What if all of your darkest wishes came true? The secret curses you carry deep within you and never tell anyone? What if, when you hoped a person would just disappear, they really did? Or that they'd never speak again, and they never made another sound?
What if?

*cover by the super-awesome C.H. Potter!*


1. Promise

“Lock your lips and throw away the key,” a voice says, almost choking me with grief: my voice.

    A girl with a flower hairclip sits up, presses her mouth into a straight line, runs her fingers along it in a zipping motion, then flings her hand to the side, tossing away the imaginary key. “I promise,” she pledges.

    Before the dream can go further, I manage to pull myself to the present, into my dark bedroom. The window lets in the glow of the moon- it’s still the middle of the night. I hate night, because nighttime means sleeping and sleeping means dreams, dreams of that little girl or other unfortunate people.

    I concentrate hard, thinking of only one thing: I wish it were morning. But the sky stays black, proving once again the uselessness of my curse. Why can’t it be helpful, just once?

    There are two choices: stay awake and be exhausted tomorrow or sleep and have more nightmares? I flip over, and instantly my choice is made. Sleep.

But it’s not sleep, it’s a dream, as usual. I’m forced to stand and watch as a younger version of myself goes on with her life. She’s oblivious but I know, I know what she’s about to do, about to say, about to destroy, and I can’t do anything. She can’t hear me and there’s no way to change the scene: two little girls talking in a small playhouse, the worst memory I have.

“You failed another test, Sage?” a girl asks, shaking her head. The second girl- my younger self- watches her gold curls, held back only by a small flower clip, bounce.

“Wha- oh. Yeah. It’s not easy for everyone, you know. They’re hard. Some of us have problems with those!” I- the little me- responds, volume rising with every word. “And there are other things-”

Please don’t respond, please don’t respond, please don’t respond, I silently beg of the girl with the flower in her hair. Don’t ask, don’t ask, please, just leave, before-

“You can tell me anything, you know. Right?” she says. They can’t hear me. It’s just a dream, a flashback, a memory.  

The younger version of me sounds desperate now. “No, I can’t, Rosie. I can’t, and you wouldn’t believe me. I don’t want you to laugh at me.”

Rosie adjusts her pink dress- her favorite one, which she always wore, and that makes me associate pink with her, with the curse, with regret, with sorrow-, pats the seat next to her, and puts on her best doctor voice. “It’ll help to talk about it. And smile. Smiling always helps.” I watch myself weakly grin in an attempt to make her back off, but she’s not fooled. “Come on, Sage. I won’t laugh at you. I promise.”

I wince at the sincerity in her voice, the obvious conviction, the belief, and how trustworthy she sounds.

When the little me doesn’t answer,  Rosie grabs her hand and squeezes it. “We’re best friends, right?”

“Yes.” I glance at the bracelets we- they- had made a year previously. A sign of friendship.

“Then tell me.”

My younger self sags in her seat, defeated. “If I tell you, you can’t ever tell anyone. Ever. Or even talk about it in front of anybody.” Her face takes on the serious look that is now my constant expression, but without the tinge of sadness. “Lock your lips and throw away the key.”

Rosie does as she was ordered and I wince, knowing what’s coming next: the revelation of my curse, her disbelief, my anger. The end of both girls’ childhoods.

“I promise.”

The memory begins to fade, releasing me into reality, into my cold, low-lit bedroom, and a night of sleeplessness. And I scream at the memory version of myself- not to trust Rosie, not to tell, to keep my mouth closed, but most importantly, that it’s not her fault. To hold on, to keep my anger in check, and not to curse the little girl in the pink dress.

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