“So, what is it? Any idea?” The feeling I got from it wasn’t the same as the one I’d gotten from the photocopies of the Sinsar Dubh. Though I’d begun feeling nauseated the instant I’d stepped into the chamber, it hadn’t approached incapacitating, not even when I’d located and stood right next to the thing. I’d taken advantage of Barrons’ and Mallucé’s ridiculous posturing and made my stealthy swap. Handling the box hadn’t been pleasant, but I’d been able to contend with my queasy stomach.
“If it’s what I think it is,” Barrons replied, “it’s nearly as important as the Dark Book itself, indispensable to us. Ah,” he said with satisfaction, “there you are.” With tiny steely clicks, the box popped open.
I leaned forward and peered inside. There, on a bed of black velvet, lay a translucent blue-black stone that looked as if it had been cleaved in sharp, clean strokes from a much larger one. Both the smooth outer surfaces and rough inner faces were covered with raised runelike lettering. The stone emitted an eerie blue glow that deepened to coal at its outer edges. I got an icy chill just from looking at it.
“Ah yes, Ms. Lane,” Barrons murmured, “you are indeed to be commended. Maladroit methods aside, we now have two of the four sacred stones necessary to unravel the secrets of the Sinsar Dubh.”
“I see only one,” I said.
“I have its mate inside my vault.” He traced his fingers lightly over the raised surface of the faintly humming stone.
“Why is it making that noise?” I was beginning to feel a great deal of curiosity about just what else might be tucked away beneath Barrons’ garage.
“It must sense the proximity of its counterpart. It is said if the four are brought together again they will sing a Song of Making.”
“You mean, they’ll create something?” I asked.
Barrons shrugged. “There are no words in the Fae language equivalent to ‘create’ or ‘destroy.’ There is only Making, which also includes the unmaking of a thing.”
“That’s odd,” I said. “They must have a very limited language.”
“What they have, Ms. Lane, is a very precise language. If you think about it a moment, you’ll see it makes sense; case in point, if you’re making sense, you’ve just unmade confusion.”
“Huh?” My confusion hadn’t been unmade. In fact, I could feel it deepening.
“In order to make something, Ms. Lane, you must first unmake what is in the process. Should you begin with nothing, even nothing is unmade when it is replaced with something. To the Tuatha Dé there is no difference between creating and destroying. There is only stasis and change.”
I’m a bottom-line girl. I barely managed Cs in my college philosophy courses. When I tried to read Jean-Paul Sartre’s Being and Nothingness, I developed an unshakable case of narcolepsy that attacked every two to three paragraphs, resulting in deep, coma-like fits of sleep. The only thing I remember about Kafka’s Metamorphosis is the awful apple that got impacted in the bug’s back, and Borges’ stupid story about the avatar and the tortoise didn’t teach me a thing, except how much better I like Little Bunny Foo Foo; it rhymes and you can jump rope to it.
The way I saw it, what Barrons had just told me was this: A Faery not only wouldn’t care whether I lived or died, it wouldn’t even really register that I was dead, just that, before, I could walk and talk and change my clothes by myself, but afterward I couldn’t, as if someone had yanked the batteries out of me.
It occurred to me that I could really learn to hate the Fae.
With a muttered apology to my mom, I snatched up a shredded pillow, hurled it across the ransacked bedroom, and cried, “Damn, damn, damn! Where did you put it, Alina?”
Feathers showered the room. What remained intact of the slashed-up pillow crashed into a framed picture of a thatch-roofed seaside cottage above the headboard—one of the few items in her apartment that had been left undisturbed—and knocked it off the wall. Fortunately, it fell on the bed and the glass didn’t break. Unfortunately, it didn’t reveal a convenient hidey-hole.
I sank to the floor and leaned back against the wall, staring up at the ceiling, waiting for inspiration to strike. It didn’t. I’d run out of ideas. I’d checked every place Alina had ever hidden a journal at home and then some, with no luck. Not only hadn’t I found her journal, I’d discovered a few other things missing as well: her photo albums and her floral-paged Franklin Planner were gone. Alina carried her planner as faithfully as she wrote in her journal, and I knew she had two photo albums in Dublin: one of our family and home in Ashford to show to new friends, and a blank one to fill while she was there.