But Angela didn’t seem daunted by Cara’s doubt. “It would be incredibly difficult to convince the world,” she explained. “I don’t think they would trust my sanity. Imagine bringing people here-‘Just jump down the dark, foreboding hole, I promise you’ll be fine’…I don’t know how well that would work.”
Although I recognized the truth in this, I felt more and more indignant as I thought about it. How many people had lived and died, never knowing the amazing secrets nobody had bothered to share? And why they didn’t? Because they were scared-scared of what people might think of them, and too comfortable on their private island to find better ways of traveling there. And my parents-my parents were some of them!
And they never even told me.
At this thought, I gripped the rock I was sitting on a bit more fiercely.
Angela must have noticed, because she spoke again. “It is more complicated than just that, though.”
I glanced up from my glare at the ocean. “How?”
Angela sighed. “People,” she muttered pensively, shaking her head. “So indecisive and impossible. They wish they could magically change things in life, or escape to another dimension, but when they find out they can…”
“What?” Cara prodded impatiently.
“They refuse to believe it,” Angela announced bluntly. “For years and years people have believed they’ve ‘disproven’ magic, and they’re not going to admit they-and all the people they admire and respect-were wrong.
“So to them it doesn’t matter how much evidence there is for or against anything we say, it’s all wrong.”
“So you just gave up?” Cara demanded.
“No,” Angela replied. “Not yet. That’s really the ultimate goal of the CDA, for the Mutiverse’s existence to be common knowledge. However, for now we’re just working on the portal issue.”
Angela looked me straight in the eye, and for a second I wondered if she was trying to read my mind or something. Then she stared at Cara the same way, and told us solemnly, “So I think you’ll understand if, for now, I ask you not to tell anyone what you’ve seen?”
Cara nodded slowly, seeming excited to be let in on the secret but still a tad wary.
I hesitated. I didn’t want to keep this to myself. Something very large had welled up inside me and shouted incessantly at the unfairness. But, then again, Angela had a point-and even if she didn’t-she had been really nice to Cara and I, and I could only return the favor.
I opened my mouth to say “I understand”, but the words got stuck in my tongue and somehow morphed into nothingness.
It seemed pure insanity to me to think of how this place existed and I believed it true, but even more incredible to think I could leave and simply pretend it didn’t exist. How impossible…how frustrating…how-well, how in sync with my parents’ plans to keep it hidden.
Locked up and protected, safely out of prying hands. Like the basement. Like the attic.
“But-” I stuttered, unable to hold back, “We can come back, right?”
Angela stared at me with a curious smile. After a brief pause, she said, “You have my permission. But after the scare you’ve caused your parents, I think you should talk to them first.”
I nodded slowly.
Then another flood of questions re-entered my brain. The scene of my dad and Autumn flashed vividly before my eyes, as well as the cold sneering of the quickly decided Eric.
“Angela,” I said questioningly. They thick layer of suspicion coating my tone surprised even me.
I realized Angela likely had no idea who Autumn was, so I refrained from asking the pressing questions about her that tantalized my tongue. However, I knew she must be full of information on Eric.
“What was Eric saying about us infiltrating and stuff? He could tell we didn’t get in-um, that place-on purpose, right?”
Something disturbingly steely and sad at the same time stole over Angela’s expression for a split second, but a second later anything cold had melted away. “There’s a rival orginization trying to shut us down,” she said finally. “With horrible, really awful people. They’re trying to get the magical population-I mean, the people who already live here-out of the way so they can have the Multiverse for themselves, and with our opposition to this is easier with the CDA out of the picture.
“Eric’s really angry about it. I’m sorry if he took a bit of that out on you.”
Autumn flashed to mind, with her unnerving knowledge of my life and impeccable sense of secrecy. Was she part of that organization? Could you even be at her age?
“He thought we were part of it?” I asked incredulously, glancing at Cara.
Angela smiled at the ludicrous idea. A satisfied look seemed to steal over her face for a moment, but as quickly as it came, it was gone. “Now,” she said, “You’ve got to get home-and Sofie, you’ve got to explain everything to your parents.”
I nodded away her pointed, reproachful glance, but inside I was full of dread. How could I possibly make up with my parents anytime soon, after I’d broken their number one rule? And not only that, but several times? I might as well have spray painted “I don’t care what you say” in neon, glow-in-the-dark letters all over the house.
Besides, what could I even say? “I’m sorry I broke your rules and made you nervous, but if I went back I’d probably do it over the same way, no offense.” Ya, that would go over well…NOT.
This wasn’t good.