipped my Tim Horton's water, which tasted sort of dirty and was disappearing fast. The big art gallery loomed ahead, and if I could find the spot where I landed, I could find the portal. It wouldn't be too hard. I could just look for the big Group of Seven poster.
I reached the art gallery. Unfortunately there was more than one poster of the same type. I tip toed around with my hands in front of me, fumbling through the air like it was pitch black. Kevin stood close by. If only he would just screw off.
"What are we doing at the ayjeeoh?" Kevin asked.
"There is no we here, just me minding my own business and you following me around." I kept fumbling. Then I stopped. "What did you say this place was called again?" His accent made it sound like it was all one word, but it sort of sounded like—
"AGO," he said slower. "Art Gallery of Ontario. I come here all of the time. Have a season pass." Kevin pointed to the Group of Seven poster and his finger trailed up to the top corner where a small logo had the acronym. I couldn't believe I missed it. For some reason I thought it was the word, ago.
"I saw this place in my scroll," I said.
"You did? Wait, when did you get your scroll?"
"Today," I said. A shiver ran up my spine. I stared at the art gallery, wondering how it could possibly be connected with the man I saw.
Then the curiosity passed. I shrugged and kept searching for the tear in spacetime. "Well, I don't want anything to do with that. I'm going home."
"What?" Kevin pushed himself in front of me. "You just saw your destiny staring you in the face and you say you want to go home?"
I rolled my eyes. "I'm used to these things by now. Besides, the entire point of the scrolls is that you have the choice to change your future, and in my scroll the only thing I end up with is a broken phone and a man trying to murder me. So yeah, I'd rather go home."
"But don't you want to find out what happens?" Kevin asked, gesticulating wildly to the art gallery. "This is a once in a life time chance!"
"Let's see... no."
I continued searching for the rip. I'd had enough of this. Normally I sort of liked these errands but I had a migraine coming on and I wanted some pizza and sleep. Kevin had begun to bug me. Now, of course he was sort of cute, as cute as someone could be in a Tim Horton's uniform, but I wasn't the type of girl who got pushed around if you had a certain sparkle in your eye.
I stepped on his foot. He yelped, hopping away. "Hey, that was unnecessary!"
"Don't test me, Wang. That is not the most unnecessary thing I've done."
"Just listen to me for one hundred seconds. I listened to you for one hundred seconds. It's only fair. Then, if I can't convince you to stay, I'll leave you alone."
I clenched my teeth, narrowing my eyes at him. Then, after a moment I said, "Fine."
"I have 6000$ dollars saved up from my job, enough to buy you an all you can eat dinner date and a new phone if it gets broken. In fact, I'll get you a better phone, the best phone on the market."
I laughed. "What are you, my sugar daddy? Why do you want me to stay so bad?"
"Because you were on my scroll." He swallowed nervously. I'd never seen a boy look at me like that. Never. I'd seen pity, I'd seen disgust, I'd seen amusement at my awesome jokes, but I didn't even know what this look was.
"Oh." My voice cracked. I coughed and cleared my throat. "What was on your scroll?"
He blushed. "I'll tell you if you come with me."
I chewed that around for a while. "And where would we eat?"
"There's this really good deep dish pizza place I could show you."
That was a game changer. I twisted my mouth to the side and checked my watch. If I left this too late I might forget how to find the portal. But pizza... "Okay, but if at any point I feel like I need to go home, I'm leaving."
Kevin grinned. He took off his Tim Horton's cap and rustled his hair. "Fine by me. Believe me, you won't regret this."
I highly doubted it. We walked into AGO together.