We got home in the early evening and Joel stayed for dinner. After the meal and Joel had gone home, I took a shower before watching some TV with Uncle Mack and a very happy Susanna. At about 10pm, I found my opportunity to retreat to my room, where I intended to read for a bit before going to bed. As I entered my room, I instantly remembered Kenny’s request and took out the magic notepad, vaguely thinking that Joel’s explanation of his magical abilities now seemed perfectly reasonable. I wrote him a message saying ‘I’m alone now’.
I went to my bed and sat on it, picking up the book on my bedside table and leaning against the headboard as I opened it at the bookmark.
A polite cough interrupted me before I had had time to read one sentence. I looked up and there, standing in my room, as if he had always been there, was Kenny. He wore a simple grey shirt which must have had slits at the back because protruding from his back was a pair of great black wings: wings composed of the same sort of feather as the one that I was wearing around my neck. Subdued though I was as always in his presence, I was amazed by this sight.
“Wow,” I whispered.
Kenny smiled slightly and folded his wings.
“I hope you don’t feel this is an invasion of privacy or anything. All I need is the feather and then I’ll disappear. You can act like I never came - actually, that’s what I’m hoping you’ll act like.”
I sat up and pulled the necklace from around my neck. Kenny walked closer to the bed so that I wouldn’t have to get up.
As I held the necklace, the feather caught the light and I saw a rainbow band in the glossy black softness. I suddenly didn’t want to give it back. I held it close to my chest, stubbornly, even though Kenny had said he had wanted it.
Kenny sighed slightly, looking slightly miffed rather than very angry.
“I know, Jen, you want to keep it. Tell you what, after I’ve read the Chaos measurement, you can have it back. Let’s call it a gift.”
I smiled, feeling a small but pleasant bubble of contentment float through me.
“Thank you.” I handed him the necklace.
Kenny examined the feather, reading signals in it that I couldn’t see. He sighed and handed it back to me.
Looking genuinely apologetic, he said, “I’m sorry, Jen... Those... those are Chaos levels that need sorting out. I... I’m going to have to break your sister and Joel up.”
A small pang of sadness went through me and I looked at the bed.
“Okay,” I said quietly. I toyed with the feather, not putting it back around my neck for the time being.
“I don’t think I should involve you in this, Jen. That’s just not fair on you,” he continued.
I looked up, wondering what was going to happen.
Kenny looked lost and sad, like he had lost his purpose in life.
“I’m going to ask my superiors what to do. Hopefully they’ll just let me take your ring off and break your sister and Joel up on my own.” He nodded to himself. “Right, I had best be going, then. By the way, did you buy that bracelet today?”
I looked at my wrist.
“Oh, no, Joel gave it to me. To stop a Guardian of Order’s magic.” I looked up at Kenny. “But it didn’t stop yours, did it?”
“He gave it to you too late,” Kenny explained. “I’d already put the ring on, so the bracelet had no effect. I have to say, it makes Joel sound better that he tried to give you protection. Which, in turn, makes my job worse.”
I looked at the feather, feeling awkward and faintly sorry for Kenny.
“I’ll let you know when we should next meet up, Jen,” he told me. “I really do hope it’s so I can let you go. You shouldn’t have any further role to play in this: you’ve already been so helpful and your sister is concerned. I’m sure my superiors will take that into consideration. Goodnight now.”
“Night,” I murmured, rotating the feather between my fingers.
There was silence. I looked up and Kenny had gone. And now the numbness was fading but I wasn’t left room to be shocked that Kenny had to break Susanna and Joel up because my mind was clouding. The feather became a fuzzy image, as though I had water in my eye, except I could see everything else around it clearly. I put it around my neck, feeling a more intense pang of sorrow and guilt to hear that my sister and Joel needed to be stopped when all they were doing was being in love, and then the next minute, I found myself reading from where I had left off.