Chapter 7: Ava
"Happy birthday, Zoey!" We yelled, as little Zoey blew out the four candles. As the smoke from the candles rose, Zoey laughed, as if the smoke were tickling her cheeks. Such innocence. So bright. Made me wonder if Zoey would ever break a single rule.
Then a fifteen-year-old Ethan started singing his own version of happy birthday, including a few words little Zoey really shouldn't be hearing. "Ethan!" Mom warned, making him stop.
"So what did you wish for, Zoey?" Dad asked.
"Ethan said if I told I wouldn't get any presents." Zoey said, a reserved look on her face.
"What!" Mom and Dad looked at a sheepish Ethan, and pointed to the kitchen. While they were talking, I looked over at Zoey and pushed her hair back behind her ear.
"Don't believe anything like that," I reassured. "Ethan is just messing around. You can tell me though, and you'll still get presents. In fact, maybe in a few year, I’ll give you the best present ever, okay?" I coaxed. Of course I'd try, of course I would. (But at that time I didn't know it'd be a whole world)
"Okay..." Zoey muttered, smiling. "I wished for the best present ever. And you know what that'd be?" She whispered in my ear.
"A pony." She giggled, forever innocent.
I didn't think Zoey could throw a knife like that, much less pick one up without trembling. So when she threw that knife at me, I was lucky I had dodged it; but I hadn't moved of instinct - I moved of luck and surprise.
I loved Zoey like nothing else - she was my little sister, after all, but the moment she threw those knives - the ones at Ethan, at me, her getting the bull’s-eye bythrowing a knife at least ten feet away- made me realize her age. Like,truly realize. We all have those moment, when we say "congrats, you're fifteen!" or some other age but it's not until like five months later you realize "oh my gosh, they're fifteen - they've grown up so fast" or "oh wow since when can you drive? Last I checked you were like seven." or "man, you used to be so cute...!" or "remember that time.... yeah, what happened to those kind of times?" Only for me it was like a combination of all those.
Since I realized Zoey was seven now and couldreally throw an accurate knife shot, I agreed with myself that I had to let go of the baby years. But I couldn’t.
While Zoey was in the bathroom, I decided to ask Ethan about tit. "Ethan, did you ever have a breakthrough moment with me, like when you realize I'm not a little kid anymore?"
He nodded, while looking at the map of our world. "Plenty of times, Ava. Biggest one wasn't too long ago, actually."
"When, what happened?" What did I do that made you realize?"
"You agreed to make this." He gestured to the map. "People would take is as a game, when I asked them and explained the Rules. You were the smartest fourteen year old I ever knew. You knew all the rules, the risks, right when I explained them. You even took it seriously. I could have never done that at your age. But you did. That's when I realized that man, everyone grows up."
I smiled. "Thanks."
"No problem, but don't get me wrong, that was all 100% true, but you're still a pain in my butt."
"What's 100% true?" Zoey asked, as she came waltzing through the doorway, smiling.
"Nothing," I answered, looking at Ethan. "Nothing at all. Okay look, we need a game plan. Seven Guardians, and we have loads of places where they could be. We need a game plan before we do anything."
"Ethan needs to train. Ava, you need to learn control. I can make the general packing list and start if that's okay..." Zoey suggested. I nodded, as did Ethan. This was how our adventure started - our adventure into our world.
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