I stood in Ethan’s room, staring at the illustrations on his wall.  His books and papers were spread out across the bed and desk.  I kept tilting my head, trying to puzzle it through.  I knew the answers were here somewhere.

            I held a checklist in my hand, on a clipboard.  I had identified all of the portraits of his friends with Genevieve and Zoë’s help.  Neal, check.  Jason, check.  Alexander, check.  He had drawn them all.  Next, there were superheroes and villains, which I had compared to his stories.  I couldn’t see any obvious connection, but the demonic monsters and larger-than-life heroes were obviously significant to Ethan’s imagination.  He had spent years on them.

            I groaned in frustration.  I had organized his books and films into themes, as some reflected quests, others the struggle with dichotomy, the nature of good and evil.  But I had yet to figure out any discernible pattern.  It was too subtle for my eyes.

            “The Dark Tower, that’s like the Citadel on the west coast…” I checked that off, as a real world reference point.  “The Hobbit went to a mountain, Frodo went to the Cracks of Doom…”

There was a knock on the front door.  I cocked my head, certain I had imagined it.  People didn’t make neighbourly visits anymore.

            Then it came again, definitely not a figment.

            “I’ll get it!” I hollered.  I went bounding down the hall to the stairs, taking them rapidly.  I ended up in the front hall, opening both the wood door and the outer screen.  I wanted to see who it was.  “Hello?”

            I found a young woman, at best guess in her early twenties.  She had rich auburn hair and deep blue eyes.  I had to look twice to guess the colour; they were so dark.

            “Hello.”  The stranger smiled.

            “Can I help you?” I said, raising an eyebrow when she offered nothing but the short greeting.  She looked back at me for a moment, and then finally spoke.

            “Is Genevieve at home?”

            “Sure… one moment.”  I called out over my shoulder.  “EVIE!  Someone to SEE YOU!”

            I waited in the doorway, appraising the newcomer, trying to ascertain who she might be.  She wore a frilly white dress and, unbelievably, no shoes.  Genevieve strolled down the stairs. 

            “Gwen, there’s no need to yell.  That’s not proper manners.”

            I rolled my eyes at this.  Evie came to the door, looking at our visitor.

            “Hello,” The young woman said again, still smiling.

            Genevieve’s eyes widened.  She put a hand to her mouth, gasping.

            “It can’t be…” She murmured.  “You were on the plane!  All those years ago.  And you haven’t aged a bit…”

            “It’s nice to see you again, Evie.”

            I raised an eyebrow at the use of the family nickname.  No one else ever got away with that. 

            “Who are you?”

            “My name is Mara.  I’m a friend of your brother’s.”

            “How do you know Ethan?” I said, “That’s not possible.  You’re like my age, and he’s been missing for fourteen years.”

            “He’s not missing.  I know exactly where he is.”  Mara smiled again.  “May I come in?”

            Genevieve held the door open, and I took a step back.  I glared at the newcomer.

            “How could you know where he is?” I turned to Eve. “Who is she?”

            “I saw her, on the plane, before we crashed.  In all these years, I’d almost forgotten.  How is it that you look the same?”

            Mara smiled.  “I wasn’t human then.  I was your brother’s angel, I watched over him.  I have been with him his entire life.”

            She looked around the room, smiling at furniture and knick-knacks as if she knew our home.  “In fact, this is the first time we’ve been apart.  It’s a little discomfiting.”

            “Where is he?” I demanded.

            “In the wilderness.  He has a quest.”

            “Why?  What is it?  Why Ethan?  You know, don’t you?” I tried to approach her, a little testily I admit.  Genevieve put out a restraining hand, slowing me from charging forward.

            “Give her a chance to talk.”

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