Thursday 23rd AugustMature

JENNIFER

It must have been either late at night or very early in the morning when I woke up, seemingly for no reason. But, guided by some unknown force, I got out of bed and my feet took me to the doorway of my bedroom. Bathed in a glow like moonlight, Kenny stood facing Susanna’s closed bedroom door, a quiver with a single arrow in it on his shoulder, holding a wooden bow in one hand.

“What’s going on?” I whispered, shocked and confused by the sight.

Kenny started and turned to face me. His face was shadowy but I could discern an expression of pain and regret on it.

“Jennifer, it’s not quite what you think. The arrow doesn’t kill.”

“I... What are you doing here?” I asked, still whispering in case we woke Uncle Mack up. “What /are/ the bow and arrow for?”

“I... Your sister was going to get back with Joel. We can’t let that happen. The arrow ... it’s a Heartbreak arrow. When it meets Susanna’s skin, it’ll dissolve and make her fall out of love with him. Permanently.”

Horrified, I responded “But you can’t do that. That ... that’s just wrong...”

Kenny looked at the ground.

“Jennifer, we can’t think of anything else. It’s the only way to stop this cycle of them breaking up only to get back together again.”

“Kenny, you can’t,” I insisted. The idea troubled me deeply. To imagine that a Guardian could take away your love for someone? I might never have felt it but, love, ... love was the one thing that seemed unbeatable. If you could take that away... I wasn’t simply shocked: I was terrified. “There has to be another way - there has to.”

“Jen, go back to bed,” Kenny implored, seeming equally anguished.

“I can’t,” I told him. “You can’t break someone’s heart... You can’t break my sister’s heart.”

“Jennifer, please, you’re making this harder than it already is.” He held out a hand to me. “Come here. I’ll make you forget. Then you can go to bed and you won’t have nightmares about this.”

No. Kenny, I can’t allow this.”

“Jennifer, you’re a human: there’s nothing you can do.”

“Kenny, please,” I begged. “This is so utterly perverse. Find another way - any other way. Don’t take away something so precious and beautiful.”

Kenny shut his eyes.

Jennifer,” he said, agonised. “Just go back to bed. I can’t deal with you telling me not to do this. I’d do anything for you, darling; but this needs to be done.”

I froze at his use of the word ‘darling’.

Kenny’s eyes opened; he looked startled too.

“What did you say?” I asked slowly.

Kenny sighed, looking at the floor.

“It’s you, Jennifer. You’re the woman I love. And so when you tell me no, it becomes ... something of a crime to do it. But this is to prevent Chaos. Remember that conversation we had at the bowling alley: where you were shocked I could prioritise love over Order? Me not firing this Heartbreak arrow is just the same.”

“I never said love should be destroyed,” I countered. “And ... I don’t understand. How can I be the woman you love?”

“Very easily,” said Kenny, smiling wryly.

“But...” But it kind of made sense. He had implied that the woman he loved knew about Guardians and Chaos: I knew about Guardians and Chaos. “So I asked you to make me forget?” I asked, amazed by my own bravery.

Kenny nodded.

“Well then make Susanna forget; make Joel forget. Don’t break anyone’s heart.”

Kenny looked sad.

“They’ve been together too long ... It would be really quite dangerous to your sister’s mind to remove that many memories. And I’m not allowed to use a Forget feather on Joel. So he could just make her remember again.”

“There must be something else...”

Kenny winced.

“Jen, there isn’t.” And without warning, he opened Susanna’s door and took the arrow out of the quiver, notching it.

I caught at his arm.

“Kenny, don’t.”

Kenny looked at me. He met my gaze directly. He looked so sad... All I wanted to do was hug him.

“Do you really want to abuse the power you have over me?” he asked.

“Just this once,” I said softly, looking down as I heard how awful that sounded. “I’ll never, ever do it again, Kenny. I just can’t let you do this.” Lowering my voice even further, I said “I can’t let you do this and keep on loving you.”

Kenny looked furious. He turned away from me and took a step into my sister’s room.

“Then I guess I’ll have to break my own heart too.”

Barely knowing what I was doing, I grabbed his shirt. He looked at me defiantly as though challenging me to do my worst... and I kissed him.

The End

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