what if the words in a book could take you to another place - literally?
Chapter Thirty-One ~ Tasmin
Tori stared at Tasmin, her lips slightly parted in surprise.
“Sorry, what was that?”
“I know you have a secret,” Tasmin repeated. She kept her expression blank.
“What makes you think that?” Tori asked quietly.
Tasmin opened her mouth to say something, but shut it quickly. What could she tell her? I shouldn’t have said anything, she thought, panicked.
“Tasmin,” Tori said, looking down at her hands. “Why didn’t you let me borrow that book?”
“What book?”
“The book about the Australian Light Horse,” Tori said, looking back up to meet her eyes.
“It...it was a library book,” Tasmin said, remembering her lie.
“No, it wasn’t.” Tori said, her voice almost a whisper. Tasmin’s heart skipped a beat.
“Yes it was,” she said quickly.
Tori sighed, and rubbed her temples. “Let’s not do this, okay? I know it wasn’t a library book.”
Tasmin felt the frustration build up in her chest. What did Tori want from her? Why couldn’t she just believe Tasmin?
“What makes you think that?” Tasmin replied angrily.
“I went to the bookstore down the road, a few days ago,” Tori said, like she didn’t even hear what Tasmin had said. “I found the book I had asked to borrow from you, and I read it. It was a really beautiful book.”
There was silence.
“You know why I liked it so much?” Tori asked. Tasmin got the message that it was a rhetorical question. “Because there was this beautiful part in the book where Toby is on his property one day, with his family, and this girl appears out of nowhere.”
Tasmin felt her cheeks heat up rapidly. She felt her pulse and breathing quicken. What?
“Toby and the girl, a young girl his age called Tasmin with fiery red hair, become friends in only a couple of hours. Their bond tightens, but then out of nowhere, Tasmin disappears, leaving nothing but a note explaining how she and her dad had to ‘keep moving.’” Tori tried to look Tasmin in the eye, but Tasmin averted her gaze. “And that note was one of the most moving and heart-wrenching things I have ever read.”
Tasmin felt her bottom lip tremble, but bit down hard on it. She wouldn’t cry. Tori had found out. Everything was falling apart. But she wouldn’t cry.
Apparently, when Tasmin changed the plot of a book, it changed the writing of all the copies ever made of that book. This was a problem, but she could deal with it later.
There was a long and painful silence. Neither of them tried to make eye contact.
“So...is that how you found out?” Tasmin asked. “About...this?”
Tori shook her head quickly. “God, no, Tasmin - it’s much more complicated than that.”
Tasmin looked up. “How is it more complicated?”
Tori sighed and shuffled closer to her. “There are a couple of things...I need to explain. And your father needs to explain.”
“Dad?” Tasmin asked. “What does Dad have to do with anything?” Tasmin wanted to know what Tori wanted with her. She didn’t want her Dad involved.
“Look, Tasmin...before I begin to explain, I need to you tell me everything. When you first discovered you could do...you know...what you can do. And stuff like that.”
Tasmin frowned. “Why should I tell you that?”
“Tori, I know that you have the same power! I know that you share my secret! I know that you have a secret compartment in your closet with a weird book that doesn’t allow me to travel inside!”
Tori looked shocked and...angry. “You went through my closet?”
“I went through your entire room!” Tasmin almost yelled. “What do you want from me, Tori? Why are you asking me to spill all my secrets? Why do you even care?”
“I care more than you think, Tasmin Reynolds!” Tori said, standing up. “The reason I left the U.S. was because your father asked me to help your family!”
Tasmin didn’t say anything. “What?”
Tori sat back down, and rubbed her forehead like she had a headache. “I told you I needed to explain things.”
“How does your relationship with my dad ‘help our family’?” Tasmin asked. “You left the U.S. because you met Dad, and you wanted to come back to Australia so that you could keep dating.”
“The thing is...that’s not why I moved to Australia,” Tori said. “I moved because your dad asked me to help him with something. Something only I could help him with. Because I share your power, Tasmin.”
Tasmin was confused. “Wait...you and Dad aren’t actually in a relationship?”
Tori shook her head. “Not at all.”
Tasmin’s head began to spin. None of this made any sense. “What could he possibly need help with?”
“Okay, I’m going to explain things as best I can, Taz,” Tori said, sitting up straighter. “And I’ll need you to listen if you want to hear it.”
“You said you found the secret compartment in my closet,” Tori said. “And inside was a book. Now, I am thoroughly offended that you went through my personal belongings, but we can sort that out later.”
Tori went over to her closet and brought the brass box and the log book out of the compartment. “I’m assuming you found this log book, too?” She asked, and Tasmin nodded. “Okay. Where do I start? Tasmin, your father has the same power that you and I have.” She began, and Tasmin’s jaw dropped to the floor.
“What!” Tasmin yelled. “Are you kidding? Why didn’t he ever tell me about it? Did he know that it would be passed down to me? Does that mean Michael has it, too?”
“Be quiet!” Tori said. “If you want me to explain, you have to listen. The secret that killed my parents was that they had our power. That gift was handed down to me in my genes.”
“How did they die?” Tasmin asked. Her head was still spinning, but she needed details.
Tori gulped. “They...they were murdered inside a book.”
Tasmin gasped. “That’s awful.”
“Yeah,” Tori nodded, and her eyes glistened. “My grandfather...he had the gift. Their deaths were a mystery for a long time, until eventually he figured it out. He went inside that same book, and found their bodies.”
“Was he able to bring the bodies back into reality?” Tasmin asked, then stopped. “Is that even possible?”
“Not from the research your father and I have done,” Tori said, shrugging. “No one has ever been able to use their power to bring other into and back from a book if they are unable to perform the magic themselves.”
“Tell me more about why you are here,” Tasmin demanded. “What did my father need help with?”
“Be patient,” Tori said. “I’m getting to that. So, did either of your parents ever tell you how they met?”
She shook her head.
“Would you like me to tell you?” Tori asked. “It might be better coming from your dad, but if you want, I can explain everything now.”
Tasmin thought for a moment. “I need answers now. Just tell me.”
Tori took a deep breath. “Your mother was not from this world, Tasmin.”
Tasmin blinked. “Huh?”
“She...how do I put this? Your mother had the power, too. She had the ability to travel with words. Except she didn’t live in this world, the world we call reality. She lived in a different world.” Tori avoided Tasmin’s gaze. “And in this world, your mother was a princess.”
Tasmin stood up suddenly. “This is all a load of garbage, Tori, and you know it! I can’t believe I was so pathetic - believing everything you were saying! You’re making fun of me, aren’t you? You think I’m insane, don’t you? A princess? What am I, three?” Tasmin stormed out of the room, up the stairs and into her bedroom. She slammed the door shut, and lay on her bed, her back on her covers. What Tori really making all that stuff up? She didn’t want to know. She didn’t want to know anything about her mother.
Tasmin woke from her daydreams with a knock on her door.
“I don’t want to talk, Tori,” Tasmin said. “Just leave me and your pathetic lies alone.”
The door opened, and as Tasmin lifted her head, she saw her dad walk into the room. “Dad!” She exclaimed, startled, and sat bolt upright. “What are you doing here?”
Her dad didn’t say a word as he sat down on the bed next to her.
“Dad?” She asked quietly.
“Tori called me,” he said. “I came back from work as soon as I could.”
Tasmin put her face in her hands. He probably thinks I’m insane, she thought. He’s going to try to protect Tori from me by sending me to a mental asylum.
“Dad -”
“They weren’t lies, Tasmin,” he said, interrupting her. “What Tori told you.”
“I’m going to explain everything to you,” he said, putting his arm around her. “And you’re going to listen.”
“Okay,” Tasmin said nervously.
“This story may break your heart, Taz,” he said. “I know it’s already broken mine. But you need to know that all of it is true.”
He took a deep breath, just like Tori had, and began his story.
“In a fantasy world full of knights and dragons and nobles, there was a young princess whose name was Fayone. She was very beautiful, but she had a dangerous secret - she had a power, a gift, a curse, that she hadn’t told anyone about. She had the ability to travel with words, just like you do. One day, while Fayone was looking through a strange room she discovered in her castle, she found an old book with a crimson spine. She opened it and peered inside. She began to read the words, and the spark that ignited her power was lit.”
“Fayone...” Tasmin mumbled. “Mum’s name was Fay.”
“Shh,” he said. “Keep listening.
“Fayone is suddenly transported to a strange and unfamiliar world. Little did she know that this world was the world we live in, only in around the 1980’s. She soon realises with horror that she is unable to transport back to her own world. She then becomes acquainted with a young boy her age, whose name is Edward. She tells young Edward about what has happened, and he is astonished. He explains to her that he, too, shares her power. With his help, Fayone is able to travel back to her world but promises that she will return.”
Tasmin found it hard to process all this information, as she knew that ‘Edward’ was her father, but he kept talking.
“Fayone hides the book in her bedroom back in her world, and secretly visited Edward frequently, finding it easier to travel each time. Meanwhile, back in Edward’s world, Edward searches far and wide in libraries and book stores and whatnot until he finds a book that perfectly matches and describes Fayone’s world, so that he is able to visit her whenever he wants. Fayone finds it easy to keep her visits a secret, as unlike most books she travels with, this book makes time stop completely until you return to your world, the same, oddly, with Edward’s book. However, a friend of hers, Keli, discovers what she has been doing. Fayone can’t lie to him, so she takes him to Edward’s world with her.”
“I thought it was impossible to do that,” Tasmin interrupted. “That’s what Tori said, when I thought she was lying.”
“Fayone’s abilities were unique. More on that later. Anyway, Edward and Keli become good friends, and Keli decides to stay in that world, telling his family and friends back in the old world that he has moved away. Fayone and Edward slowly fall in love, and Keli helps them organise a wedding in Edward’s world. About two years later, Fayone finds that she is pregnant.”
“Let me guess,” Tasmin grinned. “Me.”
“Well,” her dad’s voice suddenly began to shake nervously. “That’s where it gets complicated.”
“How is it complicated?” Tasmin asked. “I can guess where the story is going. Fayone moves permanently into this world, where she raises Tasmin and another son, Michael, until he is nine years old, until she...” Tasmin gulped. “Until she passes away.”
“Taz, sweetie,” her dad, said, squeeing her shoulder. “I warned you that this story would be heartbreaking, right?”
“Well, it’s going to come as a bit of a shock. But please, please don’t freak out. It will make all of this easier.”
Tasmin began to worry. What was he talking about? “Okay?” She said, unsure.
“Fayone then gives birth to two baby girls,” her dad continued.
“What!” Tasmin shrieked. “Dad - what?”
“Hang on, Taz! Hang on! Just listen, please?” He then continued:
“She gives birth to two baby girls - one with hair as white as snow and the other with hair a fiery red. She names them Leylina and Tasmin. Edward and Fayone soon realise that the twins possess their powers, their ability to travel with words, but in a much stronger form. To prevent unwanted danger, they decide to split the sisters apart. Fayone must return to her kingdom anyway, as her mother has just died and there is no one to sit on the throne. Taking Leylina, she returns to her story and he returns to his with Tasmin.”
Tasmin felt her heart slow down, almost to a complete stop. “I have a sister?” She asked, quietly, shellshocked.
“But...but Mum raised me. How was she here all the time when she returned to her kingdom with...what was my sister’s name?”
“Leylina. Gosh, that’s a beautiful name. Anyway, how did...did you raise her, too? How were both of you in both places at once?”
“Tasmin, let me explain. The story isn’t done.”
“Hurry up!”
“Okay, okay - calm down. Remember how I told you that no time passed while they were travelling inside of their books? The books were somehow special, unique. The couple could easily visit each other just by reading a certain part of the story that was set in a certain time. If they wanted to go back to the same time they left from, they could, as no time passes while they are away from their own world. It was kind of like time-travel. Both the daughters were raised by both their parents because of this. It all worked out. The couple visited each other often, but the sisters never met again. They decided it would be too dangerous if they knew about their power and the two different worlds. A few years after the twins were born, Fayone gave birth to a little boy. The pair agreed to let the boy live in Edward’s world, and called him Michael.”
There was a silence.
“Dad, you’re not done! You still need to explain...you still need to explain everything! What the whole ‘barrier’ thing with the book downstairs is, why Tori is here, everything!”
“Tasmin,” her dad shook his head. “The book downstairs...that’s the book I found. The book that connects Fayone and Leylina’s world with ours.”
Tasmin gasped. “That’s the book? The book from the story? Then what’s the ‘barrier’? Why can’t I get through to that world without being pushed back into this one?”
“Okay, let me continue the story. One day, after Fayone left Edward, Tasmin and Michael’s world after a visit, she felt something change inside her as she arrived back in her own world. Something was missing. She was worried, and so she tried to get back to Tasmin’s world, but found that she could not. Something was stopping her, like a gate or a shield.”
“A barrier.”
“Exactly.” Her dad placed a hand on her knee. “Tasmin, this part is going to break your heart. And I am so, so sorry. I really am. But I need you to listen.”
“Edward felt the same thing as Fayone left, and found that he couldn’t reach his daughter and wife either. In Fayone’s world, Edward had disappeared from Leylina’s life, and in Edward’s world, Fayone had disappeared from Tasmin’s life. Obviously, Edward couldn’t tell the world that Tasmin and Michael’s mum was stuck in a book, so...”
Tasmin suddenly came to a heartbreaking realisation. “No.”
“No,” Tasmin screamed. “You told Michael and me that Mum was dead!”
“Tasmin, please, it broke my heart - “
“It broke your heart?” She yelled, standing up and off the bed. “At least you weren’t under the impression that she was dead. How did you even organise a fake funeral? Do you know what that did to me, Dad? Do you know what it did to Michael? Do you have any idea of the damage you have done?”
“You have to understand, darling - “
“There is nothing to understand!” Tasmin was crying now, tears pouring down her face. “You lied! You said she died! I thought I was going insane, Dad - insane, because I could travel inside books, and you didn’t even bother to tell me that my mother wasn’t here because of that very reason?”
Edward didn’t say anything. His face was in his hands.
“I will never forgive you,” Tasmin said, and walked out of her bedroom door.
She walking up the driveway before she knew it, and onto the street. She wiped her wet cheeks. Thoughts twisted and turned in her mind. I have a sister. My mum isn’t dead. My dad doesn’t have a girlfriend. My mum is from a book. A fantasy book. I have a sister.
It all made sense now. Infuriating, overwhelming sense. Her dad hadn’t gone to the U.S. for ‘a little time off,’ he went overseas to find someone to help him get his wife and daughter back.
Tori was here to help her dad break the barrier.

Keep Reading

Chapter 32

Chapter Thirty-Two ~ Leylina

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