Where is this place? I think, as I drive down a seemingly unending dirt road. I was told the property was large and hadn’t been accessed in a number of years, but I didn’t think it would be so far out in the middle of nowhere. My tires kick up dust clouds, and I know I’m going to have to wash my car later. My GPS tells me to turn right down another dirt road nearly hidden by trees.
I sigh when I see the house, large but worn down by time. I start my appraisal evaluation as I always do, by looking for the boundary markers left by the surveyor, so I can assess the value of the property as a whole. Then, I’ll work my way inward to finish with the abandoned house.
My leather boots crunch leaves and branches as I walk through the woods to the right of the house. I was told the property is a few acres, so I am prepared to walk. I scan my surroundings, looking through the heavy underbrush for an orange flag. My eyes are so focused on searching for that bright spot of orange, that I don’t notice the tree root until it catches the toe of my boot.
I stumble forward and launch my hand out to brace myself against the nearest tree, only I make contact with nothing but air. I close my eyes and flinch as my face is about to connect with the tree, but my head doesn’t hit anything and I feel strangely off center, pitching forward. I don’t feel anything until gravity pulls me to the ground. I draw in a sharp breath at the stinging in my hands, and I look to them first, not noticing any change in my surroundings. But then I look up.
I’m now in a cave surrounded by glittering ores of purple crystals in various shades. Their hues range from a deep eggplant to a soft lavender. I stand and reach out to touch one of the bright purple crystals, and a warmth seeps into my hands. The stinging subsides, and I look down to see that the scrapes are completely healed. I blink. The cuts are still gone. I sink back down to the floor, just staring at my hands, clenching and unclenching them.
I lift my head and look again at the crystals with a new sense of awe. And then I smile. Holy shit! These things are freaking magic! I jump up; I can’t sit still. I start pacing the cave. I’ve got to test the crystals again, I realize.
I pull my pocket knife from my jeans and prick my finger until a bubble of blood wells up. I reach out my hand to touch a deep purple gemstone. The crystal comes off the wall and falls into my palm. Strange. I grip it with my fingers, and the warmth spreads into my wound. I wipe away the blood to see that the nick in my finger is gone.
I pass the stone from hand to hand, as I ponder what to do next. Does the magic only heal or can it do other things? What kind of things would I want it to do? I think of my too-large-for-my-face nose, the only thing I truly don’t like about my appearance, and snort. Of course, confronted with the infinite possibilities of magic, I would wish to shrink my nose. With that thought, a tingling feeling starts in my nose and I gasp. No freaking way.
I don’t have a mirror, but I reach up to feel my nose. I’m pretty sure it feels different, smaller. I glance down at the stone in my palm, noticing that the color seems lighter, now more violet than plum.
I’m filled with the urge to grab as many crystals as I can carry. I grasp an eggplant colored gemstone and it breaks right off into my hand. I reach for one that is royal purple, but it doesn’t come off. I take my pocket knife and pry it loose, stuffing it in my back pocket. I wedge out a few more, some coming easier than others, but I get stuck on a lavender crystal that won’t budge. I move along to a couple more, until my pockets and hands are full. I notice that the lighter colored gems don’t come loose, but I have about a dozen darker crystals.
I look around the cave, unsure what to do next. I notice that the entrance to the cave seems to shimmer. I walk towards it and reach my hand through, and it disappears. I snatch my arm back, but my hand is fine. This must just be the way out.
I step through the shimmery barrier and find myself back in the woods. I turn around to see the same tree I had fallen through earlier. I walk completely around it, but it shows no signs of being anything other than an ordinary tree. I need a way to find it again.
I spot a rather large rock and push it over to the base of the tree. Then, I take my pocket knife and scratch an X into the rock. Not very original, but it should do the trick. Satisfied, I continue on with my job, my mind swirling with the possibilities of what I will do with my magic crystals when I return home.
“Actually, I’d like to buy the property,” I say.
“You want to buy it?” my client asks. “Does that mean it’s worth more than we expected?”
“Not exactly. Most of the value is in the land, as we thought. But I’ve always wanted a few acres of property, and the house is in good enough condition that it can still be remodeled. I just got a good feeling about it when I was out there. I’ll give you your asking price.”
“Well, that certainly would make things easier for us. I’ll talk to Gerald and get back to you this evening.”
“Sounds great, Alice.” I hang up my phone and settle onto the stiff couch my roommate picked out. I smile to myself. Soon I will have my own place and all the money I need to buy whatever furniture I want.
I glance at the clock. My roommate won’t be back for a few hours. I walk into my room and reach under my mattress, pulling out a couple of the gemstones I had found. I select the darkest one, and wish for more gold. A golden nugget appears in my other hand, more appearing as the color leeches from the crystal. Once the crystal turns white, it makes a fizzling sound and crumbles in my hand. I now hold a handful of gold.
I place my gold nuggets into a pouch and grab my keys, heading to the nearest pawn shop. Just like before, the man doesn’t ask any questions. He just weighs the gold carefully and offers me a few thousand dollars. Between my two trips, I’ll have enough for the down payment on the property. I’m still going to take out a loan, because I think a cash sale would look too suspicious.
I return home and wait for my roommate to arrive, or a call from Alice. The phone call comes first, and my offer is accepted. I could tell that Alice and Gerald didn’t want to deal with their relative’s property and were looking to sell it quickly. I make a few calls to begin the buying process. Mia walks in the door just as I’m finishing up.
“I bought some groceries, so we can make dinner. What do you feel like eating?” Mia asks.
“Whatever you want is fine, but can we talk first?”
“Sure, what’s up?” she says as she plops on the couch.
“I’m going to be moving out,” I tell her.
Mia’s face falls and she turns to look at me. The hurt on her face is evident. I wasn’t expecting that.
“What did I do?” she asks.
“Nothing, Mia. I just found a great place that I want to fix up. I wasn’t planning on looking for a place, but this property is perfect. You are a great roommate,” I reassure her.
“Are you sure about this?” she asks.
I smile at her. “Do I ever do anything I’m not sure of?”
Mia chuckles. “No, you don’t. That’s why this is so surprising. It’s not like you to jump into something.”
“I know,” I tell her. “But I will need my own place eventually and this just seems like the right opportunity.”
She studies me carefully for a moment, and then nods. “Can I help you pack?”
As we loaded the last few boxes of my things in my car the following day, Mia sighed heavily and looked at me.
“Well, are you sure this is all you want to take?” she asked.
“For now, I don’t want to have too much in the house with all the renovations it will need.” I replied solemnly, I just didn’t want to make multiple trips and have any chance Mia would come with me to help.
“I can follow you to the house to see it and help you unpack!” Mia exclaimed, already getting ready to hop in her car. This is exactly what I was afraid of. I couldn’t have her accidentally finding the crystals, I had to keep her away.
“That’s okay.” I replied sternly “I don’t want you to get hurt, the property is kind of a mess, plus I don’t want anyone to see the house until I get it a little more presentable.”
“Oh…” Mia trailed off “Okay, I guess that makes sense. I’ll just leave you to it then.”
Mia leaned in for a defeated hug and gave me a half smile as I climbed into my car to head back to my new house, and more importantly to my crystals.
Two weeks had passed, at least I think it had been two weeks. I was avoiding my phone so I didn’t have to talk to anyone, every minute I spent talking to someone was a minute of a chance I could slip up and mention the crystals. I couldn’t have that, I couldn’t have anyone knowing about them. I still hadn’t told my parents about the new house yet either, I knew they would immediately hop in their car and make the five hour drive here just to see the house. They were curious people and always worried about me so they would definitely scour around the property and inevitably find my crystals. I decided when I eventually had to call my parents I would feign being busy with work, even though I had just quit, but they didn’t need to know that.
I decided with the crystals I could have anything I wanted. I mean, they produce gold right into my hands! I didn’t need a job anymore, just my crystals. I had an idea at that moment, I would see if they could produce diamonds. Giddy with excitement from my idea I ran into what was the kitchen of the house, it was certainly still falling apart as I had been too focused on gathering more crystals that I hadn’t bothered with the house at all. I had a basket filled with about ten deep purple crystals I harvested today. It seemed to take about four days for a lavender crystal to turn dark enough to pluck free.
I grabbed one of the darker crystals and thought about glittering diamonds and as I wished for them they plopped into my hand one at a time until the crystal grew pale and crumpled in my other hand.
“Holy shit! It worked!” I exclaimed out loud to no one.
“I can’t believe it…” I mumbled to myself as I glanced down at the beautiful diamonds and their dancing rainbow light on my rundown walls.
I gently put my new diamonds into a small velvet pouch that is usually the home of my favorite necklace, but these diamonds needed a safe place to be as I drove them to the pawn shop. Once I got there I handed the sack to the pawn shop owner.
“More gold?” he asked casually as he dumped them onto the counter. But when a handful of sparkly diamonds clanged onto the glass counter his jaw almost hit the floor.
“Ma’am, I have to ask, where did you get these?” he said as his eyes narrowed at me.
“They’re mine, I promise!” I blurted out, I was taken aback, normally he didn’t ask questions. I couldn’t think of an excuse fast enough and there is no way I could mention my crystals.
“Okay, okay.” he sighed “Let me just check them for authenticity, stay here.”
He disappeared in the back and suddenly I felt anxious. What if he was on to me? What if he alerts someone about me bringing in this stuff? The thought hadn’t crossed my mind before, but I had the crystals to protect now. I realized then I couldn’t come back here again, no way. I’m sure there are plenty of places to sell things, or maybe I could sell them online that way no one would see my face. I nodded to myself as he returned with a wad of cash for my diamonds. I took it and left as quickly as I could without being too suspicious. I could feel his stare practically burning into my back as I left.
I was almost home again after that fiasco, my phone ringing jostled me out of my deep thoughts and I practically jumped out of my seat. It was Mia.
“Shit!” I mumbled. I hadn’t answered her calls since I left. I had to keep her off of my back and from just wandering down here. I told her where the house was before when I came to look at it, joking that she should know where I was in case anything happened to me. I smiled thinking of that moment, I was so caught up in my crystals I didn’t realize I missed Mia.
“Hello?” I answered.
“Oh my god! There you are! I’ve been trying to reach you!” Mia sounded worried. I guess it had been a couple weeks.
“I’m sorry Mia, the reception here is terrible!” I lied through my teeth.
“Oh, I guess your house is pretty far out huh.” She replied, easily believing me. “Are you busy right now? Want to grab a cup of coffee with me? Or I can bring you lunch there! It has been almost a month now, I’m sure you’ve gotten a little done there, right?” Mia chuckled
Holy shit it’s been a month?! I had to hide my surprise, and keep Mia from coming here.
“Coffee sounds great, Mia! I’m already out right now actually so I can meet you at our usual place?” I replied mustering all the normalcy I could, this would keep her from coming here.
The bell on the door jingled as I entered the coffee shop. I saw Mia sitting at a table by the window waiting for me. As I walked up to her she smiled at me but when I got closer her smile faded.
“Hey Mia!” I exclaimed as I slid into the chair opposite her.
“Hey, how are you?” she asked skeptically.
“I’m great!” I exclaimed “I love the house, I’m really making progress I think!” I feigned laughter knowing full well I’ve made no progress on the house, only on my crystals.
“Are you sleeping okay?” she asked me, ignoring what I had said.
“Yes of course, why do you ask?”
“Well… “ she trailed off, stirring her coffee clearly troubled. “To be honest you have horrible dark circles, it looks like you haven’t slept in days! When was the last time you showered?”
I hadn’t even thought about it, come to think of it I hadn’t even looked in a mirror in a while. I instinctively reached up to smooth my hair and it felt heavily greasy.
“I- I mean the water pressure there isn’t great and there’s no hot water so it’s been difficult to properly shower!” I laughed it off again “I definitely need to get it looked at as soon as I can.”
Mia lifted an eyebrow at my words and shifted in her chair. “You can always still stay with me while the renovations are being done, or even just drop by and shower every once in a while.” she offered.
“That’s kind Mia, but I’m okay, really! It will get fixed soon and as soon as it does I’ll have you over for a little housewarming get together!” I struggled to smile at her. I was getting annoyed with all the questioning, and if she kept prying I didn’t want to slip up about my magical crystals. I mean, if people started finding out, soon everyone would be trying to steal them!
“Well, I actually have to go get ready, I have another showing soon for some clients.” I lied again, I was suddenly aware of all the dirt underneath my fingernails from all the digging to get my crystals. I had to get out of here.
“Why are you lying?” Mia asked, getting upset with me. “I called your office, they said you weren’t coming back to work. What is going on?”
“You called my office?!” I exclaimed, I was getting angrier and I didn’t know if I could keep calm anymore.
“Well you wouldn’t return my calls! I was worried about you!” Mia looked hurt.
“I told you I barely get service! I can’t believe you, Mia!” I had to leave. I slid my chair back, dug in my pocket for a crumpled up five dollar bill and chucked it onto the table.
The bell on the door rang louder this time as I slammed it shut behind me. I angrily sped home to my crystals.
I flew down my long dirt road, tires crunching loudly. Once I got close to the tree where my cave was, I parked and hopped out. I was still fuming from my argument with Mia. Once I saw the rock I had carved an x onto, I began to immediately calm down, and the tightness of my chest lessened. Within a moment I felt the cool earth of my cave against my skin. I plucked one of the darker crystals and held it close to me and soon my anger and sadness were gone. I didn’t need anyone, I began to realize as I laughed to myself. I have my crystals! I began to laugh even harder. How lucky I was. The luckiest person on earth! I just needed my crystals. I hugged it closer to my chest. The crystal began to crumple in my arms, and I had never felt better.
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Clever & WTF