Ch. 60 – Good Things From All the Bad Things (1)

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Angeline screamed at the top of her lungs. She flailed her arms and kicked at the chaotic spiderweb all around her, as ferociously as possible, and relentlessly, because she wanted whatever force that had torn her away from Zach to know: she wasn’t going to go down without a fight.

The wind slapped her in the face. It howled in her ears. Because air moved so quickly, she could smell nothing. Instead, she tasted lots of different things in her closed mouth: fury, panic, yearning—something bitter, something nevertheless life-giving.

She was old enough, accustomed to not being in the fittest shape. The physical challenge of being pulled from a hotel between worlds to the chaos was definitely not suitable for her anymore. That was why she tasted bitter things. But at the same time, she knew that she wasn’t just any sixty-year-old who’d lived a sheltered life. Oh, no.

For one thing, she wasn’t trapped in her physical body. This was something else, something fantastic, something supernatural. For another, Angeline Conners—the real, physical one—had once led a life of daring and cunning, sometimes too much for her own good.

She’d thought that she could use her charms to make her father and brothers love her, really love her instead of using her. She’d thought that if she brought enough gold and diamonds and cash, they’d accept her.

But she’d overestimated her desire for acceptance. She’d fallen in love, romantically, with Zach. Then she’d fallen in love with the one beautiful creation that she could leave behind in this world. For him, her son, she’d changed her lifestyle one-hundred-and-eighty degrees, knowing full well that if she made one wrong move, it wasn’t going to be exactly one-hundred-and-eighty. The turnaround could have stopped at less than that or more than that. Worst: she could have made a full three-sixty, going through all the dangers and troubles for nothing.

Because, riches were tempting.

Because, comfort was tempting.

Yet she’d managed to do exactly one-hundred-and-eighty. From the luxury of the penthouse that Gus Shevlin had gifted her, she’d gone to the cornfields of the Steele family.

She’d had to pay many prices for the change. The most important of all: she’d made an innocent man die in the process. The man she loved, the man who’d loved her, the man who said he still loved her.

For three decades, she hadn’t been aware of that last part. For three decades and even now, still, she thought she didn’t deserve it.

Yet the opportunity had come—an opportunity to get everything she’d ever wanted. It had sparkled and shone in front of her right up to the point when she’d been torn away from Zach. And Angeline Conners, if she didn’t seize an opportunity, was absolutely nothing. Nothing. Nothing, because she was selfish like that. She knew.

A tiny voice inside her said: Maybe you ended up here because you’re selfish even though you know it. Because, that’s the worst: knowing that you’re doing wrong, and still doing it. Don’t you think it’s about time that you stopped thinking you should get what you want? Nobody ever does. Why should things be different for you? What makes you think you’re so special?

But another voice said: What if now isn’t the time to stop being selfish? What if Zach really does have a way to give us a happily ever after? An “ever after” free from blood, fights, money troubles—reality in general?

Hence the taste of life-giving hope. Those thoughts, those dreamy, beautiful thoughts allowed her to taste opportunity among the bitterness. And to her relief, the two little black worms crawled after her along the spiderweb.

“Flip! Flop!” Angeline shouted.

They made tiny, unintelligible worm responses, but she understood the message: they were doing their best to reach her and get her back to Zach. They were Zach’s friends, those tiny odd worms. And therefore, they were her friends.

But the way back was getting longer every second. This was horrible. She didn’t want to return to her beforeworld home. Not now, when she’d seen that Zach was “alive” in an inexplicable way. She couldn’t do a three-sixty-now. Facing the hotel, which was becoming a tiny dot, she flailed her arms. She…

…glanced back.

There was the wall with the window overlooking the cornfield. Zach had shown up there, out of the blue. Many Zachs had shown up there out of the blue, over time.

Had one of them always been the Zach? And since he’d managed to speak to her during his most recent visit, maybe, the best she could do was…

…to accept the three-sixty.

Go back to where she came from.

That room.

So, that was exactly what she did.

Someone shook her. People cried.

© 2022 Ithaka O.

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