“I feel like a freak.”
“Feeling like a freak doesn't make you one, either.” He stopped and looked at her tired eyes and the mark, that had grown again, on her face. “But I understand what you mean.”
They were quiet for a while, the only sound a distant drip of water plop plop plopping down into the pool. Just when Mavis thought that she would scream if one more drop of water plopped anywhere, the door to the cave opened.
But there wasn’t any shadow blocking the light from the outer cave. There didn’t seem to be anyone there.
The door shut.
“Hello?” said Roger.
“Hello!” said First Voice.
Mavis’ heart skipped. Was she at last going to meet the person who had been granting her wishes?! The person who had been, somehow, changing the course of her life?! Harnswiggle--just the name seemed exotic and magical! Maybe there was hope for fixing this whole mess, after all!
“Harnswiggle?!” called Mavis. “We need you!”
“Hold on for a smidgen,” sang First Voice. There was an awkward pause, and then a tawny brown spot could be seen making its way across the mossy rocks.
Roger looked at Mavis, and Mavis looked at Roger, and they tried not to laugh. Or cry. Because it looked like a walking mushroom.
“What can I do for you?”
Mavis knelt down so her face was close to the stone Harnswiggle was standing on. Harnswiggle really was a fascinating little creature, all covered in moss with dusty brown skin and deep deep green eyes. Her hat was flopped precariously to one side and it looked like something had taken a bite out of it.
“Hello,” said Mavis, more than a little disappointed. “I’m Mavis.”
“I know,” said First Voice.
“You are Harnswiggle, aren’t you?”
“Yes,” said Harnswiggle.
“Have you been granting my wishes?” asked Mavis.
Harnswiggle looked horrified. “Me?! Grant wishes?! No, not me. Never me.”
“But somebody has been granting them!” said Roger.
“It was the Gullumgall'ad. He’s awfully fantastic about granting wishes.”
“But he said he didn’t!” Mavis was feeling more than a little exasperated and more than a little panicked, and she wasn’t sure which feeling was going to win out.
“Oh,” said Harnswiggle, squishing up her face. “He is always saying that he doesn’t grant wishes, but he is always doing it just the same. That is why I brought the tickets to your sleeperslabs. I knew that he would grant them.”
“So what about Mavis’ wish? What about it being all in her head?”
“Oh, he was going to grant that wish. He is very powerful, and I knew it was a wish that he would grant, so I put it into The Book of Things that Are.”
Roger raised his eyebrows.
“What?” asked Mavis.
“The Book of Things that Are,” repeated Harnswiggle. “Anything that is, is in The Book, and things that are in The Book, are.”
“So if you take it out of The Book?” asked Roger.
“You have to change it,” said Harnswiggle.
“Do you have it with you? Can you erase it?!” Mavis almost lept up in her excitement.
“I don’t, well, I don’t have it.”
“But you just did,” said Roger. “You must still have it.”
She shook her head.
“Where did you put it last?” asked Mavis.
“I..I don’t know,” said Harnswiggle.
“So you have no idea where it is now?” asked Roger.
Sorrowfully, Harnswiggle shook her head yes.
Mavis felt a little sick to her stomach. This felt like a rollercoaster and all she wanted to do was get off.
“Listen, Harnswiggle, I know you only meant to help,” said Roger. “But you’ve got to realize that this is very important. Mavis is very sick, and the doctors want to send her away to a research hospital.”
“Hospital?” asked Harnswiggle, her eyes getting wide. “Oh no! The Chronicler, he will never like that!”
“She doesn’t want to have to go,” explained Roger, wondering who The Chronicler was. “You’ve got to think--is there any way that we can find The Book and get whatever it is out of Mavis’ head?”
Harnswiggle scrunched her face up and stood on one foot. “Oh!” but then she shook her head and switched to the other foot.
“I can’t think of anything to answer,” she said at last. “But…”
“But?” asked Mavis.
“Esper-wha?” asked Mavis.
“Esperanza. She may not know the answer, but she will make sure that you don’t quit looking for one. She is very wise and good.”
“Can you take us to see her?!” asked Roger.
“Yepp! Yeppie yepp!” Harnswiggle was jumping up and down in her excitement. “Come on!”
She started running across the rock, but of course it was only one step for Roger and Mavis to be on the other side of her. Roger put his hand down and let her climb on. “Just tell me where to go, ok?”
“And don’t fall off,” said Mavis.
“Out the door-y-way!” sang Harnswiggle. “This way to Esperanza!”