At first, I panic. Why is The Author here--and, more importantly, how did she get here? She didn't come through the door. But it's her Imagination. I guess she can do whatever she wants.
"You doing okay?" she asks.
I really can't say anything.
The Author sits down next to me. "Listen...I know you're upset. I would be, too. But I'm a writer. My job is to mess with people's emotions."
"So you make me lose an arm?" I demand.
"No," The Author says. "I make my readers love you, and they hate it when they see you suffering. They feel sympathy towards you."
"But you don't feel any of that."
The Author smiles. "I promise, I do. I understand if you're mad at me. Alynn hated me for the longest time, until she realized I dealt with my own problems."
I snort. "You don't have problems."
"Not many of them, not anymore," she admits. She stares at the black wall for a moment. "I used to have this really intense--I'm sorry. I'm bad at comforting people. I talk too much."
"And you're loud."
"I'm Italian." The Author smiles for a second, then leans in close to me. "I'll tell you a secret: I hate sad endings. So trust me when I say everything will work out. And, hey--let's go do a scene. I'll show you how things will work out, okay? Can you trust me?"
I stare at the floor for a while, but I sigh and look up. "I guess."
The Author bounces up and walks right through the door. "Great! Come on!" Before I know it, the scene's started.
I can't do much around camp with only one arm. I'm even having a hard time petting K9-7H, because he's especially frisky. He's been really nice to me lately. Everyone--Alliance and Bri the medic and Peter the robotics nerd guy and Captain Israel the leader--they've all been really nice to me. And even though I know it's just because of my arm, it's still nice to know that Alliance can be kind when she wants to be.
I look up to see Alliance, and I smile. I don't think I've smiled in a long time. "Hey," I say back.
Alliance acts just like I think a mom would, brushing some blonde hair out of my face and smiling. "How's your arm doing?"
"It's okay." I guess it's kind of like any injury--you start getting used to it after a while. Besides the fact that I can't do anything, I've almost forgotten about it. But it still hurts a little, even the part that isn't there anymore, which is basically my entire arm. I'm amazed at how I can still think I feel it. Right now, my brain is telling me that my elbow's twisted the wrong way.
Alliance smiles. "Well, everyone's been working on a surprise for you...."
I gasp. "A new dog?"
"A suit of armor with air conditioning?"
Alliance's smile grows wider. "Better!"
"Come on, Lyah, tell me!"
And then, over her shoulder, I see Peter and Bri, carrying something wrapped in fabric. "I can't promise this will work, but I'll keep working on it if it doesn't," Peter promises, setting something long and made of metal in my lap. I can't breathe when I see it. It's an arm. A new, metal arm. It's perfect.
I'm too excited to say thank you, so I just squeal and hug Peter. I think Alliance is crying because she's happy. I sit back down and let Bri and Peter mess with the stump of a shoulder I have left. It hurts.
"Now, I don't want you to freak out," Peter continues, "but if this thing works right, it'll be controlled by the electrical impulses your brain sends. You'll be able to move just like your natural arm--"
Something pokes me. "Ow!" I cry.
"You're alright," assures Bri.
Now that I've found my tongue, I get to say, "Thank you! Thank you all, I'm so excited!"
"We figured," says Peter. Bri wraps a strap around my chest to hold my new arm in place, then flips a switch.
"There you go, Allegiance!" she announces. I hear a whirring noise, and I look down to see that my left arm is moving. It's moving. It's moving! I squeal again from excitement and fly into another round of thanking everybody.
Suddenly, the Setting gets shut off, K9-7H disappears, and my arm returns to its previous, non-amputated state. I can't move it, but it doesn't bother me anymore.
I glance over at The Author. She's sitting on nothing in a corner, smiling at me as she closes her laptop. Her hair's a mess. "I told you I can't stand sad endings," she says.
I smile back at her. "You were right."
The Author's about to say something back, but she stops and shouts, "Coming, Mom!" And then, without warning, she disappears.
It's her imagination. I guess she can do whatever she wants to.
M. J. Piazza is a Jesus-loving, dog-walking country girl who just so happens to write books.