“Which you still have,” said Grandpa. “Correct?”
“Of course,” said Lady Agatha.
Everyone else got up to follow her into another room in her apartment, but Roger stayed firmly planted on the embroidered dragon’s head and Mavis scooted over onto the dragon’s back. “Hey,” she said, squeezing his hand, suddenly sure of what she needed to say.
“You’re my hero,” said Mavis.
Roger looked at her, surprised and almost suspicious. “You heard them. I messed up royally.”
“No,” said Mavis. “You were willing to die in my place. I don’t think I’ve ever met someone as brave as you.”
The corner of Roger’s mouth went up. Just a little.
Then Roger cried, for the second time that day.
And for once, Mavis sat with his head cradled in her arms, and smoothed his hair, and told him that everything was going to be all right. Just like an older sister ought to be able to do.
“Roger! Mavis!” called Linda, sticking her head around the door jam. “Y’all are missing out!”
The Book of Things that Might Be was much, much different than The Book of Things that Are. For one thing, it was much larger, covering an entire table top with its pages when it was open. And it had illustrations. Of course, you don’t have to have illustrations for a book to be interesting, but they do help, don’t they? And they weren’t ordinary illustrations either. They were glorious drawings of ships and continents and creatures, each more strange than the next. When Lady Agatha began flipping the pages, they almost seemed to move, and dart out of the way of the falling parchment. “Here!” she cried, and Roger and Mavis were suddenly staring at drawings of...themselves. “Mavis might be a famous author,” said the steady handwriting. “Roger might be a scientist or a cartoonist or a scientist who cartoons or a cartoonist who sciences.”
“Mavis might travel the world in eighty days and write a blog about it.”
“Roger might win a Nobel Prize for the cure for malaria.”
“Mavis might fall in love and choose to never leave it.”
“Roger might avert a war by using humor.”
“Mavis might sell a billion copies of a book.”
“Roger might invent a working Millennium Falcon.”
“Mavis might convince a generation that the well thought out story is mightier than the tweet.”
As they read the words, little illustrations would pop up. Mavis with a pen behind her ear and a desk covered in manuscripts. Roger with a microscope. Mavis with a backpack in exotic locations that she had always wanted to see, and Roger giving his Nobel Acceptance speech while hundreds of children in Third World Countries could go to school because they weren’t sick.
Mavis felt a little overwhelmed by it all. Her eyes filled up with tears and she couldn’t keep up with all of the things that she might do. And then at the end it said “Mavis and Roger might not do any of these things. But they will always be enough.”
“This is some of your best work,” said Lady Agatha softly, running her hand over the page.
“It is some of my most important,” said Grandpa.
Mavis looked up at him in a sudden jolt of awe. She slipped her hand into his, and he squeezed it back.
“What are you going to do?” asked Linda. “How are you going to fix Otherworld so it’s not ripping apart at the seams?”
“Do you have a pen, Agatha?” asked Grandpa.
“Of course, George,” said Lady Agatha, and handed him one. It was a very cool pen, the kind you dip into ink. And it had a swirled jade handle.
“Roger might be able to die in Mavis’ place,” wrote Grandpa. “Mavis might be immortal.”
“Wait,” said Mavis, “that’s--that’s awesome.”
“Dude!” said Brent. “Can I be immortal?!”
“I don’t think we should risk the worlds again,” said Grandpa dryly.
“Do I get to be immortal permanently?” asked Mavis. Then her face fell. “Wait, I don’t want Roger to have to die twice, or in my place, or whatever.”
“This is just until we can fix The Book of Things that Are,” Grandpa assured her.
“How does that fix anything?” asked Linda. “You just wrote something in a different book. It doesn’t make any sense.”
“The Book of Things that Might Be is more powerful than The Book of Things that Are,” explained Lady Agatha. “Because What Might Be is something that, if we choose to work for it, can become Something That Is.”
“For now, since it Might Be, it is no longer impossible,” said Grandpa.
“And Otherworld and your world can once again coexist,” added Lady Agatha.
“Do we need to go and change The Book of Things that Are?” asked Roger, almost hopefully.
“I have an emissary that is purchasing The Book, perhaps as we speak,” said Lady Agatha. “It is too important to leave in the hands of an imbecile such as Dehn.”
Linda snorted into her hand.
“So...world crisis averted?” asked Roger. There was a strange feeling in the pit of his stomach, almost of disappointment.
“Yes,” said Grandpa.
“Do we have to go back to whatever-world-it-is-that-we-live-on?” asked Brent. “I mean, I got cut from work. So, I have, like, all day.”
“I’ve used up my data,” said Linda. “It’s not like I have anything else to do.”
Grandpa smiled at them. “It has been quite the morning. Perhaps we should stick around, and let the children have some time to process.”
“Would you like to go out on the water?” asked Lady Agatha.
“Yes!” said Roger and Mavis and Brent and Linda altogether.
“What about you, my friend?” Grandpa asked Esperanza. “Can you spare the time?”
She smiled. “Of course.”