He who wishes to grow rich in a day will be hanged in a year.
LEONARDO DA VINCI, Thoughts on Art and Life
What do you wish for most in life? When was the last time you sat down with nothing but the wind and grass to keep you company, and wondered about your heart’s deepest desire? Most of all, would your life be better if your wish came true?
Something terrible has happened. Yes, again. But this time, it is almost too horrible to write about. I’ve already told you some of the bizarre things that have happened since we moved to the town of Asteria – things that belong in story books, read aloud to make children wide-eyed with fright. Well, I am sorry to say that what happened last month tops them all.
First, the happy part. My roommate, Keith, found a girlfriend. No, she was not a witch. Nor was she a ghost, or a genie, or a fairy, or a zombie roaming around the graveyard. Lila was a kind, sweet, and normal human girl. Well, mostly normal. She had a thing about dressing up in clothes that seemed to belong in the Victorian era. And according to Keith, she also had an enormous collection of porcelain dolls. But other than that, she seemed cool. And Keith was crazy about her. It was nice to see him so happy instead of freaked out for a change.
Well, that didn’t last long.
Remember how D.J.’s ex-girlfriend, Catherine, cursed him with a magic hex after their break-up? Ever since that night, D.J. had been very quiet. You have to understand – D.J. is never quiet. Unless he is absorbed in a really good book, D.J. is constantly talking, or belting out rock songs at the top of his lungs, or clomping down the stairs as he’s dashing out the door. The change was so creepy, that I wondered if that was the hex.
“No,” D.J. said in a subdued voice when I asked him. “When Catherine hexed me, she was very specific. She told me that the curse would give me the thing I desired most in life, and that it would destroy me. How can that be?” He looked up at me, his sleepless eyes marred by tiny red blood vessels. “The thing I desire most? Happiness? Love?”
“A new corvette?” I said, laughing. But D.J. was not in a joking mood.
To cheer him up, I suggested a trip to the antique store. D.J. is really into antiques. It’s strange, I know, since antique shops tend to conjure up images of gray-haired old ladies squealing over chipped washbasins and marble-topped side tables. Whatever. D.J. contented himself with rifling through junk while I browsed around and Keith made gaga eyes with his girlfriend. I steered clear – in part to give the two of them some privacy, and in part because seeing them together made me think of how much I wished could be making gaga eyes at Caroline.
I didn’t see the change that came over D.J. Not until I returned to the soft red armchair where I’d been sitting a few minutes before and saw that it was no longer red nor soft. It was a cold, hard chair made of shiny gold.
You read that right. Gold. As in the precious metal.
“How on earth—” I started, turning toward D.J. Just then, I noticed the way he was looking at a fancy-looking hutch made of dark wood. His eyes shone with an odd light. “Um, D.J.?” I said. D.J. lifted his finger and pointed. Before my eyes, the dark wood of the hutch transformed into gold.
“D.J., what’s going on?” I waved my hand in front of his face, but he barely blinked. Had the genie finally taught him how to do alchemy? I had always pictured him starting a lot smaller, say, turning pennies to gold coins or something. Not huge pieces of furniture.
“Maybe it’s the hex,” said Keith, who had also noticed the gold furniture and D.J.’s trance-like state. Of course! I had forgotten all about the hex, and Catherine’s words to D.J. She would give him the thing he wanted most, and it would destroy him. What did D.J. want most?
“D.J., you have to stop!” I placed my hands on his shoulders and gave him a shake. “No more gold, do you hear me? Stop!”
It was as though he’d gone deaf. D.J. broke away from my grasp. Unfortunately, Keith’s girlfriend was standing in his path. “Are you okay?” she asked D.J., her voice filled with concern. D.J. responded by lifting his finger and pointing it toward her.
“NO!” Keith and I both cried out. But there was nothing we could do. One moment, Lila was all peaches-and-cream human girl. The next moment, she was a solid gold statue.
A cold chill ran down my spine. I gaped at D.J., who stood blinking in confusion. “Oh my God,” I said to him. “D.J., what have you done?”
Tadi, I want to tell you more, but it is very late at night, and my fingers are cramped from writing so much. I will send you this, then write you another letter very soon, to tell you what happened next. Please keep D.J. and – well, all of us in your prayers. We sure can use it right now.
Your horrified friend,