When we left Jonah and Tidus last week, Jonah had asked Tidus if he would start teaching him magic. Tidus was unsure. Let’s see what happened.
“I’m afraid,” Tidus paced.
“Afraid of what? I’m not going to let anyone hurt you, Tidus.”
“You don’t understand. It’s not up to me, and even though you think you can, you cannot protect me. I don’t think I’m allowed to teach you.”
Jonah stood and laid a hand on Tidus’ shoulder. “Okay. Don’t get all worked up. I’m just trying to understand more.”
Tidus faced him. “It’s not that I don’t want to. I think you need to learn more about yourself first. If you try to go too fast, you’ll burn.”
“Burn?” Jonah stepped back. “That’s a funny word to use. You don’t mean that your father would skin me alive, do you?”
“I don’t know.” Tidus dropped his hands to his side. “I can’t tell you everything you want to know. You have to find it on your own.”
“In the books?”
Tidus nodded. “In the books, in your heart, and in your head. When your thoughts become more honest, and your heart more open, you’ll find what you seek.”
“I suppose that makes sense. You hungry, kid?” Jonah changed the subject.
“Sure. I loved the soup you made yesterday. Can you make it again?”
Jonah laughed and ruffled Tidus’ hair. “For you, kid, I’ll do it. Go gather some firewood.”
The boy traipsed into the thicket. Jonah never stopped being amazed at how the stinging nettles and venomous flowers parted to let him through. That was the kind of magic he craved.
He grabbed the pot and filled it with water and the vegetables Tidus had brought from his side of the island. He dug the package of jerky from the ground. Funny that he hadn’t realized it before now, but this jerky should have been long gone, and yet every time he opened it, he found several pieces. He wondered if that was more of the mysterious magic that surrounded him.
Tidus returned with an arm full of dried wood and Jonah set about building a fire.
A thick silence settled between them while they ate. Jonah mulled over the words Tidus had spoken. He knew beyond any doubt that his thoughts were different than they’d ever been. He spent hours reading, reflecting on and journaling about deep dark secrets that he’d never imagined would see the light of day.
He wanted to purge himself of the darkness he’d embraced for so much of his young life. Shadowed memories of his mother’s loving touch came unbidden. He wished he could remember more, but he’d been too young when it all happened. He only knew what he had been told in the orphanage. Someone had killed her. He’d often dreamed of finding that someone and exacting revenge. Now, those thoughts seemed foreign to him, like they had belonged to another person.
He gathered their cups and strolled toward the water to wash them. He froze in his tracks.
There it was! A boat that looked as if it sailed straight out of Medieval times, approached the island.
How had he not heard it? His heart thumped. He glanced back at Tidus in time to see him disappear into a thick tangle of brush.
Jonah walked slowly toward the dock as the boat pulled alongside, churning the murky water with its propeller. A rope ladder appeared over the side of the boat, and a voice boomed. “Jonah, you have proven yourself. You are now allowed to return to the mainland. Are you ready?”
He swallowed hard. “I don’t know. Can my friend come with me?”
“What friend? We don’t see anyone?”
Jonah turned and yelled. “Tidus. Tidus come back.”
He was met with silence.
“Come on, Jonah. Let’s go,” an impatient voice continued.
“Can I have a little more time to go find my friend?” Jonah asked.
“No. It’s now or never. Either go with us now or stay here forever. We won’t come back.” The engine hummed and the blades churned.
Jonah put one foot on the bottom rung of the rope ladder and climbed.
“Hurry,” the voice ordered.
Jonah climbed halfway up the ladder and scoured the island as far as he could see, for any sign of the boy.
He yelled again, “Tidus!”
The only response was the hum of the engine.
He started back down the ladder, and the boat began to move. He jumped the last few feet and landed with a thud on the dock.
Without a backward glance, he ran in the direction he’d seen Tidus disappear.
“Tidus! Please come back,” he yelled at the top of his lungs.
He trampled through the tangled brush mindless of the sting.
Tidus emerged from a stand of trees. “You didn’t go.”
Breathing hard, Jonah leaned over and put his hands on his knees. Tears streamed down his face. What had he done? He’d given up his only chance to return. When he looked up, he met Tidus’ steady gaze.
“I couldn’t leave you here, kid,” he choked. “I wanted to go…I did. But, I simply couldn’t go off and leave you here alone.”
“I’m sorry, Jonah. Truly I am, but as I told you, I could not survive on the mainland.”
Jonah’s chest heaved. Emotion thickened his throat, and he turned back toward the hut. “You coming?” he asked.
Tidus fell into step beside Jonah. “I know you think you made a mistake.”
“I don’t know what I think. I wanted to go home, but another part of me is not sure I can survive on the mainland either. At least not the way I did before.”
When they reached the clearing, Jonah stared at the disappearing boat growing smaller. He sank down on the sand and let his chin fall to his chest.
Tidus dropped down beside him.
A shadow fell across them, and Jonah jumped to his feet.
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