Laughter filled the air around him as Jack struggled to remember what was going on.
Where was he? Who were these people? Looking around, Jack watched the multitude of kids running around, playing games and laughing. There was a cake with his name on it and candles adorned the top.
This must be my birthday party. I think.
But how old was he? Jack grabbed the sides of his head and moaned. His stomach did a flip flop and his vision blurred. Head pounding, he struggled to remember as an older woman appeared before him, looking concerned. Who was she?
Opening his mouth, Jack tried to speak, to breathe, but he couldn’t. The woman seemed to
be shouting at him now, but why? Jack clenched his hands and felt something in his right one. He slowly tilted his head down and tried to open his fist, which was was starting to feel hotter and hotter as time passed. He managed to open his hand slightly, and he spotted the metal heart his father always kept around his neck on the thin silver chain.
Why did he have it? His father never let him touch it, and he only let him hug him when the necklace was covered by his shirt or jacket. The metal heart shone brightly as Jack stared at it, transfixed by the sight.
Jack flew backwards as something big and heavy slammed into him. It was his dad, who was desperately trying to open his hand further, attempting to get the heart out of his grip.
Jack shuddered and relaxed, closing his eyes as his world faded to black.
Jack jerked awake, chest heaving as he sat up and looked around. All his friends were kneeling on the ground around him, his mother holding his hand and staring intently at his face.
Groaning, Jack massaged the sides of his head with his hands. “What, what happened?” he asked.
Oh yeah, I am 15 now…
Instead of answering his question, Jack’s mom hugged him tightly, sighing with relief and laughing slightly. “Oh, I am glad you are alright! I don’t know dear…” Her voice trailed off as she stared into his eyes, a startled look on her face which quickly turned into a look of horror. “JAMES! Get over here and look!”
Jack frowned and glanced around as the sea of kids parted to let James Slade, his father, through. The necklace was gone.
“What? Did anything serious happen? Oh….” Mr. Slade knelt down and studied Jack, poking his arm a few times. “Interesting….”
Jack let out an exasperated breath and moaned. “C’mon, what’s wrong?!”
Mrs. Slade sighed and stood, “Your beautiful brown eyes are gone.”
“WHAAT!?” Jack jumped to his feet and rushed into the house, almost falling flat on his face as he stumbled over a stray gnome. Rushing into the bathroom, Jack leaned in real close to the mirror and studied his eyes.
It took a while to focus, but once he did, he saw that his mother was right. His once dark brown eyes, which his mother had adored, were now grey!
He was so absorbed with the transformation that he did not see or hear his dad come up and lean against the door frame.
“Well,” He said, startling Jack as he looked at him intently. “How do you feel?”
Jack shrugged and glanced at his father before looking back at the mirror. “I dunno, fine
I guess. A bit surprised.” Inwardly, Jack frowned at what he was saying. He wasn’t so vague usually, was he?
“Ok, are you alright? I mean, do you fee-“
“I said I feel FINE!” Jack shouted, slapping his hand over his mouth after he did.
Mr. Slade frowned and eyed his son some more. “That was what I was afraid you were going to say. It seems the necklace has changed you more on the inside and out.”
“What is that thing anyway? Why did it do that, and where is mom?”
“Your mother is outside, letting the others know you are going to be alright. She is also calling their parents so they can pick them up early. As for the necklace, I will tell you later. It is a long story, and I think is told best at night.”
Mr. Slade walked off and headed for the stairs. Jack sighed again and slid back out the back door, surveying the backyard. A car honked near the front and a couple of his friends jogged to the front, giving him a quick smile as they did.
Jack was leaning against the railing of the patio when his mother came and wrapped her arm around his shoulder, kissing his cheek. “It will be alright Jack, you will see.”
Instead of answering, Jack looked towards the quickly setting sun, soaking in the sunlight and breathing in the sweet spring air.
“I hope so.”