I wish I could say it wasn't my fault... but when it comes down to it, I really can't find anyone but myself to blame. My name is Sara Karanin, and all that I am about to tell you is one-hundred-percent, without question, my fault. As a high-school girl swept up in the excitement of love for the first time, my decisions were distorted by an insatiable lust to have a boyfriend- and not just any boyfriend. Only to make the most popular boy in my grade mine. His name? Peter Tersky. He was cool, geniunely hilarious, had beautiful curly locks that seemed to be spun of gold, his face was smooth in many of the ways a girl's was, but his visage glowed masculinity. He was intelligent and dilligent, yet fun and flippant. If there was ever a possibility that God created a perfect being- well, Peter would've been proof of that. My mother often said that he was too liberal for his own good: he chose to use the English variant of his given name and was often seen downtown with a sling of females on each arm. But that was part of what attracted me to him. He seemed mysterious and exciting, whilst being trustworthy and protective- like so many of the heroes in the books I read about when I was young.
"I wonder where his parents are, to let him scamper around as he does, completely free of responsibilty! Just you wait until he graduates- he'll be thrown out of university and soon his family will refuse to spoil him as they do! You'll see!" My mother warned.
"But his accent is so spectacular, mother, it's so posh and refined." I had responded, not really minding that it did little to actually rebuke what my mother said. And so I loved Peter. I wasn't special, I sat with the other girls, laughing at all his jokes and hopelessly flirting with him. I, like every other girl, would scoff every time another girl attempted to confess their love to him. Each time without fail he would dimiss them as if they never uttered a word. Some were even foolish enough to confess to him in public. Their public humiliation usually hurt their reputation so much so that it became almost taboo to speak of love to Peter and each attempt at his love became more and more private. But for the longest time I believed I was special. I employed a strategy to capture his heart slowly- unlike all those other idiots. By being there every day I would remind him of myself and discourage any newcomers to the group who wished to join in the trivial flirting we did each break. I'd come earlier than the others, but not early enough that it would be seen as creepy, and I'd always come from having done something.
"Oh, Peter, what do you have for lunch today? I had to eat mine early today since I was helping Ms. Whatever-her-name-was organize the library- I never realized how many of those books I'd read, you'd never guess I was a star athelete!" That, embarassingly, was one of my milder brags.
"You're always impressive, Sara. I don't know how you keep up, you're amazing." He responded. I was taken back. This was the highest praise I'd ever heard him utter- although looking back on it through non-rose-coloured lenses, I now spot the sarcasm the sentence was dripping with. This was my moment of weakness in my plan, and the point where I abandoned it.
"Hey Peter," I said quickly, hearing the footsteps of the other members of my group start to get closer and closer, "could you stay a moment after school? I need your help with something." He was surprised, to say the least. No one ever asked for his help with anything. A look of pain crossed his face but quickly succumbed to his usual smile, albeit a bit sardonic.
After school, he met me at the atheletics shed where I planned to confess. Only I chickened out and he actually ended up helping me clean it. After an hour, we had barely gotten into the shed. It had completely defeated us I was reminded why people didn't tend to store their club's equipment in the shed. It was stuffed full of so much junk, and barely any of it was sports related. I suggested we take a break but he admitted that he had to go home now. This surprised me since I didn't think he was the type to go home before it got dark. Without thinking I suggested that I could accompany him home. He accepted.
At this point I was over the moon. No one else could attest to having walked home with Peter- I doubted anyone even knew where he lived. So we walked home together. To be perefectly honest I can't recall anything we talked about until we got to his home. It was the moment of truth.
"Peter! I want to tell you something." I said as he opened the gate to his home. I noted that the home was fairly standard and didn't really stand out as much as I expected. "I really enjoyed spending this time with you, would you care to spend more time together in the future?"
A wide smile unlike what I'd ever seen on him before crossed his face. "Definitely, Sara. I've never had a better friend that you." Internally, I screamed. I was being friendzoned, and we both knew it, but with that my fate was sealed. I would forever be his friend and there wasn't any going back or forth from it without really cutting my ties. Or so I thought.
We continued to work after school on the shed. No teacher ever came by wondering what we were doing- I wonder if they even noticed at all- and we continued to walk home after school. For a time I would tell myself: "it will get better, he'll make a move eventually". I soon learnt better. During school he would treat me as he did everyone else, but we would become like childhood friends afterwards. I soon learnt that while he may never love me, at least I was the only one who could see his real smile.
"Peter is out sick today, but I'll need someone to take his work to him. Does anyone know where he lives?" asked my homeroom teacher one morning. The class fell silent. I took a silent delight in knowing that I was the only one who held this information. Slowly and surely I raised my hand.
"I know where he lives, miss." I said, my smile proud and smart. I could feel the glares of my group dig into me but I didn't care. This is my chance to see his house. My plan formed perfectly inside my mind. I was on my way to his house when I noticed I was being followed. I needed to throw those girls off my trail. Think. What was one route they wouldn't be able to follow? It dawned on me quickly. I needed to get to the shed.
The week before when we were cleaning out the shed we found something marvelous. In near pristine condition was a chrome bike. We tested out the engine and it purred better than I'd ever heard a cat purr. Sure I didn't have a license but it was a risk I'd have to take if I wanted to keep Peter safe from the clutches of the other girls. I walked briskly back towards the school and noted with pleasure how the girls trailing me pretended to go their own ways. I headed up to the shed.
It wasn't there. The bike wasn't there. Did a teacher finally catch onto us? Did someone steal it? My mind was whirling. What had happened? Why now of all the times? It was an emergency, of sorts. I looked back. Only one girl to be seen. Karoline, I think her name was. I headed into the shed and closed the door behind me. Maybe I could wait them out. I headed into the shed. It was surprisingly big on the inside, and I could easily see why clearing it was so much trouble. We had recently pulled a couple javelins out and that had caused a bigger mess than what we had started on on that afternoon. If anything else, I might as well clean a bit to pass the time, I told myself. And so I got to work. It was about six in the evening when I found it, buried under a pile of magazines that had fallen off a number of high-rise stacks. A silver mining lamp ornated with ruby swirls on the top, like soft serve ice cream.
When I first laid eyes on it, I was stunned. Who would ever leave something like this just lying around? I inspected it and was further surprised to find a tag on the handle of the lamp that read: "To activate, light me up with a match." It was getting dark in the shed so I decided I'd take out my lighter and light up the lamp, see if it still worked. Good thing I hadn't quit my smoking habit. It took me a while to figure out how to open it but after I did the rest was simple. I light it up and light filled the darkening room. I breathed a sigh of relief. My phone didn't give off a good light so this would make getting home easier. No sooner than when I sighed however, did the unimaginable happen.
The light flickered twice and suddenly went blue. I turned to it frantically. What if it blew up? I didn't know how gas lamps worked! Then suddenly the flame was gold once more but it grew and grew, trying to escape the confines of the glass lamp. The lamp rattled and I fell back, afraid of what I believed to be an inanimate object! Then a shadow started to creep up the wall, slowly, as if waking up from a nap. It stretched up to the ceiling and stretched it arms and then pulled itself quite literally out of the wall. I was petrified and clutched at my heart praying like I had never done before. The shadow took shape; long curls of hair fell down from its head and jewelry started to shine in blackness. Its eyes opened to reveal golden pupils. It whispered to me in a raspy voice barely above a whisper: Open the door.
It wasn't my decision to move, but my body's. It hand unquaveringly reached to the lamp and opened its glass doors. The beast was free. Fire shot out of every orfice and the being came to life. Its black skin turned olive, its black jewels and bangles turned gold, its chest erupted and was...very naked. I looked away from the olive-skinned (and naked) lamp lady, suddenly ashamed. The lady laughed richly in a deep alto.
"My child, you cower so, yet you feel no shame in claiming this shed's treasures as your own? Where is your courage?"
"Shed's treasures?" I heard myself ask. I wondered as well, since I hadn't actually taken anything from the shed.
"Yes, my silver chariot, my bad of wonders...they are all magical, you know. Your lover took them with him yester night." she responded. My mind raced. Did this mean...Peter took the motorcycle? What else could the chariot be? I guessed the bag of wonders was a kindergarten backpack that Peter intended to take to the police station, but why would he have also taken the motorcycle? I turned slowly to the woman from the lamp. She smiled as I gazed upon her, her nakedness only seeming to trouble me. "Do not fear, child." She crooned to me. "I do not seek to harm you in any way, nor do I seek to take my treasures back. For since you've awakened me, I shall offer you something far greater than what you could ever owe me- three wishes. Three wishes that could change the world completely in your favour. Do you wish to be stronger, faster, taller, shorter? Do you wish to have money or talent? Or possibly...love?" I blushed and an evil smile crossed the genie's face. "It's not selfish, you're the only one who will know. The question is, are you willing to pay?"
"Pay? With what? You already said that I could never pay you back!"
"I said I will give you something far greater than you could ever offer in return for- however you do have something that I would want in return...your body."
I was taken back. What did she mean by my body?
"I don't mean anything but what I mean darling. I want full use of your body for 24 hours for each wish. Nothing more, nothing less."
"What would you want my body for? Something...dirty?"
"Goodness no, darling! I can use my own body for that. Simply, I seek to ensure the wish is set properly so that the world can adjust to the changes in reality. Plus, having legs is really a luxury these days."
"And that's it?"
What harm would there be in trying? I told myself. None whatsoever. She came into my mind and ensured me.
"So...what will your first wish be?" She asked, her eyes narrowing as her grin widened.
I swallowed. Here went everything...
"I wish...for Peter Tersky to love me for all the days I live!" And as those words were uttered I felt myself pulled from my own body and into oblivion. When you wake up 24 hours from now...Peter will love you more than anyone else in the world. The genie promised. I felt an ethereal tear of joy fall from my starbound spirit. Did I cheat, absolutely. But was it worth it? I was soon to find out.
I woke up feeling two years younger. Literally. I sat up in my unfamiliar bed, and noted the heavy sheets pinning me down to the bed. I hauled them off myself and stood up. I felt younger but I was actually taller. I turned around and found a mirror. Only I couldn't find myself in it. In the mirror only a girl with a chest much heavier than I remembered, long curly locks that seemed spun of gold, and that natural blush I had taken months to try and perfect with makeup. A knock came at my alien door.
"Sis, it's time for school! You don't want to be late again!" said Peter Tresky. "Your friends are all waiting!"