The Thinnest Edge
Both of them stand at a precipice. Neither of them dares to speak for fear of saying the wrong thing- or perhaps the right thing. He stands with arms outstretched, magic crackling up and down their tanned skin. At his fingertips, the magic is lightning. She doesn’t move because if she does, he’ll react. Instead, she speaks.
“Jem, You don’t have-”
“I don’t have to do this?” he interrupts her. His mouth stretches open, and a maniacal laugh draws forth; she flinches at the sound. “Oh dear Betsy, you know that’s not true.”
In her chest, something snaps; tears fill her eyes. “My name isn’t Betsy. It’s Berri. And you don’t have to do this. Please, please don’t.”
“What would you do if I did?” He flicks one of his hands, and a bolt of neon light strikes a tree. Berri gasps and tries to step forward, but he aims his other hand at her.
Have you ever been so afraid that your vision tunnels? That you only see and hear what’s right in front of you? Berri is experiencing that now. Everything in this moment is him, stopping him, talking him down, making sure tomorrow comes with a whisper instead of a roar.
It’s at that moment that Berri knows she doesn’t know. What would she do if he unleashes the full strength of his power right now? What could she do if he jumped from the cliff’s edge and cause the ground beneath her to crumble into the raging ocean? The sky is a mess of storm clouds above, and it’s almost as dark as night. If it weren’t for the snaps and crackles of his magical energy, she wouldn’t be able to see him. She wouldn’t be here if he didn’t make where he was going so obvious.
The truth is obvious, isn’t it?
“I don’t know what I’d do, Jem,” Berri answers as the wind picks up; she takes a moment to capture the strands of red hair whipping around her face. “When I was younger, I made the worst decision of my life: I did nothing. And even worse, I used what power I had in doing nothing to do something damaging. It is why you and I are here. It is why I stand before you, begging you to cease this storm. To calm the seas, to come home and face the evil that plagues our nation together.”
Berri takes a step forward then dodges as a snap of energy barrels towards her. She’s far from him but close enough to hear his cackling laughter. “Oh Berri, you naïve thing! You honestly think I care about the cancers that have grown without remorse? You think I care, now that I have access to the greatest power that has ever been?”
She takes another step forward.
“I know you do. Because right now, you’re hesitating. You try to smite me, but miss. You want me to leave because hurting me is the last thing you’d ever do.”
She takes another step forward as the wind turns into an angry maelstrom.
“I don’t know if you’ve noticed or if you’re ignoring it, but you and I exist on the thinnest edge. Our power can cause change. Significant change. Change that could lessen the burdens of this world. But neither consider that, did we?”
Another step. She’s almost close enough to reach out and grab. He throws another bolt at her, and again she dodges. The bolt hits another tree and sets it alight. Rain comes down in sheets.
She stops within arm’s reach of him. “I wish I had someone to stop me from making my worst decision. Unlike you, I don’t have the luxury, the privilege of suddenly growing a heart in a chest where none previously existed. I gained a conscious too late- but it’s not too late for you.”
Tentatively, she reaches out.
“This is your choice, Jem. Strike me down, if you wish. Or, stop the coming destruction, and let me help you fight that which corrupts our great power. You don’t have to be the venom they put in your veins, Jem.”
The dark sky lights up, and the world around her gets louder. She’s thrown to the ground as Jem lets out a ferocious scream.