The following is an excerpt from my short story collection She Sees in Her Sleep, now available on Amazon Kindle for $0.99. The collection serves to provide some background knowledge about your favorite characters from She Dies at the End, as well as to ease your November Snow withdrawal as I finish up the sequel. Enjoy!
The line was long, but Zinnia claimed she was okay with waiting, so she and Pine entered the queue. They had been waiting for about ten minutes when they heard a child scream. Now, this is not exactly an unusual sound at Disneyland, as anyone who has been there can vouch for its meltdown-inducing properties. This sound, however, was one of fear and pain rather than frustration.
Before Pine could stop her, Zinnia had ducked below the chains and through the crowd in the direction of the cry, running just a little faster than was prudent when observable by mortals. Pine ran after her as quickly as he dared.
By the time he caught up, Zinnia was sitting on the ground, holding hands with a crying preschooler, surrounded by his frantic parents and a park employee, who was speaking urgently into her radio. The boy was clutching his arm.
Zinnia was trying to comfort him. “It’s going to be okay,” she said quite maternally. She squeezed her eyes tightly shut, and a moment later, the boy’s cries became less frantic. They were now more indignant than pained.
“Come on, Zinnia,” Pine urged. “Let’s let them take care of him, okay?” He reached out his hand, and his expression urged her to take it quickly.
“You have a very sweet little girl,” the mother called out after them.
“Thanks,” Pine said with a bit of a pang. He’d always wanted a little girl, but alas, he and his ex-wife had only experienced one crushing disappointment after another.
Once they were out of sight, Pine sat Zinnia down on a bench and knelt in front of her.
“What in the world were you thinking?” he scolded. “Did you heal that little boy's broken arm?”
“Maybe a little?” she admitted, her eyes beginning to fill with blue tears at his disapproval. “I’m sorry. I couldn’t help it. I could feel how much it hurt from over in the line and I just . . . I couldn’t not help him.” She then began to weep ostentatiously, as only a 6-year-old can.
Pine softened slightly and hugged her as she cried. “That was very kind of you, sweetheart, but it is dangerous for us to draw attention like that. And you’re too young to be healing, anyway. You’re going to be so hungry now. I know your particular gift is a difficult one. It is hard to ignore other people’s pain. But it’s something you’re going to have to learn to manage.”
“Am I in trouble?” she asked, sniffling.
“No, honey. I just need you to be more careful.”
“Okay,” she agreed as Pine wiped her face. “I’ll try.”
“Come on. We’ve got more fun to have,” Pine urged, managing a smile. The smile disappeared as he looked over Zinnia’s head and saw hostile eyes staring back from a bearded face a dozen yards away.