The first thing I did that morning was calmly let out a blood-curdling scream. At the sound of it, Peter was soon at my door again, knocking loudly.
"Sara! Sara! What's wrong?" he demanded, his voice shaky, but still oh-so-beautiful. My glance darted towards the door, and I was thankful to see that there was a lock on the door.
"Just, um, curling my hair!" I said, then realizing that my hair was already so curly that if it curled anymore it would roll up into itself. Apparently that seemed to sate him, however, as he mutely replied, "Don't scare me like that, Sara. You need to be more careful." I muttered a response to him, and looked once again in the mirror. Who was this Amazonian that stared me right back in the face? I felt dumbed. Was this why Peter had always been so absent? He was taking care of his little sister? My second concern then cropped up, more belated than it should have been. Where was Peter's sister? Was she in my body? Did she just disappear? All questions I saved to myself to ask later. Now was the time to keep appearances. I had read body-switching novels before, their first mistake was letting the situation get the better of them. I wouldn't let that happen! I was Sara Karanin! Wait, now I was Sara Tersky. My heart was overcome with joy yet my mind defeated by this. I had, in part, accomplished what I had always wanted.
"Sara!" Peter yelled again, just as I was getting lost in my fancies. "If you don't come out in ten seconds then I'll have to break your door down and get you out. Are you listening?" As ashamed as I was to be rebuked, it was very exhilarating to be gotten angry at by Peter Tersky. As if I was his property, to be shamed and used. I pushed those thoughts aside. I cannot distract myself from keeping appearances, I told myself.
"I'm just getting dressed, bro." I replied, in a carefree manner. With this much natural beauty, I doubted I would need to do much. So many good genes in one small family. I slipped on my blouse, my tie, my skirt, and cardigan, and slipped on my shoes with the greatest haste. I unlocked the door and stepped out into Tersky's home.The house was light and airy, and ridiculously empty. While his sister's room had been filled to the brim with toys and miscellany begging to be lost in itself, the living room that her room lead out into was devoid of anything but a settee, an old television, and a small table lamp plugged in next to the wall, sitting on a white carpet floor. It was if I entered an entirely different world. I looked back and forth between my room, and they definitely both existed in front of my eyes. Peter peered around the corner where I could only assume the kitchen was. The look on his face was both impatience and relief.
"Sara, quickly, come eat. I've invited your friends in since you took so long." he stated. It was not a request, but it was still spoken kindly. I obeyed without thinking, and something inside me felt shame for making him have to go through more trouble on my behalf. The kitchen was attached to the living room, the only barrier between the two being the wall that hid the kitchen from my view before. It was then I noticed that I had seen the entire house. The door was on the opposite side of the kitchen, and a blanket and pillow were stuffed messily into a corner. Peter himself was dressed disheveledly, his own uniform untucked and his hair unkempt. Around the table sat Sara Tersky's friends. Almost immediately my gaze fell upon one of them. She bore a striking resemblance to Karoline, with a sharp nose, dark, long, chestnut brown hair and striking green eyes. While Karoline's appearance reminded me of a drab shrew, her young counterpart recalled me the image of a playful kitten, her eyes darting all around, and her unable to sit still. The other two I was unable to draw such a comparison, but one was very tired looking, her eyes bagged and her face otherwise plain, mar a pair of beauty spots that followed the outward line of her left brow; the other was just as energetic as Karoline's counterpart was, but it was a more nervous type of energy, her fingers twiddling and twitching as she sat, squirming. She was by no means pretty, but she had that queer squareness that prodded amiability in some folks. There was one empty seat that neither Peter nor I occupied, but from Peter's gaze, I could tell it was intended for me. I sat down, inwardly a bit glum for some reason. Maybe it was the fact that I was sharing Peter's table with other females. Nevertheless, I reserved myself and attended my attention to the others at the table.
"Sara you'll never guess what Krissy came across this morning!" The young Karoline grabbed my wrist to tell me this, looking equal parts excited and full of mischief, evident from her wide-eyed smirk. The nervous one, who must have been Krissy, looked as us on the mention of her name, but was quiet.
"What what?" I prodded her on, as I would imagine a younger girl might do.
"She found a token of the dark lord!" Young Karoline exclaimed, waving her hands in a feigned horror. I was a bit lost for words there, but managed to utter out: "A token?"
Young Karoline looked incredulous. "I thought you would've felt it in your life-line. It surely means dark days are ahead for all of us! We may be facing the end as we know it! Don't tell me the dark one has gotten a hold of you as well!" She made a grand gesture, pretending to faint backwards. Peter placed down a breakfast in front of each of us. A plate of dark rye bread, a number of eggs and plump sausages adorned the plate. Young Karoline immediately broke her play and dug into the food as if she hadn't eaten a meal in days, while the tired one prodded it. I was in the process of trying to digest what Young Karoline was even talking about, when Krissy pulled at the sleeve of my blouse.
"Did you really not feel the disturbance in your life-line?" she asked quietly, her eyes wide and pleading. I swallowed, unsure of what to say. Was this girl about to cry if I admitted I had no idea what her friends and her were talking about? Better to leave sleeping dogs lie, I told myself. I searched my mind for some malarkey to feed her.
"My life-line was...clouded this morning. But I feel your pain within my...life-line now. My power level is rising again." I said awkwardly. I saw Krissy process this in her mind, and I held my breath, hoping I had not betrayed myself already. Thankfully, a look of satisfaction came over her face, and a small smile threatened to peer out from her lips. Poor thing, I thought, living in a fantasy. Peter cleared his voice at me, nodding pointedly at my breakfast. I started to eat it, to not give him the impression that I would make a disobedient wife...or sister. Krissy also ate, as quietly as she spoke. Almost as soon as we finished, Peter snatched up our plates, and ushered us out the door. I felt guilty that he would be late because of us, but also concerned since I would be unable to see him now. I wondered what type of school Sara Tersky went to. As the door closed behind us, I turned my attention to the tired girl who hadn't spoken.
"Man, my brother can be so uptight sometimes," I joked, praying to God that I didn't mean it and that Peter is perfect.
"Maybe if you weren't so loose he wouldn't care," she said dryly, with what I hoped was a playful sneer. Before I had the chance to form a comeback, Little Karoline grabbed my wrist and pulled me into her conversation.
"Sara, Sara! I need to talk to you about something very important." She came close to my ear and whispered, loud enough so that everyone could still hear, "The back of your shirt is undone." I reached back and felt. I had only zipped the shirt half of the way, and it clumped under my cardigan awkwardly.
"Ah shit," I swore under my breath. "Help me fix it."
"One second, I need to revel in the image of an embarrassed Sara Tersky," said the tired one snarkily. Krissy was the one who ended up fixing it for me. She slid off my sweater with ease, and then zipped up the back of my shirt. Before she could put back on my sweater, Little Karoline stopped her and pointed to my chest. "What's that?" I looked to where she was pointing. I had seen it in the mirror, and it had been around my neck when I woke up. From my neck hung a necklace that put me in the mind of a medallion, and it was detailed with many small letters. Here, in the sun, it glowed with an effervescent air...
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!"