I walked along the grounds with Celeste in the afternoon after the end of our first magical training class – we had instructions to practice until dinner time. She was rambling about how ridiculously confusing our first instruction was as we passed by an obstacle course.
“‘Look beyond the solid objects.’ What does that even mean?!” said Celeste.
I chuckled. Maybe what the instructors had said didn’t make much sense, but I thought I might have seen the strings they were talking about back in class.
As Celeste continued ranting about the magic, I glanced at the perimeter fence, where Leslie was talking to Sergeant Gil. I stopped in my tracks when I recognized them, wearing a baggy pair of pants and a military cap. Leslie was the last person I’d expected to see that day.
“Are you listening?” Celeste asked.
“Not at all,” I replied.
Leslie caught my eye. They smiled and gave me a little wave. I waved back with a smile of my own.
“Boyfriend?” Celeste asked when she glanced where I was looking.
“Leslie doesn't have a gender.” Sergeant Gil said something that made Leslie blush. I snickered when they smacked him lightly on the arm, returning to whatever conversation they were having.
“Oh, my mistake,” Celeste continued. “Thehajenahdosdijrtuejdfitemrefudbe...”
“We’re not mates,” I said, turning back to her.
She blinked, wrinkling her nose at my comment. “Rather crass weyaowepiwdjinthduieodnuthudfijnk?”
As she continued talking, a small green thread caught my attention. It was hanging just off the high wall of the obstacle course.
“What's that thread?” I asked, interrupting her speech.
“That thread,” I replied, pointing toward the small string.
She glanced over her shoulder to where I pointed, turning back to me with a flat stare. “I don’t see anything.”
“It’s right there!” I walked past her, gesturing towards the string with my hands.
Celeste shook her head. “I still don’t see anything.”
With an exasperated sigh, I reached up and pinched the little green thread between my fingers. The slippery texture was a surprise, almost like I was holding a fish in my grasp. I tugged.
Mouth hanging open, I stared at the empty space where the high wall had been.
“What. Did you. Do?” came Celeste’s voice.
“Uh…I…I don't know.”
“Recruits Dax and Celeste!” Sergeant Gil called.
Celeste and I jumped, immediately snapping to attention as both the drill sergeant and Leslie walked their way over to us.
“Whaiejaiduoeptjhere?” asked the drill sergeant.
I gulped. I wasn’t certain, but I had a pretty good idea what he just asked…and I also had no idea how to answer.
“She destroyed a high wall, sir,” Celeste answered.
I responded with an indignant whimper and a sideways glare at my roommate. I could also see Leslie trying their hardest not to smile. What was so funny?!
“What do you mean destroyed?! Adnuhtelmdfskhtfdtehd just disappear! First sneaking out and now this?! Areydfusjlmfdsjuhtjflmekhire.”
Leslie started laughing.
“Why are you laughing?!” Sergeant Gil snapped.
“Did you see the look on their faces when she unraveled it?” they responded, holding their stomach as they laughed even harder. “It was priceless!”
My ears burned. This wasn’t funny!
The drill sergeant rolled his eyes, ignoring Leslie’s laughing fit and turning back to me. “How exacjithejflmskdhfish?” he asked, nodding to where the wall used to be.
Did he ask something about fish? The thread felt like a fish, but that couldn’t be what he was asking about. …Was it?
“Shessidmakldiojth a green thread,” Celeste responded in my silence.
Sergeant Gil raised an eyebrow at me.
“That’s correct, sir,” I replied, finally. “I…saw a green thread, then…tugged on it.”
“Well, congratulations, Recruit Dax,” he replied, “you jsuthjedmstheidf extra magic lessons with me.”
Celeste and I shared a confused look. I glanced at Leslie who was finally finished laughing, wiping at their eyes. They didn’t seem surprised by the drill sergeant’s comment.
“Why, sir?” I asked.
Sergeant Gil smirked. “Nowedsmlkfjnskdmfllkds am I passing up the chance to teach an unraveler.”
To be continued…