Originally Written by: Marianne Curley
Edited and Revised by: YujxIridian
Date Written: June 5, 2011
How I Think 'The Key' Should Have Ended
The swishing of leaves and branches, and the thumping of footfalls behind me, let me know Ethan is near. He comes to a quick stop when he gets to the cliff edge, then turns and sees me. I don't need to read his thoughts to know that he is relieved. His face forms a flickering smile. He stands and stares at me while he gathers his breath. Suddenly my nerves are jumping. What is he doing here? Why did he insist on following me? Then he comes over and doesn't stop until he is standing right in my space, so close that I felt his breath warm against my forehead. He takes my hands and brings them up between us. Then, slowly, he peels back one of my gloves. Instinctively, I jerk my hand away.
"What are you doing?"
He grips it again, holding it tighter this time. Without answering, he peels the glove right off. Sparks fly up that he must feel against his face, but he doesn't flinch. He takes the glove and animates it to fly high above our heads, out of my reach.
"Ethan!" I yell, but now he's doing the same to my other glove. I try to grab it off him before he animates it, but his reach is longer. Up into the air it sails, soon meeting the height of the other. "Ethan, why? I can't go back without them. And what about school?"
He takes my flickering hands in his and turns them over. "These are your hands. They're a part of you, so this is who you are. I know you wouldn't purposefully hurt anyone, and nobody who knows you would think so either. From this moment onat least until school starts againyou don't wear the gloves. The more you don't wear them, the better you'll get at controlling the power in your hands."
"Dillon mouths off sometimes. He can be insensitive and thoughtless. That's just who he is. I'm not sticking up for him, but he reacted off the top of his head back there because you intimidate him. You intimidate most of us, you know," I scoff at this, but he continues. "You're talented and beautiful, and, well
" he takes a deep breath, "with these hands you're very powerful. You can see into our souls."
As I digest this, Ethan lifts my hands to either side of his face. The action is so touching, tears well at the backs of my eyes. I try to blink them away, but they stubbornly persist. I have to ask, "Why are you doing this?"
"Because I care about you," he says, stopping abruptly, frowning. "No."
"No? You don't care?"
"What I meant to say was, I'm doing this because I love you."
I can't believe what I'm hearing. "What did you say?"
He smiles at me and I can't drag my eyes from his. He says, "I have loved you since that first moment I saw you. I wanted you then, and when I thought you didn't want me, I turned my love into hate. It was the biggest mistake I ever made."
Before I say another word, his mouth comes down over mine and he kisses me. For a long moment, there is nothing else in my world. And everything is as it should be. We kiss again and hold each other. For the first time in my life I am content. We kiss again and hold each other. I feel my gloves float down beside us; he seems to not be paying attention to his power.
A thought penetrates my head. It has a familiar feel. I turn towards the wooded area to the north, searching for the source. Ethan picks up that something is wrong.
"What is it?"
"I heard something. Did anyone follow you?" as I say this, his arms come around me tighter.
"Not that I know of. I made it clear I wanted to be alone with you. Maybe we should go back now," he says. He's right, so I nod. Then I hear the thought again and I go still trying to place it. But it doesn't take long to realize who these thoughts belong to. I was, after all, his spy for long enough. It's Marduke, and he's in the nearby trees. Somewhere very close.
I squint, looking for Marduke's position, but he's concealed himself well. His thoughts hit me again and now I understand what he's doing here. He has hung on to his bitterness for so long that his hatred has manifested into the form of one person, the one person who has thwarted every attempt he's ever made to exact revenge. Ethan. It was Ethan who recalled his image in his dreams. It was Ethan who fought and killed him, resulting in his return from the middle world as a beast. It was Ethan's fault that he lost Lathenia to another man because he was no longer human. And it is Ethan that Marduke now intends on killing, once and for all.
My heart starts thundering in my chest. Marduke has Ethan's bow and arrow set! I hear his thoughts as he lines one up in his aim, I spin around, searchingwhich direction is it coming from?
"Rochelle, what is it?"
Swish! Oh no! It's heading straight for Ethan! Determined to stop this poisonous arrow from reaching its mark, I grab one of my gloves off the ground. I leap in front of Ethan, placing the glove over my chest; where the arrow will hit. The arrow hits me hard, and the momentum of the arrow causes me to stumble. Ethan feels me fall and catches me before I hit the grass.
"Rochelle!" Ethan says, seeing one of his arrows. We both look at the two indestructible pieces of art. My glove was clearly stronger; it was only imprinted by the arrow. Hands shaking, Ethan pulls the arrow out of the glove, and then removes the glove itself. My shirt wasn't penetrated, meaning my skin wasn't either. Ethan's eyes glisten as he sighs of relief. Tears start to fall. I wipe them away, although my eyes start to tear too. I suddenly realize something.
"II beat it
I didn't die!" I say to him, and his eyes grow big, realizing it too. He hugs me close to him, and we kiss again. I think about how Marduke still might have triggered the curse attached to me, smiling at the thought of it. Finally breaking the kiss, we get up, I grab my gloves, and we head through the forest to go back to the others.
I'll never forget the look on Rochelle's face as her and Ethan walked up to us. It occupied extreme happiness and triumph. I see Ethan carrying one of his arrows in his hand. The tip is shattered, and I realized it had been fired
and it had hit something! Before I could say anything, Isabel flings herself at Rochelle, hugging her tightly. Surprised, of course, Rochelle looks down at my sister clinging to her. After all, it was Isabel who saw the vision of Ethan's arrow going through Rochelle's heart. Guess Rochelle had beatenor maybe cheatedthe prophecy.
"Hi, Isabel, I'm happy to see you too," Rochelle says with a laugh. "Erryou're hugging me really tight."
Isabel pulls away and smiles at Rochelle. "I'm just so happy my vision changed!" So it had changed, she hadn't told me, maybe the only one she'd told was Arkarian.
"Vision?" Rochelle and Ethan say almost at the same time. They suddenly look up to the rest of us questioningly.
"Yes, vision. II saw you die in one
from one of Ethan's arrows. But it changed a couple minutes before you walked out of the forest," Isabel tells Rochelle. I look at Ethan, and he looks like someone's just slapped him across the face.
"And no one cared to tell me?" Ethan yells. "What if Rochelle hadn't been thinking fast? One of us would be dead!" He has a point. Ethan could have animated the arrowassuming it was him that averted the deathif he had known what was going to happen. I wonder what had happened all together.
"Now, where is Marduke?" Ethan continues after a sigh. "We had better go get my bow and arrow set before he tries to kill anyone else, with a less fortunate ending."
Everyone murmurs in agreement, and all on guard, we head into the forest together. Rochelle picks up his thoughts not far away, and we head in that direction. We find him sitting, on a rock, defenseless. Marduke is staring in the setting sun's direction. I see Ethan's set is sitting next to the rock, so I go and pick it up cautiously.
"Happy? You've all taken everything I ever wanted from me," Marduke says, not bothering to look up at anyone but Ethan for some reason. His gaze stayed on Ethan until he put his head down again. "And soon, I'll be stone, but it won't be too bad, this world has nothing left for me in it, so why should I stay."
We look down, and see Marduke's feet and part of his legs are already turning to stone. So Rochelle was the one that stopped the arrow. Marduke had triggered the curse placed upon her apparently.
"Goodbye, Marduke," Ethan says.
"You've certainly done enough to deserve this departure," Rochelle adds. Her hand is then enclosed with Ethan's, and they start to walk back to the clearing. I felt happy for them, knowing their souls, which have been through so much, are finally content. The other members of the Guard start following them, Isabel and Arkarian with their arms around each other. I was still getting used to that, amazingly. Neriah came up to me, and I embraced her, kissing her forehead, before putting my arm around her shoulders and following the others to the clearing. All of our anxieties had finally been put to rest, as we left the creature that had been responsible for so much sorrow, to turn to rock.