So the alien-like man’s name was Lark, but it didn’t really matter at that point. Drew Viktor, heir to some throne? That was ridiculous. But it was nowhere near April Fools, and he had no reason to fool me. I was more shocked than skeptical, so I said, “What?” in the highest squeak I never knew my voice was capable of reaching.
“Our world is one that’s falling apart, Jess.” Legend had clearly expected my reaction. I mean, who wouldn’t? “The late ruler has passed away, and I am his only heir. But according to conventions, I can’t take the throne until I have a spouse, and this spouse was chosen by the divine witch when I was born, described only with the prophecy that she gave us.”
“Like…a really traditional and old village, except bigger.”
He sighed. “I’m glad I spent some time in school here. Otherwise, I wouldn’t know what you’re referring to. Yes, just like that. Lark, recite the prophecy again.”
Lark did as he was told.
“Met under the sparkling tree,
Eyes that remind one of tears,
Name that one cannot speak,
Hair with a rebellious streak.”
“Jess, you and I met under the tree with pink sparkling leaves. That was the first time I saw you, and if you’re the one in the prophecy, you should remember it too.”
I could have denied it then, I could have said I didn’t remember anything like that, I could have said that the idea of pink sparkling trees was absurd, I could even say that the whole worldview he was selling me was absurd. But I didn’t. I nodded.
“Remember when Brea asked why your eyes were red, and everyone looked at you? They thought you were crying.”
There, I could have said that it was just his guess, and that everyone looked at me at the time because they were curious too, and not because they thought I was crying. But I didn’t. I nodded.
“Your first name is long as hell, your last name has only one vowel.”
I could have told him that there were plenty of complicated names in the world, anywhere in the world, and my name couldn’t possibly be the only one that was weird. But I didn’t. I nodded. By then, Lark had stepped back into the shade, and the atmosphere had gotten heavy, as it always did back when we only communicated by not talking.
“You have a natural pink streak in your hair.”
I could have lied and said I’d dyed it pink. But I didn’t.
Legend gave a wry smile. He extended a hand toward me. “Be my spouse, then. I’m sorry, but you have no choice.”
To this day, I’m sure he was truly sorry. In fact, with each passing day, I am more certain.