Look Twice by Désirée Matlock

For Nicole Dragonbeck, the caster of many spells.

Look twice, save a life; look thrice, bring back to life.

Her words hung in the air between us as I considered whether this branch of magic was one I was ready for. Tears streamed down my cheeks as I danced, too, trying to figure out the dance as I went. Carlie continued dancing through the high wheat stalks, the waving wheat around us a starkly cheerful dichotomy against the corpse that dented the landscape between us. She cheerfully smiled at me and continued whirling. What was wrong with her? Why was she so cheerful? I know she loved every chance to use magic, but this was no joke, here. Kyle was dead. Dammit, focus. Kyle needs me.

This was going to look like some kind of demented miniature crop circle to anyone who came out this way. Focus! I tried to narrow my thoughts to just the spell’s words as instructed, but my shocked mind kept bringing me other thoughts, seditious as it was.

You can’t bring someone back to life. Look twice.

What if he’s a zombie instead of actual Kyle? Would Zombie Kyle like me? Save a life.

If he comes back as zombie Kyle, I’m going to call him Zyle. Look thrice.

Not funny. Focus. Bring back to life.

Please, please bring back to life. I whirled, nothing but the rolling hills of wheat in every direction. Please God, bring back to life.

Foolish of us to have stopped here. We’d all gotten sick of being on the highway, and had pulled over, sneaking onto the fields near a creek to have a picnic of sorts when the wasp got him. I had searched for his Epipen in the pockets of his pants, where he always kept it, and couldn’t find it. Then Kyle had crumpled and I could feel him panicking as the blackness folded over him. Carlie had leapt up right then, and while I was realizing that Kyle was dead, actually dead, she was already mobilizing. She ran to the car and back while I was pounding on his chest, and had waved the grimoire in front of my face. I tried to see what she was showing me through the tears.

And that’s why, despite how rational I tried to be in life, we were dancing in circles around the corpse of the man I loved, despite that I still didn’t know if I trusted Carlie.

Focus. Look twice, save a life. Focus. Look thrice, bring back to life. Better. Look twice, save a life; look thrice, bring back to life.

I felt the words sink in, deeper meaning in them. Look twice, save a life; look thrice, bring back to life. Boom. It was time. I looked down at his corpse, once, twice, thrice, and saw that Carlie was looking in perfect unison with me, we were totally in sync. The red raw wasp sting receded, and Kyle’s chest began to flutter. I crashed to the ground beside him. Something was wrong with me. I felt so weak. As Kyle’s eyes fluttered open and he sat up, my vision faded to grey and I felt my heart slowing, weakness in every limb. Carlie’s smile faded. The consequence of Carlie’s spell of threes became clear to both of us.

I couldn’t move, could barely raise my chest for air. I came to terms with what was happening. Anything for my Kyle. I thanked the gods of the rolling wheat. What a beautiful place to die, I thought, as my eyes closed.

Kyle spoke, and I couldn’t quite understand the words. He sounded strong and better. Good. I felt his arms wrap around me and felt him shake me lightly, as if it were someone else’s body. I felt so detached, noting what was happening but unable to respond. The sound of fluttering pages, as Carlie probably looked for a spell. There wouldn’t be one. Fair’s fair. I heard him call my name from somewhere beyond myself. Why are you worried, lover? I gave you my life…

I came back to myself only long enough to “I love you, Zyle,” before the blackness folded around me.

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