I clenched my teeth in frustration and withdrew my attention from the composition in front of me with great difficulty.
I am busy, I said coldly. The boy in the doorway shuffled his feet nervously and fingered the large scarf that draped over his neck.
I do not believe that you do, for if you did, you would not pester me so. The pen resumed scribbling notes onto the staff, a lovely melody unfurling in my head and spilling out onto the parchment. It was a gift for her, inspired by her, and named for her. A Christmas gift, I suppose one would say. I wanted her music to speak of her soul. And it undoubtedly would.
If I had been permitted solitary time to complete it, that is.
That nuisance of a child seemed to take great pleasure in aggravating me to no end. Id avoided him (along with the rest of his meddlesome family) for the past several days, choosing instead to spend time with Christinebeautiful, glorious Christine! yet he was perpetually devising little plots to attract my attention.
Erik, Christine had said one night as she lay on the bed that we were allegedly sharing but which I avoided like the plague, Sebastian is not out to get you.
That may very well be, Id replied from my customary place at the writing desk, but I shant take any chances. Children are flighty, as we have already learned.
He is not devising some plot to expose you to the town.
How can you be certain, my dear?
Because he told me, shed sighed, All he wants to do is apologize and ask you a few questions.
Questions will lead to disaster. It never fails, Christine.
Give him a chance, Erik. We only have a short time left here. Make amends. It will mean a great deal to Sebastian.
Needless to say, it was the eve of Christmas, two days before our departure, and I had yet to make amends. So, it was only proper that the boy was still pecking at me.
He coughed subtly over the scratching of the pen as it glided over the sheet music. I said nothing, thinning my lips, and he coughed again, this time a bit louder. When I did not respond, he let out a series of noises that suggested he was coughing up a vital organ. I slammed the pen down on the desk and balled my hands into fists.
Perhaps you would do well to take some codeine, I said tersely, if that cough of yours is so very pronounced.
Im not sick, he informed me, wringing his hands. It was unsettling for some reason, seeing him squirm under my gaze. It is one thing to watch men tremble, but it is an entirely different matter to be the cause of a childs discomfort. Quite honestly, I felt it to be of rather poor taste.
Was there something you wanted, then? I asked, if not kindly, then certainly with a great deal more civility.
Yes. Just to know.
Would you like to elaborate or shall I continue to amuse you by guessing?
Does it hurt? he asked, blinking shyly.
There was a brief pause in which he looked as if he had changed his mind about interrogating me and wanted nothing more than to bolt from the room. Inwardly, I of course wished to do the same.
Yes and no.
No, I sighed, it does not hurt. Yes, it still causes a great deal of pain.
He frowned. That doesnt make sense.
You are correct. It does not make sense. It should not matter, wouldnt you think? Yet there is nothing to be done about it. The world is resolute in its opinions.
you cant fix it? He looked pained.
Have you even tried, phannum?
What do you suggest I do about it?
I dunno, he shrugged, Wish for another one? Sometimes theres a star that you wish on an your wishll come true. I know on account of one time, I wished for a dog, an then the next day there was a dog followin me round. Only I couldnt keep it cuz it kept on messin all over Papas sheets. He got kinda mad when he sat on some and it got in his pants.
Thank you for sharing, I groaned.
Welcome. You should try it, phannum.
Sitting on a dog pile?
No, wishin on a star. Wishin for a new
I have wished on occasion, I told him curtly, yet it does nothing. And it never will. That is simply the way things are. Yearning for something entirely out of your reach does not accomplish a thing.
I think wishin works sometimes, he said confidently.
I applaud you, then.
It does. I can prove it. Know why?
Sebastian frowned again, drawing his brows together. What does that mean?
It means enlighten me.
Youre apposed to say why?
Cuz thats just what youre apposed to say--!
No, no, no. I mean why can you prove that wishing works?
Oh. Cuz of Chrissy.
ChrisChristine? I leaned forward slightly.
Thats what I said. Chrissy. You like her, huh, phannum? You like her a whole lot.
Yes, I said earnestly, I absolutely do.
An she likes you back, huh?
I cannot say for sure that
She does, too. He casually flicked something out of his nose. Or else why would she kiss you?
That is entirely inappropriate for you to discuss
Do you kiss a lot?
Is there a lot of spit? Are there strings of spit? I spit on someone once, an there was this long string and it smacked em in the face. Is kissing stinky? I bet its real stinky, huh? Like spit an breath. Can I smell your breath--?
You can smell mine.
You are wearing my patience thin. What is your point?
He gave a long-suffering sigh as if I was wasting his very important time.
Chrissy likes you, an you probably thought no one would ever like you cuz youre dead and scary. Huh, phannum? Didnt you think that?
Dead and scary, yes.
But you musta wished real hard, cuz Chrissy likes you now. Wishin worked for that, didnt it?
I do not believe that Christine
saying what she said
well, that was hardly a result of a wish, I told him, I cannot explain it. It still makes no sense to me. I cannot fathom why
She chose this. It is nothing short of a
Dare I say it? Could it have truly happened to me?
Yet it did!"
Its a-cuz you wished, Sebastian said firmly, An you know what, phannum? Wishin for a new facell probly work, too.
Ah. Now that I sincerely doubt.
How come? He sounded hurt. How come you dont believe me?
It is not a question of disbelief, I answered, It is a question of simple common sense. Wishingas desperately as you want it todoes not accomplish a thing.
I have learned from experience, I am afraid. Let me assure you, my boy, that if it was truly effective, I would not look as I do.
Well, wouldnt you wish for otherwise if you were in my position?
He fingered his scarf for several minutes and looked down at the floor, his cheeks stained red once again. Then he took a deep breath, as if preparing for some massive feat, and once more focused his green eyes upon me.
What happened, phannum?
I gestured to the mask questioningly.
He nodded. How come its so
I believe the phrase you are looking for is dead and scary.
Yeah, he said very quietly.
It was always this way.
Always? He looked pained.
Even afore you were dead?
Yes, even before then.
"Do not apologize. It is not your fault."
Who's fault is it, then?
Funnily enough, I used to ask myself that very same question, and the answer that had seemed to make the most sense was Fate.
well, if Christine is any indication, Fate can easily change its mind. Life, for all its shortcomings, can prove to be surprising.
I do not know, I said slowly, if it is the wrongdoing of anyone in particular.
So no one broke it? he asked.
No. It has always been
Dead and scary, he said as if it were the most obvious thing in the world.
Sebastian sighed and took a seat on the floor, crossing his legs and putting his head in his hands.
Thats no fun.
I very nearly laughed. It hasnt been a walk in the park, that much is certain.
At least you got friends. You probly got a lot of friends at the place you haunt, huh, phannum?
Oh, yes, the hallways are teeming with squealing masses hoping against hope to spend time with me.
He beamed. Its a-cuz youre so neat isnt it?
The neatest. At the very mention of my name, people are so overwhelmed with the splendor of it all that they explode into little puddles of goo.
Sarcasm, I have since learned, is wasted on the young.
Know somethin, phannum?
I should hope so.
I think everythin is gonna be okay, he said, Even if you cant wish it away, it doesnt matter. Chrissy likes it how it is. She loves you a whole lot, even though youre creepy. An you love her back. Thats all that matters.
I stared at him for a moment. Sebastian was obnoxious, lacked discipline and manners, smelled like potting soil and cake, had a veritable ecosystem growing beneath his fingernails, and stuck his nose in matters that did not concern him.
Strangely enough, I found that he was tolerable.
In fact, I might have even gone so far as to say that liked the boy.
How disgustingly sentimental.
Can I ask you somethin else?
I certainly cannot stop you.
He furrowed his brows. How did your nose fall off?
A head cold, my boy.
I sneezed too forcefully one day. It flew right off.
Yick! Thats grosser than kissin spit.