Do you wish you could press the reset button on anything in your life? If so, what?
Once again, Sara found herself in a quandary over what route to take with a prompt. It didn’t help matters any that it was very much the same as a previous prompt, worded slightly differently. She had turned that one into a cautionary tale about an alchemist’s apprentice who tried to cover up their mistake by pressing a button without knowing what it did. She wanted to do more than simply rehash that tale in a different setting.
She began to think on her characters. Could she use any of them? Would this prompt serve to further any of their stories? How could she approach it from that angle?
The interview. She had done that once before, to great success. One thing the prompts had been good for, in addition to keeping her writing every day and deepening her understanding of her on characters and the world they inhabit, was a growing comfort with throwing her characters from different stories together and seeing what happened. Of course, they had also added to her catalogue of voices in her head. The little room she had envisioned before would not be large enough to include the new characters.
Sara rubbed her hands together gleefully as she set about imagining a new space. An open air interview would be lovely. She had her own yard now and could easily host two dozen imaginary friends there. How had they doubled in so short a time? She shook her head and resumed her meditation.
She imagined the garden on the eastern side of the property without the weeds that vexed her so in the real garden and on the western side she imagined the neighbor’s fence to be straight and whole and freshly painted, though she didn’t bother to picture the neighboring homes themselves. She imagined it as it was in the late afternoon sun of summer, bright and green, with shade from the trees at the back.
Admiring her work, she nodded satisfaction and snapped her fingers. Her characters appeared before her, some startled expressions and others amused. Some of them had been through this before. The wolves settled at the back, near the trail a deer had made through the brush between properties. Sara was happy to see Yuri had joined her family this time.
Ali caught her eye and smirked. “Driving the struggle bus again tonight?” she teased.
“You know how I love to suffer for my art,” Sara laughed.
Also near the back, behind the garden, the enigmatic elementals and their wily wizard mentor cast curious glances all about. Remy took interest in a plane that flew over the house on its approach to the nearby airport, but of course he would. Tamara eyed the garden as though she wanted to tend to it rather than face all these strangers. The twins, Zinnia and Kennick, were awestruck by the crowd.
They weren’t alone. The other pair of twins, Lydia and Luka, huddled to one side of the fire pit with their childhood friend, Matt. Sara most wanted to learn more about them and their world. This would hopefully be a start.
Also near the fire pit, in the center of the yard, Kita and Leo lounged as casually as if they were on the Eternity. Kita was already welcoming the twins and trying to ease their apparent discomfort.
Closer to the house, on the sprawling deck Sara dreamed of one day having, her science fiction characters sat at a table or leaned on a railing. The Price brothers were overjoyed to be together for once, Todd introducing his alien comrade, Tarathiel, to Jack, while the alien princesses avoided making eye contact with each other. Lara watched the exchanges fondly while Midge kept a close eye on Shane in the corner.
Suffering was right. This was way too many characters for one little prompt. But Sara had started it, so she would see it through to the end. She hoped there would still be time left for sleep after this.
“Well it’s not like we have to give you our whole life story,” Lara said, surprising Sara. She never expected Lara to be the one to bring her to heel. “You just have a question for each of us, right?”
“Right,” Sara said. Louder, she addressed the entire gathering. “I have a question I want you all to answer for me, if you can. I am hoping to shed some light into the darker parts of you that I have not yet discovered. If I handed you a reset button that could change something in your life, would you press it? What would you change?” She looked to Lara. “Since you seem raring to go, I’ll start with you and work my way around.”
Lara flushed. She didn’t like being the center of attention. “Well, I suppose if I could reset one thing in my life, it would be the day I lost my mother.” Sara figured that would be her answer.
Midge wrapped an arm around her shoulder for comfort. He likely would not have met her if she hadn’t lost her mother. Sara nodded to him, indicating it was his turn to answer. “Anything?” He donned a snarky grin. “I’d reset my height to be taller.”
Sara rolled her eyes as he snickered and she turned to Shane. His face was somber as Lara avoided his gaze. “I would make Arcadios give Lara a different Mentor.” Sara began to regret this open forum with the look of pain that strained Lara’s eyes.
“I’d reset the invasion so that Jack and I don’t ever become separated.” Jack echoed the sentiment before Sara could ask.
The Mosari shifted uncomfortably with their wish, but Faelurion at least remained composed. The former Empress said, “I would also reset the invasion, though I would go back further and reset the Expansion altogether.”
“You betrayed your own people,” Veralis hissed. “I would reset it so you never existed to betray us in the first place.”
Fae and Tar exchanged sad looks as Ral stormed away. Perhaps summoning her had been a mistake. The Mosari soldier’s gaze shifted from the current Empress’s receding back to the Price brothers. “I would wish to be a brother more like Todd.”
Sara tucked that tidbit away in her mind as she moved on. Who was next? She made eye contact with the pirate Captain and he smirked. “I would get Phineas back and make the ninjas who had hurt him pay with their lives.” He probably didn’t need to add that second bit, and he flinched at the look the masked woman on his right shot at him.
Kita folded her arms and pointedly looked away from him. “Well I would reset the day I decided to ever get involved with pirates.” Sara didn’t believe that for a second. Leo was going to suffer the consequences of his taunt in silence.
The twins watched curiously. Well, now was as good a time as any to find out more about them. “Lydia? How about you?”
The dark haired girl jumped at being addressed. Odd. Sara didn’t take her for someone who was easily startled. She composed herself quickly enough. “I would refuse to get my Keys.”
Her brother, nearly identical to her, gaped at her in horror. “You can’t refuse! It’s tradition!”
“You’re telling me you wouldn’t go through that again if you didn’t have to?”
Luka shrank back from her. “Well, no.”
“Is that what you would reset, Luka?” Sara needed his answer too, after all.
“Maybe not exactly. Though if I could reset my Keys, I would.” Sara nodded. That made sense, given what he was destined for.
The third of their party placed a comforting hand on Luka’s shoulder. “I wouldn’t change anything about my life,” Matt said tenderly, causing Luka to color and Lydia to smirk.
Sara checked the clock. It was getting late and there were still two groups remaining. “Ok, fantasy folks, you’re up. Tamara.”
The dark young woman jumped. “I don’t know that I’m really cut out for adventuring and saving the world. I just want to live in my village and tend to my people.”
The old wizard grinned mischievously. He prodded the other young woman to speak. “Yeah, saving the world is a pretty daunting task, but I’m beginning to think I’m up for it. I would like to reset my hair though so that the kids couldn’t bully me for it all through my childhood.”
“I’m with Zin on that one,” Kennick said. “Though I suppose I’m also partly with Tamara. Resetting my powers would probably mean I looked like everyone else back home instead of standing out.”
Remy twirled a strand of Zinnia’s hair between his fingers. “I wouldn’t Change a thing,” he said cryptically. The capital C was evident to Sara’s ears. Zinnia swatted his hand away but flushed as bright as her hair.
Elvior chuckled. “I have made a great many mistakes over the course of my long life,” he said. “But if I could go back, I would have killed the Destroyer before he could grow his power.” That would certainly have altered the fates of the four young people he kept in his charge. Sara knew it was not something he could have brought himself to do though.
She sighed as she looked to the final group. Her beloved wolf demons. Sara knew Ali could sense her fatigue and nodded to her family. “Let’s do this rapid-fire, shall we? I don’t imagine there will be too many surprises here.”
Immediately, Sayuri surprised Sara by offering to go first. “I would never leave Rin alone with that man.”
Yuki nodded. “I wouldn’t let either of you leave the pack, no matter what foolish thoughts were in your head.”
“I wouldn’t change anything,” Nikkie said. “My life wouldn’t be the same without you stupid wolves.”
“Well I certainly wouldn’t exist,” Yuri chuckled, taking no offense at her mother’s taunt. “I suppose I’d try to be less reckless. I certainly wouldn’t pick fights I couldn’t win anymore.” She grinned at Mika.
“I would forgive my mother sooner,” Mika said softly, pointedly not looking at Ali or anyone else.
Ali smiled. “I would reset it so that we all lived happily ever after, together.” She raised an eyebrow at Sara as if to ask her to make it so.
Sara was a benevolent god, after all. She gave Ali a mischievous grin. Well, most of the time she was.
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