Dante drew me back to the fire and I sat back in my chair. He knelt and scooped up the papers I had so carelessly thrown down.
“Dante, did you know?”
Dante sat across from me. He shook his head. “No. Not until you came here. When I read all those papers I didn’t know what to think. I still don’t.”
I propped my elbow on the arm of the chair and rested my chin in it. Staring into the fire I watched it dance to its own music. Dante was silent and Truscott snored.
“Dante, what is going on?” I slipped to the floor and dug through the pile of paper. “Here. What’s this?”
It was the strange poem. Dante read it and then raised his eyes to me.
“This is what everything is about. All the secrets, the reason you are here.”
I pulled myself back into the chair. “What do you mean?”
“About twenty years ago a man by the name of Jacobus Sanders had dream, a dream that could change this world.”
“Change? Why do we need change?” I sat up straight.
Dante bit his lip. “We need change because this world is falling apart. You know how it is in the slums. People scrounging just to live, I mean, you lived there.”
“I did. I do. And it is bad. But what can you do?”
“Not a whole lot right now. But back to Jacobus Sanders. He had this dream. In it he was walking down the beach when a man came up to him. The man said that the world was going to shatter. But there was a way to stop that. Then he spoke these words.
‘Crystal, like glass, clear and brilliant.
Destiny, an unknown future.
Together they bring an end and a beginning.
Apart all will crumble.
Your future is like glass:
One wrong move and it shatters.’
“He also said that two girls, touched by an angel, would help, would bring revolution to this shattered world.”
“Wait? Girls touched by an angel? Like me?” I fingered my strand of angel hair.
“Yes, like you. Your grandfather and Jacobus were friends. He told your grandfather about it. When your grandfather disappeared it seemed that nothing would happen. Then you were born. A girl touched by an angel.”
“But this is all things that happened to people decades older than us. Why are you involved?”
I studied this young man. He couldn’t have been that much older than me. Yet there was an air about him. It wasn’t that he was one of the Elite. He seemed pressed down with a heavy weight. Like half the cares of the world had been handed to him. He stared away into the fire. At that moment I saw that he was no different than me. He may have had all the money in the world but that didn’t make his life any easier than mine.
“Crystal, I’m part of a group called Vision of the Future. We want to help the world become a better place. Give everyone a voice.”
“What does that mean?” I really had no idea what he was going on about.
“How do I explain this?” Dante leaned back in his chair.
I leaned back in my chair and crossed my ankles. Dante stroked his chin, deep in thought.
“We want what used to be before the third world war. Back then there were no classes. Everyone used their talents to make this world a wonderful place to live. But then after the war and leading up to the fourth war some overzealous men took over ruling and things got out of hand.
“We went back to ideas from decades ago. Suddenly people without money were nobody and those with money were the best ones even if they weren’t. And what you see today is what happened.
“So, Dominique, myself and about ten other people, of all ages and classes, are working to bring back what once was.”
“What do I have to do with that?”
“We still haven’t found people to represent the poor class. We’ve been waiting to find the girls in this dream.”
“But what am I supposed to do? My family is the only one in the whole area that can even read. I’ve spent most of my life scrounging for garbage, among other things.”
Dante sat up straighter. “What other things have you done?”
I grinned. “You don’t want to know.”
“But we still have to find one more person. The other one in the dream. The man said there would be two.”
I picked up the page and studied it again. ‘Crystal, clear like glass; Destiny, an unknown future.’
No, it couldn’t be. Crystal. Destiny. It must be a coincidence. Words my mother had said many times came back to mind.
“Destiny, an unknown future. You are destined to great things.”
I shook my head and tossed the paper to the floor. This was too weird. I stood up and walked to the window. It was dark outside now. I stared into the blackness. Nothing was making sense anymore. I just wanted to go home.
“Crystal, are you okay?” Dante came to stand behind me.
I shrugged. “I’m tired. I’m going to bed.”
I shook my head and brushed passed him. I couldn’t tell him what I thought. It was just not plausible. I didn’t want it to be. I shivered as I headed up the stairs. It was way past time that I went home.
The next morning I stood at the window, staring into the space beyond. My sleep had been filled with the faces of those long gone from me. People I once loved and still did. People I knew would never come back. I wouldn’t be able to help them. The dream was fading, had been for years. And they didn’t know.
“Miss, is there anything I can get you?” Elise asked from behind me.
I turned and smiled wanly. “Some proper clothes would be nice. A pair of jeans, a t-shirt and a hoodie or a jacket. I need to get out of here, Elise.”
Elise frowned, her smooth forehead wrinkling in puzzlement. “Why would you want to leave?”
“Because I can’t help them.” I turned back to the window. “I can’t stay here. It won’t do any good.”
“Now, Miss Crystal, don’t despair. Things will work out.”
“I wish that were true, Elise. But things can’t work out. Just help find what I need.”
“As you wish.”
The door clicked shut behind her and I sank into the window seat. Tears streamed down my face. I flicked them away. I was so sick of crying. I hadn’t cried in years and here that was all I seemed to do. I was getting soft.
Dante stood in my doorway. I sighed and turned away from him.
“Crystal, what’s the matter?”
He slowly crossed the room and stood behind me.
“What’s wrong? Everything.”
“What do you mean?” He laid a gentle hand on my shoulder and I reached up to touch his fingers.
“Look out the window, what do you see?”
“I see perfection.” I smiled. “That’s what my life used to be. Perfect. Then it became like the world beyond your garden.”
I pointed to the buildings, the crumbled ruins beyond his place.
“How do you mean?” Dante sat beside me and took my hand in his. “Your hands are cold.”
“I’m cold all through.” I leaned against the wall and let him rub my hands in his. “When I was seven my grandfather took me away for the day. We went all over the place. I had so much fun. But when we got home, everything was wrong. Mom was crying hysterically, Dad was barely holding on. And my sister was gone. They had taken her. And they would have taken me, but I wasn’t there.”
“Who took her?”
I shrugged. “We don’t know. They never said who they were. They just came in and took her.”
I shook my head. I still didn’t know, but I had an idea. It only made sense now, now that I knew what I did.
“Crystal, why would they take your sister?” Dante took my chin in his hand and forced me to look at him.
The look in his blue-grey eyes made my own fill with tears. “Because she was touched by an angel.”
I reached up and fingered my strand of white hair.
“What was your sister’s name?”
“You already know,” I whispered.
“Yes.” I nodded. “Destiny. She was five. You see, the dream is dead. You only have me. You need both of me.”
Dante sighed and closed his eyes. I pulled my hands from his and tucked them under my legs. This was the end. The last time I would see Dante. I knew he would send me away now. And I wouldn’t fight it.
“Crystal, did you ever find out where they took her?” Dante was looking serious now.
“No, we never did. Dad and Grandpa tried to, but there was no sign of her.”
Dante stood up, a determined look on his face. “Don’t worry, Crystal. We’re going to find her.”
He left the room calling for Dominique. I sank back into the cushions. I wouldn’t let my hopes get up. She was gone and nothing would her back.